CITY GUIDE 2021
SETTING UP • HOME DÉCOR • THINGS TO DO SCHOOLS • HEALTHCARE • RESTAURANTS
Hong Kong’s favourite hair salon and beauty spa for styling, facials and laser hair removal.
8th Floor, Silver Fortune Plaza, 1 Wellington Street, Central 2525 5198 | 9680 2107 (WhatsApp) email@example.com glowspa.hk
WELCOME NOTE When asked what advice he had for newcomers to Hong Kong, one of our contributors to this year’s City Guide gave a succinct three-word answer: “Get stuck in.” Well said! And, in a place like Hong Kong, there’s so much to get stuck into . Keeping to the three-word theme, here are a just a few must-dos: Sample dim sum. Wander Central’s alleyways. Enjoy retail therapy. Drink rooftop cocktails. Absorb the culture. Visit an island. Join a club. Hit a beach. Hike the hills. (Plus loads more!) It’s also an ever-changing place. This is our sixth Expat Living City Guide, and the 852 continues to provide a surprise and a delight at every turn. That’s why these pages aren’t just for newbies. We can guarantee that “old hands” will also find fresh ideas and inspiration – whether it’s a fun piece of trivia for your next pub quiz, or word of a restaurant opening in the next neighbourhood. As always, we have the inside scoop from our Panel – a group of readers who’ve provided feedback across a wide range of topics, from opening a bank account to finding a gym. (Thanks for your help, panellists!) Beyond these pages, there are other ways we can assist. For one thing, each issue of our quarterly print magazine is jam-packed with recommendations and reflections from readers like you. You’ll hear about their homes, hobbies, jobs, schools and more. Meanwhile, our website (expatliving.hk) covers the Hong Kong experience from top to toe. We meet enterprising locals and interview inspiring expats, hunt for the best junk caterers and vegetarian restaurants, and provide updates on family health, furniture stores, upcoming art shows and new products. Finally, be sure to stay in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram@expatliving.hk, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any question under the sun. And get stuck in!
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13 HONG KONG HACKS Your basic survival guide Learn everything you need to know about your new home, from some of the challenges facing newcomers, to transport options, networking, finding friends, hiring a helper and looking for work
51 MOVING IN Neighbourhood tips and design inspo Discover your favourite area of Hong Kong – and your perfect property; then, spruce it up and make it your own with our interior design tips and furniture recommendations
73 LEARN & PLAY A guide to schools, plus activities for all Explore a range of preschools, schools and other educational institutions so you can make the right choice; plus, go beyond the classroom with our fun ideas for kids’ parties and teen hangouts.
111 HAPPY & HEALTHY Stay well, inside and out Hong Kong not only offers state-of-the-art hospitals and health services, it’s also a great place for keeping fit, pampering yourself and looking your best with the latest beauty and fashion finds!
129 ESCAPING THE CITY Awesome ideas for exploring near and far Here we highlight the best of Hong Kong’s hikes, parks and more, and take a look at some beautiful destinations around the world for planning a future getaway.
143 LET’S EAT! The hottest cafés, restaurants and bars There is amazing food in Hong Kong, from dim sum to champagne brunches, so turn to this section for our restaurant recommendations, foodie tips and other advice for the curious or just plain hungry
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I n our quarterly magazine and our annual City Guide, we give you an overview of life in Hong Kong to help you on your way. But remember, for instant access when you’re out and about, our website has a wealth of info, tips and stories. From people’s reviews of their neighbourhoods and where to get good blonde highlights (very important) to the best nature spots and more, expatliving.hk has everything you need! Just a few of our online features: • Fun things to do in Hong Kong • Best Sunday brunch spots • HK People: Interviews with readers like you! • A guide to international schools • 8 cool things to do with teenagers • Top beaches near you • Best public pools for families • 8 must-try traditional Hong Kong foods • Summer camps for kids • Top websites for grocery deliveries • Best vegetarian and vegan restaurants • 10 places to buy alcohol online • Tropical island escapes for the future • Romantic getaways in Asia • Top salons for hair treatments For more handy guides and tips, visit expatliving.hk
Meet the Panel
Insider knowledge can be hugely helpful in Hong Kong, whether it’s from a person who grew up here, a long-term expat or even someone who is fresh off the boat! This group of six panellists have generously shared their tips, tricks and recommendations in the pages ahead. PANEL MEET THE
MONICA GOUNAROPOULOS British/Greek expat Monica has been in Hong Kong for almost three years; it’s her first expat posting, and she’s here with her husband and two kids. Monica runs a personal gifting service, The Masked Gi fter (themaskedgifter.com), offering a personal shopper experience. If you’re short on time or ideas (or you hate shopping!), she can curate, source, wrap and deliver the perfect gift.
DOMINIQUE BACKHOUSE Dominique is British/French and has lived in Hong Kong for 37 years. Her English grandfather arrived here in 1945 with the Liberation fleet, and her French grandfather in the early 1970s to work in banking. Dominique has lived in Sydney, New York, Edinburgh and London, but always comes back to HK! She’s here now with her husband and son, and runs Companion Communications (companioncommunications.com), a PR agency focusing on culture, travel, food and sustainability.
