As a major financial hub and transit point in Asia, Hong Kong is often talked about around the world. You’ve probably heard a lot about it, especially in recent months. Unfortunately, some of the things you’ve heard are not entirely correct. Luckily, this list of myths about Hong Kong has been compiled by a local to make sure that you never get caught out with less than reliable information!
Safety and Financial Myths About Hong Kong
Myth Number 1 – Hong Kong is Unsafe
This is a fairly new line of thought, given recent protests and political turmoil in Hong Kong. It’s not a situation that can be easily explained in one blog post, but nothing that has happened, no matter what the media hype tells you, poses any threat to anyone entering Hong Kong as a tourist. To be honest, it doesn’t pose a threat to most Hong Kongers in general.
Protests did not make the city unsafe for people going about their daily life. The political issues have made life interesting for some, but still have no effect on the average person.
Demostrations still do occur here and there, but not on the scale that they used to. You’re more likely to come across graffiti with political messages scrawled in random places. Although, if you don’t read Chinese, you’ll have no idea what is being said most of the time.
Aside from that, Hong Kong is a generally safe city with a low crime rate. Locals are very cautious and will tell you to be careful of pickpockets, but then you can tell by the way they walk around with phones and wallets half hanging out of their pockets that pickpocketing is not really a thing.
While a lot of the world struggles with the pandemic, things have more or less remained normal in Hong Kong. There are some restrictions on the number of people that can gather in public and dine at the same table. Foreign nationals are now allowed to enter Hong Kong, but must undergo a 21 day quarantine in a hotel where they will be subjected to meals of instant noodles and snacks of terrible HK made sweet biscuits every day.
You might want to put your visit off for a while, but when you do visit, check out our list of FREE and budget activities in Hong Kong
Myths About Hong Kong, Number 2 – Hong Kong is Prohibitively Expensive
Myths About Hong Kong, Number 2 – Hong Kong is Prohibitively Expensive
There’s no denying that Hong Kong can be expensive, but you’d also be surprised at how easy it is to travel through or live in Hong Kong on a budget. Basically, it can be as expensive or as cheap as you make it.
If you spend all your time eating at western-style restaurants, things are going to get expensive rather quickly. However, if you opt to eat at local Cha Chaan Tengs, things will be a lot cheaper. You can make things even cheaper by shopping at local markets and cooking for yourself.
There are also many things to do in the city for free. Take a look at this article to learn more about free and budget-friendly things to do in the city.
Social Myths About Hong Kong
Myth Number 3 – The Local Language is Mandarin
It is a common misconception and probably one of the most pervasive myths about Hong Kong that the language spoken is Mandarin. Mandarin is actually spoken by many in Hong Kong as a third language, after Cantonese and English. This is mostly thanks to a law put in place in by China in 1997, making it a mandatory subject in all schools.
Cantonese is the Main Language
Many people in Hong Kong have ancestors from the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, which was previously known as Canton. That means that the majority of the population speaks Cantonese as their mother tongue. Many historians believe that Cantonese is the only Chinese language spoken today that is close to what was spoken during the Dynasties. This is a point of pride for a lot of Hong Kongers, who may get a bit annoyed if you try to speak Mandarin to them.
English Over Mandarin
If you don’t speak Cantonese, your best bet is to use English. English is the second official language in the area and is very widely spoken. It is also used as the medium of instruction alongside Cantonese, in all but a few local schools.
Myths About Hong Kong, Number 4 – Hong Kongers Are Unfriendly
I’ve heard this directly from many people that have visited the city. While it is completely untrue, I can see why people may come to that conclusion. One thing that you need to know about Hong Kongers is that they may not place much faith in their ability to speak and understand English. This can make them shy away from interacting with visitors. Or make them seem aloof when you try to engage them in conversation.
On the flip side of that, locals that do speak English well will often swoop in to help travellers that seem lost or need help communicating. The average Hong Konger will always rush to help someone in need, regardless of where you’re from. They’re also the kind of folks that would chase you to give you back your belongings if you accidentally left them behind.
Logistical Myths About Hong Kong
Myth Number 5 – There are Skyscrapers Everywhere
Perhaps one of the most widely spread myths about Hong Kong is that it is full of skyscrapers. Everyone has seen the iconic skyline photo of all the tall buildings on Hong Kong island. While it’s true that there are many skyscrapers in the city, they aren’t everywhere.
More Hills Than Skyscrapers – Myths About Hong Kong Busted
Hong Kong’s land area is a little over 1100km² but more than 70% of that area remains undeveloped. 40% of the land in Hong Kong belongs to the Country Park system of nature reserves instituted by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. These reserves have hundreds of hills within their boundaries. That means there are more hills than skyscrapers in Hong Kong!
Aside from the hills, Hong Kong also has some distinctly different landscapes within its borders, from forests to innercity parks with waterfalls and gardens.
As well as rivers and reservoirs.
There are even wetland areas and a UNESCO listed Geopark. And don’t forget its world-famous deep water harbour.
Myths About Hong Kong, Number 6 – There Is No Public Transport To The Peak
Possibly one of the strangest myths about Hong Kong originated somewhere in internet land. I suspect it was perpetrated by people trying to send business the way of the Peak Tram. If you haven’t heard of The Peak, it is the colloquial term for Victoria Peak, one of the city’s hundreds of hills. Many tourists flock to the Peak Galleria to get the iconic skyline view they’ve seen in so many pictures.
A Tourist Trap With Transport
As you would imagine, the area is pretty much a tourist trap. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t several transport options besides the overly-priced Peak Tram. As of December 2020, there are in fact 3 bus routes that meander up the hill to the terminus behind the Galleria. Taxis also make the trip up the hill. So I can say with absolute certainty, that this myth is completely false! Why would a city that has excellent transport links everywhere else, not provide transport to their biggest tourist trap? Doesn’t make sense, right?
Myths About Hong Kong, Number 7 – Get A Free Ride on the Airport Express With an Octopus Card
This one can also be found on the internet and is also completely false. For those of you that are not aware, the Octopus Card is Hong Kong’s transport card and can be used on trams, buses, ferries and trains. While it does offer a small discount over buying physical tickets, it does not offer any free rides. As much as we all wish it did.
Have you heard any other myths about Hong Kong? Let me know in the comments.
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