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City Focus: Doing business in Hong Kong

Travelling to Hong Kong for business? We chat to entrepreneur and investor Harry Dewhirst on what to do and not do in the SAR.

Harry Dewhirst, President at BlisMedia, Entrepreneur & Investor
Harry Dewhirst, President at BlisMedia, Entrepreneur & Investor

Name:  Harry Dewhirst

Originally from:  United Kingdom

Lives in:  Singapore

Job:  President at BlisMedia / Entrepreneur & Investor

How often do you travel to Hong Kong, and who do you fly with?

For the past few years I’ve been travelling to Hong Kong at least four to five times a year. However, that’s now increasing as our company is opening an office there.

What’s one thing everyone ought to know about HK?

It’s not all about the CBD and skyscrapers – there are actually some great beaches and nature spots within a stone’s throw such as Turtle Beach, Shek O and Big Wave Bay. If you’re a fan of cold weather and crisp waterfalls head to Tai Mo Shan or to Lantau South Country Park for the best sunrise experience.

Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong
Big Wave Bay, Hong Kong

How quickly can you get a visa? Online, embassy or visa on arrival?

You can get a visa on arrival for most countries, but it’s best to check with your consulate if you’re unsure.

Fastest way into and around the city?

With the efficient Airport Express you can be in Central Hong Kong within 20 minutes. HK is a commuters’ paradise with a fantastic public transport infrastructure as well as an abundance of reasonably priced taxis.

When are the good and bad times to visit?

The summer months (June to September) are great for hitting the beach, enjoying the outdoors and taking junk boat trips. Chinese New Year is an incredible experience. The city comes alive, with celebrations on every street corner, and the atmosphere is electric; but if you don’t like crowds, noise and fireworks then it’s something to avoid. The Hong Kong Sevens is also very famous – I’m sure you have heard the stories and will know if it’s for you or not!

Which hotels do you recommend?

It depends on your budget and purpose of visit. For business, I like the Westin or W Hotel which are on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong but have great views across to Central. For pleasure, you can’t beat hanging out by the Shangri La pool overlooking the harbour.

What’s the dress code for meetings? 

I would say wear a suit or blazer and ditch the tie.

Any cultural or business etiquette to be aware of?

As in many parts of Asia, in business meetings you should present your business card with two hands. Other than that, be respectful and considerate in your daily movements and you won’t go too far wrong.

If you’re taking a client to lunch or dinner, where do you go?

Dinner at Ho Lee Fook is a great example of Cantonese fusion food and a vibrant atmosphere. For lunch meetings I love Tokio Joe in Lan Kwai Fong – great Sushi.

Casual bars to go for a drink with clients where you won’t get hassled?

Go with a traditional venue and head to Captain’s Bar in the Mandarin Oriental. It’s steeped in colonial history, and you wont be disturbed.

Any unsafe areas to avoid?

HK is an extremely safe city – unless you like walking down dimly lit alleyways. Use common sense and you will be fine.

If you’ve got some spare time, what’s the must-see?

Definitely go and see the Big Buddha on Lantau. The seafood is great on outer islands such as Lamma and Cheng Chau. Also, The Peak has quite an amazing view across the island.

Gifts to take home for family and friend?

Visit a store called Goods of Desire (GOD) in Soho for some uniquely, modern and stylish HK knicknacks.

Best local street food or dish?

Hit the Dai Pai Dong (street food stalls) on Graham Street, savour the sights and sounds, and then take your pick.

At the end of a trip, how long do you really need to get to the airport and get checked in?

If you’re in town, check in at the Airport Express at Hong Kong Station. This makes it a breeze. Also, allow two hours – a touch less if you’re like me 🙂

Tell us a personal anecdote from one of your trips to Hong Kong that will give readers a feel for staying there or doing business there.

The one I can think of off the top of my head isn’t fit for publishing!