Tram going through market in Hong Kong.


The quirks and perks of living like a local in Hong Kong

Published September 13th, 2016

There’s Hong Kong. And then there’s the REAL Hong Kong. What’s the diff, you ask? Anybody can check out the famous sights, shop their heart out and get lost in all that city hustle, but it takes a little extra digging to get a truly authentic snapshot of the local culture and get up close to how the locals live.

Hong Kong is truly a destination where you can lose yourself in new discoveries like this at every turn. Down every alley way there are foodie, cultural and photography treats to experience, so here's a quick summary of some local highlights to get you going more than skin deep in oh-so-amazing Honkers.  

The Wet Markets

You won't need to bring your brolly, but you may want to bring some local currency! Similar to a farmers’ market, these carless streets are converted into small pavilion cities, hosting countless varieties of foods, goods and services. Don't let the hustle and bustle scare you, local produce is in abundance here and even a tourist can pick up a bargain. Locals frequent these markets on a daily basis to buy fresh ingredients and swap stories. A warning for the faint of heart: be prepared to see meat as fresh as it comes! While there are many, the Chun Yeung Market is your best bet – the grandest of them all.


Hong Kong residents have a long running love of Mahjong, and you won't have to look far to see the evidence. Mahjong halls and community centres regularly hold sessions for players of all skill levels to take part in this long-loved past time. Why not join in and have a go?


Playing #mahjong with some local help #HongKong #studentflights #discoverhongkong

A photo posted by Tijana Jaksic (@tijanaj) on

‘Beating the Petty Person’

If poor luck and bad spirits have got you down, Hong Kong has an ancient ritual that can set you right! ‘Beating the Petty Person’ is a kind of voodoo black magic performed by the city’s famous ‘professional beaters’ that will literally bash your bad spirits away! They can be found in various locations around the city and only charge a small fee for the ritual. But the most popular spot is in Causeway Bay, below a flyover known as ‘Ngo Ken Kiu’, which has perfect feng shui to help eliminate evil. Here you’ll find some of the most highly renowned beaters, frequented by the likes of national celebrities – so expect to get what you pay for. Not keen? Just watch. It’s fascinating!

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Ming Wah Dai

Want to see how the locals live? On a tour like Buffalo Tours’ Backstreets of Hong Kong Tour, you can actually go into a local’s home for a inside glimpse. They’ll take you into the oldest existing public housing estate in the city, Ming Wah Dai, and while you’re there you can also learn how to play Mahjong guided by a true and experienced local expert.  


A photo posted by Tijana Jaksic (@tijanaj) on

Shing Wong Temple

Shing Wong Temple is a popular temple amongst local residents, as it’s located close to the Shau Kei Wan tram terminus. Built in 1877, it’s dedicated to the guardian god of the city, whose responsibility it is to manage the ghosts and spirits that haunt the district and maintain peace and order. While it may be small, it’s authentic, and you’ll often find locals sitting bout in the shade chatting nearby.


Hong Kong temple.
Hong Kong temple.

Kung Fu

Chinese kung fu – or martial arts – is a part of everyday life for locals in Hong Kong. The most popular form? The graceful tai chi, which is all about balancing yin and yang. You can see locals practicing tai chi in parks all over the city, including Victoria Park, Tamar Park and Chater Garden. If you’re a Bruce Lee fan, drop by the ‘Bruce Lee: Kung Fu-Art-Life’ exhibition for glimpse into his achievements and role in popular culture.

How do we know? Because we never stop travelling! Student Flights recently visited Hong Kong thanks to Hong Kong Tourism and Hong Kong Airlines to bring you the latest lowdown. Holler and get in touch for a piece of our expert knowledge.


Cameron Robert

Cam's a seasoned traveller who likes to visit must-see sights around the world, but always tries to keep one foot off the beaten track. Unique points of interest, exclusive experiences and picturesque scenery dominate his travel to-do list.