Globaleye Relocation Guide
A Guide to Living and Working Overseas
HONG KONG OVERVIEW
Moving to Hong Kong can be both a daunting and exciting experience. Hong Kong is a major international financial centre
and also an important trade and culture hub. Until 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony with a Western‐influenced
lifestyle. Since joining China, it has become even more international and is a popular holiday destination with people from
all over the world. There are many financial institutions located here as well as international businesses, industrial
factories, large entertainment centres and an enormous tourist infrastructure.
Hong Kong was a major manufacturing centre before WWII. Today however, 90 per cent of its GDP comes from its service
sector, while manufacturing now accounts for a mere 9 per cent. The country is one of the world’s largest financial hubs
and is said to be one of the Four Asian Tigers in terms of its rapid industrialization and impressive growth rates.
The Hong Kong dollar is linked to the US dollar which has ensured its strengths and even in today’s economic crisis, it
remains stronger than many other currencies.
Living in Hong Kong as an expat can be a truly life changing experience. A former British colony, Hong Kong has always
been popular with expats form Europe. In recent years low taxation and a high standard of living have attracted people
from all over the world and its position as the finance capital of Asia mean that it has a significant expat population of
approximately 100,000 people.
7 Million People, 95% Chinese
Hong Kong enjoys a warm, sub‐tropical climate with distinct seasons. May to August is extremely hot and humid with
occasional thunderstorms and even typhoons. September to January is generally accepted as being the most pleasant
months where the weather is hot and sunny but the humidity low. January and February are the driest months of the year
and are generally enjoyed by those expats who prefer things a bit cooler. Daytimes are sunny although night times can be
very cold. March and April are very pleasant, although humidity levels are often high.
The legal tender is the Hong Kong Dollar (HK$), an internationally recognized currency separate from China’s own currency.
Notes are in denominations of HK$1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10, and coins are in dominations of HK$10, 5, 2 and 1 and
50, 20 and 10 cents.
Since October 1983, the Hong Kong dollar has been pegged to the US dollar at the fixed rate of HK$7.80 to US$1.
Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards, with American Express to a lesser extent. However, many
smaller stores have a minimum purchase amount for credit card payments, and some levy an additional charge ranging
from two to five per cent of the purchase amount for payments by credit cards.
Hong Kong is eight hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+8 GMT). Daylight Saving time is not adopted.
Phone companies in Hong Kong are:
Dialling code: +852
The majority of Hong Kong Chinese population speak Cantonese as their first language (90%) but English remains a
common language and it is still largely applied as the official language of business. That said, there is increasing importance
being placed upon Mandarin, the official language of mainland China, and more and more companies are demanding their
staff to have a working knowledge of this language.
Cost of living
Cost of living in Hong Kong is relatively high compared to many other Asian cities, and the city consistently ranks as one of
the most expensive places to live in the region.
Whether you find Hong Kong expensive largely depends on your lifestyle and circumstances. If you enjoy the finer things in
your life you should be prepared to shell out a lot as many luxurious items in Hong Kong have a premium. However, if you
have allotted a more modest budget, it is not impossible to live on a more reasonable level. The best way to keep costs
down is to adopt local attitude and live as the locals do.
Food can be cheap (especially if you are prepared to eat in local restaurants and shop at local markets) and the public
transport is both cheap and reliable. The cost of drinking out varies according to the areas you intend frequent, but on the
whole, the cost of the nightlife in Hong Kong is on a par with most other major cities.
Food and Drink
Hong Kong is a world renowned ‘foodie’ destination that is home to a populace that has a seeming insatiable appetite for
good food. Most Hong Kongers ‘know’ their food and are well acquainted with the latest trends in the culinary world.