Meet the Panel
ADAM RABY Adam i s Ch i nese/ English and was born
and raised in Hong Kong; his fami ly
ALINE DAVIES Originally from here, Aline lived away for Hong Kong before returning five years ago with her partner and family. Aside from freelancing for an international furniture brand, offering brand communications and content strategy support, she also runs Sincerely Aline (@sincerelyaline), which is all about wholesome, fuss-free cooking, and teaches plant-based cooking classes at Foodcraft.
has since retired back to the UK. He started his career i n adve r t i s i ng before moving to play professional rugbyunion. Today, Adam runs his own swimwear business, Mazu Resor twear (mazuresortwear.com), which he launched eight years ago.
SARAH KEATES Sarah is from the UK but has spent the past 10 years in Hong Kong, where she lives with her son. Earlier expat postings included Ibiza and mainland Spain in her 20s. Sarah owns and operates PR and marketing agency White Orchid Insights (whiteorchidinsights.com), serving clients across the education, aviation, non- profit, wellness, luxury and start-up sectors.
MAX DAVIES Max is a Brit and a relatively new arr ival on these shores – he’s approaching his one-year anniversary in Hong Kong as this guide hits the shelves. This is Max’s first expat posting; he came across with his fiancée and works in asset management.
Hong Kong Hacks Your basic survival guide
Xxxxx | Shutterstock.com
THE CITY GUIDE
4 Just as we are going to print with this City Guide, Ocean Park is preparing to open a new theme park in Hong Kong. What’s it called?
FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOU KNOW ABOUT YOUR CURRENT HOME, FROM ITS PLACE IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW TO ITS FASCINATING PAST.
5 WHERE IN EVERYDAY HONG KONG LIFE WOULD YOU FIND A MÖBIUS STRIP?
6 Standing 484 metres, and currently the world’s 12th-tallest building by height, is which Hong Kong skyscraper?
2 What does
MTR stand for?
1 Siobhan Haughey
represented Hong Kong in which sport at the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo?
7 Which island is further north, Peng Chau or Cheung Chau?
3 AS OF JULY 2021, WHAT IS THE POPULATION OF HONG KONG, 6.5, 7.5 OR 8.5 MILLION?
8 There were no Signal 10 typhoons in HK in 2020, but we did have one Signal 9 typhoon. Starting with “H”, what was its name?
9 AFTER A SPATE OF COVID- RELATED CANCELLATIONS, THE HONG KONG SEVENS RUGBY TOURNAMENT IS NOW SCHEDULED FOR NOVEMBER 2021. WHO IS THE CARRY-OVER CUP CHAMPION FROM 2019? 10 There are two stops between the airport and Central. What are they? on the Airport Express
1 Who was the first reigning British monarch to visit Hong Kong?
2 THE BIG BUDDHA ON LANTAU OPENED TO THE PUBLIC IN DECEMBER OF WHICH YEAR, 1973, 1983 OR 1993?
3 Which started operating first, the Star Ferry or the Peak Tram?
4 Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan were both born in Hong Kong: true or false?
5 MANY OLDER HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS IN HONG KONG ARE PAINTED PINK: IS THIS ON ACCOUNT OF FENG SHUI PRINCIPLES, TO REPRESENT THE BAUHINIA FLOWER, OR BECAUSE PINK PAINT WAS THE CHEAPEST?
6 WHAT IS HONG KONG’S OLDEST STREET?
10 The Noonday Gun, fired at midday each day in Causeway Bay, was the inspiration for which famous line by playwright Noël Coward?
7 Which hotel is referred to as the “grand old lady”?
8 The first European explorer is believed to have set in foot in Hong Kong in 1513. Was he Portuguese, British, Dutch or Spanish?
dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”
#10 “Only mad
#9 Chris Patten
#6 Queen’s Road, built in the 1840s #8 Portuguese (Jorge Álvares)
#7 The Peninsula
#5 Pink paint was cheapest!
were from Hong Kong, and Jackie Chan was born on HK Island, Bruce Lee was born in California while his opera-singing father was on tour in America’s family
#4 False; while both families
years before the Peak Tram in 1888
#3 The Star Ferry started in 1880, eight
#10 Tsing Yi and Kowloon THE PAST: #1 Queen Elizabeth II, in 1975; she returned a second time in 1986 #2 1993
#7 Peng Chau
Commerce Centre (ICC)
9 WHOWAS GOVERNOR OF HONG KONG IN 1993?
#5 On an Octopus card
#4 Water World
#2 Mass Transit Railway
ALL THE ANSWERS! THE PRESENT:
What are some positive aspects about being an expat here? Any negatives?
