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Living in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

The south side of Hong Kong Island is among the city’s most desirable places to live, combining a great location close to the city with a more relaxed, beach-front lifestyle and some sensational accommodation. And the most desirable of all addresses on the south side is Repulse Bay.

The small town lies on the south side waterfront, about 6 km south-south-east of Central. It’s strung along a series of very pleasant beaches that face south onto open sea, first developed for tourism in the 1910s, with what would become the modern-day town first developed in the 1960s. Add a sometimes spectacular backdrop of hills behind the town – the other sides of the same ones that loom over Central and the rest of the north side of Hong Kong Island – and you have a very attractive setting for a place to live.

The Repulse Bay area also includes Middle Bay and South Bay, which run into it along the coast to the south and are equally exclusive. To the north-west, between Repulse Bay and the gritty town of Aberdeen, are the exclusive areas of Deepwater Bay, Shouson Hill and Wong Chuk Hang, while further along the coast in the opposite direction, to the south, lies the pleasant and also sought-after, but these days furiously busy, town of Stanley. The other notable feature near Repulse Bay is Middle Island, a dot just off the coast which is owned and privately operated by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and reached via a private boat service; the fact that they still retain the “Royal” 18 years after Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty tells you a certain amount about the institution, but it’s a very pleasant little island with excellent facilities provided by the club, assuming you get the chance to enjoy them.

Unsurprisingly, this is first and foremost a family-oriented area. The family-friendly beaches and other abundant leisure opportunities, along with excellent local services including a plethora of high-quality schools, make this one of the better places in Hong Kong to bring up kids. It’s free from much of the street-level pollution and enforced high-rise isolation that characterises a lot of the city and can make it a challenging place to grow up, even in privileged areas.

Repulse Bay is probably the most expensive area of Hong Kong after The Peak, and is certainly home to more than its fair share of the city’s most fabulous homes. Its location, slightly away from the centre of the city, gives developers and homeowners a little more room to play with, and allows larger homes – and even, in some cases, single-occupier houses rather than apartments, a rare luxury in cramped Hong Kong. There are also some monster high-rises, albeit very nice ones, with the town’s skyline dominated by massive buildings such as The Lily and the famous ‘building with a hole’, The Repulse Bay, a luxury apartment complex that also features a range of shops and restaurants. Head inland up the hill about a kilometre and you’ll find the massive Hong Kong Parkview luxury serviced apartment and suite development. There are plenty of serviced apartment options in the town itself, too, most also at the very high end of the market and extremely sizeable, aimed at the plentiful market of expats with families who are transferred to Hong Kong on generous corporate packages. They, and wealthy locals, make up most of the people in this privileged community.

Health Services

Repulse Bay isn’t big enough to have its own hospital; the nearest is the excllent Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, which sits just the other side of Wong Nai Chung Gap as the road over the hill descends into Tai Hang and Happy Valley. Not much further away is the highly regarded Matilda International Hospital on The Peak. There are several medical, dental and physiotherapy centres locally, in The Repulse Bay – and it’s not far to travel for lots of other options.


As you’d expect in an area replete with highly paid expats, international schools have quite a presence on the south side of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong International School has its High School, Middle School and administrative offices further around the coast to the east, on the border of Redhill and Tai Tam, but its Primary School is in the heart of Repulse Bay. Not too far away in Wong Chuk Hang is the highly regarded Canadian International School, while just a little further afield in Aberdeen is South Island School, a secondary school operated by Hong Kong’s English-medium, international-standard, subsidised-but-still-expensive English Schools Foundation. The nearest ESF junior school to Repulse Bay is Bradbury School on Stubbs Road, close to Happy Valley and Tai Hang. There are also several schools for younger children in Repulse Bay, including Southside Kindergarten and The Woodland Montessori Pre-School Repulse Bay.


One of Repulse Bay’s greatest advantages is its relative proximity to the centre of Hong Kong, which lies just over the ridge of hills that runs east-west along the spine of Hong Kong island. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Central by road, and so nowhere on Hong Kong Island is wildly inaccessible from here. There’s no major highway to or through the town, which is an advantage in terms of environment but obviously a disadvantage in terms of accessibility; the main coastal road that runs through the town, known at various points along its route as Beach Road, Island Road and Repulse Bay Road, is just a normal suburban road, and it can get fearsomely crowded, particularly at weekends. It leads through adjacent Middle Bay and South Bay to the south on the way towards Stanley, while to the north-west it splits in two, with one road continuing along the coast towards Shouson Hill, Wong Chuk Hang and Aberdeen, and the other forking off inland. Take the former and you can access the north of Hong Kong island via the Aberdeen Tunnel (HKD5 toll), which surfaces at Wong Chuk Hang and connects the coastal town of Aberdeen with Happy Valley, not far from the centre of the city. Take the latter and, as Repulse Bay Road, it climbs steeply and goes over the top of the hills at Wong Nai Chung Gap, from where Happy Valley and north-slope hillside Tai Hang and points onwards are easily accessible.

There’s no station on the MTR, Hong Kong’s subway system, in or anyway near Repulse Bay. However, if the endlessly proposed, amended and resubmitted South Island Line ever finally goes ahead – and if it does, it’ll be a few years till it’s finished – it will provide nearby stations at Wong Chuk Hang and Ocean Park, providing access in five minutes or so to the major MTR interchange at Admiralty, right next to Central. In the meantime, buses both mini and double-decker run very regularly along the town’s main road, heading to Stanley in one direction and Central in the other; the 6, 6A and 6X all follow this route. Most of the major property developments also have their own shuttle buses into the city – something that’s common in high-end properties across Hong Kong, especially in the more outlying areas.

Shops and Services

You won’t find much by way of nightlife in Repulse Bay, but it does have a couple of excellent restaurants, in particular The Verandah, located in The Repulse Bay. There are plentiful dining spots and watering holes just along the coast in Stanley, a few places to eat in Aberdeen along the coast in the opposite direction, and of course the limitless options of Central and the rest of the north of Hong Kong island are just a short car, bus or taxi ride away. At weekends, there’s also the atmospheric, rooftop South Bay Beach Club. For other types of culture including cinemas and the performing arts, however, you need to go to Central and beyond.

The biggest leisure attractions in and around Repulse Bay, of course, are the beaches. There are beaches in Repulse Bay, Middle Bay and South Bay, with several others just a little way along the coast in Stanley. There’s also Middle Island (see above), for those able to use it. Other private clubs not far from Repulse Bay include Aberdeen Boat Club and Aberdeen Marina Club, two of the city’s leading havens for sailing lovers in the town where many of the city’s yachts are berthed; head up the hill and there’s The American Club Hong Kong, while slightly further on over Wong Nai Chung Gap are the private Hong Kong Cricket Club and the public Hong Kong Tennis Centre. Other sports and leisure facilities are available at The Repulse Bay, and also up the hill at Hong Kong Parkview, both of which non-residents can join for a monthly fee.

Along the coast in Wong Shuk Hang is Ocean Park, a massive sea-themed amusement park popular with locals and visitors from mainland China alike. It’s a pleasantly low-key theme park for both adults and kids, though some of the policies towards animals won’t suit everyone.

For shopping, The Repulse Bay is home to a range of high-end stores, while the Dairy Farm Shopping Centre on the main road is the other main collection of shops in the town. The very popular and eclectic Stanley Market is just down the road, a drive of less than 10 minutes, and Stanley also has a full range of high-street shops. And if all else fails, the shopping utopias of northern Hong Kong Island and southern Kowloon aren’t too tough to get to.

