Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel-Hong Kong & Macau
Last published date:

Business Customs

Hong Kong society has developed as a unique blend of Chinese tradition and Western modern technology.  Most people who are familiar with the region 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, a married Chinese woman in Hong Kong usually retains her maiden name as her family name, rather than the adopted name of her husband.  This is also the case in mainland China. In some exceptional cases in Hong Kong, especially among civil servants, married Chinese women sometimes put their husband’s name, hyphenated, in front of their maiden name.

Travel Advisory

Please see the latest State Department Travel Advisory for information on Hong Kong and Macau.

All U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Hong Kong and Macau are encouraged to register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  This free service allows U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  STEP automatically provides important information about safety conditions in country.  Enrollment helps the U.S. Consulate General, as well as family and friends, to contact you in the case of an emergency.    

Visa Requirements

Hong Kong Visas are not required for U.S. citizens who visit Hong Kong for less than 90 days.  For more information regarding visa requirements for other nationalities, refer to the Hong Kong Immigration Department website.  Additional information on Hong Kong entry/exit requirements and general travel information can be found on the U.S. State Department Travel website.

Macau Visas are not required for U.S. citizens who visit Macau for less than 30 days. For more information on visa requirements for other nationalities, please refer to the Macau Immigration Department website.

Additional information on Macau entry/exit requirements and general travel information can be found on the U.S. State Department Travel website.

U.S. Visas

U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to travel to the United States should be advised that visa applications are processed at the U.S. Consulate General in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Visa applicants should refer to the following links.

Visas to the People’s Republic of China: Travelers who transit Hong Kong or Macau on their way to the People’s Republic of China must apply for a visa from the People’s Republic of China embassy or consulate abroad of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For more information, visit the website of Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America or China Travel Service (Hong Kong) Limited.


The Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, with the rate set at HK$7.8 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 for direct withdrawals or for cash advances (for holders of Master Card using the Cirrus network and Visa Card using the Plus systems) and most major hotels offer currency exchange.

The Macau Pataca is similarly pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at HK$100 to MOP 103.  The Hong Kong Dollar is widely accepted – and often preferred — for commerce as well as retail purchases in Macau.


The telecommunications infrastructure is excellent in Hong Kong and Macau.  Although Hong Kong has more carriers and service providers, using your mobile phone in both cities is convenient.  Most of the wireless systems used around the world (GSM 900/1800, CDMA2000, W-CDMA, 3G, 4G, and 5G) 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 when you arrive in Hong Kong, at the airport or in town.  Some 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.

In Hong Kong, businesses and households enjoy a wide and sophisticated range of services for gaining access to the internet.  There are many options for internet service in Hong Kong. Over 90 percent of the household in Hong Kong has access to broadband service.  The cost of an unlimited broadband connection is about US$25 per month. The affordability of Internet services has a direct effect on the penetration of Internet usage.  The mobile subscriber penetration rate is over 300 percent in Hong Kong.

Mobile internet access is also readily available in the city and available for foreign visitors to use.  The number of hotspots under Hong Kong’s common Wi-Fi brand, Wi-Fi.HK, has risen to over 36,000 across the territory, providing convenient and free public Wi-Fi services to the public and visitors.  Launched in 2014, Wi-Fi.HK is a collaborative scheme of the Government and industry to promote public Wi-Fi services in Hong Kong.  At present, Wi-Fi.HK hotspots can be found in various parts of Hong Kong, covering the Hong Kong International Airport, major tourist attractions, public phone booths, shopping centers, restaurants, cafés, convenience stores, college campuses, clinics, Cyberport, the Hong Kong Science Park and GovWiFi premises.

For Macau, U.S. visitors can purchase phone cards for US$4 to US$12 that can be used in public phones located throughout Macau.  In the busiest areas there are also credit card phones.  To use a mobile phone in Macau, you can contact the following mobile phone service providers by dialing 1000 (CTM), 1118 (Hutchison Telecom) or 1628 (SmarTone). Hutchison Telecom Network also provides a Mobile Tour Guide Service.

Wireless Macau Internet access is gaining ground in Macau.  The main Macau Internet provider, CyberCTM, offers citywide Wireless Broadband Service.  Several hotels and the conventions center also offer wireless internet access. Wireless access is also available in the airport.

CTM Macau is aggressively expanding the list and so it may change anytime.  Basically, wireless internet access is available near CTM shops, in participating Cafe and Restaurants and CityGuide Kiosks.  You can also buy a local prepaid data card when you arrive in Macau, at the airport or in town.

In addition to private-owned hot spots, the Macau Government has also funded the installation of “WiFi Go” which provides citizens and tourists with free wireless internet access.  As of April 2016, there were 183 access points including museums, libraries, parks, public squares, ports, activity centers, stadiums, and some government facilities.


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, several major airlines serviced Hong Kong prior to Covid-19 travel restrictions, but many discontinued service due to Hong Kong’s severe restrictions and have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.   Please check with specific airlines for their most updated service.

Travelers have a choice of transport from Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok Airport to their hotel.  Options include the Airport Express train, hotel shuttle buses and express public buses or taxis.  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 10 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$10 (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 arrival 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 (the 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 is available but with limited service.  Please check the Airport Express website for detailed information.

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 30 minutes from the Shuntak and HK China Ferry Terminals in Hong Kong and the Macau Pier and Cotai Strip Pier in Macau.   Please check the websites for Turbo Jet and Cotai Water Jet for their updated schedules and rates.

Turbo Jet also provides chartered helicopter service between Hong Kong and Macau.  The journey takes about 15 minutes.  For details, please refer to their website for schedules and rates.

Now one can travel by bus from Hong Kong to Macau via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.  Please check the HZMB shuttle bus website for more information.

For Macau, the major modes of transportations are buses and taxis.  Getting around the relatively small area of Macau (and its bridge-connected islands of Taipa and Coloane) is relatively easy.  Free shuttle buses also operate between the two ferry piers and the major hotels and casinos.


English and Chinese are the official languages in Hong Kong.  English is widely used in the Hong Kong Government, the legal system, and business sectors.  Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages in Macau.  Cantonese is the most widely spoken language in Hong Kong and Macau, and English is widely spoken in tourist establishments.  Mandarin Chinese (“Putonghua”) is also widespread and becoming 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 United States, although it can be extremely expensive.  Hospitals and clinics expect payment when service is rendered and in general, 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 his/her stay.  For a list of hospitals and physicians in Hong Kong and Macau, please visit the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau website.

Travelers are encouraged to review the following websites for updated information concerning healthcare in Hong Kong:

Hong Kong Government, Department of Health

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. State Department Your Health Abroad

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

Hong Kong and Macau are 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 13 hours ahead during daylight savings time.

Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.  Many companies now have a 5-day work week. Starting in 2006, most government offices are now closed on Saturdays, but their opening hours on weekdays have been extended.  Please visit the weblinks blow for Hong Kong and Macau public holidays:

Hong Kong Public Holidays

Macau Public Holidays