Planning to visit Hong Kong? Before you enjoy its beautiful culture, do your assignment first. Make sure to remember these dos and don’ts in Hong Kong!
Towering skyscrapers, mouthwatering Cantonese food, and rich culture. What’s not to love in Hong Kong? This is a place for all types of travelers and a place that you must visit in your entire life. As with any new place to visit, you should know some essential dos and don’ts before going to Hong Kong.
Having basic knowledge about Hong Kong will help you get around quickly and get you to your destinations without any hassle. It can also save you time and money. But, the most crucial reason why you should know these dos and don’ts in Hong Kong is that it shows respect to the Hong Kong people as well as their culture and traditions.
When visiting Hong Kong, you should treat Hong Kong and the Hong Kong people with the same amount of respect you give to your own country. You should familiarize yourself with the local customs. So, here are some dos and don’ts that will definitely be useful for you when you are planning to visit Hong Kong.
How To Make The Most Out Of Hong Kong
Hong Kong needs no introduction. It is known for its beautiful tourist destinations, skyscrapers, Cantonese food, luxury shopping malls, nightlife, and colorful culture. So, if you ever have the chance to spend time in Hong Kong, make sure to make the most of it. Here are some things you should and should not do to make the most of Hong Kong.
DO: Visit Museums
One of the things that should be included in your travel plans when visiting a country is its museums. This will open the door to a better understanding and appreciation of the country’s history and culture.
If you’re interested in art, antiques, or history, visit the History Museum, Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, and Museum of Art. The Museum of Art is along the Avenue of Stars, and the Museum of Tea Ware is in Hong Kong Park, near Pacific Place Mall. These are easy-to-reach tourism sites.
DON’T: Miss Festivals And Other Events
Hong Kong is a great destination to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Chinese festivals, including Spring and Dragon Boat Festival. The birthday of Tin Hau and Cheung Chau Bun Festival are both must-sees.
Suppose you visit Hong Kong during a festival, whether western, traditional Chinese, or local, you should participate. You can enjoy the carnival atmosphere or local culture.
Hong Kong hosts annual art, film, and music exhibitions. Hong Kong hosts international sports like horse racing, rugby sevens, and tennis open.
DON’T: Go To Hong Kong In The Wrong Season
Hong Kong is great for vacations but not year-round. Weather and busy travel seasons may require extra planning. During these times, more mainland Chinese visited Hong Kong:
- Spring Festival (generally around late February)
- Labor Day holiday (May 1 to 3)
- Summer holiday (July and August)
- National Day holiday (October 1 to 7)
If you’re planning to visit Hong Kong, avoid doing it at the wrong time. If you’re traveling from April to September, watch the weather and don’t go out during typhoon warnings. Hotel structures will endure, but it’s unsafe to be on the street.
DON’T: Limit Yourself To The Busiest Areas
Malls, towers, restaurants… Hong Kong has beautiful streets and avenues. If you want to know the city and its people, avoid prominent streets. Explore narrow lanes to find local businesses and restaurants. A local guide can provide you with great advice, so travel with one.
Graham Street has a famous graffiti wall in Central Hong Kong. Here you may exchange photos online. Alleyways may have more graffiti. It’s fantastic to see Hong Kong street art.
DON’T: Forget To Think About Visiting These Amazing Locations
Hong Kong offers more than just skyscrapers and luxury shopping places. Here are some public places that you must visit when you’re in Hong Kong:
- The Dragon’s Back or Sunset Peak
- Mong Kok
- The History Museum or Hong Kong Park
- Nathan Road
- Victoria Harbour
- Victoria Peak
DO: Avoid The Golden Week
What is “Golden Week,” you ask? It is one of the two national holidays in China, and it happens in the first week of October. During this week, a lot of people from China visit Hong Kong, and hotel prices are very high. Time your visit before or after Golden Week, but not during.
DON’T: Just Stay In Kowloon Or Hong Kong Island
Most visitors flock to Tsim Sha Tsui, Victoria Harbour, and Central; however, several islands offer unique surroundings like the following:
- Lamma Island
- Lantau Island
- Cheung Chau
DONT: Think Of Hong Kong As Just Another Stopover City
Hong Kong’s airport offers fascinating layovers. The little territory contains numerous sites to explore. It’s worth spending many days at the beaches surfing and swimming. Hong Kong has the top restaurants, architecture, malls, and museums in Asia.
Meeting and Talking To People
When you’re in Hong Kong, you’ll be meeting people with different cultures and traditions. The culture in Hong Kong might be too different from your native culture. So, it’s important to be sensitive and respectful. Here are some dos and don’ts in Hong Kong that involves meeting and talking to Hong Kong people.
