Hong Kong is one of the most mysterious places in the Orient. Formerly a part of the British Empire, she was handed back to China rule in 1997. As such, the Hong Kong of old has changed rather significantly, and there are many cultures and customs that have blended old and new together. While technically under Chinese rule, Hong Kong is also considered an autonomous territory, and this means it has some differences to China.

A vibrant, bustling urban metropolis, Hong Kong is considered one of the most refined locations in the world, and the south side of the island ranks among the most desirable places to live. If you are planning on moving to Hong Kong, you will want to know about some of the cultural traditions that will help you integrate and transition much more easily. Check out these cultures and customs you need to know before moving to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Superstitions

In fact, the Chinese people are very superstitious as a rule, and you need to be aware of this. There are certain aspects of life that you might find trivial, but that the locals would put great significance behind, as a result of their superstitions. For example, when it comes to business, the Chinese will refuse to enter into a business dealing with anyone until they have consulted a feng shui expert, in case anything proves to be a bad omen.

So, if you’re moving to Hong Kong to start a business, make sure you hire a feng shui professional to determine furniture placement, where the entrance and exits should be, and so on. This is essential if you are looking to run a successful business in Hong Kong.

Gift giving is a big deal

In Western cultures, we generally only give people gifts on special occasions – birthday, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc. However, one of the things you’ll discover about Hong Kong is that gift giving is a massive thing here. Humility is a major part of Chinese and Hong Kong culture, and while the locals can be funny about receiving compliments, a gift will go down a treat. Gift giving is seen as a symbol of respect and friendliness, even among strangers. If you are meeting someone for the first time make sure you bring a gift – something from your home or culture would be ideal. There are plenty of do’s and don’ts when it comes to gift giving in Hong Kong, so make sure you don’t offend by accident with your choice of gift.

Eclectic cuisine

Hong Kong’s cuisine is a smorgasbord of different cultures and cuisines, namely Chinese and English food. There is a wonderful array of delicious dishes and foods to choose from, and some you may be familiar with. Dishes like xiao long bao, delicious dumplings from Shanghai, are well worth traveling for and are hugely popular according to 1Cover. There are a huge selection of dishes to choose from all across Hong Kong, and you should have no trouble finding something you enjoy. Chopsticks are pretty much default here as part of the cuisine culture. So it’s important to learn how to use them – you don’t want the ignominy of having to ask for a knife and fork, do you?!

The Concept of ‘Face’

Saving face is a hugely important thing, both in Hong Kong and China, and you need to be aware of this. It matters greatly to locals to save face and avoid being embarrassed or humiliated in public. So make sure you don’t show people up or contradict them publicly. As an expat, you can ‘give face’ by complimenting locals in a sincere manner. Brush up on the concept of ‘face’ and how to ensure you don’t end up offending the locals by accident.

The great thing about Hong Kong is that it is very much the place where East and West meet. World’s collide, and the ‘Gateway to China’ offers some of the great cultural blends. Make sure you brush up on the cultural traditions before you arrive – that way you’ll be able to enjoy everything Hong Kong has to offer you. Have you moved to Hong Kong? Is there anything you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.


Daniel is a writer and travel-addict, who has moved around extensively over the last decade. He is currently at home in Hong Kong, and has been for the last nine months, but itchy feet means that he will soon be checking out what Thailand has to offer.

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