The most beautiful part of travelling is learning about the vast diversity of cultures of different countries and cities, and meeting all kinds of people who have had a variety of experiences you can learn from. So, here are five things you should know about before visiting Hong Kong!
Language & Currency
Being an international city, if you can’t speak Cantonese or Mandarin, don’t fret because you can pretty much get by anywhere with English. Unless you’re at an extremely local area trying to speak an elderly local, then you best bet would be to learn a few daily catch phrases in Chinese. Although Hong Kong is no longer under the British Colony but is part of China, do not mistake the currency to be the same as China’s, in Hong Kong, we use HKD.
If you’ve ever ridden on the MTR (the term for subway in Hong Kong), you will notice how clean it is. If you walk on the streets of Hong Kong, you will notice how there’s barely any litter on the ground. That’s because littering and/or spitting on the streets of Hong Kong is illegal and can cost you a fine if you get caught! Eating and drinking on the MTR is forbidden as well. So when you come visit Hong Kong, remember to eat and drink before you enter the paid areas of the MTR stations.
The thing I love about Hong Kong is that despite it’s crowded streets is the convenience of transportation. The MTR literally goes everywhere, and if it doesn’t reach the specific location you want, you can always opt for taking a double decker bus or tram (yes! Like the ones in England), a minibus, the ferry and/or a taxi. The cost for each transportation varies so make sure you do your research before you head out the door! The most convenient part of it is that you can pay with one card, the Octopus card, on any of the transportations (and even some fast food places and convenient stores). When your card runs out of money, you can simply keep topping it off until you no longer need it.
There are certain etiquettes for the Asian culture that may not be similar in Western countries, for example in Hong Kong, as mentioned in my previous blog post, sticking chopsticks upright in your bowl of rice is a sign of disrespect. Others include standing on the right side of the escalator, following the signs of walking up or down the stairs, letting people exit the MTR trains before going in yourself, if you’re feeling under the weather then wear a mask, etc. I do think the most fun one can have visiting a new city or country is learning how different the culture can be.
One thing I have to say about people in Hong Kong and people in Toronto is that I do miss the overly politeness and the slow, relaxing pace of Canadians. However, as a person that speed walks everywhere, I thoroughly enjoy the quick pace of Hong Kong. Speed walking amongst those also speed walking makes me feel like I’m walking at a normal pace. So don’t be surprised when people always seem to be walking like they’re in a hurry, chances are, they are.
Obviously I may have missed a few things because Hong Kong is such a vibrant city that words can’t possibly capture all the things you should know. So I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Have you been to Hong Kong? And if you have, what did you wish you knew about it before visiting? And if you haven’t, what would you want to know?
[All images are my own]