Living in Hong Kong

The purpose of this page is to give you a brief overview of what to expect when you arrive in Hong Kong. We hope that the advice below will be particularly useful for someone planning to stay here for an extended period.

Hong Kong from the perspective of an ESF student 

 Some quick fun facts about Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong’s Mong Kok district has the world’s highest population density with an average of 130,000 people per sq kilometre, whereas Sydney and London only have 72.4 and  5,491 people per sq kilometre respectively.
  • Hong Kong has been ranked as the best city in terms of stability, heathcare, culture, education, infrastructure and green spaces, outplacing other top cities such as Tokyo, Sydney and Toronto.
  • It has the most skyscrapers in the world, with 8,000 buildings having more than 14 floors, almost double that of New York.  
  • Despite being one of the most vibrant cities in the world, Hong Kong is actually composed of more than 263 islands and 40% of its territory is protected by country parks. (Where else in the world can you be so close to city and nature at the same time?!)
  • It boasts one of the world’s highest per-capita concentrations of cafes and restaurants at one restaurant for every 600 people. (Hence Hong Kong is crowned ‘Heaven of Food’.)
  • You can definitely survive in Hong Kong without any knowledge of Cantonese.The majority of Hong Kongers are fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin AND English!  

For more fun facts, check out the video below!

Geography and Climate

mapHong Kong is an autonomous region on the southern coast of China geographically enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea. It is comprised of of four major areas, namely Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, New Territories and the Outlying Islands.

Hong Kong’s climate is subtropical, with temperatures dropping below 10 degrees Celsius in winter and exceeding 31 degrees Celsius in summer. It is warm, sunny and dry in autumn, cool and dry in winter, and hot, humid and rainy from spring to summer.

Culture

Hong Kong’s culture was born in a sophisticated fusion of East and West. It not only kept many Chinese traditions, but also experienced a baptism of western culture. This situation led to the diversity of its culture and the people there are open-minded to accept variety.

Food

food

Everyone knows Hong Kong is a paradise for food. Being a British colony until 1997, Hong Kong has been westernized and developed a unique culinary culture. Hong Kong’s cuisine has an amazing fusion of western and eastern flavors as well as an exotic variety of gastronomic creativity with local characteristics and excellent street food around Hong Kong. Walking through the city, you will easily find a large number of restaurants offering from traditional Chinese food to Western food, such as congee, dim sum, dumplings, pizza, pasta, kebab, sandwich, soups, Mexican dishes and many more. There isn’t any cuisine one can’t find in this wonderful city, not to mention that the food prices are very affordable!

For more: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/jan/21/top-10-hong-kong-speciality-restaurants

Transport

transport

Hong Kong’s public transport is cheap, clean, safe and reliable – among the best in the world.  The public transport system includes buses, mini-buses, trams, the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system, the cross-harbour Star Ferry and ferries to the outlying islands.

Most public transport requires exact change, so an Octopus card makes life much easier. This stored-value card is available at the customer service centres of MTR stations for a $50 deposit. It is usable in MTR, Light Rail, Trams, Peak Trams, Star Ferry, Buses, some minibuses, convenience stores such as 7-11, Circle K, supermarkets, fast food outlets, or public telephone booths.Taxis are cheap and plentiful in Hong Kong. Most taxi drivers have adequate English and they know the vast majority of destinations.

Buying a car in Hong Kong is not much more expensive than anywhere else. However, keeping and using a car on a daily basis can contribute a lot to your expenses per month as gas prices are high and apartments do not always come with a parking space. Moreover, to drive in Hong Kong you need to obtain a Hong Kong driving licence. It is illegal to drive with a foreign licence. If you intend to drive, please remember to bring your current driving licence with you. This will enable you to obtain a Hong Kong driving licence.

Housing

housing

In many international surveys, the cost of living in Hong Kong is consistently among the highest in the world. Although transport remains inexpensive, Hong Kong apartments are pricy for their size due to the shortage of land. Nonetheless, most apartments enjoy a close proximity to the centre of town or one’s workplace.

 

 

Shopping

Everyone knows Hong Kong as a place of neon-lit retail pilgrimage – all international brands worth their logo have outlets here, and they are supplemented by the city’s own retail trailblazers. ‘High street’ clothing stores are very reasonable. The cost of an evening out compares well with most big cities. Western restaurants can be expensive but Hong Kong abounds with plenty of cheaper alternatives. Groceries are cheap in the ‘wet markets’, acceptable in the big two supermarket chains, and expensive in the up-market western delicatessens.

The vast majority of shops are open every day. Generally, shops are open from 10:00am-9:00pm. But in most busy retail areas like Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui, they stay open till much later. Supermarkets stay open till 9pm or as late as 11pm, depending on the area. Most convenience stores are open 24 hours.

 

Activities in Hong Kong

Despite being a relatively small city, there is an abundant amount of activities one can do in Hong Kong. Below are a few examples:

Hiking

hike

The skyscrapers and rooftop bars have their own charm, but there is nothing like a hike for getting away. It really is the best way to take advantage of our incredible forests, wild isolated beaches, and stellar city views.If you’re a beginner, easy hikes take only a few hours; once you get better, try some of the mountains that can take a full day. If you’re looking for a way to get some exercise, hiking is a stunning way to do it, plus you simply can’t beat the accessibility of Hong Kong’s public transport for getting there – and the beautiful scenery you’ll see once you do! So grab some friends and check out some of the top hikes in Hong Kong below!


Dragon’s Back | The Peak Trail | Pineapple Dam Nature Trail | Lion Rock | Kowloon Peak| Lantau Peak | Hiking with kids

Biking

bike

Cycling is a great way to enjoy Hong Kong – you will become fit and healthy. As a bonus, you will get to see the natural beauty all around us. Imagine the sun setting as you speed through the streets, the first cool wind of autumn in your face, adrenaline coursing through your veins and your heart is pumping, but you feel serene. It’s a pleasure too rarely experienced in Hong Kong where double-decker buses and maniac drivers rule the roads and there are few provisions for cyclists. Luckily, things are getting better as the government is investing millions of dollars in new cycle tracks. Check out some of the most beautiful cycling routes below!

Mui Wo | Shatin | Tseung Kwan O | West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade | Nam Sang Wai

Cafes

cafe
The coffee shop scene is one that’s ever-evolving in Hong Kong. The whole experience starts well before the first sip. The environment and ambiance is just as important — and local brewers know it, too, meaning that the way we drink coffee has been dramatically redefined. Check out some of the best coffee shops in town!

 

Beaches

beach

Not many people associate Hong Kong with world-beating beaches, however with over 200 Islands the territory is blessed with a host of top-quality beaches. Yes, you have not misheard. You don’t have to go to the Maldives to find a perfect site for your sunny beach holiday. There are about 50 beaches scattered all over Hong Kong that are safe for swimming, surfing, sun-bathing, dog-walking, people-watching or sandcastle-building. What is more, great beaches come with the opportunity to do water activities. From kayaking, windsurfing, yachting to wakeboarding, paragliding and scubadiving, Hong Kong really has a lot to offer in terms of water sports.

Check out the top 10 beaches and watersports in Hong Kong!

Parks

park

Not every park is just a park. Hong Kong has a number of parks with special themes and features, all for your enjoyment and education. For example, parks that capture many aspects of the city’s history and reflect classical Chinese culture include the Kowloon Walled City Park and Nan Lian Garden. For those particularly interested in aquatic life, the Hong Kong Wetland Park and our marine parks are definitely worth a visit. As for those interested in seeing unique volcanic formations and diverse ecosystems, the Geopark is within easy reach from our urban centres.

Check out other scenic parks here!