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Things We Love to Hate About Hong Kong

Andrea Lo

We enjoy Hong Kong for many things, but there are certain aspects about the city that we hate on… and make sure everyone around us knows about it. And we’re not just talking about the pollution. From folks who shuffle down a street while playing on their phones to one of the biggest letdowns in the entire SAR, check out a list of things that we love to hate.


People shuffling slowly down a busy street

They call it the “Hong Kong Shuffle”. From office workers who are just a little bit too into their smartphones to couples who insist on taking a leisurely stroll down a busy street, Hong Kong is full of people who hold you up right around the time when you really need to be somewhere. It happens all over Hong Kong, and the thing is, we ourselves sometimes contribute to the problem. Just you wait – stay here long enough, and you’ll soon be doing that Hong Kong Shuffle too.


Shopping in Causeway Bay or Mong Kok

Such great items on offer! Such bargains to be had! Hong Kong is well-known as a shopping haven, and the shopping districts of Causeway Bay and Mong Kok are as good as it gets. Or is it? Every time we visit the neighbourhoods, it feels like hell on earth. The crowds are so overwhelming that it takes the fun out of shopping completely. Still, judging from the crowds pretty much every weekend, Hongkongers and tourists alike aren’t put off by this at all.


The Symphony of Lights

One of the most overrated tourist attractions in Hong Kong, the Symphony of Lights has been a source of disappointment to visitors since 2004. It’s the biggest permanent light show in the world, recognised by the Guinness World Records, and yet when you get there by the harbour at 8pm, your first thoughts are probably: “Is that it?” Yeah, that’s why we tell people not to go.


Tycoons who control the city

Newsflash: Hong Kong is actually run by a handful of tycoons. Don’t believe us? Just about every aspect of daily life, from utilities like electricity and public transport, as well as the retail industry to property development, are pretty much controlled by a cartel of family-run conglomerates, who collectively have their fingers in every pie. Take Hong Kong-based magnate Li Ka-shing, the second richest man in Asia. His empire that spans across industries like gas, shipping, retail and just about everything in between. Li is self-made – and some say the embodiment of Hong Kong’s legendary Lion Rock Spirit (it’s kind of like the American Dream). But still, it doesn’t stop Hongkongers’ love-hate relationship with him and his fellow tycoons.


Ads for slimming treatments

You see these on the MTR, in magazines and blasting out of TV channels, and you hear it from cold callers, too. These treatments don’t come cheap and results, of course, aren’t guaranteed (there are strict laws in Hong Kong on phrases used in beauty advertising – probably for good reason). Thanks for reminding us that we’re overweight and poor!



Hong Kong is notorious for its property market. Anyone who lives here pays a hefty premium for their tiny, tiny space, and we all love to hate our greedy landlords for it. Who could blame us? Hong Kong frequently lands top spots in lists documenting the most unaffordable places to live across the world. In 2016, it was reported in the South China Morning Post that a 12th Century castle in Umbria, Italy complete with 17 hectares of land was available for half the price of Hong Kong’s average home. Greedy land developers are to blame too, but our hatred mostly goes to our landlords.



Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.