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Understanding Hong Kong: Home

This guide provides useful information and links to resources on Hong Kong.

At A Glance


The following information have been carefully selected for your reference. Some resources may have bias perspectives. Please approach the SMU Libraries ( ) should you have any doubts or need clarifications.

This video gives a brief introduction and the top things to do while you are in Hong Kong.

Learn more about the story of Hong Kong. Its name means "fragrant harbor" in Chinese, but it could also mean 'City of Change'.



Learn some of the top attractions in Hong Kong. 

Here are 15 Interesting facts and things that you probably didn't know about Hong Kong.

Need To Know

This section helps prepare an individual before visiting Hong Kong, such as learning the cultural etiquette, basic conversational phrases, and even some useful local contact numbers.

Cultural Dos and Don’ts

Hong Kong's culture is quite similar to those of Chinese-speaking countries such as Taiwan and China. Observe the following etiquette for a great experience:

  • Address seniority by the family name followed by an honorific title (family relationship or e.g. 'teacher': laoshi /laow-shrr/), or Mr. (xiansheng /sshyen-shnng/) or Ms. (nvshi /nyoo-shrr/).
  • Small talk and friendly greetings are not common. Do not be offended if the cashier at a supermarket does not strike up a conversation, or if waiters in non-touristic restaurants do not even say “thank you” when you pay your bill.
  • If you are invited to someone’s house, you should never show up without a gift. Try to wrap gifts in the lucky colors of gold and red, and make sure you hand it over with both hands.
    • Be careful to never present four gifts – “four” means “death” in Cantonese – and try to give three (similar to the word “life”), eight (sounding like the word “prosperity”) or nine (another word for “eternity”).
  • Take Heed of Superstitions. The residents of Hong Kong are extremely superstitious, so it’s best to heed the supernatural if you are planning a stay.
  • Don’t assume that everyone believes that Hong Kong is part of China. Not everyone identifies as “Chinese” or would say that Hong Kong is part of China.
  • Don’t ask people why they speak “such good English”. Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years! Many people speak English (or at least basic English), and almost all signs are bilingual.
  • Never give a clock as a hostess gift, as it is a symbol for death.
  • Greet people with a light handshake, and observe the Hong Kong culture of lowering your eyes.
  • Avoid politics and expressing your opinion freely. This may be seen as vulgar.
  • Always avoid loud and obtrusive public behavior to blend into Hong Kong culture.

Basic Conversational Language

Some phrases in Cantonese that are handy to know when visiting Hong Kong.

  • néih hóu (Hello)
  • bāai baai (Goodbye)
  • néih hóu ma (How are you?)
  • dò jeh (Thank you) - for something given
  • m̀hgòi (Thank you) - for a service
  • ... hái bīndouh a? (Where is…?)
  • hóu hòisàm gindóu néih (Please to meet you)
  • Nīgo géidō chín a? (How much is this?)​​

Phone Apps

    Lessons are broken down into bite-sized chunks and it feels like you’re playing a game. Duolingo is a great introduction, but it can feel like you’re learning a random mix of information, often through repetition. The more you do, the more robust your vocabulary will be.
    The only way to become fluent in a new language is to speak it. Tandem is geared toward conversations with native speakers. The idea is that you can help one another learn new languages via text, audio, and video chat. The app vets you and then helps you to find a partner who shares your interests. They teach you and you teach them.


Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)

More details on the exchange rate.

Dialing Code


Useful Numbers

  • Emergency services (police, fire, ambulance) and other emergency services: 999
  • Police Hotline: +852 2527 7177
  • Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Hotline: +852 2508 1234
  • Hong Kong Observatory (for weather information): +852 1878 200
  • Singapore Embassy in Hong Kong: +(852) 2527-2212
    • Emergency Tel (after hours): +(852) 9466-1251
  • Emergency SMS User Guide

Local Media Source

This section links to the various local news media in Hong Kong.

RSS News Feed

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What To Look Out

This section informs the common scams and crimes to look out for when visiting Hong Kong.


Crime & Security

  • Overall Crime and Safety Report
    Find out more information on the common crime threats, areas of concerns, transportation-road safety, and even terrorism threat.


This section lists some recommended readings about Hong Kong.


Useful Links

This section provides useful links to the Hong Kong social media.

Social Media

Discover Hong Kong


Acceptable Use Policy

Electronic resources (e.g., databases, datasets, e-journals, e-books and streaming audio/video) provided by the SMU Libraries are governed by license agreements that restrict use to current students, faculty and staff of SMU and the Singapore Copyright Act.

The use of electronic resources must comply with the Appropriate Use of Electronic Resources Policy and Singapore Management University Acceptable Use Policy