One positive is the people – there is nowhere on earth more welcoming than the Hong Kong expat community, and the locals here. You will make friends very quickly. The environment means you can go from city to beach in less than 20 minutes, and there are hikes at the front of your office door. You’re never very far from somewhere beautiful! With the available help, it’s a wonderful place to work as a woman here; you never have to make the decision between work or family. I never thought there was a negative to living in HK until the pandemic arrived – it’s been a year and a half since I’ve seen my mother, and being away from family and hamstrung by three weeks of quarantine with a child has been very difficult. Dominique Hong Kong has so much to offer – from beaches to hiking and great food; and it’s very social. Compared to other major cities and regions, HK is also very manageable; it’s so easy to get from one side to the other very quickly. You also have all of Asia on your doorstep (when we’re allowed to travel!). As far as negatives go, while we love the place as it is, there is clearly a lot of uncertainty around its future direction, which means that it’s hard to say whether we’ll be here forever. Max
Hong Kong Hacks
The expat community is very friendly, open and approachable – it makes a big difference when you’re relocating to a new country. Hong Kong is actually really small; this is lovely, as it gives it more of a community feel. After a few months, you’ll end up bumping into people you know randomly in the streets or in restaurants and bars – it makes you feel like Mr or Ms Popular! There are lots of independent small businesses; this makes the coffee you buy, the lunch you eat and the items you shop all the more interesting! A negative? Don’t trust the maps app on your phone! I’ve had many occasions where on the map it has looked like an easy walk to somewhere, but you end up walking via a highway, through a building or up a million stairs! Monica
THE ENERGY OF THE CITY IS INDESCRIBABLE; IT KEEPS ME MOTIVATED AND INSPIRED EVEN AFTER A DECADE. PEOPLE ARE SO DRIVEN HERE AND FULL OF ASPIRATION, AMBITION AND CREATIVITY. HONG KONG IS A GLAMOROUS HIGH-RISE CITY BUT ALSO 70 PERCENT GREEN. YOU CAN BE UP A MOUNTAIN AT 5.30AM AND IN THE OFFICE BY 7AM, THEN BACK HOME LOOKING OUT OVER THE OCEAN, SWIMMING IN THE POOL AT WEEKENDS. YOU CAN SPEND YOUR DAYS CHILLED OUT WITH YOGA UNDER THE PALM TREES, OR ON YACHT TRIPS, EATING IN MICHELIN-STAR RESTAURANTS, OR ENJOYING A SIMPLE LIFE ON THE ISLANDS. THE CITY HAS IT ALL. IT KEEPS THINGS INTERESTING. HONG KONG CAN BE EXHAUSTING – IT IS A VERY FULL-ON PLACE. THIS IS WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO PRIORITISE HEALTH AND WELLNESS. OTHERWISE, YOU CAN BURN OUT. Sarah
Everything is accessible here and close by, though
you might have to pay a premium for some things. Adam
1 “DO I NEED A WORKING VISA? HOW DO I GET ONE?” Unless you have a Hong Kong “right of abode” or “right to land”, a visa is required to work in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). Having your company sponsor and issue your visa (and any dependant visas for your family) before you arrive is the most efficient way of entering Hong Kong. Most companies hiring foreign staff are familiar with the process and should get the ball rolling before you travel. 2 “HOW LONG CAN I STAY AS A VISITOR?” Arriving as a visitor allows stays of between seven and 180 days, depending on what passport you hold. You’re not legally entitled to work without a visa but you can land and then set about getting your documents if necessary. Expect the visa process to take at least four weeks. When it comes to logistics of daily life in Hong Kong, we have it pretty easy. Here, we answer questions on some key areas you need to get sorted as a priority when you land (or even before, if you can).
3 “CAN I WORK ON A DEPENDANT VISA?” If one of you has obtained a working visa, then dependant visas can be issued (and are necessary) for your spouse and children under the age of 18. Holding a dependant visa gives a wide berth for spousal work opportunities since no additional working visa is needed, and the dependant is not tied to one company. Minors all need valid visas for school and to access public facilities, like healthcare. More: immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/visit-transit/visit-visa-entry-permit.html immd.gov.hk/eng/services/hkid/general_info.html Be aware that COVID-19 restrictions anduncertainties have complicated the visa process; you should supplement the information included in this guide with the latest updates from the relevant government websites.
Hong Kong Hacks
7 “SPEAKING OF CARDS, WHAT IS THIS OCTOPUS CARD I KEEP HEARING ABOUT?” One of Hong Kong’s great innovations is the Octopus card and it’s a good idea to get one for each member of the family. The card is micro-chipped, allowing you to make cashless payments on public transport – but it has many other uses, from buying groceries or things from vending machines to paying for parking or even for services at public hospitals. A standard card comes with a refundable HK$50 deposit. Children are required to start paying fares from age three; they don’t necessarily need their own Octopus card from that age – you can buy tickets at MTR stations or pay on the bus. Pick up a card at a range of authorised distribution outlets including almost all MTR stations, plus various light rail and ferry customer service centres. More: octopus.com.hk
4 “WHAT IS AN HKID, AND HOW DO I GET ONE?”
