Learning and Cultural Enhancement Section

Knowing Hong Kong

1. Languages

The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English, and the Cantonese dialect is most widely spoken. Most of the information available to the public is bilingual. Staff members of public organisations and banks speak English and Putonghua. There is not much problem to get by in English or Putonghua.


2. Social Customs and Etiquette

The cultures and traditions of East and West, of ancient and modern, are united in Hong Kong. Knowing the unique social customs and etiquette will help you a lot in integrating the local life. Here are some useful tips and etiquette that you would find interesting and useful.

  1. It is common to address your peers with their first name while it is more desirable to address the elders and seniors with their titles such as Mr. Lee, Dr. Chan, Professor Wong, etc.
  2. Local people do not usually greet each other by cheek kissing or hugging. You should give them a comfortable distance and space, especially when you do not know them well.
  3. Hong Kong people value acts of respect – ‘facegiving’, such as paying a sincere compliment.


You should observe local etiquettes for your better integration to the Hong Kong society. Below are some examples:

  • Chopsticks: Never erect chopsticks point-first into a bowl of rice. This is reminiscent of ancestral offerings and can be seen as disrespectful. Pointing or playing with them is considered rude.
  • Transport: Priority seat is reserved for people in need. Please reserve the seat to the needy.
  • Yum Cha: Also known as going for dim sum. Tap the table with two fingers to show gratitude when someone pour tea for you.
  • Queuing: Do not jump the queue.
  • Escalators: Stand on the right side if possible. The left side is reserved for people in a hurry.


3. Religion

People in Hong Kong enjoy religious freedom. There is a large variety of religious groups in Hong Kong, including Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity (Protestants and Catholic), Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism.


4. Weather

MyObservatory automatically displays the latest weather information and weather forecast.


5. Daily Necessities

Using mobile phone in Hong Kong is very convenient. A large variety of telecommunication services at competitive prices are offered in Hong Kong. Check the advice from the Office of the Communications Authority to make smart choices and get the best value for money.

The standard electrical voltage in Hong Kong is 220 volts AC, 50HZ and the majority of electrical outlets in Hong Kong take a three-pronged plug. Some electrical appliances may need voltage adapters/ transformers in order to conform to this voltage.

Postal Service
There are local post offices throughout Hong Kong; most are closed on Sundays and public holidays. Nearby ones include the Shatin Central Post Office, Wo Che, Fo Tan and Ma On Shan branches, where Speedpost and registration service are available.

EC-Ship is an online portal that provides the function of delivery status check, postage calculation and other postal information.


6. Banking and Insurance

Most banks are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm Mondays to Fridays, and 9:00am to 1:00pm on Saturdays; they close on Sundays and public holidays. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can be found almost everywhere, providing 24-hour cash withdrawal (HK$) facilities for VISA and MasterCard holders.

The display of net rates of exchange by moneychangers is a legal obligation. You are advised to check them before handing over the money for exchange. Receipt notes must be issued by law.

As a CUHK student, you are already protected by the University insurance in our Group Personal Accident Policy and the Group Travel Accident Policy (login required) when you engage in university activities. However, you may consider arranging, at your own cost, additional accident and sickness insurance coverage with provisions for emergency evacuation/ rescuer’s expenses and repatriation for the duration of your studies in Hong Kong.


7. Transportation

There are plenty of ways to get around Hong Kong, whether it’s by taxi, ferry, rail, bus or tram. Most public transports accept payment by Octopus Card.


  1. MTR – The most convenient mean to go anywhere from the station of University. Eligible students may enjoy concessionary MTR fares with a valid Personalised Octopus Card with ‘Student Status’.
  2. Buses – Bus routes covering Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories are operated by Kowloon Motor Bus, New World First Bus and Citybus. New Lantao Bus provides bus services on Lantau Island.
  3. Minibuses – Red minibuses operate along routes without fixed stops and passengers can get on and off anywhere along the routes. Green minibuses operate along specific routes at fixed prices.
  4. Ferry – Star Ferry provides the most economical way to cross the harbour between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Sun Ferry and Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry operating from the Central ferry piers on Hong Kong Island provide services to the main Outlying Islands of Peng Chau, Cheung Chau, Lamma Island and Lantau Island.
  5. Taxi – One of the most convenient and efficient transports to get around Hong Kong. Taxis in Hong Kong are categorised by three colours, each indicating a geographical area. Red taxis operate throughout Hong Kong, except Lantau Island that was specifically operated by Blue taxis. Green taxis only provide services in New Territories. However, all can travel to and from Hong Kong International Airport.
  6. Tram – While the Hong Kong Tramway provides services on Hong Kong Island, the Peak Tram runs from Garden Road in Central to the Peak.


The HK eTransport provides one-stop service of point to point public transport route enquiry for pre-trip planning. The public transport services include MTR, bus, green minibus, ferry, and tram.


8. Culture, Leisure and Sports

Culture & Arts
A wide range of performance programmes, from Chinese Opera to concert, from dance to theatre, can be found in Hong Kong. Most offer concessionary tickets to full-time students. My URBTIX is the mobile application that provides online ticket booking services.

Major Sports Events
Over 10 major sports events are organised each year that attract a lot of international athletes to participate in. Besides being a spectator for the excitement, you may even have a chance to be one of the competitors!

Heritage & Museums
Museums present different aspects of Hong Kong, from history to science and technology, from cultural heritage to art and design. All museums offer concessionary tickets to full-time students and free admission on Wednesdays.

  1. Exhibition Highlights
  2. Public Museums & Other Museums

Country Parks & Beach
Hong Kong is small, but you will be surprised by its natural beauty. Plan a hiking route and enjoy the tranquility weekend during autumn and winter, best seasons for hiking. Or, you can enjoy a sunbath on beaches in summer.