Entwining Eastern and Western influences, Hong Kong offers expats a blend of tradition, opportunity, and distinctive cosmopolitan charms. Planning to travel to Hong Kong for business? This guide is your all-compassing handbook to culture & lifestyle in one of Asia’s most vibrant and diverse cities.

Unpacking the layers of Hong Kong culture

Hong Kong’s culture is diverse and rich, shaped by its deep-rooted history as the Pearl of the Orient. Expats are often struck by the detailed social etiquette in this vibrant city. Respect and humility are highly valued virtues, making it essential to grasp these cultural foundations.

Hong Kong official language

Cantonese is the main language in Hong Kong, known for its tonal beauty and expressiveness, reflecting the locals’ friendly and communicative nature.

As an expat, picking up some basic Cantonese or Mandarin phrases can help you build goodwill with other people, as language in Hong Kong is not just a means of communication, but a source of pride and identity.

English is widely spoken when doing business in Hong Kong, making it easier for expatriates to adapt. However, mastering basic Cantonese phrases can greatly enhance your experience and help you connect with the local community on a deeper level.

Hong Kong etiquette

Hong Kong has highly nuanced customs, so it’s best to brush up on some local manners before your move. For instance, passing business cards with two hands is a sign of respect, as is addressing people by their professional titles.

Hong Kongers also tend to be reserved and indirect in communication, so it’s essential to read between the lines and use non-verbal cues to understand the message fully.


Hong Kong cuisine

Food is at the heart of Hong Kong culture, with a diverse range of dishes influenced by Cantonese, Hakka, and Western cuisines. Street food, a cherished tradition, beckons with the scent of spices and the sizzle of woks, speaking volumes about the city’s cultural fusion.

As an expat, embracing the local food culture is not just about satisfying your taste buds; it’s a gateway to understanding the city’s traditions and history.

Diversity and inclusion

Hong Kong is a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, with a large expat community adding to the cultural diversity. The city prides itself on being inclusive and welcoming to people from all walks of life, making it easier for expats to adapt and feel at home in the city.

Cultural integration is a two-way street, and expats are often embraced with open arms when they show genuine interest in local customs and values. Building relationships takes time, patience, and a willingness to participate in the city’s vibrant social scene, from mooncake festivals to dragon boat races.

Meet the locals: A deep dive into Hong Kong’s population

The people of Hong Kong are as diverse as the culture they uphold, contributing to a rich societal fabric shaped by centuries of history.

The face of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is home to over 7.5 million people, with a majority of the population being Chinese (92%). Other significant ethnic groups include Filipinos, Indonesians, and South Asians. The city also has a high population density, with an average of over 6,600 people per square kilometer.

Living long and living strong

Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest life expectancies, a testament to the city’s balanced lifestyle, healthcare system, and focus on collective health. For expats, this means you are moving to a city that cherishes well-being and longevity, which can influence your approach to health and self-care.

  • Life expectancy for Hong Kong women is 87.3 years on average;
  • In contrast, men in Hong Kong have an average life expectancy of 81.3 years, indicating differences in lifespan between genders.

Scholarly pursuits and excellence

Education is highly valued in Hong Kong, with a strong focus on academic achievement and personal growth. From preschool to university, the education system is rigorous and competitive, producing some of the best graduates globally. As an expat, you may find yourself immersed in this culture of learning, which can be a great opportunity for personal development.

Workforce dynamics

In recent years, Hong Kong has witnessed a shift in traditional family values, with more women joining the workforce and couples choosing to have fewer children or opting out of marriage altogether. This trend reflects the city’s evolving social landscape and offers expats a glimpse into the changing dynamics of family life in Hong Kong.

Exploring Hong Kong’s day-to-day life

Everyday life in Hong Kong is a vibrant symphony of sights, sounds, and experiences. From the challenges of air quality and weather to the seamless transport system, to the energetic work culture, every facet of life here is crafted to maximize time and enjoyment.

Breathing is believing: The air quality of Hong Kong

Hong Kong is renowned for its stunning skyline, but it’s also famed for its air pollution. The city’s air quality can fluctuate dramatically, from clear blue skies to thick smog in a matter of hours. As an expat, staying updated on air quality and wearing a face mask is crucial for health.

Yet, the pleasant weather year-round provides outdoor chances that balance the urban intensity with nature’s tranquility.

Cost of living: Navigating the economic maze

The cost of living in Hong Kong, particularly housing, is among the highest globally. This might surprise expats, as housing eats up a big chunk of the budget.

However, expats have affordable options like public housing or shared apartments, along with budget-friendly activities and food choices for comfortable living. By budgeting wisely and making smart decisions, expats can experience all the city has to offer without overspending.

On the move: Mastering Hong Kong’s transportation

Getting around in Hong Kong is a breeze, thanks to its highly efficient public transport system.

Hong Kong transportation

The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) network connects the city’s major areas, while buses and trams offer an affordable way to navigate through the bustling streets. Taxis are also readily available but can be pricier during peak hours.

Securing a Hong Kong international license can provide you with added mobility, allowing you to explore beyond the city limits with ease.

Work hard, play hard: The high-energy work culture

Hong Kong’s work culture is known for its high energy and rapid pace. With long working hours and intense competition, it can be overwhelming for expats at first, but it also offers many opportunities for professional growth and development.

However, Hong Kong also knows how to let loose and have fun. With a buzzing nightlife scene, endless dining options, and various recreational activities, expats can find the perfect balance between work and play. From rooftop bars to street food markets, Hong Kong offers a myriad of exciting options post-office hours.

Additionally, its proximity to other Southeast Asian nations allows for spontaneous weekend getaways and thrilling adventures.

Final thoughts

Hong Kong is a city that rewards ambition and hard work, offering an environment ripe for professional success. Yet, the key to a fulfilling expat life here lies in balancing career goals with personal happiness. So take a leap of faith, embrace the culture and lifestyle, and get ready for an unforgettable expat journey in Hong Kong.

If you’re thinking about doing business in Hong Kong or setting up a business there, BBCIncorp is always happy to help! With our support, you can navigate the company formation process with ease and establish a successful professional path in this bustling city.

Feel free to drop us a message at service@bbcincorp.com or chat directly with our support team for practical guidance.

Disclaimer: While BBCIncorp strives to make the information on this website as timely and accurate as possible, the information itself is for reference purposes only. You should not substitute the information provided in this article for competent legal advice. Feel free to contact BBCIncorp’s customer services for advice on your specific cases.

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