Anyone residing in Hong Kong and aged 11 or over is required to hold a Hong Kong ID card (HKID), and an application must be made within 30 days of landing if you’re planning to stay longer than six months. Details of the process are found on the HK SAR government Immigration Department website. It’s possible to make online bookings for an appointment, but be prepared to spend some time in person at the Immigration officewhenmaking your application. There are five locations where applications can be processed; Immigration Tower inWan Chai is the busiest but most frequented by expats. On the day, you’ll need: Photos are taken during the application, and no fee is required. HKID applications are usually processed and ready for collection within 10 days. More: immd.gov.hk/eng/ services/hkid/general_info.html 5 “DO I EVER NEED TO UPGRADE MY HKID?” If you’re returning to Hong Kong and already have a HKID from your last stint, you might need to update it. All HKIDs are being upgraded to newer cards, and replacements are being managed by year of birth. Check the government website (smartid.gov.hk/en/) to see if your card needs replacing. 6 “WHEN DO I NEED TO USE MY CARD?” You should keep your ID card on you at all times, and it’s a good idea to have the number memorised, since it’s routinely used as an identifier when calling banks or arranging services. Cards are fitted with a smart chip and as such can be used in place of a library card, as well as ensuring a swift exit through automatic gates at Hong Kong Airport and in Macau. • Passport • Valid visa • Completed application form • Child’s original birth certificate
Was it easy setting up your bank or phone accounts, internet services and so on?
IT WAS VERY EASY FOR ME PERSONALLY. AS I’M FROM HERE, I ALREADY HAD BANK ACCOUNTS BEFORE MOVING BACK. Aline
For a financial hub, the retail banking experience here is underwhelming. It takes a while to open accounts, with very outdated and often paper- orientated processes. bank run by Standard Chartered) for an easy set-up and good user experience; but often you need one of the major banks to get paid into. I have HSBC in the UK, so I opted for HSBC here too, but it is meaningfully inferior. Max I recommend Mox (a new challenger
Once you have your HKID, yes. Otherwise, it’s quite hard! Adam
Setting up a phone account was easy – I went with Birdie Mobile as they offer month- by-month plans with no binding contracts. Plus, what’s great with phone accounts in HK is you get to choose your own phone number! I’ve never had that luxury before, to choose a number I’ll actually remember. Setting up a bank account was … not so easy! It can take quite a long time for a new account to be set up and operational depending on which provider you go with, so plan for that, just in case! Oh, and if they offer you a chequebook, say yes! Randomly, some companies only accept cheque for certain payments. Monica
Yes, super easy. HSBC Global for all my accounts. Phone was as simple as walking into a shop. Lots of people speak perfect English. Sarah
Not sure I can
answer this as I got an HSBC account as a teenager and my dad set it up for me! Dominique
Hong Kong Hacks
8 “WHICH BANK SHOULD I CHOOSE?” Hong Kong has a mix of international and local players. If you need to shift funds between countries, choosing a bank that also operates in your home country can reduce costs associated with transfers and exchange rates. Popular banks among expats include Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered, and it’s also worth considering Hang Seng Bank, Bank of China (Hong Kong) and DBS. 9 “ANY PARTICULAR TYPE OF ACCOUNT?” Most common personal banking accounts in Hong Kong include checking, savings and multi- currency accounts. Credit cards can be linked to an account, as can an EPS card, which acts like a debit card. View the charges on credit cards, which can be high, and do not neglect to order a chequebook, since these are still a frequently requested form of payment in Hong Kong.
10 “WHAT SHOULD I BRING TO THIS FIRST BANK VISIT?” Check with the particular bank, as each has slightly different requirements, but it’s likely you will need: • Passport: Both are needed for joint accounts. • Letter of employment, issued by your employer: If you’re in Hong Kong on a spousal visa, you should apply at the same time as your partner. • Hong Kong ID or temporary ID: If you plan to open a joint account, you must both hold ID. • Proof of address in Hong Kong: A copy of your rental agreement or a utility bill. • Copy of a permanent address in your home country: Use your last address, or that of a relative who is still resident there. • Social security number: Required for American citizens opening accounts with American banks. 11 “WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?” At the branch, take a ticket and wait to be called. This can take 30 minutes or more in busy locations. A bank representative will check your documents and guide you through the set-up. Double check that you’ve brought all requested documentation or your applicationwill probably be rejected and you’ll need to return at another time to begin the process again. 12 “HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT?” You only need a nominal amount to open the account – around HK$1,000 in most cases. Check bank charges on minimal monthly balances and consider having your wage paid into the account to avoid additional costs. If you bank with the same bank as your company, you may be paid quicker.
Hong Kong Hacks
ELECTRICITY Supplier: Hong Kong Electric (For Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island) Signing up: www.hkelectric.com/en/ customer-services – transferring your account from a previous address takes one working day; new connections can take up to two weeks. Documents: HKID or passport, and deposit (equal to 60 days estimated consumption) Bills: Monthly Enquiries: 2887 3411, 9am-6pm, Monday-Sunday Supplier: CLP Power (For Kowloon and the New Territories, including Lantau, Cheung Chau and most other outlying islands) Signing up: clp.com.hk/en Documents: HKID or passport, and a deposit (equal to 60 days estimated consumption) Bills: Every two months Enquiries: 2678 2678 15 “HOW DO I PAY MY BILLS?” Making payments is fast and efficient and may be done via a number of channels. Bills can be paid through your bank’s ATM machines, as well as by phone and online and at most convenience stores including 7Eleven and Circle K if you have the bill present. Direct debits are often called “Autopay” in Hong Kong and require a trip to your bank to set up.
