Hong Kong society has developed as a unique blend of Chinese tradition and Western technology. Most people who are familiar with Hong Kong know that Hong Kong means business. Above all, it is a society that emphasizes hard work and success. Macau’s business culture retains a strong mix of Chinese tradition with a distinctive Portuguese cultural influence.
Americans encounter few if any cultural problems when conducting business in Hong Kong and Macau. Business meetings tend to be more formal in Hong Kong and Macau, and business acquaintances are usually addressed as Mr. or Ms. unless they state that their first name should be used. Business cards are exchanged frequently, and the exchange should be fairly formal; the card should be accepted with both hands and a moment taken to read it carefully. "Face" is very important, and problems or areas of disagreement are handled indirectly to avoid loss of "face." While a study of local customs and practices is helpful, most businesspeople in Hong Kong and Macau are familiar with Western customs and are tolerant of cultural differences. Western business attire (suit and tie for men, business suits for women) is appropriate.
Americans should be aware that personal names in Chinese culture follow a number of rules different from those of personal names in Western cultures. Most noticeably, married Chinese women in Hong Kong usually retain their maiden names as their family name, rather than the adopted name of their husband. This is also the case in mainland China. In some exceptional cases in Hong Kong, married women, especially civil servants, do put their husband’s name, hyphenated, in front of their maiden name.
The U.S. Department of State issued a worldwide caution on July 29, 2009 to remind U.S. citizens of the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans, U.S. citizens and interests overseas. The U.S. Government is also concerned about the potential for demonstrations and violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about indications that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, assassinations, hijackings, bombings or kidnappings. These may involve aviation and other transportation and maritime interests. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets, including facilities where U.S. citizens and other foreigners congregate or visit. U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.
In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays.) For information on Avian Influenza, please see the section on Health in Chapter 8: Business Travel, below.
Communications facilities in Hong Kong and Macau are excellent and using your mobile phone in both cities is convenient. Most of the wireless systems used around the world (GSM 900, CDMA, WCDMA, 3G) operate in Hong Kong and Macau.
Mobile operators in Hong Kong have roaming agreements with most overseas operators, enabling visitors to use their own mobile phone when they come to Hong Kong. Before leaving home, U.S. visitors should check with network providers to make sure they have a roaming arrangement with a Hong Kong telecom operator. You can also buy a local SIM card and rent a mobile phone when you arrive in Hong Kong, at the airport or in town. Most hotels in Hong Kong rent cellular phones to guests through their business centers. Rates vary between US$20-US$50 per day. For longer stays visitors can arrange rentals on a weekly basis at Hong Kong’s telecom operator for approximately US$100 per week plus airtime. Another option is to purchase a relatively cheap mobile phone with a prepaid SIM card for approximately US$10 from Hong Kong telecom operators and retail shops.
Hong Kong consumers enjoy a wide and sophisticated range of services at competitive prices and 90 percent of households and all commercial buildings in Hong Kong have access to broadband. As of November 2009, there were 164 ISPs in Hong Kong, and an unlimited broadband connection costs about US$20 per month. The affordability of Internet services has a direct effect on the penetration of Internet usage; there were approximately 2 million broadband subscribers in Hong Kong as of September 2009. Mobile Internet access is also gaining momentum in Hong Kong. As of November 2009, there were more than 8,700 public Wi-Fi hot spots in the city and the number is growing.
Wireless Internet access is slowly, but surely gaining ground in Macau. The main Macau Internet service provider, CyberCTM, offers citywide Wireless Broadband Service. Several hotels (Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Kingsway, Pousada Marina Infante, and New Century), the Macau Tower, and the World Trade Center also offer wireless Internet access. Wireless access is also available in the airport.
CTM Macau is aggressively expanding the number of Wi-Fi hot spots. Wireless Internet access is generally available near CTM shops, in participating cafes and restaurants, and at CityGuide Kiosks.
Hong Kong has a very good public transportation system. Major modes of transportation include buses, the Mass Transit Railway (underground subway system), trams, ferries, and taxis. In addition, almost all major airlines service Hong Kong.
Travelers have a choice of transport from Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport to their hotel. Options include the Airport Express train (US$13 and US$6.50 for children 3 to 11), hotel shuttle buses and express public buses (US$5), or taxis (US$65). The distance is approximately 25 miles.
The Airport Express train is the fastest way to reach Hong Kong Island from the airport. Trains depart every ten minutes, and the ride to the terminus at “Hong Kong Station” in Central, Hong Kong Island, takes only 25 minutes. From there it costs less than US$5 (and another 5-10 minutes) for a taxi ride to most hotels in the Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai districts. One-way or round-trip tickets for the Airport Express may be purchased from vending machines located immediately beyond baggage claim/customs (these require Hong Kong dollars in cash) or from the Airport Express counter located in the center of the public arrivals hall. Trains are at the platform level and there are storage areas for luggage just inside the trains. If you take the Airport Express train to Hong Kong Station (last stop) you will find taxis available directly ahead as you exit the train terminal and proceed through the terminal exit gate. The Airport Express in-town check-in from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Station is an extremely convenient service for travelers departing Hong Kong.
Transportation between Hong Kong and Macau
The most convenient way to travel between Hong Kong and Macau is by high-speed ferry. The journey takes approximately one hour, and ferries depart every 15 – 30 minutes from the Shuntak and Kowloon Ferry Terminals in Hong Kong and the Macau Pier and Cotai Strip Pier in Macau.
The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, with the rate set at approximately HK$7.75 per US$1. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, money exchange (Travelex) is available in the area immediately outside of baggage claim/customs. There are ATM machines (currently connected to the Cirrus and Plus systems in addition to Visa and Master Card for cash advances) and most major hotels offer currency exchange.
The Macau Pataca is similarly pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at approximately HK$100 to MOP 103. The Hong Kong dollar is widely accepted – and often preferred -- for commerce as well as retail purchases in Macau.
English and Cantonese are the official languages in Hong Kong. English is widely used in the Hong Kong Government, the legal system and business sectors. Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages in Macau, and English is widely spoken in tourist establishments. Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua) is also widespread and becoming ever more common in both Hong Kong and Macau.
Hong Kong has high public health standards, and health care in Hong Kong is similar in quality to that found in the U.S., although it can be extremely expensive. Hospitals and clinics expect payment when service is rendered and do not accept health insurance for payment. Pharmacies will accept only prescriptions from local physicians and may not be open after usual business hours. It is recommended that the traveler bring an adequate supply of prescription medications for the duration of their stay.