DON’T: Assume Everyone Thinks Hong Kong is Chinese
Avoid presuming the Hong Kong-China relationship. If you don’t understand something, don’t call Hong Kong China. Don’t think that Hong Kong and China have the same culture. China and Hong Kong are both countries, but they are different.
Don’t tell a Hong Konger that he is a Chinese person instead of a Hong Kong person. Don’t be rude, and let them tell you what country they want to be from. Since Hong Kong’s return to China 20 years ago, not everyone has identified as “Chinese” or says Hong Kong is part of China. Hong Kong is suffering cultural dissonance as China’s influence expands.
DON’T: Forget To Shake Hands When Meeting Someone
When meeting someone from the West, it is customary to shake hands. When shaking hands, most people don’t exert too much force. Hong Kongers lower their eyes during a handshake to show respect. Avoid extended eye contact when greeting, but don’t imitate this gesture.
DON’T: Turn Down The Kindness Of Hong Kongers
They are usually friendly even to people they don’t know. Thank them for being kind, and if you can, do the same.
DON’T: Touch People While They Talk
People stand near each other while talking but don’t touch. Don’t hug, kiss, or pat a person on the back, mainly if they are older than you or in a position of power.
DONT: Question Why Hong Kongers Speak “Excellent English”
Cantonese, a local dialect, is the main language people speak in Hong Kong. But many people speak English, or at least basic English, and almost all signs are written in both English and Spanish. Hong Kong was, after all, a British colony for more than 150 years.
Hong Kong has a lot of international schools, and most of the local schools also teach English. Don’t act so surprised when Hong Kong people speak with a British or American accent.
DON’T: Express Your Ideas To Strangers Or Unfamiliar People
Don’t just say your opinions freely or what you think to a random person or someone you don’t know well. This could be thought of as rude.
Other Do’s and Don’t In Meeting and Talking To People
- People don’t usually talk to each other and say hello. Don’t be upset if the cashier doesn’t talk to you or say “thank you” when you pay.
- Never shout a greeting or hold the door wide for a stranger. People may look at you strangely if you shout a greeting or hold the door open for a stranger.
- Do not wink at someone. Winking is considered rude and inappropriate.
- Try keeping the conversation on a level playing field.
- Don’t try to change the way Hong Kong people talk. They tend to talk over people when they are talking.
- Don’t talk over someone when they are talking. This is a good way to do things.
- You can introduce yourself during a significant event. Wait for your host or hostess to introduce you at smaller events.
- Don’t give a Hong Konger, his business, or his direct family criticism. He will feel bad about this.
- Don’t be proud when Hong Kongers praise you. Try to give them compliments in return. Hong Kongers often say “no” to compliments. This is how they show they are humble.
- Be careful what you say about China, and be kind to people who are older than you. Hong Kongers respect older people by giving them a lot of attention.
Behaving in public is one of the most important things to remember when you’re in Hong Kong. It might be too different from your country. Hong Kongers are very particular with public behavior. In fact, they have this thing called “The Concept of Face.”
In the Chinese culture of Hong Kong, “face” is an intangible trait that shows a person’s honor, reputation, and status. Both companies and people have “faces.” People can lose face, keep face, or give someone else face. To give someone a “face,” you praise them, treat them with respect, or do something else that makes them feel better about themselves. Do this with all your heart. If you do it in a condescending way, both of you will lose face. When you publicly scold, insult, or disagree with someone, you make them feel bad and make them lose face.
DO: Avoid Noisy Public Behavior
Don’t act in a way that draws unnecessary attention to yourself.
DO: Avoid Public Displays Of Affection
Don’t show any public affection by holding hands or kissing.
DON’T: Smoke In Parks And Beaches
Keep in mind that smoking is prohibited in certain outdoor places. Almost everywhere in Hong Kong is a no-smoking zone, including streets, shops, malls, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and public transportation like buses, the MTR, and ferries. Hong Kong only allows smoking near trash cans with ashtrays or in designated smoking areas. Those found smoking in non-smoking areas may be fined 5,000 HKD.
Enter Hong Kong without too many cigarettes. You can only bring 19 cigarettes or 1 cigar into Hong Kong. Therefore, you can’t bring a full pack. Too many smokes can result in a 1 million HKD punishment and two years in jail.
DON’T: Drink To Excess In Public
It’s not a good idea to get drunk in front of other people.
Other Do’s And Don’ts In Public Behavior
- Don’t show how angry you are by acting out.
- Do not walk slowly. Hong Kongers are fast doers and walkers. Try not to walk slowly or get in the way of anyone, as this will make the locals angry. Try to move and act like the people around you in restaurants and on public transport.
