5 Things You Should Avoid Doing (or Saying) in Hong Kong

Before going on their trips, most people search the Internet on things to do, eat and see at their destination. Rarely does anyone read up on things to avoid, but that could turn out to be a costly mistake! While Hong Kong is a developed city and most people aren’t out to cheat your money, there are certainly things to be aware of.

#1 Uber

You may be able to access Uber in Hong Kong, but the ride-hailing service is actually illegal in the city and a group of 28 Uber drivers have recently been convicted in Hong Kong this July. There are six different types of public transport in Hong Kong, and they are convenient and come relatively cheap compared to other developed cities, so there is really no reason you should be trying to Uber your way around when it is illegal.

#2 Airbnb

Short-term home rentals are illegal in Hong Kong and that means you should avoid renting a room through Airbnb during your trip to Hong Kong because clearly they won’t be licensed and they likely do not meet the necessary requirements that protect the consumers.

#3 Chungking Mansion

Accommodation in Hong Kong don’t come cheap, and there is just no way around it. If you see any accommodation with prices that are comparable to cheaper cities in South East Asia, it is likely Chungking Mansion and it is a place you should avoid altogether.

hong kong guide

Chungking Mansion is the most famous (and infamous) building in Kowloon, Hong Kong. This building in Tsim Sha Tsui was made famous in 1994 by Wong Kar-wai’s movie titled “Chungking Express”, which is a movie about two cops and their lovers.

You might find articles that try to tell you how interesting Chungking Mansion can be and how you should put all prejudices aside and visit the place, but most locals would tell you that it is an infamous crime hotspot that you should just avoid going anywhere near.

I have had two different groups of friends who stayed at Chungking Mansion and absolutely hated their trips in Hong Kong because of that. It is up to you to decide what it is worth.

#4 Taking your own sweet time

Hong Kong people aren’t the most friendly on the streets, and you can’t blame them because the city is just way too overcrowded, and everyone just seems to be overly competitive and always rushing for time.

hong kong guide

Making an order in a cha chaan teng (literally: tea restaurant) during lunch hours? You had better enter the cha chaan teng with what you want to eat already in mind. No one has the time to wait for you to go through the menu and make your order.

But that mostly applies only to the older and famous cha chaan tengs that have made their names as tourist must-gos. Most newer cha chaan tengs offer better services and same quality of food at similar prices, because they know how important good service is in this day and age.

Don’t forget to also always have your Octopus card (Singapore’s EZ-Link card equivalent) ready when travelling around on public transport because things can get quite nasty if you stand in the way of busy Hong Kongers.

#5 Saying “mm goi” when you mean “dor je”

It helps to remember a few words in the local language, such as hello and thank you; not only can you make someone’s day better by showing your effort in learning the local language, it can also help you get around easier. But having two different words for thank you in Cantonese makes it hard, when remembering words in a foreign language is already tough enough. This is especially when both words are used to thank people but essentially have different meanings and are used in different situations.

One of the most common mistakes that beginner learners of the Cantonese language make is saying mm goi (唔該) instead of dor je (多謝). While both words are used to thank people, mm goi is used when you are thanking someone for a favour done or to be done, and dor je is used to thank someone for a gift. When used wrongly, you could actually offend someone unknowingly, so be very careful about your choice of word.

As a tourist, however, most of the time you would do fine just by saying mm goi, as mm goi can also be used to mean “please” or “excuse me”.

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