Hong Kong Culture
the Big Melting Pot of
East-Meets-West Cultures

The Hong Kong Culture is a big melting pot of almost everything. The two main ingredients come from China and Britain.

Native Hong Kong people are Chinese. We have the blood, traditions and culture running inside our veins. But we were under the British colonial rule for a century. They had a lot of influence on our daily lives even after the Handover in 1997.

Also because of that, it opened our minds to accept/absorb almost everything out there.

So, don't be surprised how open-minded the Hong Kong people are.

At the same time, we inherited many Chinese customs and modified them to become Hong Kong customs.

That is very general about Hong Kong culture. Let's break it down here:

  1. Never say die
  2. All about money
  3. "Concrete Jungle"
  4. Slang
  5. Superstition

Just want to remind you that the culture value talks about here may not apply to every individual that you may meet in Hong Kong. But it is the mostly popular culture that we hold.

Never Say Die

I'm so proud to say that it is running in our blood. Just looking back in less than a century ago, we went through WWII , Chinese Civil War , 1989 Tienanmen Massacre and several global financial crises.

We were heavily affected emotionally, especially politically and financially. My grandparents, parents and even myself were the eye witnesses and survivors of these turmoils.

All About Money

Some may think that this is good. Some don't agree. Everybody knows that he/she got to work hard. Or he/she will never survive. Because of that, you don't find many people do stuffs for free or volunteer for a good deed. If he/she wants to help someone, it is preferred to have money donation. To Hong Kong people, almost everything can be solved by money.

Every year, there are a couple local charitable TV marathons that movie stars work together to give special performances and asked for donation for local charitable organizations.

"Concrete Jungle"

This is a Hong Kong created word. It is very self-explanatory. Hong Kong people don't care much about nature or other entertainment such as classical music and art. You can tell by what it said on the first 2 culture mentioned above.

Thanks to the Hong Kong government , many historic monuments and customs are preserved. This gave the next generation the opportunities to know the history and the old Hong Kong culture.

On the same token, some people start to be aware of that and start to turn into something more relaxing. Some families would go to spend some time during the weekend in farming in mainland China or hiking in the New Territories, the northern part of the city.

One of the most popular activities in the last 5 years, it is the local tour of checking out these historic monuments.  There are some travel agents specialized in this area.  They mostly offer a one-day tour package during the weekends. 

Hong Kong Slang

Like many countries and cultures, we do have a lot of slang.  I must say that this really shows what Hong Kong culture is.  The funny things is that we use certain slang like  fashion.

In other words, you may hear a few of them over and over again for a few months.  Then, all of a sudden, they disappear from the Hong Kong culture.  Most Hong Kong slang originated from the Hong Kong TV series and movies.  If you don't watch them regularly or live in Hong Kong, you will lose track of the new slang. 

Being a tourist, please be patient and understandable, especially Hong Kong people love to twist some foreign languages and make them to be our slang.  The meaning will be totally different.  Please don't take it personally.  Most of the time, they don't mean to offend someone else.

Here are some funny Hong Kong slang:

a) "Wet" - If someone asks, "Where did you go to wet?"  It means, "Where did you go for your happy hours or entertainment?"

b) "Small potato" - You hear this slang a lot in the Hong Kong working environment.  If somebody tells you that he/she is a "small potato".  That person tries to tell you that he/she doesn't know anything and has no authority to make any decision.

c) "OL" means "office lady".  It actually refers to the women who dress very, very nice and work in high-end offices or district, such as Central (the "capital" of Hong Kong), Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and Wanchai.

d) "In" means "fashionable" or "up-to-date".  People always ask the others, "Am I in or what?"  It also means "interview", especially for the jobs.  Like someone will tell you, "I got the 'in'."  That means he/she has an interview set up.

One of my Facebook fans recommended this Cantonese slang dictionary which is a big database of slang.  It may not cover all.  But over 90% of the slang that you hear is listed here.  Hope you will have fun reading them.


Hong Kong people are superstitious one way or the other . I got to admit that I am superstitious, too, even though my generation is much more westernized than our parent and grandparent generations.  To learn more about crazy superstitious beliefs, click here.

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