- Don’t make Hong Kong your Instagram background. Hong Kong is a colorful and picturesque city. However, residents of Choi Hung Estate and Montane Mansion should be respected. Sham Shui Po inhabitants are regularly swamped by trespassers who take shots from their rooftops, and Choi Hung Estate neighbors are tired of Instagrammers dumping trash everywhere.
Eating And Dining
Visiting Hong Kong would not be complete without trying its very own cuisine. The city of Hong Kong is a diverse foodie’s paradise. In Hong Kong, which is often referred to as the “food market of the world,” one can find virtually any type of cuisine, including Chinese, Cantonese, American, Mexican, and Indian food, as well as any type of fusion cuisine that can be created.
Additionally, Hong Kong is home to one of the most reasonably priced restaurants with a Michelin star that can be found anywhere in the world. So, here are some do’s and don’ts in Hong Kong related to eating and dining.
DON’T: Only Eat Food From Your Native Country
Hong Kong has amazing eateries; you’ll be spoiled for choice. Hong Kong’s street food is a must-try. You may discover mom-and-pop stores in Sheung Wan, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, and Sham Shui Po.
You’re free to eat however you’d normally eat at home. Hong Kong’s Cantonese food is tasty and popular worldwide. Fish balls, egg puffs, rice pudding, fried squid, and more are popular Hong Kong street food. Hong Kong features good Japanese, French, South Asian, and African restaurants. Expats from throughout the world have created restaurants with a range of cuisines.
DON’T: Start Eating Whenever You Want To
Wait until the host starts to eat or tells you to start.
DON’T: Rest Chopsticks On Bowls
When you go to a restaurant in Hong Kong, there will be a chopstick resting on the table. After every few bites and when you drink or stop to talk, you should put your chopsticks on the chopstick rest.
Other Do’s and Don’t In Eating And Dining
- Put other people ahead of you.
- If you see that someone else’s glass is empty, fill it for them.
- Don’t start eating whenever you want to. Usually, there is a plan for where to sit.
- When in doubt, look at what other people do.
- When you’re done eating, leave some food. Refuse a second serving at least once to avoid appearing gluttonous.
- Try everything you’re given to show your thanks to the cook.
- The first toast of the meal is offered by the host of the meal. At a later point in the meal, you might want to propose a toast.
- Hong Kongers usually wave their hands and yell for waiters and waitresses. This is a cool way to get waiters and waitresses to come.
- Don’t ever eat the last bit of food on the tray. Food is put on a tray that spins around. You should give everything a try. Never eat the final serving.
Traveling And Accommodation
Scenic views and breathtaking skyscrapers. Hong Kong has a lot to offer. This is one of the top destinations for tourists. So, it’s just right to know about going around Hong Kong. Here are some dos and don’ts that you need to know.
DON’T: Forget To Purchase An Octopus Card
Don’t go around without cash. Getting an Octopus Card might save time and make travel more convenient if you use the MTR often. You can add money to these plastic debit cards at a metro station or ferry ticket office in Central. These stations and ticket offices will reimburse your 50 HKD and any unused cash.
DO: Look To Both Left And Right
Don’t just look on the left side. Keep your distance from the road and look both ways before crossing until you get used to the difference. This might take weeks. Wide buses have little room to move around, so they often get close to the curb.
DON’T: Resist Ferries
Looking forward to a trip with wonderful memories and sceneries? Well, ride a ferry. The ferries, especially the slow ones, give tourists a chance to see beautiful sights and have an unforgettable experience for a very low price. Photographers can get good views of the harbor and tall buildings from the Star Ferry.
DON’T: Just Ride the MTR or Taxis
Even though MTR and taxis are really fast and reliable, you also have other choices. In popular tourist areas like Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, and Admiralty, taking local buses is often faster than taking the MTR for short hops. Taxis are much more expensive and sometimes take longer than buses.
From Victoria Harbour, buses 6 and 7 run along Nathan Road. These buses are great for short trips along the main shopping street. Bus 15 is an important tourist bus because it goes between the Central Pier and Victoria Peak.
The Hong Kong Tramways, which locals call the “Ding Ding” Tram, can take you to places near the north coast of Hong Kong Island. This is an old way to be driven slowly through Hong Kong’s old streets and avenues.
DO: Avoid Chung King And Other Cheap Hotels
Such hotels are an alternative if you need to save money, but if you can afford them, avoid them unless you want to visit the third world. The stylish YMCA near Chung King in Tsim Sha Tsui has harbor-view accommodations and loads of superb facilities for a moderate price.
Cheap hotels in Hong Kong are interesting, but bugs, grime, rubbish, theft, scams, rudeness, and violence threaten a pleasant stay.
