5 Hong Kong “Quirks” you should know before you visit!

Are you visiting Hong Kong for the first time and need some tips? We have lived in Hong Kong for the last three years and have come across a number of quirks that we think are important for a first time traveller to Hong Kong to be aware of:

1. Put your hand up to get service in a restaurant

Amanda’s parents visited Hong Kong last year, and we forgot to mention this important point to them. They went to a cafe and sat there for 15 mins and thought it was rude that nobody came to take their order, so they got up and left outraged! When you are ready to order, just put your hand up and someone will come over. This is something that we personally love about Hong Kong as it very efficient. Amanda tried this back in Australia recently and was told off by her sister for being rude.

2. Different coloured taxis, service different areas

This one is important to remember because the taxi drivers may tell you they won’t take you somewhere you want to go, and you may not really be sure why! Red taxis = Hong Kong Island, blue taxis = Lantau Island, green taxis = the New Territories. Some other important points about taxis: 1) you cannot pay with credit card in the taxi so make sure you have cash 2) taxi drivers in green and blue taxis (at least the ones we have been in anyway) only speak Cantonese, so make sure you have the place you want to go written in Cantonese, or catch an Uber!

Red taxi servicing Hong Kong Island

3. Drive on the left side of the road and walk on the right

This one confuses us. Driving on the left is due to their British history, but not sure where walking on the right came from? People living in Hong Kong (us included) can get quite annoyed especially on escalators if you aren’t standing on the right, because then there is no way for us busy people to pass you.

Stick to the right in Hong Kong

4. Pies in Hong Kong bakeries are not like Australian Four’N Twenty pies

Besides family and friends, the thing we miss from back home the most is eating meat pies! So you can imagine our delight when we came across a Hong Kong bakery that was selling chicken pies. That is until we bit into the pie and realised… it was sweet! Don’t get us wrong, the pie itself was nice, it just wasn’t what we were expecting. The best way to describe it, is like an Arnott’s shortbread biscuit with chicken in it. Anyway as a first time traveller you are in Hong Kong to experience Cantonese cuisine, so learn to love the Cantonese pie!

5. If you ask for water in a restaurant it will be hot water

If you ask for a glass of water in a Cantonese restaurant, generally you will be brought a glass of hot water. According to Chinese medicine a glass of hot water has health benefits like kick starting the digestive system and circulation. People in Hong Kong also boil the water because they are paranoid about bacteria in the water. My staff at work were horrified when I told them I drink water straight out of the tap. When you are in a restaurant be specific and tell them if you want cold or iced water.

We have many other tips and stories about Hong Kong generally as well as Hong Kong quirks. Check out our other blog posts on Hong Kong dining etiquette and Hong Kong after dark.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Vanessa says:

    Very informative!!

    1. Dean Samuels says:

      thanks. You will have to come back so you can put the tips to use!

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