Hong Kong Maternity Insurance – Essential Tips You Need to Know!

Are you currently considering getting maternity insurance in Hong Kong? Are you planning to start a family or are already in the process of bringing a beautiful new life into the world? 

If so, maternity coverage should be at the apex of your wish list. To not have maternity insurance coverage is similar to driving erratically without wearing a seatbelt. For sure, you might be okay, but who wants to take that type of risk with life? Especially with the risk of having a baby.

We live in a modern world where equality is rightfully becoming the norm. The male and female roles in family life are closer than ever before. Long gone are the days of the stereotypical male breadwinner and the stay-at-home mom. Times have changed and we must evolve and move forward or risk being left behind in the dark ages.

Here are some essential tips and advice you need to know now about maternity insurance in Hong Kong. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

What is Maternity Insurance?

Maternity insurance is essentially a type of health insurance with maternity coverage for families who are having or planning to have a baby soon. Generally speaking, maternity insurance is or can be an important add-on to your current health insurance policy. 

Maternity insurance in Hong Kong can help cover your hospital bills during pregnancy and even cover procedures such as a caesarean section. Without wishing to sound negative, who knows what can happen during pregnancy. Don’t get lumbered with unforeseen hospital bills during one of the most important times of your life. You should be celebrating a new life, not worrying about bills.

Maternity leave in Hong Kong is currently 14 weeks for mothers, and 5 weeks for fathers. In 2019, over 214 million Chinese paid maternity insurance contributions. From 2009 to 2019, China saw that number double from just over 100 million. It’s a massive number because it’s a massive issue for modern families of today in China, Hong Kong, and the rest of the world. Getting maternity coverage in Hong Kong could be the difference between a comfortable pregnancy or a stressful one. The prices are greatly different depending on the type of coverage you receive within the public or private sectors.

Your Work Health Insurance Might Not Cover Maternity

If you are currently working with a company in Hong Kong, you need to check your work’s health insurance policy right away. Do it now! 

When you first begin working for a company, we never go through the health insurance benefits with a fine-tooth comb. We are usually happy to have a job and will deal with those details when it’s important. Well, now is that important time. Did you know that not all work health insurance policies cover maternity? If you are working for a larger corporate entity you might get lucky. But even in most cases, the maternity coverage is minimal and doesn’t give you the coverage you need.

Work health insurance policies usually have sub-limits that are restrictive and discourage you from using top-notch private hospitals and medical facilities. You are basically at the will of the insurance company and their hospital ‘recommendations’. It might be an offer that you can’t refuse if you get what we are saying?

Some policies only cover a certain amount of money or only cover certain treatments. You need to read the small print in your employee health insurance policy now to fully understand your maternity coverage situation. 

Financial Support with Maternity Insurance in Hong Kong

Although the local medical system in Hong Kong is not too bad when compared to some neighboring countries, it doesn’t match the quality that a maternity insurance plan offers.

Financial and monetary support is the key element of maternity insurance in Hong Kong or anywhere else. A sound peace of mind is the cornerstone of a stress-free pregnancy. You don’t want to be scrimping and scraping to cover your hospital bills during the most important time of your life. Private hospitals are expensive, even if you are a family with a steady middle-class or lower-upper-class income. Financial support is always welcome, especially where something as unpredictable as childbirth is concerned.

What Should Your Maternity Insurance Cover?

What should your maternity insurance in Hong Kong cover? What’s essential when having a baby? You need to think about the type of hospital you want and the treatments you need. It’s important to look at this honestly and plan ahead.

Here are some essential services and treatments expecting mothers and babies will need to factor in:

  1. Outpatient services that cover prenatal and postnatal appointments or visits from a doctor. These might include all manner of screenings, lab studies, medications, and so forth
  2. Inpatient services that include hospitalization, physician fees, and nursing
  3. Care for your newborn baby
  4. Lactation counseling, breast pump rental, and aftercare 

These are merely the essential services and treatments you need to be covered by your maternity insurance in Hong Kong. You need to think about this now when deciding which maternity insurance coverage to buy.

Postnatal, Prenatal, and Childbirth Costs in Hong Kong

here are both private and public sector medical options in Hong Kong for postnatal, prenatal and childbirth. If you go private, we would recommend that you have maternity insurance in Hong Kong. If you are an HK resident or have an HKID, you are eligible for public maternity. That would drastically reduce your costs, but also reduce and limit the quality of hospitals and care you receive.

Hong Kong Public Government Hospitals

If you are a mother-to-be with a valid HKID, you can enjoy prenatal and postnatal care for free via Hong Kong’s Department of Health. You can find those centers right across the city. However, you will be in the hands of the department and will have limited choices for hospitals and doctors. 

Childbirth in the Public hospitals is also very affordable at approximately HK$120 per day in Inpatient fees. This would be expected for 3-days and 2-nights at the hospital, and covers a medication-free birth and potentially a Caesarian Section with an anesthetic. As we mentioned, you are in the hands of the Department of Health and will have limited choices and options. This is why so many people opt for the world-class hospitals in the private sector. 

Hong Kong Private Hospitals

Did you know that private hospital fees are not regulated in Hong Kong? If you need coverage for private hospitals for your pregnancy, prenatal and postnatal prices can be between HK$30,000 and HK$60,000 on average. This is why maternity insurance can be one of the most expensive insurance types. And this is not taking a high-risk pregnancy into account.

Private hospital childbirth rates for a private hospital in a semi-private room are approximately HK$100,000. If the pregnancy is high-risk or needs a Caesarian Section, the prices can amount to HK$250,000. This service includes room fees, nursing fees, routine parental observation, pediatrician fees, medications, and possible C-Sections. This is the most reliable route to take, especially if you are willing to purchase top-notch maternity insurance in Hong Kong.

What Type of Maternity Insurance in Hong Kong do you Need?

There are many types of maternity insurance coverage in Hong Kong. Ideally, you will choose a plan that covers the best international style hospitals in the city. You need to ensure that your maternity insurance plan covers some of the most reliable and popular private Hong Kong hospitals for childbirth, which are listed below:

  1. Canossa Hospital
  2. Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital
  3. Hong Kong Adventist Hospital –Stubbs Road
  4. Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Tsuen Wan
  5. Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital
  6. Matilda International Hospital
  7. Precious Blood Hospital
  8. St Paul’s Hospital
  9. St Teresa’s Hospital
  10. Union Hospital

Half-Half Medical Insurance in Hong Kong

If you find that full maternity insurance in Hong Kong is too expensive, there are other options. You can purchase a maternity insurance package that merges both the public and private sectors. These are called ‘half-half’ maternity plans. It’s a great strategy to take if you want to keep rates minimal while enjoying quality treatments and services. 

The premise is that a mother-to-be can access the prenatal services from the private sector while giving birth at a public hospital. You literally can get the best of both worlds. However, if you have your heart set on giving birth at a private hospital, this is not the coverage for you. Just remember that epidurals are not given at public hospitals. But they are at private hospitals.

Getting the right maternity insurance in Hong Kong is all about what you need and your budget. To not have maternity insurance is the real issue here. Make sure you take heed of our essential tips so you can make the right choices. Nothing is more important than ensuring a newborn baby has the best treatments and services you can afford. This is why maternity insurance is not just essential but is absolutely necessary.