Want a hotel near the MTR? Wan Chai, Central, Soho, Sheung Wan, and Causeway Bay are good options. The Fleming, a Wan Chai boutique hotel near the MTR, is a favorite of mine.
Other Do’s And Don’ts In Traveling
- If there is a safety belt, don’t forget to use it. Taxis, buses, and ferries are all forms of public transportation. No matter what kind of vehicle you are in or where you are sitting, if there is a safety belt, you should wear it. Not only is this for your own safety, but it’s also the law. If you don’t, you might have to pay a fine.
- Indoor sweaters and outside umbrellas should be packed. Hong Kong loves air conditioning. Most malls, businesses, and office buildings in Hong Kong blast the A/C to avoid mold and moisture buildup. In June through August, temperature swings can make individuals sick.
- Avoid inconvenient areas. Most tourists stay on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. Check the location’s reviews before committing. Hong Kong has a lot of side streets and walk-ups, especially if you’re renting an Airbnb, and some cheaper hotels aren’t easily accessible by public transportation.
- Unless it’s a cheap hotel, don’t deal with touts in Tsim Sha Tsui. The loud men on Nathan Road near Chung King Mansion may surprise you. Most of the mostly South Asian guys pitching for hotels in Chung King can help you discover an empty room in that confusing building. Check various hotels for the best results. Touts seek tourists to buy watches, clothes, etc. Avoid this.
Hong Kong boasts skyscraper outlet malls with high-end things and street markets where you can see real thrift treasures, such as the Mong Kok markets and Temple Street Night Market. Before you shop, here are some do’s and don’t in Hong Kong that you’ll need to know.
DON’T: Only Shop In the Malls
Hong Kong’s status as a “shopper’s paradise” comes from its large luxury malls and low taxes and tariffs. Prices and selection may not be greater than at your local luxury mall due to the high overhead.
Visit Temple Street Market in Kowloon or Stanley Market in Hong Kong Island to witness something popular with locals. Or, wander through some specialty markets, such as the “flower market,” the “sneaker market,” or the “bird market.”
DON’T: Go Shopping On Weekends Or Holidays
Hong Kong is one of the most crowded places on Earth, and that doesn’t even count the tourists who come there during the busy season. Shopping and visiting the most famous landmarks during the week and staying off the MTR during rush hour can save you a lot of trouble and headaches.
On weekdays, when most people are at work or school, it’s fine to walk around and look at things in such busy places. You’ll have a better time and probably find better deals if there aren’t a lot of people there.
But it’s not fun to try to beat the crowds when the streets, stores, and restaurants are all full. You might feel trapped and tired quickly. At places like the popular Ladies Market and the streets next to it in Mong Kok, you should try to avoid crowds of people from Mainland China and Hong Kong.
Shopping streets expect to haggle. Try haggling and comparing costs. Bar code scanners prohibit haggling in supermarkets and retail stores. Hong Kong’s taxes are minimal, so you can discover unbeatable prices at its high-end shops or street vendors’ stalls. Haggling is essential when browsing stalls. Haggling is anticipated, so negotiate for the best price.
Giving gifts is one of the ways to show thoughtfulness and kindness towards people. It has always been part of most cultures around the world. Hong Kong also has a lot of things to remember about gift-giving, especially during special occasions. Here is the basic etiquette in gift-giving.
DO: Bring A Present When Invited
Fruits, flowers, imported liquor, and sweets are popular gifts. You must present gifts with both hands. Small gifts are always welcome for kids but don’t give them green hats. Your host may reject the gift twice before accepting it. You won’t see the gift unwrapped.
DO: Take Note Of The Inappropriate Gifts To Give
Do not give red or white flowers, scissors, knives, or other cutting equipment, clocks, handkerchiefs, or straw sandals (these items are related to funerals or death).
DON’T: Wrap Gifts With White, Blue, Or Black Paper
Gold and/or crimson are lucky colors to use for gift wrapping.
DON’T: Give Goods In Odd Numbers Or Fours
Giving someone eight of something is considered lucky.
DO: Learn Cantonese Now!
We have been going on and on about the dos and don’ts in Hong Kong but let’s not forget one of the most important dos – learning Cantonese. Yes! Learning their language is one of the things that you should do when planning to visit Hong Kong. You’ll be able to communicate with people while you travel or go to different places. Whether it’s a simple chat with Hong Kongers or doing transactions such as shopping and dining, knowing to speak Cantonese is indeed helpful. Good thing the Ling app is here to help you achieve this goal.
With the Ling app, learning Cantonese and any other language feels like playing a game. You’ll enrich your language skills with the advanced features that have been developed by language experts and native speakers. So, do get yourself your first Cantonese lesson now! Learn Cantonese with the Ling app!