13 “IF I’M RENTING, DO I STILL NEED TO PAY FOR UTILITIES?”
Yes, unless you’re staying in a serviced apartment, as a tenant it’s your responsibility to sign up for water, gas and electricity. Do ask your agent about any existing supply when you sign the lease, and then use this nifty resource to make connections. 14 “WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON SUPPLIERS THAT PEOPLE USE?” WATER Supplier: Water Supplies Department of the Water Authority Signing up: wsd.gov.hk/en/public_forms/index.html Documents: Applications should be sent with a copy of your Hong Kong ID; they take about a week to process. Bills: Sent quarterly Enquiries: 2824 5000 (Press 3 for English) GAS Supplier: Towngas, unless you are living in remote areas that use bottled gas or in Discovery Bay where it is a private contractor. Signing up: eservice.towngas.com/en/OpenCloseAccount/ OpenGasAccount Documents: For homes with a previous gas supply you should make note of the meter reading when you move in. A deposit (usually HK$300-600) is taken for registration, which is used against any outstanding balance when you close the account. If a gas meter is installed but has not been connected previously (as with a new build) you will also need a copy of your lease. Bills: Sent every two months, with a breakdown of monthly use. Tip: If you get your gas bill and it seems very large, check the meter reading is correct; sometimes instead of a factual reading, the company just estimates. If you can call with the correct reading, the bill will be revised. Enquiries: 2880 6988
Hong Kong Hacks
’APPY DAYS! We asked our panel members to list the apps they find most useful in Hong Kong. So, grab your smartphone and download these!
SHOPPING There are apps for buying and selling
items in Hong Kong, and also rewards apps that let you collect points as you shop in supermarkets. Carousell yuu Marketplace WEATHER Make sure you’re prepared for when a typhoon rolls into town, and get the latest updates on the air quality index. MyObservatory Windy Air Visual PROPERTY
FOOD Hung r y i n Hong Kong? These apps will variously let you
TRANSPORT These apps will help you find a t ax i when you
get groceries and meals delivered to your home, bookmark your favourite restaurants, make reservations, accrue loyalty points and more. Deliveroo Foodpanda UberEats GO by Black Sheep Restaurants M&S HK BistroChat OpenRice
need one or pre-book one for later, plan your MTR journeys around Hong Kong and generally make your commute quicker and more efficient. CityMapper
HK Taxi TakeTaxi Uber TaxiCards MTR Moovit
Search real estate listings in Hong Kong to find the
perfect place to live – and then hire a man in a van to move your stuff!
LEISURE Whether you’re k e e n t o me e t parents in your
LOGISTICS Wi th thi s grab- bag of di fferent apps you can send
area and make new friends, book cinema tickets, or find out the next available workout session, there’s an app to help. MUMZ
money to friends instantly from an HSBC account, top up your Octopus card, and get items delivered quickly across town. PayMe
Hong Kong Movie Pure 360 Lifestyle
Octopus Pickupp SF-Express Hongkong Post
Hong Kong Hacks
HOW TO SEND MONEY HOME
It might be tough to return physically to our home countries just now, but a quick and easy currency exchange service can help us get our money there.
Expats in Hong Kong regularly find themselves needing to send funds overseas. You might have to pay for a child’s boarding school fees abroad, for example. Or perhaps you’re keen to exchange earnings here into your home currency while exchange rates are favourable. Then, of course, there’s online shopping; you may be especially eager to tap into the global marketplace – that favourite dress you’ve seen in a Bali boutique, for one thing! RISE IN DIGITAL MONEY TRANSFERS COVID-19 has thrown up additional reasons too. There are those who’ll be eager to help out family members who are isolated on account of travel restrictions or who may be battling some health-related issues. Others might be relocating from Hong Kong entirely – they’ll need to send back any savings (from the sale of a home here, for instance) in order to set up a new life.
Hong Kong Hacks
EASY APP These factors drove the team at money service provider KVBGroup to come upwith an alternative. It was clear to them that a user-friendly app, with accompanying professional services, would be very useful for anyone needing to do money transfers. The product they developed is GCFX , an app that offers easy transfers all over the world. Here’s how it works: 1 Download the app and sign up with an email address and password. 2 Set up your account. Same-day setup is simple – you just need a few relevant documents; GCFX uses a digital non- face-to-face (eKYC) process with facial recognition features for this. Check rates on the app and place a transfer request (all major currencies are supported). Deposit money into the recipient’s account using one of GCFX’s multiple options for sending and receiving: this can be via bank deposit, an FPS transfer, POLiPay (for those in Australia or New Zealand), Alipay and Union Pay (for those in mainland China). And that’s it! There’s no minimum amount; plus, the exchange rates are competitive and the fees are transparent, with no hidden charges. Things like bank charges and GCFX’s competitive exchange rates are clearly displayed by the app before you confirm the deal. Finally, if you do happen to be leaving Hong Kong, KVB can help families and businesses move their assets securely, and across borders seamlessly. 3 4
“I would say that in the midst of a pandemic, the customer experience side of transferring money overseas is more important than ever,” says Australian expat Jane Wright. “I want to be able to handle my remittance needs with ease.” Trust is another important factor. “When I’m sending money abroad, I look for a credible and reliable brand because security is so important,” says Jane. “I think that banks have traditionally been seen as very trustworthy in this way; but the downside is that they usually offer less competitive exchange rates. And often the services you might be able to get from a relationship manager at a bank are offered to VIPs only.”
