Hong Kong! The gateway to China, a sprawl of high tech skyscrapers, a shopper’s nirvana… There’s no shortage of images that spring to mind when the name is mentioned.
But there has to be more than shopping and superficial frivolities that continue to make Hong Kong so high up the list for travellers and expats alike.
So, let’s take a closer look at exactly what it is that brings people flooding to the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong…
1. The Buoyant Job Market
A firm favourite with expats, Hong Kong currently boasts a wonderful choice of industries in which to work. According to the Hudson HK Hiring Report of 2015, over 50% of Hong Kong employers were ‘intending to increase their permanent staff numbers’.
The city is home to one of the largest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the whole Asia Pacific region. This means that many skills are in high demand – including that of HR, sales and marketing, IT, digital advertising and the financial sector.
2. They Speak English
Hong Kong was a colony of the UK until 1997, when responsibility was handed over to China (it’s a little more complicated than that, as Hong Kong retains its own currency, parliament, and legal system, but that’s a whole different subject…).
However, in practical terms this means English remains one of the main languages, along with Cantonese.
3. The City is a Cultural Kaleidoscope
With British, Cantonese, and Mandarin influences, this is truly a place where east and west mix together. With the addition of various other cultures, such as Shanghainese and Hakka, the city is a melting pot that has fused into a wonderful mix, with a uniqueness found nowhere else on the planet.
4. It’s a Family-Friendly City
Even though the city is crammed with people, it’s still possible to enjoy open spaces, with green areas such as Hong Kong Park, Victoria Park, and the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens – all great places to hang out with friends or family, host a picnic, let off some steam, or simply chill out and relax.
5. The Public Transport is Fantastic
And there’s every type of bus imaginable: big, double decker, small, minibus… Plus ferries, trams, and overland trains – and it’s all super affordable to use.
Top Tip – get an Octopus Card as soon as you arrive. It’s a pre-payment card that makes using public transport far easier (you simply swipe in and swipe out), plus it’s cheaper than buying individual tickets.
6. Victoria Harbour
As city skylines go, Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour has to be up there in the top three in the whole world! And if that wasn’t enough, every night at 20:00, a light and sound show – A Symphony of Lights – shows it off at its very best.
7. The Shopping
Of course we couldn’t have a list such as this that didn’t include the shopping.
Hong Kong is fabled as being one of the best places on the planet for a bit of retail therapy. Whether you love browsing through street markets, high-end department stores, super malls, or pounding the shopping streets, shopaholics are going to be in their element.
For designer label junkies, head to Harbour City, Times Square, and the IFC. For curios and antiques, head to Cat Street Market, and to feast your eyes (not to mention your belly) on some amazing delicacies, head to the food market at Kowloon City.
8. The Tropical Paradise
Here’s a fact that might astound you: Around 40% of the whole of Hong Kong’s territory is protected by national parks.
This means that within a 20-minute drive, you can leave the city behind and be on a tropical beach, walking amazing trails in the surrounding mountains, or enjoying alien volcanic landscapes.
9. The Food is Amazing
One of the results of having such an eclectic fusion of people living in Hong Kong is the authentic food from different regions. This is dim sum paradise, and whilst Cantonese food dominates, there is also much influence from other non-Cantonese Chinese food as well.
Whether you choose to dine at a fancy restaurant or at a street stall, it’s virtually impossible to go hungry in Hong Kong.
10. The Wonderful Festivals
Hong Kong boasts a huge amount of festivals and fairs throughout the year. Enjoy the Chinese New Year, the Spring Lantern Festival, the Birthday of Tin Hau, and the Birthday of Buddah, amongst others.
11. It’s a Safe Place to Visit
In the nervous times that we live, safety is always high on everyone’s list of priorities. Hong Kong remains one of the “safe” cities in the world in which to visit or live.
There is a low risk of terrorism, and the crime rate is happily low – travellers and visitors should, of course, take sensible precautions against petty crime such as pick pocketing, as you would in any crowded area of the world.
12. There’s an Excellent Health System
Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world that has a thriving (and low cost, or even free) health system.
The population of Hong Kong is one of the healthiest in the world. There are over 50 government-run hospitals as well as numerous private ones.
Everyone with a Hong Kong ID card has the right to use the government-run health system. This privilege is even extended to tourists.
As you can see, Hong Kong has many plus points – in fact, we had to whittle them down to get a manageable list!
We haven’t even touched on the history, the nightlife, the surrounding islands, the accessibility to various other parts of Asia… There’s just too much to mention.
If you’ve not yet been there, you’re certainly in for a thrill when you arrive!