However, Hong Kong is not solely the domain of high end restaurants and lux dining. The city offers a wide variety of dining
establishments that range from open air street side stalls which are commonly referred to as Dai Pai Dongs and old world
Chinese diners known as Cha Chaan Teng that offer indigenous eats alongside Hong Kong interpretations of Western food
to Michelin starred high‐end dining temples that usually feature world renowned chefs. Hong Kong, in fact, has a well‐
developed dining‐out culture and even though people do like to cook at home, they also like to frequently escape from
their tiny kitchens.
The majority of the landscape in Hong Kong is hilly and mountainous, which simply means land is at a premium. The vast
majority of residential buildings consist of high‐rise apartment blocks that are tightly packed together in small spaces. A
large percentage of expats opt for management‐run apartments that offer club house facilities such as security services,
swimming pools, gyms and children’s playgrounds. However, the square footage of most of these apartments is very small
and it is not unusual to find families of four living in accommodation that has less than 1200 square feet.
On the whole, the more expensive properties are to be found on Hong Kong island and the general rule is that the higher
the floor in a given block, the more expensive the rent/purchase price. Other aspects such as open views, outdoor space
and building facilities also come at a premium. Many of the older style Hong Kong building blocks are low‐rise and more
spacious, but quite often these are dated and do not offer the same level of services as the newer developments.
Depending on where on the island the property is located, it is also highly probable that the newer high‐rise blocks
overlook such low‐rise buildings.
Hong Kong boasts one of the world’s most efficient public transportation systems. Public transport is safe, reliable and
inexpensive. Taxis and buses run around the clock, and there is virtually no corner of Hong Kong that is inaccessible by
public transport, though some areas of the New Territories have yet to get the extensive transport links that the central
areas of Hong Kong have.
Octopus Smart Card Technology
It is common for Hong Kong‐ers to pay public transportation fees (except Taxis and some public minibuses) by an Octopus
card, as well as such as convenience stores, supermarkets or fast food outlets. It can be purchased from any public
transportation company's customer service centre, such as MTR's or KCR's.
When first purchasing the Octopus Card, HK$50 is included as refundable deposit, and the remaining value will be stored in
the card for normal payments. You can top‐up the card at any public transportation company's Customer Service Centres,
MTR stations' Octopus Add‐Value machines or convenience stores such as 7‐11 or Circle K. To return the card, simply seek
help from any public transportation company's Customer Service Centres, then you can obtain the remaining balance and
With more than 18,000 taxis cruising the streets of Hong Kong, they are usually in plentiful supply and easy to flag down,
except at restricted areas marked with double yellow lines. Additionally, Hong Kong is equipped with 230 designated drop
off/pick up points.
Taxis come in three different colours: red taxis, which are the most expensive and typically serve Hong Kong Island and
Kowloon; green taxis which serve the rural areas of the New Territories; and blue taxis which only operate on Lantau
Island. Most drivers speak very limited English so unless you speak Cantonese it is a good idea, when possible, to get a local
to write down your destination in Chinese. Taxis in Hong Kong are either five or four seated Toyota Crown vehicles though
the five seated taxis are currently being phased out.
Taxi Fares in Hong Kong are relatively low compared to most other major cities in the world. The flag fare is HK$22 for red
taxis, HK$19 for green taxis and HK$17 for blue taxis. After the first 2 kilometres, HK$1.50 is charged for every 200m, which
drops to $1 for every 200m when the fare exceeds HK$70.50. A typical journey from Central to Causeway bay costs
approximately $50, depending on traffic conditions. Expect to pay much more for a journey across the harbour with the
tunnel toll fees (in‐between HK$20‐$40), which you have to pay double as the driver’s return toll must be paid as well.
An efficient network of double decker buses takes commuters just about anywhere, including areas not served by the MTR,
such as the south side of Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Virtually all buses in Hong Kong are air‐conditioned
and are generally comfortable and extremely efficient. The frequency on most routes is 5 – 15 minutes, with the exception
of late night buses or some long distance routes like the airport, where the frequency drops to 20 – 30 minutes.
