With over 7.4 million people living in Hong Kong, it’s one of the most densely populated places in the world, it has a really unusual history, Hong Kong is what is called a special administrative region in southern China which means their government and economic system is separate from mainland China, as soon as hong kong was given to the british at the end of the first opium war in 1842 by the ching dynasty and control wasn’t returned to china until 1997 and despite it being made up of tiny fishing villages in the beginning, today it’s the world’s tenth largest exporter that tiny little island talk about punching above your weight class, now that being said the situation there is complex there’s gonna be some things you want to know before you go.
1 – Don’t limit your stay
Hong Kong is a relatively small place it just over 1,000 square kilometers, it may seem like you don’t need to spend a lot of time here, and while it’s true that three days should cover a lot of the city there’s a lot more to see outside of it, you know things like lama island which is a tiny fishing village just a couple of minutes by ferry, or the yellow dragon waterfalls hike, or the Tai Tam reservoir, not to mention the Big Buddha, so to say really do your research and see just how much you can max out while you’re there, don’t just get stuck in central.
2 – Don’t take taxis
Hong Kong’s public transportation system is so good, that 90% of its population uses it, they have stuff like mini buses, trams, subway, and it’s almost always cheaper and faster to use one of these than to use a taxi, now of course if you’re in a pinch or if you’re like me and you just got there and didn’t know any better a taxi is fine you know they’re not gonna rip you off you don’t really have to worry about stuff like that, but to help make transportation easier you should definitely try and pick up one of the Octopus cards, which will work for a variety of public transportation it is essential to getting from Central Hong Kong to Chim saw joy on the Kowloon side of the city.
3 – Don’t buy electronics on Temple Street
Hong Kong is famous for its cheap electronics, and you can find knockoff American brands everywhere, now the large tourist markets like Mong Kok Street Market or temple Street are almost always filled with the lowest quality products, that will break within a week of buying them, not to mention the prices are insane, so you’re actually looking to buy something try and get a little bit off the beaten path and go to some place like the Apple II you Street flea market which is a much more local authentic experience, most people will tell you to go to Mong Kok Street Market, but that one is kind of geared more towards tourists, I would highly recommend going to Apple II instead because it’s the same size and it’s a lot cheaper.
4 – Don’t talk politics
Currently Hong Kong is in the middle of citywide protests that have been happening for over five months involving millions of people, and it all started because of an extradition bill, which if passed would allow suspected criminals to be transferred to mainland China and tried in Chinese courts, and this brought along a really valid fear that China was encroaching on some of the freedoms that the city has, and it seems like Hong Kong is really too crossroads you know it’s it’s fighting with its own cultural identity, and it’s trying to define this relationship not just with mainland China but also with the entire world, because it’s such a complex situation and such a sensitive topic that it’s best to avoid talking about it while you’re there.
5 – Don’t just party in lan kwai Fong
Lan kwai fong is the most obvious area to go out in you know it’s where most of the bars are it’s where most of the people end up being, but it’s important not to miss out on some of the hidden gems in other areas of the city, the lung why Fung is fun for a night or two but for the most part there’s a lot of cliche bars overpriced drinks, it can get old pretty quick, and there’s more relaxed like live music bars in one chai for example, and cheaper bars with better atmospheres in gym SOT Joey, my point is don’t just get sucked into lkf and explore a bit.
6 – Don’t tip
Tipping is not a customary tradition in Hong Kong, and most restaurants will add a standard 10% to the bill no matter what, of course it’s fine to leave some odd cents here and there, but by no means feel obligated to do so.
7 – No spitting
Unlike mainland China where it almost seems like spinning is required, definitely do not do this in Hong Kong as fines can get up to five thousand Hong Kong dollars, now of course this may not always be enforced but it’s better to be respectful of the laws there.