Serviced Apartments in Hong Kong for Expats

Serviced apartments are an attractive option for people who expect to be living in Hong Kong for a few weeks before moving into proper accommodation, especially for families. There’s more space and independence than hotels offer, cheaper rates when you pay on a monthly basis and it’s a pleasant and often luxurious transition from your old home city to your new one. They’ll also be fully furnished, including cooking utensils, dishtowels, corkscrews and the like, for that home-from-home feel. Many people particularly appreciate being able to cook for themselves when the spirit moves them – but and also that they don’t have to clean the place, since this is where the ‘serviced’ part comes in.

For the kind of places you’ll want to be staying in, rates start at about HKD40,000 per month and rise fast as you move up in the world. Note that you’ll probably have to pay one month’s deposit as well. Staff will speak English and service will usually be very good, plus the nicest places will have pools, gyms and community activities. Hong Kong has a range of excellent options; your company may have a relationship with a specific serviced apartment, otherwise places to look include the South China Morning Post and HK Magazine.

Yin Serviced Apartments

A relatively affordable option in a great location in the middle of Central, not far from Soho, residents can get discounts from a range of local restaurants and bars by showing their key card. It has less plush facilities than higher-end places, but is fully equipped for business as well as daily life, with a business centre, mail services and a 24-hour concierge, as well as daily maid service. Broadband, satellite TV, stereo system and iPod dock all included. Monthly rates are HKD32,000-42,000. There’s a branch with smaller rooms and slightly cheaper rates in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Knight on Wyndham

Located right in the thick of things near Soho and Lan Kwai Fong, this comfortable, modern serviced apartment complex (more suitable for couples than families) prides itself on its interesting décor behind a discreet exterior, offering all the usual mod cons – fully-furnished kitchen, broadband, international TV, a DVD library, as well as the quirkier items – Nintendo Wii and a karaoke lounge where you can meet your neighbours. Maid service and concierge are included of course, and staff can organise limousines and the like. Monthly rent starts around HKD35,000.

The Ellipsis Serviced Apartments

Plush, exclusive apartments in a stunning elliptical tower overlooking the race course in Happy Valley, convenient for Causeway Bay and a very pleasant environment for wandering around of an afternoon. The swimming pool is a prime feature, and rooms are fully equipped with broadband, satellite TV and the like, with kitchenettes or kitchens depending on size of room. Monthly rental goes from about HKD40,000 up to HKD75,000.

Gateway and Waterfront Apartments

High-end Kowloon living, with 499 apartments across 14 floors in the tony Harbour City development. Amazing views, with features including parking, private lift, sophisticated home theatre set-up, broadband, marble bathrooms and air filtration systems. Discounts at Harbour City’s shops and restaurants, and full access to the Pacific Club, offering tennis, pool, driving range, spa and dining options. Rates go from HKD40,000 for a studio to – gulp – all the way to HKD170,000 for penthouse luxury.

The HarbourView Place @ ICC Megalopolis

Luxury apartments on the 50th-70th floor of the International Commerce Centre, with the amazing harbour views the name suggests. Rooms are impeccably laid out and come in various sizes, none of them cheap – but a lot better value than staying in the hotel at a nightly rate. LCD TVs, broadband, DVD player and all the usual mod cons, as well as a health club, restaurants, discounts in the high-end shopping mall beneath and Hong Kong’s highest indoor observation deck on the 100th floor. A great place to be wowed by Hong Kong on first arrival. Monthly rates start around HKD40,000 and head north of HKD100,000 very quickly.

Finding Expat Housing in Hong Kong

If you’re like the majority of foreigners heading to Hong Kong, you didn’t come here to live in the middle of nowhere – you want to be where the action is. This means that the first thing to bear in mind about living here is that you’ll almost certainly be living in an apartment, and possibly not that big an apartment either. This is a city where space is at a premium, and premium-priced, and if you’re on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon, even in a high-end apartment you’re unlikely to be anywhere huge. What you get back in return is convenience and a huge range of dining, drinking and entertainment options in the neighbourhood.

That said, if your company is footing the bill and willing to make sure you’re living comfortably, especially if you have a family, there are more spacious (and more expensive) options on Hong Kong Island’s south coast seaside communities, in Kowloon Tong and – if you’re really living the high life – on the Peak. For the vast majority, though, it’s a similar choice to that in any other metropolis: proximity to city centre workplace and all the benefits of urban living, or more space and better value with a daily commute, perhaps from the New Territories. Another option is heading out to the Outlying Islands or the more rural parts of the New Territories, where you can get a decent amount of square footage for far cheaper rents, as well as a quiet life – but you’ll be well off the beaten track. While Hong Kong’s public transport is so good that you’ll certainly be able to commute, and perhaps like the idea of a ferry trip every day, you may not find it that practical if you have kids heading to school or like to regularly go out on the town. It’s a different kind of life out there. See our Neighbourhood Sections to get a better idea of which area of the city is right for you.

When choosing an area to call home, there’s one factor that you happily don’t have to bear in mind: safety is simply not an issue. Hong Kong is an incredibly safe city in terms of violent crime, and you can be out and about any time of day or night without anything to worry about – a particular boon for women who are used to being careful about walking home alone or taking taxis late at night in a Western city. Kids can also roam freely. In part this is because much of the city is so densely populated that it’s pretty hard to find yourself alone on a dark street at any hour of day or night; but mostly it’s a cultural thing, and something to be admired and thankful for.

Apartments at any rent level in Hong Kong usually come furnished including electronics like TV and DVD player, and at the higher end should have cable or satellite already set up, and you can certainly talk to the landlord about replacing or adding furniture before you move in – the higher the rent, the more amicable he’s likely to be about this. Landlords hold all the cards in the Hong Kong market, which means contracts are usually for two years, and can’t be broken until you’ve been there at least one year, so take your time looking around before pulling the trigger. Some people try to negotiate a break clause to give them a chance to get out after a couple of months if problems emerge.

Note that apartment buildings have management fees, and you should clarify with the landlord whether you’ll have to pay them on top of the rent or they’re already included – most contracts are inclusive. Deposit is usually two months’ rent. Landlords have a pretty bad reputation in Hong Kong, and you should certainly make sure you understand every clause in your contract, which they are unlikely to be flexible about. You’re unlikely to be straight-up cheated, but might be disappointed with their attitude if problems come up. Of course, there are plenty of decent, helpful landlords too, like anywhere else.

You’re best to use an agent, who will show you around for free but take one month’s rent as commission once you sign a rental contract. There are high-end agents specialising in expats, and your company will probably have an arrangement with one of them already. If you’re looking independently, your best bet is probably to figure out the area you want to live in and then approach a range of agents in the area. Expect to be whisked around all day once they have your number; it’s a cut-throat business and they fight to earn their pay. If you want to go it solo, www.gohome.com.hk should be your starting point; other options are the South China Morning Post, HK Magazine both print and online, and Craig’s List.

Assuming you won’t be at the low end of the rental scale with tiny kitchens and bathrooms and one bedroom, normal living in places like Mid-Levels means you’re looking at flats with two bedrooms, separate kitchen and usually a combined living and dining room. There may also be a tiny maid’s quarters, or just a maid’s bathroom space. Storage space can be quite ingenious, and you may find yourself discovering secret drawers under beds or hidden alcoves after moving in. If you’re using an agent, they’ll speak English, and often the landlord will speak enough for negotiation purposes anyway.

