Dealing with culture shock in Hong Kong

When traveling or moving into a new city or country, there will always be things we are not used to. And those things are the easiest to notice when comparing different countries. Over time many people visiting or relocating to Hong Kong from US were affected by those small or sometimes big differences. So we decided to help you out and give you some advice about dealing with culture shock in Hong Kong.

Welcome to Hong Kong

One of the largest, most beautiful, and most advanced cities in the world is Hong Kong. Although there won’t be too many shocks for people of English background there are still some. Being a former British colony has influenced the city a lot. So much so that the locals are quite proficient in English. Not only that but being home of around 7 million people has given this city a big tolerance for different beliefs and cultures. So it’s safe to say Hong Kong is a melting pot that welcomes people that are relocating to Hong Kong from all over the world. But that doesn’t mean you won’t experience a shock in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Feris weel at night
There are many themed places in Hong Kong that everyone must see at least once.

Language can be a culture shock in Hong Kong

When you arrive in Hong Kong you will notice right away that people here speak Cantonese or English. Although you can even stumble on to someone that has some knowledge in Mandarin as well, finding other languages can be tricky. So if you look like a foreigner don’t be surprised if most of the people talk to you in English. If you moved with the help of ReloSmart Movers Hong Kong residents recommended then you were probably ready to learn and talk in Cantonese. So having people only speak in English to you can be confusing at first.

Cultural differences

After moving you will need some time to get used to your new surroundings. But that’s not all, you will also need time to get used to people and the ways they behave. First of all, keep in mind that people here are quite reserved. And even if they do end up standing close to you while talking, any physical contact is deemed inappropriate. So keep your hands to yourself! Another culture shock in Hong Kong that you may notice is the importance of “face”. People here believe that you can save, give or lose face.

The face represents the dignity and reputation of a person. And all of your public behaviors will affect your or someone else’s face. As social events and popularity here mean a lot to locals, it is only natural that you respect them. By giving compliments or sincere respect you are giving someone face. On the other hand arguing, disrespecting, and contradicting someone in public will cause them to lose face. And this is applied in everyday life. Even when you are shipping furniture to Hong Kong by the way you communicate with the company will affect your and their face.

People talking with respect in all situations can be a culture shock in Hong Kong
The importance of good behavior and proper manners can be a culture shock in Hong Kong for many new people.


Finding a home in Hong Kong comes at a lofty price. People that used to live in bigger homes with big yards and lawns back, will now need to adjust themselves for the opposite. Hong Kong is not a huge city. But it is still densely populated. So in order to accommodate for that there were some adjustments. And making the living spaces smaller is the solution the city came to. Above that, due to high demand even real estate prices were affected making home prices skyrocket especially in recent years.

Living in Hong Kong can be quite expensive, and most of your money will be going into accommodations. But even that’s not all, there are also the costs of utilities to consider, as air conditioning is a necessity during the summer. Of course, there are suburban homes in Hong Kong as well. But these homes are highly expensive. So most people move into apartment buildings. The rent of such flats can vary relying on the region you choose.

Eating etiquette

If when moving you also decide to move your pet, it’s best to look into pet movers Hong Kong offers. As animals are quite popular in the city there are many services centered around them. At the same time, there are many pet-friendly and pet-themed restaurants s and cafes. Of course, when it comes to food there are more than just a few things that can cause a culture shock in Hong Kong. One of the most basic things you should learn is how to use chopsticks. Keep in mind that most places here will have a dining set (knife, fork, spoon) that they could offer you.

A couple eating together in Hong Kong
Having proper table manners in Hong Kong is a huge bonus.

But that doesn’t mean it is better. Using chopsticks will bring you a step closer to adapting to the city. Some of the most basic chopstick etiquettes you should know are:

  • If you are not using them, don’t fiddle with your chopsticks
  • Lay them down evenly on the chopstick holders that were provided by the restaurant
  • Never stick chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice (it is their belief that this gesture invites death to the table)
  • Pointing at people or things with chopsticks is deemed inappropriate

The weather

Although this is not exactly a culture shock in Hong Kong, it is still something people find hard to adapt to. The weather here is something people even locals have a hard time with. This city is quite humid and is also known for extremely hot summers. The heat waves here are something many new residents have trouble getting used to. It is quite tricky as all places need and have indoor cooling systems. So sometimes it can be hard to walk outside and then enter a mall, cafe, or any other closed space. As the temperature differences are huge.

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I was hoping to avoid the struggles of having to relocate altogether, but with ReloSmart Movers by my side, I’m glad I didn’t. The team did an incredible job – they arrived on time and handled everything perfectly!

David R.