Hong Kong, is a great city to do business in with low tax rates and liberal trade rules. It's also stylish - during July each year Hong Kong Fashion Week brings 20,000 designers, buyers and models to the city. Read on for this month's guide to a great business city.
Each month our resident business travel expert Mark Frary writes the Heathrow Express travel guide to a major city. This month: Hong Kong
Business travel buzz
The IMF predicts that Hong Kong's annual real GDP increase will rise to 4.0% by 2019, ahead of virtually every other advanced economy. Since 1995, Hong Kong has topped the Index of Economic Freedom ranking as the world's freest economy. Taxation is low and there are many initiatives to support entrepreneurs.
Finance and trade remain the two biggest economic pillars. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world and the city-state is home to the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, founding partner of HSBC.
Image: Trams, Hong Kong
The Port of Hong Kong handled more containers than any other for much of the late 20th century and remains one of the busiest globally. Surprisingly, Hong Kong is becoming an important hub for trade in wine, establishing itself as tax-free in 2008. It now handles HK$8 billion in wine imports a year.
Another growth area is technology. Hong Kong's government-supported Cyberport initiative offers ICT start-ups free office space and incubation funds.
Cathay Pacific offers the most regular service with five flights a day to Hong Kong's International Airport. Its Oneworld partner British Airways also flies twice daily, including one A380 service (BA25), while Virgin flies nightly.
Getting around is a breeze. The Airport Express train is quick and convenient; the journey takes 24 minutes and runs every 10 minutes for most of the day. The single fare is HK$100 (£7.50) to Hong Kong. A taxi to central Hong Kong Island costs approximately HK$300 (£22.50); ride a red urban taxi and the journey should take around half an hour. In the centre, they charge flagfall of HK$22(£1.75) and then HK$8 (60p) per kilometre. Ask for a printed receipt.
The MTR metro system is extensive and good value – HK$22 (£1.75) for a full day travelcard. Traditional trams that clatter HK's streets are not covered by this and instead charge an HK$2.30 (20p) flat fare.
Image: Central Hong Kong Business District
Hong Kong’s official languages are both English and Chinese, so doing business is easy.
Hong Kong's business district is known simply as Central and lies beneath Victoria Peak, looking across the harbour to Kowloon. You’ll find the financial giants here, including the Bank of China, whose zig-zagged tower is the city's most distinctive – if no longer its tallest. Nearby, in Wan Chai, is the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre, home to Fashion Week and many other business events.
Image: Conference and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong
First-time visitors to Hong Kong will be shocked by the noise, smells and buzz. Temporarily escape the chaos by visiting the beautifully tranquil Chi Lin Nunnery, a Tang Dynasty Buddhist temple and garden complex by the Diamond Hill MTR station.
Want to know more about Hong Kong’s transformation into one of the world’s most developed economies? The Hong Kong Museum of History, next to Hung Hom MTR, tells the story. Entry HK$10 (80p) and open every day except Tuesday.
The black book
There’s a huge concentration of luxury business hotels in Hong Kong. The Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Langham Hong Kong fight it out at the top of various best business hotel rankings. The Peninsula, meanwhile, has been a Hong Kong icon since 1928 and recently had a huge renovation for its 85th birthday. Hotels in the city are always very full – 89% on average in 2013 – and this means rates are generally high; business travellers paid an average of £193.20 in 2013 according to business travel agent HRG.
Image: Mandarin Hotel Exterior at Night, Hong Kong
A cheaper alternative is the Hop Inn in Tsim Sha Tsui, where you will pay around £50 a night. The rooms are small (it is more hostel than hotel) but decorated with modern art to liven things up – a good value alternative to the five-stars. Another hotel in this area is the hugely fashionable Hotel Icon at 17 Science Museum Road.
Michelin star and dim sum hardly seem like bedfellows. But they get along famously at Tim Ho Wan at Shop 72, G/F, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, where the mouth-watering bites on offer have attracted the taste buds of the famous red guide. There is always a (very long) queue but the char siu bao barbecue pork buns are worth the wait.
Image: Dim Sum, Hong Kong
No time to queue? A good alternative is Seventh Son at 4/F-6/F Kwan Chart Tower in Wan Chai. The crispy chicken (zha zi gai) is spectacular.
Hong Kong is a great place to pick up cheap technology. The Golden Shopping Centre in Sham Shui Po is an arcade of hundreds of retailers, selling software, video games and accessories at very good prices.
Image: Streets of Hong Kong City at Night
Hong Kong is also one of the most WiFi-ed up cities in the world. The official government service GovWiFi is available in many locations including parks, libraries, sports venues, ferry terminals, food markets and government buildings.
Want to get the inside track on Hong Kong? Just follow these influencers:
- Peter Thal Larsen, Asia Editor of Reuters Breaking Views @peter_tl, who tweets a mix of opinion on HK affairs, the Asian economies and sport
- Janice Leung Hayes, @e-ting, naturalised Australian born in Hong Kong who blogs extensively about food and fashion at www.e-tingfood.com
- Sassy Hong Kong, @sassyhongkong, Twitter for the lifestyle blog sassyhongkong.com, source of all things good on eating, drinking and shopping
- Angus Law, who does a wonderful job of capturing the sights and colours of Hong Kong on Instagram
- Canadian ex-pat and Hong Kong resident Jay Oatway @jayoatway, author and founder of #HKSocial
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