Life is considerably more comfortable in Hong Kong’s luxury apartments, where you’ve got more, bigger rooms and a chance of getting somewhere with a great view and there’s a host of facilities like swimming pool, gym, concierge service and the like. Depending how high on the hog you go, you can end up in a little community of its own and escape the big city outside your walls.

You can rent a house in Hong Kong, and in fact there are a fair few on the market – then again, this is because the rents are so astronomical due to so much space being allocated compared to the average home.

House essentially means luxury in any case, and if your company really wants to keep you sweet you’ll live extremely well, probably in Kowloon Tong or the southern coast of Hong Kong Island. An increasingly popular option is the townhouse, generally in the New Territories or Outlying Islands, generally narrow multi-floor terraced houses that aim to hit the sweet spot between ruinously expensive house and cramped apartment.

Living in Mid-Levels, Hong Kong

The fact that those who can’t live on The Peak usually live in Mid-Levels shouldn’t make this highly desirable area sound like second best. It’s not quite as high-end and exclusive, both physically and socially, as The Peak, but it’s much more affordable and still a very sought-after place to live.

For a start, there’s the location – within spitting distance of Central, and therefore highly accessible for the rest of city. You really can’t live much more centrally than this – at least not in a family-friendly, primarily residential area. There’s also its meandering streets, high-end housing developments and quality local services. Its lack of major roads and slightly elevated location make it relatively unpolluted by Hong Kong’s admittedly not too exacting standards, and quieter and more pleasant to walk around than most residential areas of Hong Kong Island. The biggest downside? There’s not exactly a lot of green space within the district itself; but, this being compact Hong Kong, greenery is only ever minutes away, with several parks at the periphery.

It’s sometimes difficult to pin down what Mid-Levels is. As the name suggests, it’s defined as much by what it isn’t – the place between The Peak and Central, part of the north- and north-east-facing slope of Mount Austin – as what it is. (Strictly speaking, only the centre of it is actually adjacent to Central, just up the hill; the western end of Mid-Levels is up the same hill from Sheung Wan, and the eastern end from Admiralty.) Fortunately, what it is turns out for the most part to be very pleasant, including 39 Conduit Road, where in 2009 an apartment was sold for HKD439 million (USD56.5 million – USD9,200 per square foot, the most expensive in the world). It’s fairly typical that the apartment in question was described as being on the 68th floor… of a 46-floor building. Hong Kong property developers frequently miss out any number containing a four – unlucky in Chinese culture – in their developments, and sometimes various permutations of 13 too for good measure. They must be hugely superstitious, because the only other explanation is that they’re trying to mislead prospective customers into thinking they’re getting a more prestigious address than they really are, and that couldn’t be true.

It can be difficult to define exactly where Mid-Levels starts and ends. It’s above Central on the hill, and below The Peak, roughly between Conduit Road and a road that changes name several times along its route, from Bonham Road to Caine Road to Upper Albert Road to Kennedy Road. But the district very much runs into Central, and also into the nightlife-oriented Soho and up-and-coming Sheung Wan, part traditional and part Central’s western adjunct. Neither is it quite clear where Mid-Levels segues into Western district. It also abuts the Admiralty business district, an adjunct of Central, to the north-east. Add in some interesting estate-agent-speak in the form of alleged places like “Mid-Levels East” – usually actually far away in places like Tai Hang, in the hills behind Causeway Bay and Happy Valley. In other words, it’s a pretty amorphous district, difficult to define. Mid-Levels, though, is more a state of mind – it’s strongly associated in Hong Kong minds with expats, and also with wealth and exclusivity. Along with towns on the south Side of Hong Kong Island such as Repulse Bay and Stanley, this is the quartier of choice for Hong Kong’s wealthy, apart from the very tiny percentage who can afford to live on The Peak. Where the south side is very family-oriented, Mid-Levels attracts a mixed crowd of families and young professionals, with the latter dominating the trendy, Soho-adjoining lower streets.

Sheung Wan, and to a lesser extent Soho and Mid-Levels, also combine elements of traditional Chinese life with modern developments and amenities, with mom-and-pop printers and shops selling traditional medicines, for example, lying cheek-by-jowl with swanky boutiques and bars.

The spine of Mid-Levels are the Central Mid-Levels escalators, commonly referred to simply as the escalator, and actually a series of escalators and travelators stretching over 800 hilly metres between Des Voeux Road in Central and Conduit Road, at the very top of Mid-Levels – a climb of 135 metres. As well as being lined with shops, bars and restaurants, the escalator, which travels downwards in the morning to help Mid-Levels commuters and upwards for the rest of the day, provides the quickest and most direct method of transport around Mid-Levels’ steep streets.

Health Services

Mid-Levels is extremely well served for medical options. The Canossa Hospital, a non-profit, private hospital run by Roman Catholic charity Caritas, is located on the corner of Old Peak Road and Robinson Road. The same organisation runs a medical centre and dental clinic in Caine Road. Hong Kong Central Hospital and Tung Wah Hospital are just down the hill in Central and Sheung Wan respectively, and the Matilda International Hospital just up it on The Peak; even the public Queen Mary Hospital isn’t that far away, in Pok Fu Lam. Apart from Caritas, the area isn’t replete with medical or dental practitioners, but surrounding areas like Central and Sheung Wan are stuffed full of choices.


The world-renowned University of Hong Kong, which regularly tops tables of Asia’s best institutions of higher education, has its main campus at the western end of Mid-Levels.

Island School, a secondary school that is part of Hong Kong’s international-standard English Schools Foundation, is on Borrett Road. There are also plenty of schools with religious backgrounds: the Christian secondary St Paul’s Co-educational College is on MacDonnell Road; St Joseph’s College, a Catholic boys’ secondary school, is on Kennedy Road; St Margaret’s Girls’ College Hong Kong, a Catholic girls’ secondary school, is on Caine Road; and Carmel School of Hong Kong, a Jewish international elementary school, is on Borrett Road and Robinson Road. Also for younger children are the Woodland Mid-Levels Montessori Pre-School, on Caine Road, and Glenealy School, an ESF primary, while there’s another renowned secondary not far away in Sai Ying Pun, in the shape of King’s College.


Mid-Levels’ location is just about as convenient as it gets. Depending on where you are, Central is a matter of either minutes or seconds away, even on foot, while The Peak is just up the hill – although there aren’t quite so many day-to-day reasons to go there. Admiralty is just around the corner, Western district right next door, and everywhere else on Hong Kong island is easily accessible. And of course the Central Mid-Levels escalators (see above) make getting to lots of places on foot quite a bit easier.

The major absence is a station on Hong Kong’s MTR subway system, with the nearest down the hill in Central and Sheung Wan. Neither does Mid-Levels have many major roads – that’s one of its charms, especially given its inner-city location. Garden Road and Cotton Tree Drive flank it to the south-east, and a lot of road journeys to Mid-Levels are forced to take a circuitous route along them; residential streets in Mid-Levels tend to be perpendicular to them, running south-east to north-west, and getting up and down the hill by road can take longer than it feels like it ought to. With the lack of trains, however, people living in Mid-Levels who don’t have their own private transport will find themselves forced to rely on the roads, using either Hong Kong’s fleet of readily available and generously priced (not sure if this means expensive or good value…) taxis, or the plentiful bus services that visit the area. Among the latter are the 3B from Pokfield Road to Central, the 12 from Central Pier to Robinson Road, the 12A from MacDonnell Road to Admiralty, the 12M from Admiralty to Park Road, the 13 from Central to Kotewall Road, the 3 from Pokfield Road to North Point, the 23A from Robinson Road to Lai Tak Tsuen and the 23B from Robinson Road or Park Road to Braemar Hill.

