Hong Kong: a business travel guide

By Paul Kay for Business Life magazine

Photography by Getty

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August 2016

It may be better known as a financial hub, but Hong Kong's breakneck pace and can-do spirit make it an ideal setting for startups.

The lowdown

Hong Kong is one of the world's most vibrant business cities, particularly for the financial industry with which it is closely associated. But to pigeonhole it as a city built purely on finance is to do it a massive disservice. With a growing number of startups choosing it as a base and a rising reputation as a place where entrepreneurs and innovators can make their breakthrough, Hong Kong offers a diversity of opportunities that matches its increasingly cosmopolitan and international populace.

Hong Kong offers a diversity of opportunities that matches its increasingly cosmopolitan and international populace

Tech companies gather in the custom-built Cyberport complex on the south side of Hong Kong Island, as well as out-of-town facilities such as the Science Park close to Sha Tin, while many small app developers and digital agencies operate from the proliferation of coworking spaces that have sprung up across Hong Kong Island in the past few years. Creative agencies rub shoulders with design studios and PR companies in the hip Sheung Wan area, while the ongoing expansion of the MTR rail network has opened up former industrial districts such as Wong Chuk Hang and Chai Wan, attracting creative types from the world of art, fashion and design.

Discover our cheapest Club fares to Hong Kong >

  • Upper West breakfast at Café Gray Deluxe

    Breakfast in style

    Get down to business while breakfasting on an international menu and taking in the views of Victoria Harbour.

    Discover Hong Kong
  • Mandarin Bar + Grill overlooks Statue Square and Chater Garden

    Divine dining

    The Mandarin Bar + Grill has just secured its Michelin star for the sixth year running.

    Explore Hong Kong
  • Lung King Heen has three Michelin stars

    Authentic Cantonese

    Did you know that Lung King Heen, the restaurant at the Four Seasons, translates as “view of the dragon”?

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Characterised by the speed and ease with which things get done — bank accounts can be opened and a new company registered in two days — the city operates at quite a pace. As a recently coined local saying goes: "A Hong Kong second is a New York minute."

Business etiquette

Virtually every business meeting in the city gets under way with the 'Hong Kong handshake' — the exchange of business cards. These should be presented and received with both hands, and then studied carefully for a few seconds, ideally accompanied by a sage and solemn nod. The traditional concept of 'face' is important. This essentially means showing respect for company hierarchies and avoiding potential embarrassment, so strive to be complimentary and try to steer clear of anything that could be even mildly insulting or confrontational.

Food & Shopping

Eating out in Hong Kong isn't so much a pastime as an obsession. For the quintessential dim sum experience, try Maxim's Palace City Hall. As befitting a city on the water, seafood is also big on the menu: head to Lamma Island, Aberdeen or Sai Kung for the freshest of the fresh.

  • Swimming pool at The Peninsula hotel © The Peninsula Hong Kong

    A spot of relaxation

    Prestigious and steeped in tradition, The Peninsula is a Hong Kong institution offering plush accommodation and serving the quintessential Hong Kong high tea.

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Best Business Breakfast: Café Gray Deluxe

Great food, impeccable service, slick décor and killer harbour views. (Level 49, The Upper House, Admiralty; cafegrayhk.com)

Best Power Lunch: Mandarin Grill + Bar

Executive chef, Robin Zavou, serves up delightfully original dishes at this dining institution. (Mandarin Oriental, Central; mandarinoriental.com)

Best Slap-Up Dinner: Lung King Heen

The first Chinese restaurant in the world to receive three Michelin stars: Cantonese fine dining at its very best. (Four Seasons, Central; fourseasons.com)


If luxury goods send you weak at the knees, then you may well have found your spiritual home in Hong Kong. The number and scale of its designer boutiques are second to none, while bright and shiny shopping malls are ubiquitous, particularly in Central (Landmark, IFC), Causeway Bay (Lee Gardens, Hysan Place) and Tsim Sha Tsui (Harbour City, iSquare, K11). At the other end of the spectrum, pick up a bargain or a gleefully tacky souvenir at Mong Kok Ladies Market, Stanley Market or Temple Street Night Market.

  • Mandarin suite living room at the Mandarin Oriental hotel Hong Kong

    Enjoy some downtime

    The elegant Mandarin Oriental offers space for well-earned rest and relaxation, with 10 different restaurants and bars and its own holistic spa.

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  • Bathroom view at The Upper House hotel Hong Kong

    Room with a view

    Enjoy spacious, well-appointed rooms with spectacular views at The Upper House hotel.

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  • Grand Victoria Harbour room at The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong © Gregory Pierce

    On business

    Situated in Kowloon, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong occupies the top 16 floors of the International Commerce Centre.

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Hong Kong's hotel scene is largely dominated by big-name five-star chains, although boutique hotels have been popping up in the last few years.

The Peninsula

One of the most iconic hotels in the world, Hong Kong's grande dame is still setting the standard 86 years after opening.

Book a stay at The Peninsula >

Mandarin Oriental

The original Mandarin hotel is a class act in every way. Get a trim at the famed Mandarin Barber while you're here.

Book a stay at Mandarin Oriental >

The Ritz-Carlton

The view from the Club Lounge on the 116th floor is a jaw-dropping backdrop to any meeting.

Book a stay at The Ritz Carlton >

The Upper House

This stylish yet understated boutique hotel balances clean, contemporary design with no-expense-spared luxury.

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Did you know...?

1. Hong Kong has more skyscrapers than any other city, with close to 8,000 buildings of more than 14 floors, around 300 of which top out between 150m and 484m

2. Despite its popular perception as an urban jungle, around three quarters of Hong Kong is countryside, including 24 designated country parks

3. Hongkongers like to arrive in style, with more Rolls-Royce cars per capita than any other metropolis

4. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, to give the territory its full title, has a population of around 7.2 million, but fewer than 20 per cent of those live on Hong Kong Island

5. In Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong boasts the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, with dishes from £1.50

Your tips

We asked our LinkedIn followers for their Hong Kong tips.

"The Hong Kong business structure stays true to the British values of business etiquette and relationship building compared to some channels in Asia where they prefer to have an open relationship. A Hong Kong business prefers to have a business relationship for life and not just a short-term one." Eren Wirizlay

"Recognise the difference between Hong Kong people and Chinese." Hoi Yan Tang

"Act with respect, integrity and excellence and enjoy one of the best cities in the world!" Alison McGillycuddy

Visit our LinkedIn page to have your say on our next City Guide destination

Getting around

The reliable Airport Express train takes 24 minutes to reach Hong Kong station in Central, and also stops in Tsing Yi and Kowloon (HK$100 one-way, HK$180 return). A taxi to Central costs between HK$300-400 and takes 20-30 minutes.