Knowing Local Manners Before Traveling to Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a trio of historical and cultural influences from its locals, from its British colonial days, and from Mainland China. As such, Hong Kong today has a set of cultural manners that come from both Asian and Western ideals. Here are 7 travel etiquette tips in Hong Kong:

Travel Etiquette in Hong Kong. Tip #1 : Greeting Locals

When greeting locals, shake hands are the cultural norm. However, don’t squeeze so hard! Western handshakes encourage a firm, palm-to-palm handshake. In Asia, handshakes are more like a light touch to create the motion of the handshake. If you squeeze too hard, you’ll end up embarrassingly crushing the other hand.


Travel Etiquette in Hong Kong. Tip #2: Local Attire

Dressing in Hong Kong is mostly casual. However, if you plan on staying in Central, note that the local attire is business formal during the day (plenty of suits walking around) and stylish, dressing-to-impress at night.


Travel Etiquette in Hong Kong. Tip #3: Local Behavior v. Mainland Behavior

You’ll notice once you leave the U.S., many locals around the world are less politically correct about judging foreigners and outsiders. In Hong Kong, locals judge certain behaviors as locals versus mainlanders (referring to those from China as opposed to those locally from Hong Kong – an important difference for native Hong Kongers).

Locals try to contrast themselves against mainlanders in many ways, including not shouting or talking in loud voices on public transportation, not spitting in public streets, gently pushing through crowds as opposed to shoving, and observing lines/queues as opposed to cutting them.


Travel Etiquette in Hong Kong. Tip #4: Escalator Etiquette

Like in Japan, Hong Kong has an etiquette for escalators. Stand on the right, and let others pass on the left. Quite often, there will be people using that left pass lane as the cultural is fast paced and people are always walking fast to their next destination.


Travel Etiquette in Hong Kong. Tip #5: Phone Etiquette (Is There Even One?)

No, there is no phone etiquette. Maybe to speak quietly on public transportation, but even that is often ignored by the many non-locals. Also, look out for those with their faces down on their phones while walking. And, sadly, many locals seem to eat out at restaurants to have a date with their phones rather than the human they came with.


Travel Etiquette in Hong Kong. Tip #6: Dining Etiquette

Chopsticks are the utensil for all local foods. (However, you can always ask for utensils if you prefer.) Be mindful of chopsticks etiquette, namely not stabbing your chopsticks into food. When you are not using it, rest it neatly on your plate or on the chopsticks rest.


Travel Etiquette in Hong Kong. Tip #7: Tea & Drinking Etiquette

In Asia, those you eat with are mindful of their hosting manners. In Hong Kong, if you are drinking tea with a group of people, refill the cups of others before your own. Likewise, the same can go for other beverages.


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