Shops and Services

Mid-Levels itself has a few restaurants on Caine Road and Robinson Road, and several lining the escalator, but there are a whole lot more in nearby Soho, which more or less merges into Mid-Levels. Soho gets its name because it lies to the south of Hollywood Road, and for many years Hong Kong’s Democratic Party fought a mildly farcical campaign to get its name changed to the magnificently unimaginative Staunton/Elgin Street Themed Dining Area, because of the supposed sleazy associations of its existing name. Fortunately the old name has stuck, and the area, just about Hong Kong’s swishest nightlife spot, is full of restaurants serving just about every cuisine on earth to a generally pretty high standard, albeit at prices inflated by the area’s notoriously sky-high commercial rents. The area also hosts a plethora of bars, quite a few nightclubs and even one of Asia’s few comedy clubs. The many eateries, bars and other night spots of Central are also within spitting distance, and nothing on Hong Kong Island can’t be reached via a fairly painless taxi ride.

Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, filled with plants, birds and larger species, and Hong Kong Park, as concreted in places as most of the city’s parks but with some very pleasant corners and containing the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, sit close to each other at the edge of the district. Head up the hill from Conduit Road at the very top of Mid-Levels, and you immediately come to the plentiful green expanses of Pok Fu Lam Country Park, surrounding the residential areas of The Peak. At the north-western edge of it lies Lung Fu Shan Country Park, while the Millionaires Row of Bowen Road, which runs out of Mid-Levels to the east, also provides a charmingly leafy environment.

Neighbouring Central is home to an awful lot of Hong Kong’s cultural life, and plays host to venues including the Hong Kong Fringe Club and Hong Kong City Hall, with a cinema in the International Finance Centre shopping mall. Within Mid-Levels itself, there’s the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre on Kennedy Road, The University of Hong Kong Museum and Art Gallery at the western end of the district and the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum in Castle Road.

For sports lovers, Hong Kong Park Sports Centre and Hong Kong Squash Centre are on Cotton Tree Drive, and Sheung Wan Sports Centre isn’t far away. There are also several private members clubs close by in Central, including the super-traditional Hong Kong Club, the trendy China Club and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, formerly a journalists’ haven but now open to everyone.

Mid-Levels is well served for local shops and services, with Caine Road and Robinson Road in particular lined with interesting independent options, including delicatessens, interesting clothing shops, stores selling organic produce and even an impressive range of pet-related services, as well as chains including both of Hong Kong’s major supermarkets. And if they’re not enough, there’s no need to worry: some of the best shopping in the world is on your doorstep in Central, with other prime districts such as Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui a very short ride away.

Hong Kong Expat Health & Life Insurance Considerations

Which Insurance should you have when you move to Hong Kong?

When you move to Hong Kong you might end up better off or worse off when it comes to state benefits: local national health systems, guaranteed income in case of incapacity to work due to ill health or accident, family protection in case of death etc…

Well ahead of your relocation to Hong Kong, it is important to have a close look at the state benefits and other benefits linked to your job for which you will be eligible. If you find gaps in the cover you need (or even gaping holes!), you should be able to find in advance expatriate cover tailored to your needs.

International Expat Health Insurance

Having good health cover is usually a priority for most expatriates in Hong Kong. While some countries have good local national health systems, such as those in Germany, the Netherlands and France, in Hong Kong the need for expatriate health insurance is an absolute necessity.

Evacuation and Repatriation Cover

This cover is often offered as an option with an international health insurance policy.

Definition of Evacuation (only)

In the case of a medical emergency, if in Hong Kong, or where you require treatment does not have the facilities to treat you, you are evacuated (temporarily) to the nearest country with adequate facilities. When the treatment is completed, you are transported back to the country where you have been working as an expatriate.

Definition of Evacuation and Repatriation (both)

This sort of policy has more scope than the evacuation cover only. For instance, assume you had a medical emergency evacuation to the nearest suitable country and your medical condition then stabilised. However, you still need further medical treatment for a full recovery. With this more comprehensive cover, you then could be sent back to your home country for the completion of your treatment.

Alternatively, if the insurance company doctors assessed in the first instance that it was in your best interest to be sent straight back home, then you would be transported directly to your home country for treatment.

However, it is important to note that moving or evacuating a seriously ill or badly injured person can be very difficult and carries health risks of its own. The insurance company must determine a safe method of transport, having regard to the patient’s medical condition. This could mean having to hire a medically-equipped plane or helicopter. The total cost of transport and the affiliated expenses could be in the region of thousands of dollars. This is why the Evacuation and Repatriation option is very useful to have, and is a must for countries without western-standard medical facilities.

International Life Insurance

Life insurance may be used for two purposes:

Family Protection

This is the most frequent use of life insurance. When abroad, the need to have our family financially secure in the case of our death becomes even more of a priority.

Business Protection

There are many reasons why entrepreneurs leave their home country to start a business. The most usual form of start-up is a limited company, with two or more shareholders. However, a problem could occur in case of the death of one of the shareholders: for example, the company may be a few years old and highly profitable, reinvesting its profits each year but without significant cash reserves. As a result of the death of one of the shareholders, his/her beneficiary could demand a high value for the shares, or wish to replace the deceased on the management board. Without cash available to buy back the shares, the option for the deceased’s inheritor to become a board member could result in a nightmarish situation. A number of very good companies go bankrupt each year for this very reason.

The only way to avoid such a situation would be to have a shareholder protection arrangement which would involve: life insurance for the directors, suitable trusts and a binding buy-and-sell agreement. In the UK, the life insurance premium would be tax deductible from the company expenses.

International Income Protection

Unless you are an employee, and the company you are/will be working for guarantees you an income should you be unable to work due to illness or accident, it is necessary to purchase an income protection plan.

Local income protection plans are usually cheaper than international ones, but they should be considered only if they provide international protection.

Insurance Company or Independent International Broker?

Most international insurance companies are excellent and trustworthy. However, the downside for the expatriate is that a company’s sales consultants will promote only their products even if a more appropriate option exists on the market.

Independent international brokers can choose the most appropriate product for you in the international market. Brokers are an economical way for insurance companies to source new business, and whether you go direct or through a broker, your premium will be the same. The downside for the expatriate is that some brokerage sales consultants are incentivised by the amount of commission they bring to the brokerage and could favour products with higher commissions.

Expat Life in Hong Kong: Taming the Dragon

Some expats to Hong Kong will find the legendary dragon is not so fiery after all.

My eyes anxiously scanned the mostly Asian crowd in the Kai Tak Airport in search of my American brother. When I couldn’t locate him, I was gripped by a sense of helplessness and panic. After all, I did not have any local currency or even know how to use the phone.

Quickly glancing around again, I spied the familiar yellow arches of a Mc Donald’s restaurant. I pushed through the doors and found him sitting at a table, munching on a Big Mac. Relieved that I was finally able to make a personal connection to the strange world of Hong Kong, my panic eased. I was ready to explore.

Of course, few expatriates to a foreign country are fortunate enough to have a relative there awaiting them. But having someone to show them the ropes, whether it’s a destination service counselor or fellow expatriate, greatly improves the chances of a successful relocation.

