Thursday, April 18, 2024

15 Things Expats Will Miss About Hong Kong When They Leave

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Whether fed up of the city and decided to go home, or time in corporate exile in the city on assignment is finally up, many expatriates leave Hong Kong but bring fond memories. In some cases, separation anxiety sets in as things and experiences commonly taken for granted in the city suddenly get their much-deserved adulation.

So here are what expats might miss about Hong Kong once they say goodbye for good:

Retail convenience

Whether it’s 7-Eleven or Circle K, you’ll always have that chance to grab a craving anytime of the day. From snacks and beer to theme park tickets and from gift cards to mobile SIM cards, you’ll get them in one place. You can even use the 7-Eleven locations to pick up online merchandise like Zalora or FedEx and return products you don’t want to keep.

24-Hour dining

More than just that 24-hour McDonald’s that offer round the clock serving of burgers, coffee and soda, some other fancy restaurants and diners address hunger at any given time. The Flying Pan’s all-day breakfast, lamb and chicken kebabs at Ebeneezer’s or bowl of ramen at Ichiran. So you don’t have to microwave that leftover food hoping it is still edible when your growling stomach makes a marching order at 2am.

Fast-paced lifestyle

Hong Kong is known for its fast-paced, dynamic lifestyle. Expats who thrive in a bustling environment might miss the energy and excitement of living in a city where there’s always something happening and opportunities for growth and career advancement.

International community

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Hong Kong is a melting pot of different cultures, and expats appreciate the diverse and international community found there. Meeting people from various backgrounds and exchanging ideas can be enriching and is something expats might miss when they leave.

Clean, efficient MTR

Expats from London, New York or LA can easily distinguish between subways back home and Hong Kong’s MTR. Running frequently and on time, the MTR addresses the crowding problem the city has been famous — or infamous — for. The MTR is also clean and well-ventilated, making them a choice travel option with predictable travel time, and an escape from the city’s punishing summer weather.

Festivals and celebrations

Hong Kong hosts vibrant and lively festivals, such as the Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the Dragon Boat Festival. Expats may miss the festive spirit, colorful decorations, fireworks, and the chance to experience these unique cultural celebrations.

Nightlife and entertainment

Hong Kong has a vibrant nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues catering to various tastes. Expats may miss the lively atmosphere, live music performances, and the opportunity to socialize and unwind after a long day.

Slow rides at trams

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More than 100 years later, the Hong Kong tram, fondly called ding ding alluding to the sound of its bells, must have seen how Hong Kong island has transformed over the years.

Taking a slow trip in this beloved tram allows passengers to witness the daily life that unfolds in Hong Kong: office workers making their way to skyscraper offices, passengers patiently waiting at bus stops or merchants at the market preparing goods unloaded by delivery trucks.

Victoria Harbour skyline

Perhaps the most beautiful skyline you’ll ever see, the buildings that offer backdrop of the Victoria Harbour, are like Lego blocks carefully arranged to build such iconic tourist backdrop for tourist selfies by day, and draped in colors at night. No wonder hotel rooms, office spaces and residences pay a premium to get a glimpse of such a sight.

Superior food choices

Whether you are a conservative expat committed and loyal to your taste bud’s comfort zone or an adventurous spirit looking to explore something new and exotic, Hong Kong is for you. For every local dish that satisfied locals for a long time — dim sum to stinky tofu — there are foreign menu items for both newcomers and old timers longing for variety.

Unparalleled accessibility

While this is expected in a typical city, an extensive transport network gets you from point A to point B in no time. From the world-famous subway lines, ferries and trams to double-deckers and minibuses, each plays a role to complement others. Planners have done a great job in making such network actually fulfill its purpose. It’s not perfect — rude taxi drivers and clogged roads that lead to traffic jams are always there — but local transport has its character not found overseas. And that’s what makes us miss it.

A shopping paradise

Hong Kong is renowned for its shopping opportunities, ranging from high-end luxury brands to bustling street markets. Expats may miss the vibrant shopping districts like Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, and Tsim Sha Tsui, where they could find a wide range of products, including fashion, electronics, and local souvenirs.

The great outdoors

Beyond the buildings and huge crowds, a wider greenery space offers plenty of things to do. Mountain biking, hiking, trail walking or endurance races are available within these confines. Otherwise, you can also see wetland parks, monkeys, aviaries and a UNESCO-listed geo park. What makes them unique is that you don’t have to travel long enough to get to enjoy them.

Local medicines

Expats might be hooked to their old reliable ibuprofen and paracetamol to cure ills and stress and may be surprised to receive half a dozen medicines to cure for a common cold after visiting a local clinic, but Hong Kong offers the alternative cure to ailments. Traditional Chinese medicine has rich history of over 2,000 years. Acupuncture, massage, cupping and countless herbs are some techniques to relieve us from our physical burdens and pains.


Infamous for being snob and apparent uncaring attitude who don’t open doors for us nor wait for us at elevators, Hong Kong people have a special place in the hearts of expats. They may be aloof, but wait to get to know them and they’ll open their doors for you, invite you for dinner with the family or share some insider info on local attractions, tricks and bad words and phrases you should watch out.


Love it or hate it, Hong Kong would undoubtedly be home to expats and for those who have been here for a while, there’s that alluring charm that’s difficult to resist. The mere thought of leaving the city for good can evoke happy memories: with friends, explorations and mishaps, something that might be hard to replicate elsewhere.

Thank you Hong Kong for the wonderful memories.


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