KVB Group was established in Auckland 20 years ago; it is globally licensed and regulated, with offices in Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The GCFX app can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play Store. Find out more at gcfx.kvbgc.com. In Hong Kong, the services of foreign exchange and remittance are provided by KVB Trading (Hong Kong) Limited (MSO License: 13-03-01142)
What three things would you advise any newcomer coming to live in Hong Kong? • Don’t convert everything into your native currency (GBP in my case), as you will spend different proportions of your salary on different things; for example, rent is a far larger outgoing, transportation is far less and the tax situation does help. • Maintain an open mind and try as many things as possible – you might be surprised. (For example, I now don’t mind chicken feet, and I really like hiking!) • Be patient and respect the local rules/customs. As an expat, you can sometimes find yourself frustrated with certain interactions, but you need to remind yourself that you are a visitor here in someone else’s home.
• Embrace the energy shift; it’s a big one. • Keep in mind your mental health and wellness – HK is a wonderful but chaotic city. • Prepare yourself for some pricey groceries and small apartments! Sarah
• Connect with someone who already lives here to get the inside scoop on areas to live, commuting, supermarkets, schools… We’ve all been there and it can be challenging to navigate the ways of a new country at first, so don’t be shy to ask and it’ll be a massive help! • As soon as I arrived, I found a local stockist with Greek produce; it felt wonderful knowing I could get these home comforts when I wanted them. Check in advance what produce you can find from your home country; this may also help cut down on your luggage space. • I’ve always loved travelling, but emigrating was a different ball game for me. It took me a while to embrace the differences and wonders that HK has to offer as I was mentally unprepared for such a big life change. So, embrace the change; learn, explore and enjoy the cultural differences and quirky ways! Monica
• FIND A HOME
QUICKLY SO YOU FEEL AT HOME FASTER!
• GET YOUR HONG KONG IDENTIFICATION CARD OR HKID. • GET AN OCTOPUS CARD. Aline
• Get stuck in. • The local food is amazing! • Explore the countryside. Adam
Hong Kong Hacks
with Ease We profile a trustworthy partner to help ease the strain of your next move!
In the inventory of life’s most stressful events, moving home must rank right up near the top, right? That’s why choosing the right relocation company to help shoulder the burden can truly make a difference. Asian Tigers Group is a global relocation service that provides bespoke moving solutions and a comprehensive end-to-end service that’s dedicated to ensuring your transfer is smooth and stress-free – and that’s the case whether you’re moving within Asia, across continents, More than 16,000 families relocate with us each year, building on the wealth of experience that Asian Tigers Group has to offer. We have offices in 14 territories, more than 1,400 dedicated professionals, and a global network of moving and relocation companies giving you unparalleled access to the top movers in the world. Asian Tigers is also a favourite of major corporations, with more than 400 of the Fortune Global 500 companies looking to us for their moving and relocation needs. or just locally in Hong Kong. A WORD FROM THE TEAM
A WORD FROM CUSTOMERS Asian Tigers moved my household from Hong Kong to the UK. They were extremely efficient, communication was always prompt and the packing team were friendly and highly proficient. To top it off, the quote provided was fair and the total price actually went down from what was quoted! – Annie van der S . Asian Tigers delivered not only our shipment, but our memories too. We were more than happy to receive everything in excellent condition. They were reasonably priced, professional, responsive and tidy – there was no damage at all! I would definitely recommend them. – Alex C. Moving can be demanding, and Asian Tigers reallymade things easier for us. We used them for our first local move which was a big job that involved a great deal of work. I can’t praise them enough; their crew was fast, professional and courteous. I’d have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone. – Wendy N.
For more information, call 2528 1384 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. asiantigersgroup.com
Hong Kong Hacks
MOVING KIDS IN COVID What happens when parents have different ideas on relocation for themselves and their children?
The pandemic has caused a surge in families wishing to permanently relocate overseas. Where these families mutually agree to move, the process is relatively simple. But what about when a separated or divorced parent wants to leave with the child, while the other parent wants to stay in Hong Kong, and wants the child to stay here with them? CAROLINE MCNALLY (Executive Partner) and KAJAL ASWANI (Partner) from disputes law firm Gall run through some of the issues. Do I need the consent of the other parent for the relocation of my child overseas? The short answer is yes, you will need to have consent of the other parent to relocate with your child overseas. If you leave Hong Kong without this consent, you may be viewed as wrongfully removing your child and the other parent will have recourse under the Hague Convention to seek the return of the child to Hong Kong. When considering whether to agree to relocation, parents should bemindful that it is no longer possible to easily shuttle between countries as was the case in pre-pandemic times and there is a real possibility theymay be separated from their children for prolonged periods of time.
