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For Guys

Guide to doing business in Hong Kong


Glen Elford (32)
Asia Pacific Sales Manager at Bloomberg BNA

1. How often do you travel to Hong Kong (HK) and who do you fly with?
I travel to HK once a quarter for three nights on average. While I’ve flown Tiger Airways, I prefer the comfort and reliability of Singapore Airlines for the three-and-a-half hour flight.

2. One thing everyone ought to know about Hong Kong:
It’s a fast-paced city so be prepared for a shock to the senses.

3. How quickly can you get a visa?
Save for a few exceptions, most nationalities don’t require a visa for a stay of between 14 to 90 days. British citizens are allowed 180 days.

4. Fastest way to get into the city?
The MTR is very well connected and for HK$100 the Airport Express train will bring you straight into the city in 30 minutes. Once you’re in the city, you can just grab a taxi to your hotel. Taxis are inexpensive as there are no peak hour surcharges. For the sake of convenience, I usually take a taxi but if you plan your time well, you can get around fine with the MTR.

The main CBD areas are the Wan Chai and Central on Hong Kong Island. Some offices are also located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon.

5. When are the good and bad times to visit Hong Kong?
You can visit HK at any time for leisure but from a business point of view, I would avoid during the Chinese New Year period, which is starts on 10 February this year, because offices are closed. Summer from June to August can get incredibly hot and humid, often with typhoon rains. March and April are cooler.

I’m a huge rugby fan so I enjoy the Hong Kong Sevens, which happens on 22 to 24 March this year. Every June, many companies form dragon boat teams to participate in the dragon boat races held at Sha Tin and Stanley. The atmosphere is great and it’s a good place to network as well.

6. Hotels you recommend:
I like the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel (+ 852 2802 8888) in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island. It does a good breakfast, has relaxing bed and is within walking distance to the MTR and the ferry terminal to Kowloon. It’s also directly connected to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre so it gets booked out fairly quickly. The other option would be the Grand Hyatt (+ 852 2588 1234), which is directly opposite.

If you’re staying on the Kowloon side, Hotel Icon (+852 3400 1000) is a nice change from the big chains. This boutique hotel has comfortable rooms and three excellent restaurants. It’s close to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and ferry terminal to get to Hong Kong Island.

7. What’s the dress code for meetings?
Jacket and shirt would suffice. You don’t really need a tie, especially in summer time.

8. Any cultural or business etiquette to be aware of?
A key thing to be aware of when doing business with Hong Kong Chinese is how important relationships are to them. They call it guanxi, which means connections or relationships, so they will appreciate if you put in time and effort to get to know them. It’s standard business protocol but they do place more importance on building and maintaining relationships. They want to know you’re trustworthy and dependable so always deliver on what you promised.

Don’t be shocked if they ask questions about your family and personal life; they just want to know more about you and where you come from, and these questions are part of the relationship-building process. Eating also plays a big part in the culture so expect lots of meals with them.

9. You are taking a client to lunch or dinner, where do you go?
Hutong (+852 3428 8342) on One Peking Road in Tsim Sha Tsui serves fantastic upmarket Chinese cuisine. It’s on the 28th floor so make sure you reserve a window seat to get an amazing view of the Victoria Harbour.

A great place to unwind after a hard day’s work is at gastro-pub called The Globe (+852 2543 1941) in Central. I have heard good things about the food and drinks at the one-Michelin-starred Nanhai No.1 restaurant (+852 2487 3688) and Eyebar (+852 2487 3988) on the 30th floor of iSquare in Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s on my list of places to visit the next time I’m in HK.

For local food at street prices, I would recommend Hing Kee Restaurant on 15 to 19 Temple Street. It’s very famous for claypot rice and I absolutely love the oyster pancakes.

10. Casual bars to go for a drink with clients where you won’t get hassled?
Right above Hutong is a great cocktail bar called Aqua Spirit (+852 3427 2288). For a Club Street vibe, head to Lang Kuai Fong or Soho. They are two great after-work bar streets filled with all kinds of bars and pubs, mostly with live bands.

If you fancy trying something different and experiencing some of HK’s heritage, take the Aqua Lunar Cruise (+852 2116 8821) along Victoria Harbour. The boat is an old handcrafted Chinese red sail junk and departs late afternoon onwards from either Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. A popular time to take this 45-minute ride is just before the light show at 7.30pm, though it’ll be crowded and pricier. I would opt for the later time slot which cost HK$190 and includes one drink. The boat ride is beautiful and I think it’s a unique way to relax with some drinks while taking in the sights.

You probably will get hassled in Wan Chai. I would consider it to be the more seedy side of the city, as there are a lot of KTV bars.

11. Any unsafe areas to avoid?
I’ve heard that pickpockets lurk in the Temple Market area, as it is a touristy place, but I’ve never had trouble there.

12. You’ve got some spare time, what’s the must-see?
You must visit The Peak (+852 2522 0922) and take the Peak Tram, which opened in 1888. The history behind it is quite fascinating and the view of Hong Kong Island from the peak is amazing, especially at night. If you have to travel between HK Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, don’t just take the taxi through the Cross-Harbour Tunnel because you’ll miss the harbour view. The Star Ferry (+852 2367 7065) takes about 10 minutes and costs HK$2.50. Besides the Peak Tram, it is probably one of the oldest forms of transport in HK that’s still going.

Another relaxing thing to do is to take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to see the big Buddha statue on Lantau Island. The ride is beautiful and you can also explore Ngong Ping Village.

13. Gifts to take home for family and friends?
The best place to shop for gifts is at the local night market at Temple Street. You will find many interesting trinkets to bring home such as old HK road signs, lanterns and carvings. A good place to go for electronic goods is Times Square in Causeway Bay.

14. How long before your flight do you really need to be at the Hong Kong International Airport?You can either check in your luggage at the airport or at the special check-in desks at Central train station, which is available for most major airlines like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Do this and you’ll only need to be at the airport an hour before your flight. Don’t worry about missing the Airport Express train – it’s very reliable and stops at the departure hall. Most international flights will be at Terminal 1 where there are lots of shops and cafes. I like to go up to the roof to see planes take off or head to a lounge. Beware of Terminal 2: once you pass immigration, there aren’t any shops or cafes so fill up beforehand.