Many expats to Hong Kong assume that because of the British presence there, the transition into the culture will be easier. Instead, they should be prepared for the hidden differences in attitude and culture they will encounter. As Eric Bachmann of Hong Kong-based Santa Fe Transport International so aptly puts it, “Hong Kong can be a deceptive place.” The fast-paced atmosphere and transient workforce, combined with the vast differences in customs and culture can add up to a confusing and difficult transition. Cross-cultural training prior to the departure can help alleviate that process.

No place like home

In addition to preparing mentally for cultural differences, expats will also need to consider the differences in lifestyle between Hong Kong and the US — and plan their household goods shipment accordingly. Lifts and stairwells, for example, may not accommodate a three-seater sofa. Living quarters are usually smaller, as are closet and storage spaces in most homes. Bachmann suggests employers provide a pre-departure trip to the destination, so expats have time to find and evaluate their new home. They’ll likely decide there are many things that are better left at home.

Expats will also want to avoid importing their American automobiles, since duties and registration fees are very high. Although there are expats who own cars in Hong Kong, they have usually purchased them secondhand. Overall, owning a car is not a priority, since public transportation is widely available and taxis are cheap.

Adjusting to the HK attitude

My first trip into Central was an experience I won’t soon forget. Clad in my casual gear — Gap jeans, T-shirt and sneakers — I was pushed forcefully along in a massive sea of suits. Although it was exhilarating at first to be a part of this pulsating crowd, the novelty soon wore off, and I quickly became annoyed by the constant pushing and prodding.

As it turns out, this was my first introduction to the dichotomy of Hong Kong — traditional family values and graciousness on one hand, and what appears (at first glance) as downright rudeness on the other. There is a lack of sentimentality in the business world and everyday street attitude of Hong Kong that many expats find hard to get used to. There are no apologies made for being “pushy,” and doors are seldom held open for you. It takes time to reconcile the “go-getter” attitude of the people with their polite charm and graciousness. Eventually, expats come to realize that it’s this very attitude that makes Hong Kong one of the most dynamic and prosperous cities in the world.

The need for networking

One way expats can deal with the Hong Kong “attitude” is to become involved in the expatriate community. Business, religious and social organizations, as well as American Chamber of Commerce functions, are good places to pass your card or simply have a friendly American chat. Spouse/partner support — an essential aspect of a successful relocation — is plentiful in Hong Kong. There are a number of organizations and services such as the American Women’s Association, the YWCA, and Women in Business, that can offer support and assistance. College alumni associations are yet another option.

Educational options

Although expats have a wide choice of schooling, they should be prepared for high tuition costs in primary and secondary schools. There are government-run schools available only to English-speaking children whose families are residents of the Hong Kong community. Expats have the option of sending their children to the schools of the English School Foundation, which are reasonably priced, but operate in accordance with the British school system. Many American expats send their children to one of the international schools, which are geared toward preparing the children for ongoing education in North American colleges.

An interview and placement test are often required for entry into the Hong Kong school system. Since space at most schools is limited, expats are advised to apply early on — before their departure, if possible.

Expats can gain advice on the schooling options available in Hong Kong by consulting The English Schools Foundation at (852) 2574 2351. Information on special education in the ESF can be obtained from The Jockey Club Sarah Roe Centre at (852) 2381 4362, or The Education Department in Hong Kong at (852) 2891 0088.

A healthy outlook

Generally, healthcare in Hong Kong is excellent. Some facilities expats frequent include the Canossa Hospital on Old Peak Road, Mid-levels; Adventist Hospital, Stubbs Road, Happy Valley; and Victoria Hospital on the Peak.

Most employers provide expats with private healthcare programs, such as Blue Cross or BUPA, but expats can also pay for their own private health care or use the government hospitals and clinics available to holders of Hong Kong Identity Cards or British passports. Although care in government facilities is good and the prices reasonable, English-speaking doctors are not always available — and waiting times can be lengthy.

Learning the language

Since English is spoken in business circles, major shopping areas and hotels, a knowledge of Cantonese isn’t essential for getting around in Hong Kong. Many employers, however, pay for private tutoring for their employees — and with 1997 fast approaching, the ability to speak Cantonese or Mandarin will likely grow more important. Although Cantonese and Mandarin are complex and require formal lessons, expats will find that their Chinese friends and colleagues appreciate their attempts to learn the language.

On bargains and big feet. . .

Expats who like to shop may be surprised to learn there are an abundance of shopping areas in Hong Kong. In fact, there are mini-malls on the ground floors of many buildings. The widespread bargaining Hong Kong has been known for in the past, however, is usually reserved for street markets.

Although expats who are extraordinarily tall, have big feet, or who are “pleasingly plump,” will be able to shop in some stores, such as Marks & Spencers, they should bring an adequate supply of shoes and clothing with them. They should also be prepared for the Hong Kong attitude toward Westerners’ comparatively large size. A shopkeeper once told me, “No, you are too fat for this store!” What she really meant was that the clothes designed for locals wouldn’t fit my Western frame. A friend who is 6′ 7″ and wears size 12 shoes, was often greeted with a chorus of laughter when he walks into Hong Kong shoe stores.

A look at Hong Kong TV

Expats who are “couch potatoes” should be prepared to curb their TV habits, since television programming isn’t nearly as extensive as in the US. Most expats are lucky enough to have Star TV, so they’ll be able to watch such American favorites as ERChicago Hope — even Baywatch. One saving grace of the regular programming on Hong Kong’s two English language channels is that decent movies are often shown each night at 9 p.m. As with all programming in Hong Kong, however, this tends to run in phases. In fact, some expats have remarked that over the years, programming has become increasingly Chinese.

The television system in Hong Kong is also different from the US, and American television sets can’t be converted. Expats have the option of purchasing a multisystem TV and/or VCR, that is operable in both the US and Hong Kong. This will eliminate the need to sell their television or VCR at the end of the assignment.

Taming the dragon

To me, Hong Kong is a special place . . . A place where my parents were reunited during the Vietnam War at the now defunct Hong Kong Hilton . . . where my own husband, a Brit, proposed to me.

Despite my own biases, though, I know that most expats will form a love/hate relationship with Hong Kong. Some will seek out the safety of the expatriate community. Others will immerse themselves in this strange and marvelous culture; those who do will find that Hong Kong, the dragon — fiery and beautiful — is a place on the verge of change.

Relocating to Hong Kong without corporate assistance.

Relocating to Hong Kong without corporate assistance? Here’s some helpful advice from an expat who’s been there.

The rumble of thunder punctuated the blasts of lightning outside the window of the 747 as it bobbed and weaved its way over a stormy Hong Kong. The lights of the city seemed to reach for the wing tips. Suddenly, the plane rolled level and slammed on to the runway with a loud crashing noise, as though a china cabinet full of collectibles had been forcefully toppled over.

Fortunately, this was the most dramatic thing about my first experience moving to Hong Kong. On that trip five years ago, a representative of my new employer met me at the airport, placed me in an air-conditioned car, and whisked me away to my new residence.

Some people moving to Hong Kong will have that same experience: a job and accommodation waiting from the moment they step off of the plane. But for many others, the ups and downs of the dramatic flight into Hong Kong will be only the beginning.

My second trip to Hong Kong was more typical of the latter group. I stepped off the plane into a familiar city, but I was alone. I dropped off my luggage with an old friend before taking the bare essentials to one of the tourist hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon Peninsula. I spent the night recovering from jet lag before heading out into the city to find an apartment. Two nights — and two often frustrating days spent in real estate offices — later I was sleeping in a one-bedroom apartment within five minutes of my office.