What should I do if the other parent doesn’t consent to relocation? Firstly, you should find out the reasons why the other parent does not agree. You may wish to seek assistance from a family mediator to help facilitate dialogue and try to reach an agreement. If no agreement can be reached, you’ll need to make an application to the Court for permission to relocate. The Court will list a hearing for case management directions that will include calling for a report from the Social Welfare Department as to whether the relocation is recommended. Once the Social Investigation Report is available, there will be a Children Dispute Resolution Hearing during which the Judge will act in the role as a conciliator to try to assist the parents to reach a compromise. If no agreement is reached, the matter will proceed to trial. Parents will give evidence and the Judge will decide whether to grant relocation. What happens when I make an application?
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How has COVID-19 affected relocation applications? In a Hong Kong Court decision in December 2020, a judge granted permission for a father to relocate with his children to Denmark. The judge focused on the long-term best interests of the children rather than on COVID-19 infection rates alone. By contrast, the Court of Appeal recently overturned a decision to allow a mother to relocate to Singapore with her five-year-old daughter upon the resumption of the travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore. The Court of Appeal commented that even with the travel bubble, quarantine requirements were still in place albeit for a shortened period and it was uncertain as to whether and/or when the parents and the child would be able to travel frequently between Hong Kong and Singapore. Cases will always be decided on their individual facts and we would recommend that parents seek independent legal advice before starting legal proceedings.
What factors will the Court consider when determining my application for relocation? The Court’s paramount consideration is what is in the best interest of the child, and it will reach its decision after undertaking a holistic balancing exercise of the parents’ respective proposals. The Court may consider the following factors: 1 Is your proposal genuine and realistic and not motivated by some selfish desire to exclude the other parent from your child’s life? Is the other parent’s oppositionmotivated by genuine concern for the future of the child’s welfare or is it driven by some ulterior motive? Would relocation have a negative impact on your child, particularly for example, denial of contact with the other parent and would it affect the opportunity of your child’s continuing contact with the left-behind parent? 2 3
3405 7688 | gallhk.com
Hong Kong Hacks
PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES Hong Kong gets a gold star for travel logistics, no doubt about it. Along with an amazingly efficient airport, there’s a world-class public transport system, plus some cool ways of getting around the city and beyond. HOW TO GET AROUND HK PLANES Whether you’re arriving in Hong Kong for the first time, or you’re an old hand who comes and goes frequently, it’s likely you’ve been impressed at the facilities and operations at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). While 2020 and 2021 have obviously been an aberration for the aviation and tourism industries (passenger volume was down by 98.6 percent for the fiscal year!), in 2019, over 71 million passengers were handled by HKIA; and there’s rarely a bad word spoken about the facility by anyone who travels regularly. GONGS FOR HKIA Hong Kong’s international airport features very prominently in voting in the Skytrax World Airport Awards each year, including regular top five spots for Best Airport, and a win for World’s Best Airport for Dining in 2019.
EYE ON THE FUTURE Despite the pandemic, HKIA is fully in expansion mode, with a third runway scheduled to be operational perhaps as early as 2022, and the 11 SKIES development (11-skies.com) – set to be HK’s largest retail, dining and entertainment facility – scheduled to open next to the airport in phases between 2022 and 2025.
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MTR TheMTR network consists of 11 lines, including the South Island line, which opened in December 2016. It also includes a service to Disneyland and the Airport Express. A light rail system runs between Yuen Long and TuenMun in the New Territories and you can also take a train to the mainland, crossing the border at LokMa Chau and LoWu. TRAINS & TRAMS NEW IN 2021 MTR stations keep springing up! The latest two to open, in June 2021, are SungWong Toi and To Kwa Wan. They connect the existing West Rail Line to Phase 1 of the Tuen Ma Line, completing a 56km line that runs through 27 stations fromTuenMun toWu Kai Sha. For the record, that’s a 73-minute MTR journey!
HIGH-SPEED RAIL If you fancy a trip up to mainland China, the new high-speed rail system is the perfect way to do it once travel restrictions are lifted. The service was opened in 2018 and connects Hong Kong to 44 cities around China. Remember, all foreign travellers require passports and China visas, even for the shortest journeys. TRAM Hong Kong trams, known affectionately as “ding dings”, may not be the fastest way to travel, but sitting on the top deck provides a great view. You board at the back and pay at the front as you exit at the end of your journey (using Octopus card or the correct small change). Trams operate between Kennedy Town and Shau Kei Wan from about 5.30am to midnight.
Are you a fan of Hong Kong’s public transport?
