The expat lifestyle in Hong Kong really can be summed up in a phrase that's often used when speaking about the world’s biggest cities: "work hard, play hard." Nearly everybody does and, in a place that thrives on perpetuating and amplifying its bustling urban energy, there are always restaurants to dine at, bars to enjoy a drink at, clubs to dance in and attractions to enjoy.
People working in Hong Kong often live their social lives at the same pace and efficiency expected of them in the business world. After long, demanding days at the office, locals and foreigners alike have a bewildering array of opportunities to enjoy ostentatious luxury or to absorb the city’s natural splendour and cultural allure.
With the Asian financial capital's reputation for attracting wealthy foreigners who enjoy the perks of lucrative salaries, country clubs and glamorous homes, there are many options for expats lucky enough to live a life of luxury. That said, with high-paying packages becoming less common, expats with more realistic payslips will still have access to a lifestyle that can leave them fit, entertained and culturally stimulated.
It isn't always necessary to pay top dollar. Although the nightlife and shopping options aimed at expats will be more expensive, there’s also an endless supply of reasonably priced local equivalents. The subtropical city also offers a range of outdoor activities to people with a sense of adventure, from hiking trails and beaches to barbecue areas.
Shopping in Hong Kong
The shopping in Hong Kong is legendary, and it’s easy for high-income earning expats to quickly become aisle-cruising addicts in an Asian hub with no sales tax and an impressive inventory of designer boutiques.
Flashy designer labels are extremely popular, especially with Hong Kong locals and mainland Chinese. In accommodating this, the city can sometimes feel like one endless chain of shopping centres.
The Landmark, the IFC Mall, Harbour City, Pacific Place, Elements and Times Square are just a few of them. Big names such as Prada, Chanel and Louis Vuitton are everywhere and high-street brands such as Zara and American Eagle can be found as well.
Markets are popular with locals, expats and tourists alike. Ladies' Market, Jardine’s Crescent Market, Temple Street Night Market and Stanley Market are among the most popular. Be aware that not all markets haggle in Hong Kong – observe other shoppers to see if this is the case before trying to wrangle a cheaper price.
Sports and outdoor activities in Hong Kong
Hong Kong offers a tremendous number of opportunities for those wanting to exercise and socialise.
Many expats use the facilities of the membership clubs, which offer pools, gyms and tennis courts. Alternatively, one can sign up for a gym membership or other specialist clubs. From yoga classes to boxing lessons, there is something for everyone.
Despite its limited land space, hiking is popular in Hong Kong, and the contrast between the lush mountains and the towering glass and steel buildings is spectacular. The Hong Kong Trail is a 31-mile (50km) trail that meanders around the forests and ridges of the city. It starts at Victoria Peak, ends at Big Wave Bay, and passes through a number of country parks along the way. Another popular option is the Morning Trail, a well-trodden route that takes one up Victoria Peak.
For those keen to get out on the water, windsurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and sailing are all doable in Hong Kong. Windsurfing can be done at Stanley Beach, Sai Kung and Cheung Chau, while waterskiing and wakeboarding lessons are on offer in Tai Tam and Sai Kung. There are also a number of government-run watersport centres in Hong Kong that rent equipment and offer training courses.
►Learn how to meet people and make friends in Hong Kong
►Read one expat's recommendations of the best nightlife spots in Hong Kong
"Assimilate with local culture as soon as possible. Eat local dishes, go to where locals go, explore the city’s many features such as hiking trails, beaches, variety of food and more." For more of Elmer's insights about the lifestyle in Hong Kong, read his expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Hong Kong?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Hong Kong. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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