There are three major bus companies: Citybus and New World First Bus, both of which operate on Hong Kong Island, and
Kowloon Motor Bus, which operates in Kowloon and the New Territories. The Lantau Bus Company operates mainly on
Lantau Island and the Long Win Bus Company which is owned by Kowloon Motor Bus provides connections between
Lantau and the airport.
Fares are charged depending on the distance, starting at HK$3 up to HK$20. Fares are paid into the fare box when boarding
the bus. Change is not given so, if you don’t have an Octopus card, it is useful to carry plenty of coins with you when using
public transport. Pets are not allowed on buses.
All buses have signs with their final destinations marked in English and Chinese, and the bus stops also have bilingual signs
indicating the route for each bus service. However, the signs can be somewhat confusing at times and as few drivers speak
English, expatriates new to Hong Kong generally avoid using the buses in favour of the subway. Still, it is not uncommon to
see foreigners taking the public buses, especially those who are more adventurous or who have lived in Hong Kong for a
while. It can come in handy to learn the bus routes near your home, especially if you plan to venture out of the major city
districts, as there are still many areas in Hong Kong not served by the MTR.
The Mass Transit Railway (MTR), Hong Kong’s underground subway network, is the most popular mode of public transport,
serving some 3.5 million commuters a day. Clean, modern and efficient, the MTR is the fastest and most convenient way of
getting around the city.
There are ten lines which interconnect at several main stations and cover a total of 83 railway stations and 68 light rail
stops. The lines are:
Tseung Kwan O
Ma On Shan
There are three inter‐city train services between Hong Kong and China (often known as the through trains): the Beijing,
Shanghai and Guangzhou lines. Currently, Hung Hom station is the only station in Hong Kong where passengers can catch
the through trains. Passengers have to go “through” immigration and custom inspections before boarding the trains.
There are 12 through trains daily on the Guangzhou line. The journey time is about 1 hour and 50 minutes, and cost
HK$145‐$235 for a one way ticket. The Guangzhou line is served by the high speed ktt trains which are operated by the
MTR and the semi‐high speed trains which are run by the Guangshen Railroad Company.
The Beijing and Shanghai services run on alternate days. A one way trip to Beijing cost between HK$574‐$1,191 depending
on the type of cabin you choose, and takes about 23.5 hours. A one way trip to Shanghai costs between HK$508‐$1039,
and takes about 18.5 hours. Children under three travel for free and those aged between 3 and 12 pay half price. Tickets
for the inter‐city trains can be bought online on the website of the through trains website.
Hertz Hong Kong: www.hertz.com
9 Queens Road Central
Hong Kong, China
+852 252 52266
Avis Hong Kong: www.avis.com
67 Mody Road Tsimshatsui
Hong Kong, China
+852 289 06988
Mountain Hong Kong China Car Service: www.hkchinacar.com
8 No. 8 Lee Shun Street
Hong Kong China
+852 348 89336
387 – 397 Queens Road East
+852 3552 1111
The Wharney Guang Dong Hotel
57‐ 73 Lockhart Road
+852 2861 1000
375‐377 Queens Road East
+852 3552 8388
from HK$800 per night (£65.43) (min 7night)
from HK$880 per night (£71.97)
from HK$900 per night (£73.60)
Education and Schools
Rosary Hill School: www.rhs.edu.hk
Tel: 2835 5121
Tel: 2572 0228
Fax: 2838 6141
Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital
2 Village Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Tel.： 2572 0211
Fax： 2835 8008
Tung Wah Eastern Hospital
Tel: +852 2162 6888
Hong Kong is generally considered to be one of the safest cities in the world, both during the day and at night and there are
no specific threats to women. The police have a strong presence and are highly respected. The majority of them speak
English and it is possible to identify those that do by the red label that is sewn under their shoulder badge.
Emergency Services (Police, Fire, Ambulance): 999
Hong Kong treasures its place as an international hub of business, and top tourist destination. As such, it strives to make
visa regulations as relaxed and simple as possible. Nationals of most of the countries, including those of US, Europe,
Australia and New Zealand don’t require a visa to enter Hong Kong for stays of 90 days, six months for UK nationals. You
will need six months validity on your passport.