• Public transport in HK is so cheap! Where else can you get a commuter boat for as little as HK$2? It’s also easy to navigate; the MTR has signs and station names in English, the trains arrive frequently and they’re clean and have air-conditioning. • MTR ticketing is cashless, so get yourself an Octopus card when you arrive (the equivalent of an Oyster card in the UK). • Manually topping up your card can only be done with cash (notes) at MTR stations as well as 7Eleven and Circle K newsagents but if you register for the app you can top-up with your e-wallet, which makes it much easier. Or add your e-card to your mobile phone or Apple watch and just tap in and out without needing a physical card – even easier! • Be sure to check which MTR exit you need for your destination; some stations have multiple exits and a wrong one can have you walking for a long time in the wrong direction! Monica
It’s so convenient! You have everything on your doorstep: MTR, buses, taxis and the ding ding (tram). Aline
I take the MTR everywhere – its clean, air-conditioned and runs like a clock. What an amazing institution it is! After years in London, I’ll never take it for granted. Dominique THE MTR IS VERY CHEAP, EFFICIENT AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, WELL AIR-CONDITIONED – SO IT BEATS THE LONDON TUBE ON ALL FRONTS! Max
Public transport here is fast, convenient, reliable, safe, clean, efficient and incredibly cheap! Sarah
Yes, it’s clean, efficient and accessible. Best in the world! Adam
Hong Kong Hacks
CARS & BUSES
TAXIS Hong Kong’s taxis are cheap compared to many other major cities. They’re also generally reliable, though do keep Google Maps open on your phone and a Cantonese translation of your destination on hand. There are three different coloured taxis: • Blue taxis are only permitted to travel on Lantau island. • Green taxis don’t leave the New Territories. • Red taxis operate on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, but be aware that if Kowloon cabbies drop someone off on Hong Kong Island, they can only pick up customers heading back to Kowloon and vice versa. You can work out if a taxi can take you by doing a wave- like gesture with your hand to let the driver know you want to cross the harbour. Also note that it can be difficult to get a cab during morning and evening rush hours, when it’s raining, or when many drivers are making their daily shift change between 4 and 4.30pm. GET THE APP! HKTaxi is a basic ride-hailing app where you enter your pickup location and contact number and wait for a driver to contact you. Uber is available in Hong Kong but it will normally cost more than a taxi.
BUSES A strong network makes bus travel in Hong Kong reasonably easy – although buses can get crowded. In addition, more than 4,350 minibuses are in service across the city, carrying up to 19 passengers. Green minibuses have set stops, but red minibuses will stop anywhere along their route. Once the bus is full, the driver will not accept new passengers. You need to pay when you get on the bus with either cash or an Octopus card. Shouting “ yau lok ” tells your driver in Cantonese that you want to get off if you can’t see a bell. BRIDGE TO MACAU At 55 kilometres long, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge (opened in 2018) is the fastest and most convenient way to get to nearby Macau. Various bus companies run shuttles across the bridge and back – prices vary, depending on the company running the service, and a trip one way should take about 45 minutes, excluding immigration.
Got any advice on using taxis?
While many streets have English names, they are pronounced very differently in Cantonese – so much so they are often completely different words. Download the TakeTaxi app, which translates addresses into Cantonese so that you can show your taxi driver. Also, you might want to avoid looking at your phone in taxis – some drivers seem to enjoy heavy breaking, which can often mean a bumpy ride! Max
Here are my top tips for taking
taxis in HK! • Taxis aren’t allowed to stop on double yellow lines, so don’t try to flag one down there or you’ll be waiting a while! • Available taxis should have BOTH their roof “Taxi” lamp on as well as a small red circle “For Hire” light on their dashboard. Some have their dashboard light covered which means they’ve been pre-booked. • Taxis can be hard to find on rainy days, so allow more waiting time, or consider public transport or other routes. • If you want to pre-book a taxi, use the HKTaxi app. It’s very easy to use; it puts out a call to taxis around your location with your destination and whoever is interested picks up the job, just like an Uber does. • You can request English-speaking drivers if you prefer, as sometimes they may call you to check pick-up location… and if you want to further entice a pick- up, add a small tip to your destination request and you’ll soon get a bite! • Download the TakeTaxi app and have it ready in case you experience any language barriers when saying your destination. It’s a translation app that really works! • Some taxi drivers are very polite and helpful – others aren’t so willing to open the boot or help you with luggage or a pram. Take it with a pinch of salt, it’s not personal!
LEARN THE BASIC “TAXI LANGUAGE”. STOP HERE. LEFT. RIGHT. KNOW HOW TO SAY YOUR ADDRESS IN CHINESE AS WELL AS YOUR DISTRICT. Adam
For the most part I’ve had great experiences; I speak Cantonese and I do think that helps. Have the address in Chinese ready, just in case – it’ll save so much time and effort. Finally, for those moments when you may have a slightly more difficult driver, I find patience helps – and don’t we all have those off-days? Aline
Hong Kong taxi drivers are hugely professional
and know their way around. Dominique
Get the taxi app for translation of certain addresses, learn some basic Cantonese (especially your address), and carry cash. Sarah
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