Work and Travel in Hong Kong
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN HONG KONG FOR TRAVELLERS
Hong Kong is truly a land where the east meets the west. Technically part of China, but with remaining influences from British occupation, as a working traveller, you will notice the anachronisms. The signs are in Mandarin, but you can get around easily with English. The cuisine is Chinese but with obvious English influences.
Of course, Hong Kong has also been in the news lately due to increased tension between China and pro-democratic activists within the territory. And, like China, it’s not as easy to volunteer casually as it is in other parts of Asia or Europe. But, if you follow the rules and stay out of politics, it is possible to find success as a working traveller in Hong Kong.
Read our travel guide below to find out what you need to know about working and travelling in “Asia’s World City”.
1. Teaching English
Some of the easiest work to secure as a working traveller is teaching English, and such work can be arranged before arriving in Hong Kong. If you are a native speaker and have a TEFL certification, you will make the most money.
2. Work in a cocktail bar
If you can put up with long hours, you can stand to make good money working in a bar or restaurant in the busy nightlife quarters downtown.
3. PR and Marketing
It can sometimes be hard to gain administrative skills as a working traveller, but Hong Kong is known as a good place to break into the industry. Companies you can start with range from produce wholesalers to banking companies.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR HONG KONG
Visas are not required for Brits (up to 180 days); or Australians, Canadians, EU citizens, Israelis, Japanese, New Zealanders and US citizens (up to 90 days). Citizens of British Dependent Territories and British Overseas citizens can stay for up to 90 days without a visa. Holders of some African (including South African), South American and Middle Eastern passports can visit for up to 30 days without a visa.
Anyone requiring a visa or wishing to stay longer than the visa-free period must apply before travelling to Hong Kong. See this website for your nearest Chinese consulate or embassy where the application must be made.
Hong Kong is valued by working travellers in particular because of its simple Working Holiday visa programme. You must fill out a form and go to immigration with your passport and within 5-7 days you have a working holiday visa for 12 months. Read more about obtaining a working holiday visa HERE.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN HONG KONG
Spring in Hong Kong becomes warm and humid, but early spring is still considered an ideal time to travel here, before the heat sets in. Now would be the time to transition to more indoor-based work, such as in bars and restaurants, which will be more pleasant for a working traveller during the hotter months of the summer since you’ll be working inside as well as at night.
Despite the heat, this will be a busy season for tourism in Hong Kong, due to travellers from western nations arriving on their summer breaks. Pick up work in a hostel, hotel or shopping mall and you’ll pass the season easily.
Generally, like in Spring, this is a good time to work in agriculture or construction due to the pleasant climate. This type of work is not as common in Hong Kong for working travellers as office, dining, or retail jobs, however, so keep this in mind when you assess your skills before deciding on coming to Hong Kong.
The most pleasant temperatures in Hong Kong are experienced in the winter, so now is the time to work on an organic farm, if this is where your skills as a working traveller reside. Pick-your-own strawberry farms are particularly popular, so picking up some work in the retail or maintenance side of the farm during winter could be interesting work for a backpacker.
Chinese New Year also occurs every year usually around late January, so the hotels and restaurants will be booked up with revellers. Especially as a backpacking Westerner who won’t be seeking time off to celebrate, you can likely pick up work during these holiday weeks even at the last minute.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN HONG KONG
A high cost of living can be a deterrent for backpackers deciding whether or not to work and travel in Hong Kong (a cocktail at a bar can often cost as much as $15 equivalent).
However, with the popularity of the Working Holiday visa programme, and its location as a crossroads between east and west, Hong Kong is an accepting place to work and travel. You won’t face aggression from locals when picking up work at all.
As long as you embrace the fast pace of life here, this country can be an ideal place to work and travel. So, are you now thinking more seriously about working and travelling in Hong Kong?
- Edited on Jun 16 2021 by Lily