Hong Kong Visa
All non‐Hong Kong residents wanting to work in Hong Kong will require a Work Permit. Whilst there are no documented
qualifying criteria, when considering an application, the Immigration Department will usually examine several key areas:
•Higher level educational background: a graduate degree and above would be preferable.
•Relevant experience that is deemed to be in short supply in Hong Kong and that a local or resident worker could not fill
•Reasonable salary level; the bottom threshold for this is generally considered HK$20,000/per month.
•How the expatriate can benefit the locals (e.g. training, impartation of knowledge).
The processing time from the submission of an application can take 6‐8 weeks. If granted, the visa is typically granted for a
period of 6 months and above. In addition to a valid visa, all residents must obtain Hong Kong identity cards, which they
must have on them at all times.
Legal spouses and children (up to the age of 18) of an employment visa holder will be issued with dependent visas. As
dependents, spouses are currently allowed to take up work when sponsored by their married partner, although these
arrangements are changeable.
China Visa application in Hong Kong
Hong Kong and China are one country. However, in practice and for all practical purposes they remain separate. Hong Kong
and China have separate currencies, the Yuan for China and the Hong Kong Dollar, these are only usable in their respective
territories. Most importantly, entry into Hong Kong doesn't win you entry into China. One has to obtain China visa in the
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a government body, and China Travel Service (CTS), a quasi state travel agent. It takes 4
working days and HKD $620 to process the application for a single entry in regular service.
Generally, overseas travellers are more likely to be injured through unintentional injuries than to be struck down by exotic
infectious diseases. In fact, accidents and traffic collisions are the most frequent cause of death among travellers, so ensure
you have good insurance and if you are hiring a vehicle, ensure it is in good working order.
Copy your documents
In the unfortunate event of your luggage going missing, or your passport / wallet is stolen or lost, it is a good idea to have
copies that can help you with re‐issues. Take 2 coloured photocopies of your passport, plus visa stamps and documents,
driving licence, important prescriptions or other ID documents. Make 2 sets of the documents and keep these copies
separate from your main luggage, preferably in 2 separate bags. It is also a good idea to copy scanned or photocopied
documents to an Internet based e‐mail account. Make sure someone at home knows how to access it in case of an
Check with your medical practitioner on what vaccines are required before your travel. Due to your medical history, you
may require more than one dose, or you may need boosters for childhood vaccines. Check the latest travel advice and
travel bulletins for your destination before you depart, and also while travelling, so you can ensure you have the latest
Common diseases contracted by travellers include those which are the result of eating or drinking contaminated food or
water, or not practising safe sex, plus a number of mosquito or tick‐borne diseases endemic to tropical areas. Be sure to
take measures to avoid being bitten such as wearing light‐coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs, regularly
applying an appropriate insect repellent and staying in mosquito‐proof accommodation or using bed nets.
Taking medicines with you
Book a check‐up at your doctor or dentist, before you leave. If you wear glasses or contacts lenses, bring an extra pair of
glasses and your prescription. Persons taking prescription medications should make sure they have an adequate supply for
the trip, and/or bring their prescription, making sure it includes the medication trade name, manufacturer’s name, generic
name, and dosage. Please also be aware that certain medicines are forbidden in Dubai, such as Codeine. Please check that
any medication you are taking is legal and if you are unsure please contact us and we will check for you. Prepare a simple
medical kit of over‐the counter medications (aspirin, ibuprofen, antihistamine, antiseptic and diarrhoea medication), band
aids, thermometer, sunscreen, and insect repellent. When travelling overseas with medicine, (including over‐the‐counter
or private prescription) it is important that you talk to your doctor and discuss the amount of medicine you will need to
take. Carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you will be taking, and stating that it is for
your own personal use. Leave the medicine in its original packaging so it is clearly labelled with your own name and dosage
instructions. If you have to inject your medication, inform your airline before you travel and, if necessary, arrange a letter
from your doctor explaining why you need to carry them.
