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Star Ferry
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8 things you'll definitely have said or done as a newbie in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong rites of passage

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a diverse melting pot where many different people from all over the world come together. For those that did come from elsewhere, there are some common things that you probably did and have said during your first few months here as a newbie. Whether it be enjoying your first hike, taking in the stellar views on your maiden Star Ferry voyage across the harbour, or just flexing your new found Cantonese ability, we're sure there are at least a few things on this list you can identify with. For those that grew up here, we invite you to read on and enjoy a kind-hearted chuckle.

RECOMMENDED: There are many stereotypes about our city that newbies quickly realise aren't necessarily true. Check out our list of 10 common misconceptions about Hong Kong

Things you'll have said or done as a newbie in Hong Kong

Say it's hot
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1. Say it's hot

For starters, let's talk weather. While it's true that Hong Kong does occasionally get a bit chilly in the winter, the fact remains that us city dwellers exist in a subtropical climate, which means that it's mostly damn hot. The heat and the humidity invariably surprise most newcomers, leading to exclamations like 'It's hot', 'It's really hot', 'It’s quite humid today' and, of course, 'It’s soo hot.'

Go hiking
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2. Go hiking

There are many great hiking spots in Hong Kong, and the first one you'll probably do is the famous Dragon's Back – after which you'll definitely go around telling everyone that you’re a seasoned hiker and showing off your survival skills like you’re Bear Grylls. Whichever hike you do decide to conquer, you'll finish it with a deeper understanding of Hong Kong, and realise that whilst it's a high-octane concrete jungle in many areas, it also contains some incredible nature spots.

Take the Star Ferry
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3. Take the Star Ferry

It's a magical thing taking in the panoramic view of one of world's most iconic skylines on a ferry service that's been in operation for well over 100 years. A jaunt on the Star Ferry isn't just great for newcomers, it's the fastest and cheapest way to travel between the ports of TST and Central. More importantly, it’s a reminder for locals and veterans as to why this city is one of the best in the world.

Show off your Cantonese abilities
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Show off your Cantonese abilities

It's far from the easiest language to pick up. So, it's perfectly acceptable to bask in your formidable intellect as you learn a couple of Cantonese words. A few months here, and you'll surely have picked up 'mm goi' – and will use it at every opportunity, even when it's not strictly appropriate – and 'sik jor faan mei ah' to greet every local you know. 

Visit the Peak
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5. Visit the Peak

This is probably the most obvious one, as outsiders' images of our city revolve around that iconic view from the Peak. Because of this, newbies to the city always seem to have an almost uncontrollable compulsion to start heading for high ground the minute they arrive. The Peak Tram is an excellent means of ascending the peak with minimal effort, but hiking also works too – and once up there it's not only the views you'll be rewarded with, but also the quality restaurants! 

Scratch your head over the intricacies of HK taxis
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6. Scratch your head over the intricacies of HK taxis

It's simple, but unless you're told, this one may take a while to figure out. No matter where in Hong Kong you are, look at the taxi's dashboard before you hail it. If it has a tea cosy- type red cover over the taxi light, it means that it's a cross-harbour taxi, and is only offering services to the other side (Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, or vice versa depending on where you are).

A pro tip is also to check the number on the back of taxis. Most have the number '4' painted somewhere near the bumper – no prizes for figuring out this indicates customer capacity – however, some will have the magic number '5'. In these cases, groups of five can fit in together – just as long as you don't mind being squished together! Luckily, there are some new taxis nowadays with a much more spacious backseat. One more thing; in Hong Kong, it is a legal requirement for all passengers to wear seatbelts where provided, so buckle up kids!

Go to a wet market
Photograph: Time Out Hong Kong

7. Go to a wet market

Hong Kong is home to a plethora of wet markets, with one in seemingly every neighbourhood. Whether it's out in the open or inside huge block buildings, these markets are a curious sight to newbies, and if curiosity doesn't lead you there, then pure dumb luck will; they're so ubiquitous that you'll definitely find yourself having wandered into one whilst exploring the city.

A hive of activity with everything from butchers, to fish mongers, to spice stalls – even clothing repair services – these infinitely fascinating institutions are HK gems. If you're feeling peckish, you're in luck, because many of them also contain a food centre where you can get comfy on a plastic chair and eat quality food for cheap

Say the rent's high
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8. Say the rent's high

One thing that's undeniable about our beloved city is that it's a bit pricey, and this certainly extends to rent. Hong Kong is ranked among the most expensive housing markets in the world, and finding yourself even a small place to rest your head will set you back a pretty penny per month. The realisation of just how pricey things can be here causes newbies to talk about it...a lot.

For those in need of a Hong Kong culture fix

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