That’s not to say that is was easy, though. One warning for fellow apartment hunters: be prepared for sticker shock. Prices for apartments (flats) in Hong Kong are among the highest in the world. A shoebox-sized one bedroom apartment in an average building, in a modest neighborhood can easily cost over US$1000 a month. In a prestigious neighborhood, it can cost many times that. Also, most real estate agents expect first month’s rent in advance plus a deposit equaling two month’s rent. That one-bedroom shoebox may require over US$3000 up front. Realizing this, many employers in Hong Kong will advance part of a salary to cover this initial expense.

Knowing Cantonese is not a prerequisite to surviving in Hong Kong. Many local people speak at least some English and all street signs are in both English and Cantonese. I found my apartment by going into the neighborhood where I wanted to live, finding a real estate office — these are easily spotted: small offices with lots of paper taped to the windows advertising apartments — and then finding an apartment that fit my needs. Patience, however, is a prerequisite: I went through a lot of chaff before I finally got to the wheat.

Some of the trendy (read pricey) neighborhoods among expatriates in Hong Kong are the Mid-Levels, just above Central, and Kowloon Tong on the peninsula. If money is not an object, there is no place more prestigious in Hong Kong than the Peak. Some places there rent for over US$30,000 a month. A couple of years ago, a mansion on the Peak sold for around US$30 million, and the new owners planned to tear it down and rebuild on the land!

Repulse Bay, on the southern side of the Island, can cost nearly as much. For a person willing to sacrifice a short commute for better prices, Sha Tin in the New Territories and South Horizons on the southern end of Hong Kong Island are a bit cheaper than the central areas (and much cheaper than areas like the Peak). For more space — and some peace and quiet — as well as even lower prices, try the Outlying Islands. Lamma and Lantau are particularly popular among expatriates and are worth it if you don’t mind spending a couple of hours a day commuting back and forth by boat. High speed boats make the trip from Discovery Bay on Lantau in about twenty minutes, but prices have risen considerably in recent years.

If you are single, sharing a flat is one way to avoid the enormous up front costs of renting. Advertisements for shares can be found in any of the three daily English-language newspapers.

Keep in mind that Hong Kong is a city like no other, one that can be equal parts overwhelming and magnificent — and one that few go to without feeling enriched in some way. Arriving there is only the beginning of the excitement; Hong Kong is a journey in itself.

Living in Deep Water Bay, Hong Kong

Deep Water Bay, on the south side of Hong Kong Island not far from Aberdeen, Repulse Bay and Stanley, is a distinctly tony neighbourhood. A beautiful beach and a villa lifestyle make it an envied address, and the fact that it’s convenient for Central via the Aberdeen tunnel doesn’t hurt. There’s basically only one route – via Island Road – to get there from more built-up areas though, so rush hour traffic can be bad and you can get caught up in the crowds heading to Stanley on weekends.

Deep Water Bay itself doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of schools, hospitals, shopping and the like – but it’s hardly a problem with Repulse Bay and Aberdeen just down the road with all they offer. If you’ve living here, it’s because you can afford it, and because you value the quiet and the views of hills and greenery – it’s an escape from the high-rise bustle of the city and some inconvenience may well be worth it. You’ll pay plenty for the privilege though, with rents extremely high for places that are usually much more spacious than city apartments.

Residents are a mix of moneyed locals and foreigners with good expat packages, although there’s a definite genteel sensibility that suggests the nouveau riche need not apply. Nonetheless, it’s a friendly, family-oriented area that people looking for a quiet life tend to appreciate.

In terms of amenities, there’s the classic trifecta of country club, golf club and yacht club. It’s possible to live an extremely pleasant life out here if you’re lucky enough to be a member. But the main draw, of course, is free: the beach. It’s small but more sheltered and far less crowded than Repulse Bay, and on a quiet afternoon is idyllic with various bays to explore. The water is not always the cleanest unfortunately, but the beach is well tended, and there are lifeguards on duty. The Seaview Promenade connects Deep Water Bay Beach to Repulse Bay Beach, and is a draw for walkers and runners alike with magnificent views of sea and hills. It could certainly become part of a very pleasant daily fitness regimen. There are changing rooms, showers and even barbecue pits. Expect to share the beach with daytrippers on the weekend, though Repulse Bay and Stanley tend to be the main southern Hong Kong Island draws; but Monday to Friday you’ll be surprised how quiet it can be here.

Unsurprisingly, there are also plenty of yachts to check out. Maybe if you fall under the spell of Deep Water Bay, one day you’ll find one of them is yours.

Health Services

There are no medical facilities of note in Deep Water Bay. The closest hospital is the Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam.


You’ll have to send your kids elsewhere for their schooling, but not far – Aberdeen is the best option, only a ten-minute drive away. There’s the ESF South Island Secondary School on Nam Fung Road, as well as the Canadian International School of Hong Kong and Singapore International School, all excellent. For younger kids, Repulse Bay also offers Repulse Bay Montessori, Woodland Beachside Pre-School and Southside Kindergarten, as well as the primary-age campus of the Hong Kong International School (up to fifth grade).


There’s no MTR here (though a station is coming to Aberdeen), which is part of what keeps it exclusive. Most people in Deep Water Bay commute by car, and it’s only about twenty minutes to Central, assuming traffic is alright. However, you can also take buses 6, 6A and 260 into the city or the other way to Stanley. The 6 is usually a double-decker, and the views on the hillside road can be spectacular – meaning that tourists on buses are another factor behind weekend traffic slowdowns.

That’s the main thing to bear in mind for transport in Deep Water Bay: weekends and weekdays couldn’t be more different. Assuming good weather, come the weekend the hordes descend on the southern part of Hong Kong Island, and while their destination is usually Repulse Bay or Stanley rather than Deep Water Bay itself, they’re all on the same road. Residents learn to plan around the weekly influx and do their best to avoid getting stuck on the road at the wrong time.

Shops and Services

Deep Water Bay is far too classy for commerce: shopping has to be done in Aberdeen or Repulse Bay, and of course Stanley Market is pretty close for a weekend of browsing and enjoying the cafes and open-air restaurants. It’s not much of an inconvenience beyond making it tricky if you don’t have a car – but almost everybody living here does.

You don’t have to get in a car to have a meal out, though in a place this small there obviously isn’t a great depth of choice. Leaving private clubs aside (see below), Deep Water Bay has exactly two dining options, neither of which disappoints (and neither of which is particularly cheap). A decent Thai restaurant, Coco Thai, offers spectacular views from its beachside setting and is popular for its atmosphere as much as its food. Cococabana is also on the beach, with Mediterranean food and a good wine list. Both are great places to enjoy a sunny afternoon lunch or watch the sun go down at night, and both have outdoor terrace dining.

Of course, Repulse Bay, Aberdeen and Stanley are all a short drive away so in reality residents of Deep Water Bay can choose from a myriad of restaurants, including lots of great seafood places.

There are two main sports and recreation options, both exclusive, expensive and members-only. The Hong Kong Country Club has great facilities, including an adventure playground and outdoor play space for kids, as well as tennis, squash, bowling, a swimming pool, snooker, basketball. It has three restaurants of various levels of formality, with a wide range of culinary options including high-end Cantonese to be found. Locals lucky enough to be members can spend the large part of their weekend here, avoiding the traffic in and out of the area. It’s a fantastic resource to have within walking distance of your home, but becoming a member can take some time – they have a waiting list.