Your health on long‐haul flights
Keep important medication with you in case your luggage goes missing. To help avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT): drink
plenty of fluids, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, and whilst seated, stretch and rotate your feet and lower legs. Walking
around the cabin at regular intervals will help.
If you have been scuba diving, don’t travel in an aircraft for at least 24 hours after your final dive.
Coping with Jetlag
Factor the effects of jet lag into your itinerary. In order to cope with Jetlag you should get a good deal of sleep before your
journey. It is also important to rest as much as possible during your flight. Planning to arrive at your destination as near to
the time when you normally go to sleep will also help with the adjustment. If you are able to plan your itinerary allow time
on arrival for adjustment or plan meetings at similar times to back home. Some people advise changing their watches to
destination time when they get onto the plane. While this helps many people, for those who are on regular medication,
such as diabetics, watches should remain on home time until you are able to adjust your medication to local times on
arrival at your destination or as suggested by your health advisor. On arrival at your destination get active as soon as
possible, as exercise has been proven to improve productivity. Adjust your meals and activities to local time as soon as you
can. Exposure to light is also a good way of naturally allowing your body to adjust. If you need to take a short nap, do, it will
help refresh you, but don’t forget to use an alarm clock or wake up call to get you up!
If you happen to lose your baggage on arrival at your destination airport, tell the airline immediately and get suitable
compensation. Agree on an amount you can spend on essential items that you will need and give them an address to
deliver the luggage to when they find it. It is wise to make a copy of your passport details and any other important papers
or vaccination certificates that you are carrying with you when you travel. Leave them in a safe place in the office or copy
to an Internet based e‐mail account. Make sure someone at home either a partner or friend knows how to access it in case
of an emergency. You will need photo identification even for air travel within the UK.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times; thieves will use many tricks to distract you ‐ wiping something off your shoulder
while an accomplice is picking your pocket, getting young children to surround you while they plan to rob your belongings.
Trust your instincts, especially when visiting countries where a high poverty rate comes along with high petty crime rates.
When not attending meetings, try to blend in with the crowd when out and about ‐ try not to look like a visitor! When
enjoying the local nightlife, guard your food/drinks and keep your wits about you. Beware of the fact that you will be an
easy target after a few too many drinks. Avoid walking home to your hotel late at night, even if it is close by. Get a taxi.
Don’t take shortcuts through poorly lit areas; it pays to trust your instincts in these situations. Keep your wits about you
when making new friends – men and women may come across very friendly indeed if you are the route to an easier life. Be
careful of telling people where you live.
Unsafe Water ‐ What to do
If travelling to more remote areas with poor sanitation ‐ only drink boiled water, hot beverages, such as coffee and tea,
canned or bottled carbonated beverages, beer, and wine. Ice may be made from unsafe water and should be avoided. It is
safer to drink from a can or bottle of beverage than to drink from a container that was not known to be clean and dry.
However, water on the surface of a beverage can or bottle may also be contaminated. Therefore, the area of a can or
bottle that will touch the mouth should be wiped clean and dry.
The Mosquito – Disease Carrier
Mosquitoes transmit the viruses responsible for yellow fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever, epidemic polyarthritis, and
several forms of encephalitis and, most famously, malaria. Mosquitoes lay their eggs wherever there is standing water,
ponds, salt water marshes, or even puddles and discarded containers. Only female mosquitoes bite, as they require blood
to produce their eggs.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes. The most deadly strain being plasmodium
falciparum. The mosquito unwittingly transmits this parasite when biting its victim. These parasites then spread to the liver
where they take one to four weeks to multiply. Once mature, they spread throughout the red blood cells resulting in the
first symptoms – a flu‐like fever, which, if left untreated will lead to liver failure, coma and ultimately, death.
