The good news: in Hong Kong, there is no strict dress code. Since the government is not officially linked with any religion, what you wear in and around the city is entirely up to you. And while this is so, there are still some guidelines about what the weather is like and what kind of attire would be appropriate for new expats.
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Hong Kong is humid all year, and the weather is unpredictable due to the high likelihood of rain, even on sunny days. Even while it seldom gets extremely cold, as it does in Europe or North America during the winter, it is recommended that you bring clothing that layers well.
How to Properly Dress When in Hong Kong
If you plan on staying here for long or for good, you need to know that when you step outside and come back in, the weather changes dramatically. The malls, business buildings, and even some of the newest ferries like to keep the temperatures quite low, so be prepared to shed and wear garments on a regular basis.
When visiting Hong Kong during the rainy season, it is best to bring rainproof apparel with you at all times. Because it is summer, many residents prefer to carry an umbrella rather than heavy parkas or raincoats. Umbrellas can be purchased for a reasonable price from supermarkets and street hawkers.
And for safe measure, a simple rule to packing your wardrobe when visiting Hong Kong is to consider the activities you’ll be doing on your trip AND the weather.
But other than these things (that you would also have expected – most likely), there’s more to the style of clothing of the people here in Hong Kong, and we will discuss some of them in brief in the following sections so be sure to read until the end of this guide.
Hong Kong Traditional Dress
You might ask, ‘Does Hong Kong have traditional clothing?’ Yes, they do. The traditional clothing worn by some of the locals here is known as cheongsam.
This Chinese traditional costume first appeared in Hong Kong in the 1920s. This is an excellent souvenir for ladies since, while it displays Chinese culture, it is also an elegant, trendy piece of apparel that can be worn in a variety of situations. It also doesn’t hurt that the cheongsam’s cut is figure-flattering.
The male equivalent, the changshan, may be a little too costume-y to wear on regular days, but its modern counterpart, the mao suit, is a lot more casual while still being historically significant.
Hong Kong Outfit for Expats
Expats visiting Hong Kong should note that it’s better to be more dressed up than not. Shorts and t-shirts were not recommended even in the heat and humidity.
In the city, people dress nicely. You won’t see adult males in shorts. Polo shirts are acceptable, while collarless T-shirts are not.
You may also spend a lot of time in air-conditioned environments. Hong Kong is well-known for its freezing air conditioning on buses, as well as in malls and restaurants.
If you go to the islands in more casual attire, you’ll be alright.
What to Pack When Traveling for a Trip in Hong Kong
When traveling, it’s often a good idea to bring clothes for layering. Hong Kong is no exception to this trend, especially since air conditioning indoors (and on many of the newer ferries) is sometimes set to near-freezing temperatures during the hottest months of the year. It can rain practically nonstop for days at the wettest times of the year.
Pack clothes for rain, sun, and cold if visiting Hong Kong in January. Pack for even more rain during the wet season, which lasts from June through August. Because the weather can be unpredictable, it’s a good idea to bring a light jacket, a wide scarf, and/or long sleeves. The MTR system may be quite heated, so be prepared to shed or put on a garment on a regular basis!
Because of the heat, many locals prefer to carry umbrellas instead of raincoats or parkas. Even on sunny days, you’ll notice residents carrying umbrellas…many utilize their umbrellas to shelter themselves from the sun.
TIP: Be cautious on the street when there are umbrellas about; it’s not uncommon for individuals to find umbrella tips on collision courses with their eyes, faces, and other body parts! Prepare to take evasive action or, at the very least, raise a hand to defend yourself from a poke in the eye.
If you are visiting tourist spots, wear casual shoes and jeans to blend in with the throngs of other tourists on the streets. Jeans, on the other hand, may be a little too hot during the hottest months of the year. Residents will be seen wearing everything from formal work attire to highly attractive apparel of various types to casual daywear during the business day. On weekends, many people dress informally, with many wearing flip-flops and shorts.
TIP: As the MTR and streets are quite packed, keep your belongings visible at all times – preferably, wear a shoulder bag across your front.
What to Wear at the Office
Because of the warm weather in Hong Kong, office workers here tend to layer themselves with comfortable clothing pieces – anything from business to smart casual will do unless you’ll be attending a business meeting or dinner, then you’ll have to dress up for the occasion.
What to Wear when Visiting Tourist Spots
If you’re going sightseeing in the city, layering is still the smart way to go. Remember: decent, casual, and comfortable is the norm here. Keep this in mind whether you’ll be eating out, meeting up with friends, or going somewhere fun as in the beach, mall, or an amusement park, and you’ll be fine.
What to Wear when Visiting Temples
As opposed to popular belief that there are strict dress codes when visiting temples or religious places in Hong Kong, the truth is, there is really no prescribed outfit when visiting these place. Just dress appropriately for the weather, but it is still important to be respectful and try to keep it conservative. And keep in mind: decent, casual, and comfortable is the norm.
Now that you’ve reached this part of the guide, you will have a better idea of what to wear when going out or staying for long here in Hong Kong. In summary, comfort trumps style if you plan to go around in the city. But as you would expect in most Asian countries, style is also something that’s much appreciated in these cultures, as well as decency.
And as you know, Hong Kong has one of the busiest and most jam-packed streets in the region, so make sure that you wear something that’s comfortable and at the same time, easy to get around with.
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