Deep Water Bay Golf Club was once the main home of the Hong Kong Golf Club before they moved on to a bigger space. It’s a nine-hole course, and non-members can only play on weekends. The course itself is unspectacular, but its setting is hard to beat.

Unsurprisingly, Deep Water Bay has a yacht club too. Middle Island, rising out of the sea 100 metres out, between Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay, houses the Middle Island Yacht Club – one of the three clubhouses of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. (There used to be a lot more institutions with ‘Royal’ in their name – the Yacht Club is one of the few to have retained it since handover in 1997.) They have their own ferry out to the island and offer sailing courses that are open to non-members too. It’s a great place for the kids to learn to sail, and with a pair of binoculars you can probably watch them from the mainland, or even out the window of your home. Middle Island also houses a smaller clubhouse of the Aberdeen Boat Club.

And if you have kids, don’t forget that you’re not that far from the spectacular Ocean Park in Nam Long Shan – one of the world’s most all-round enjoyable amusement parks, with rides, animal and marine life and thrilling views from a 1.5-kilometre cable car. You’ll be able to see Deep Water Bay from a whole new vantage point.

Living in Stanley, Hong Kong

In many ways, Stanley is a great place to live, with two nice beaches, a chilled-out seaside vibe and a famous market. It can be an idyllic place of al fresco dining by the sea and there are plenty of expatriates who have made it their home. Rents are high and the cost of buying is stratospheric. Part of a peninsular finger that reaches down to the southernmost point of the island and more a village than a real town, Stanley has a lot going for it in terms of quality of life, and an appealing mix of modern and colonial architecture. It certainly treats its overseas residents better than it used to – Stanley was the location of a notorious Japanese internment camp during World War II.

The downside is directly related to all these things: Stanley gets extremely crowded at weekends due to the popularity of its market and its status as a mini-day trip favourite. The market itself is geared towards tourists and successfully attracts hordes of them, and the town itself can feel like one big crowd. This is just two days a week, and crowds dissipate by early evening, but your sleepy, quiet home can be anything but for the duration of a weekend. Foreigners who live here often have places a little outside the town proper (something to bear in mind when you’re house hunting), and thus may not be directly affected, but many people try to plan their lives so they don’t need to do any shopping or driving during peak tourist hours. Of course, plenty of people love the hubbub of it all as well.

It’s a low-rise area with more of a sense of space than many other places, and expats tend to live in individual houses or modern developments with all the amenities: gym, pool, tennis court and so on. There are some well-known public estates here as well, which are actually rather attractive. There’s historic interest – this is where the Japanese finally completed their violent takeover of Hong Kong during WWII – and one of the city’s oldest Tin Hau temples. It’s not hard for people to find homes they’re extremely happy with in Stanley, as long as they’re willing to pay for them. Given the combination of laidback fishing village and bustling, international town not far from Central, it’s not surprising that plenty are indeed willing to do just that.

Health services

There aren’t any major medical facilities in Stanley; for small physical problems, there are private doctors in Repulse Bay and Chung Hom Kok. The closest hospital is the Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam, or further afield there’s the Adventist Hospital in Mid-Levels.


Stanley is home to Saint Stephen’s College, the largest secondary school in Hong Kong with around 1200 students. It’s also one of the city’s few boarding schools. English is the medium of instruction for all classes except Chinese History, Language and Culture, plus Visual Arts and Physical Education; however, note that it’s not an international school in – students study towards the Hong Kong Diploma. It also has a feeder primary school, Saint Stephen’s College Preparatory School. Pre-school options include Saint Teresa’s Kindergarten and Hong Kong Montessori for Children. Of course, Stanley is a well-established stop on school bus routes for the major international schools in Hong Kong, including the Canadian International School of Hong Kong and Singapore International School in Aberdeen.


Stanley is such a small place that when we’re talking about transport, we’re really talking about getting in and out of it. As with most of Hong Kong Island’s south coast, it helps a lot to have your own car here, though traffic can be bad during rush hours, since the Aberdeen Tunnel is basically the only route connecting the town to Central. There’s no MTR yet, though it’s been mooted for future development, so you’re reliant on driving or taking the bus. Bus service is good though, with the 6, 6X and 260 to Central; the 973 to Tsim Sha Tsui; the 63 and 65 to North Point; and the 73 to Aberdeen. There are also minibuses: 16M to Chai Wan, 52 to Aberdeen, 40 to Causeway Bay.

There’s one big downside to living in Stanley in terms of transport, however. The popularity of the market on weekends, with tourists and locals descending on the town from all over the city, makes daytime traffic in and out of Stanley very bad, and at times horrendous. There’s little that can be done about this; perhaps the MTR will one day improve things. Residents learn to plan around this weekend disruption.

Shops and services

When people think of shopping in Stanley, they think of Stanley Market. But while it can be a lot of fun to browse there for silk garments, sportswear, t-shirts, jewellery and the like, in the end it’s a tourist destination and the majority of wares are overpriced. There’s quality to be found of course, and one of the fun things of becoming a resident of Stanley is getting to find out where the good stuff is. You’ll certainly be set for swimwear and beach things.

When it comes to more prosaic day-to-day shopping, for food there’s a Wellcome supermarket. Oddly, it’s housed in the Old Stanley Police Station, a Declared Monument of Hong Kong (the equivalent of a listed building in the UK) – Hong Kong’s commitment to merging commerce and culture exemplified. Stanley Plaza is generally the go-to option, with a Taste supermarket, a bakery and various other food shopping options. There’s a wet market along the waterfront for fresher fare, and as ever in Hong Kong boasts an impressive range in a small area. There are plenty of local vendors for fruit, newspapers and the like. Stanley is a small place, so people looking for big malls and the full Hong Kong shopping experience will need to head to Causeway Bay.

When it comes to food and drink, the main attraction is the promenade along the waterfront, with an array of small restaurants and cafes where people can sit in the shade and eat or drink without a care in the world – other than finding a place during the crowded weekends. There are also bars here, and a range of international cuisine, ranging from passable to rather good. Al fresco dining is not that common in Hong Kong and is one of Stanley’s main draws.

Another option is Murray House, once a colonial barracks in Central. When demand for the space there became too pressing, the whole thing was taken down and then rebuilt –not copied, rebuilt with the same bricks – and moved to Stanley. It houses restaurants and bars, as well as the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, and offers some fantastic views. The pizza place Wildfire on the top floor is popular with families.

Stanley has two extremely pleasant beaches, Stanley Main Beach and the smaller Saint Stephen’s Beach, both crammed on weekends, with barbecue areas and shark nets to keep everyone well fed and safe. There are plenty of opportunities for watersports, and nautical types can join the local boat club. The famous Stanley Dragon Boat Races every May or June draw huge crowds and are a thrilling occasion.

For people looking for less sand in their fun, there’s a modern leisure centre with a swimming pool, and the town also offers basketball courts, tennis facilities and the like. It’s easy to keep fit here.

Stanley also houses two rather important institutions that don’t get quite as much publicity as Stanley Market. Stanley Prison is a maximum security facility that’s been there since the 1930s (there’s a museum you can visit); and the southern portion of the peninsula is given over entirely to a PLA (People’s Liberation Army) base. The grounds are strictly no entry, so it’s advised that people don’t get too ambitious with their jogging when heading south. Anyone who finds themselves involved with either of these has done something wrong; everyone else barely notices their existence.