Malaria symptoms are very similar to flu; however you may not suffer from all of them:
• High Fever
• General ill feeling
• Muscle and joint aches
• Jaundice / yellow skin tone
Medical attention should be sought immediately if you have any symptoms that could be malaria. Ensure that you can get
to medical facilities 24 hours a day, and know your options when in developing countries. Bear in mind that once malaria
symptoms strike, you will not feel like travelling very far. Malaria can kill within 48 hours of developing symptoms.
Mosquitoes have been found all over the world, however not all mosquitos carry malaria. The countries below are malaria
hot spots, if you are travelling to them, it is necessary to take medicinal precautions. Malaria is one of mankind’s oldest
known killers, dating back almost 5000 years.
What attracts mosquitoes?
• Carbon Dioxide ‐ we exhale it when we breathe and also secrete it from our pores.
• Fragrances such as deodorant, soap, shower gel, even cosmetics on the skin
• Body heat and sweat
• Dark Coloured clothing
• Cover up after dusk.
• Use a repellent on your skin.
• Close doors and windows at night.
• Avoid lingering near stagnant water, ponds, lakes, and old containers are breeding grounds.
• If you are out after dusk, wear a long‐sleeved shirt, trousers in a closely woven fabric and cover feet with socks.
• If you must wear thin clothing, buy a fabric friendly insect repellent, as mosquitoes will bite through the fabric.
Choose insect repellents with DEET, on any exposed skin ‐ highly effective against all biting insects. Do not put your trust in
products without DEET, no known natural remedies have been scientifically proven to provide a barrier for your skin. When
visiting countries high in temperature or humidity, choose a repellent with 50% DEET protection, as humidity coupled with
sweating will evaporate the repellent and reduce its effectiveness.
Read labels carefully and do not be complacent with re‐application.
• Buy a pyrethroid coil or a plug‐in insecticide.
• Lemon eucalyptus oil and citronella are natural fly repellents. It is not recommended that you rely on them as their
potency wears off quickly, but they may be of use alongside the above.
• Ultrasonic devices and bug ‘zappers’ are not effective against mosquitoes
• Make sure window and door screens are intact so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
If you are sleeping in an unscreened room, a mosquito net is advised. Nets come in a range of mesh weaves ‐ choose wisely
depending on your situation. Heavy‐duty nets get hot and uncomfortable, whereas others may not offer enough
protection, so do some careful research into the climate you are going to be in. A permethrin spray can be used on a
mosquito net and sometimes clothing. It will instantly kill any mosquito that lands on it. This, coupled with a skin repellent
creates a formidable barrier.
There are several different types of medication depending on such factors as area to be visited, length of stay, type of
travel, your own medical history and drugs you may already be taking. Highly sensitive persons may consider
antihistamines to minimise allergic reactions to mosquito bites, and other insects you may encounter for the first time.
If you think you have Malaria
Seek advice from a medical professional to discuss the most appropriate anti‐malarial medication for your needs. Visit the
nearest medical facility as soon as possible for emergency treatment. If you go to an area where a well‐equipped hospital
cannot be reached within 24 hours, take emergency medicines with you.
• Take anti‐malarial medication as prescribed
• Screen doors and windows
• Sleep under a mosquito net
• Spray your room with insecticide
• Wear long trousers and sleeves after dusk
• Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin when outdoors
of the risk of malaria if you are travelling to a foreign country.
Avoid bites and reduce the chances of getting malaria.
with the appropriate drug regimen for the area you are visiting.
Malaria can be fatal but early diagnosis and treatment is usually 100% effective.
Hong Kong Office
Suite 504, Level 5,
Two Exchange Square,
8 Connaught Place,
Central Hong Kong
People’s Republic of China
T: +852 3621 0020
F: +852 2511 9971
Head Office Dubai
P.O Box 24592
Villa 801, Al Thanya Street
Umm Sequim 3
United Arab Emirates
T: +971 4 404 3700
F: +971 4 348 6362
Toll Free: 800 4558