A Guide to Dating Culture in Hong Kong

Want to know more about what it’s like to date in Hong Kong?

In many respects, and unlike Mainland China, Hong Kong is a less traditionally Asian city and has a reputation for being cosmopolitan, modern and fast-paced. A cultural melting pot, there is far more about Hong Kong that is aligned to the West than the East and this also translates into the dating scene. However, the region does have a reputation for being a notoriously hard one to find dates in.

In this guide, we take a look at the dating scene in Hong Kong, what to expect from this urban metropolis and why dating in Hong Kong is considered an ‘extreme sport’. We also take a look at some of the best ways that you can find a date in the region.

Why is Dating in Hong Kong so Hard?

According to many expats and visitors to Hong Kong, the singles life in this Chinese territory is difficult. The main reason for this is that people are too busy. The city epitomizes the ‘rat-race’ and its residents are low on the resources needed to make dating work; time and energy.

dating in hong kong guide
The dating scene in Hong Kong is notoriously hard but not impossible. Image via Pexels.

Another factor is the attitude of residents on striving for perfection. They are an ambitious and driven population who can value things on a superficial level, like the novelty factor or whether it enhances their image. When it comes to dating, this can make forming a serious relationship pretty tricky but does mean people interested in more casual encounters could fare better.

There is a phrase for this which has become popular when describing this attitude in Hong Kong; PBO or Pending Better Offer. It directly refers to this habit that people in the region have for not quite being satisfied with what they have because they are focused on what they could get instead; often having high (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations.

There’s not much you can do about changing this approach to life in a potential date but it is certainly worth bearing in mind when hitting the singles scene in Hong Kong.

The Rise of the Singleton

Perhaps as a result of how busy life can be in the region to pursue a relationship, the average age of marriage for women in Hong Kong is 28.9 (the 4th oldest in Asia) and for men 31.2 (the 5th oldest in Asia). By comparison, in Mainland China, the average age at first time of marriage for women and men is 24.1 and 27.1 respectively.

Pressures of work or a desire to take advantage of a single life can all be said to contribute to this discrepancy but does that mean that people in Hong Kong want to wait longer for love or they just can’t find the time?

High Ratio of Women to Men

Hong Kong has a ratio of around 1000 females for every 852 males which means there is a lot more single women than men on the market. Census data taken in 2006 also showed that the number of women who were single was also on the increase.

finding dates in hong kong
Hong Kong is a crowded and busy city but many people are alone because they are too busy. Image via Pixabay.

Desperate for Love?

The popular dating app Coffee Meets Bagel launched in Hong Kong in 2015 to an eager audience and was quickly being used on a daily basis by more than 66% of people; that’s one of the highest rates of regular use than in any of the app’s other global markets.

The app is known for its commitment to finding matches for people who are serious about finding a long-term partner and is not generally used by people looking for casual sex.

Data from the company also reveals that millennials were among the apps biggest users which could support the suspicion that young career minded singletons are just too busy to find love in the traditional way.

Dating in Hong Kong: The Basics

Dating in Hong Kong is not that different to dating in any major city in the West. Typically, you can ask a woman out on a date and there will be no presumption that this is a prequel to a marriage proposal. It’s fine to date casually and women are just as likely to ask a man out as the other way around. You may find the exception to this is with any mainlanders who are living in Hong Kong who may have a more traditional expectation that the man takes the lead and that dating is only for serious relationships not for casual encounters.

Cultural Difference

With Hong Kong’s recent colonial past, it can be easy to forget that Hong Kong, with its western face, is much more closely aligned to the cultural influence of China than to the UK or the West in general.  Since 1997 when the region reverted to the People’s Republic of China, there has also been much migration from the mainland to the city.

As a result, it is only to be expected that dating in Hong Kong takes some elements of traditional influence from China.

When dating, it is important to take this into consideration and remember that certain subjects should be avoided and there are social expectations when dating in Hong Kong that may differ from those in the west.

hong kong dating guide
Dating in Hong Kong is a blend of East and West. Respecting culture and traditions is still important. Image via Public Domain Pictures.

Equality vs Traditional Gender Roles

Whilst Hong Kong’s residents enjoy a modern outlook on life, there is some element of tradition which endures in the dating scene. Quite simply, women prefer their men to be more dominant and to take control in a relationship; for men to be an Alpha male.

Equality is very much in demand when it comes to the boardrooms and in society in general but it is still the men who are expected to take the lead….to a degree.

Women want a man who is respectful, caring and loving but who can make decisions and look after his partner.

Remember that whilst Hong Kong is a part of Asia, the women here are much more westernized than their counterparts in neighboring China, Japan and Vietnam.

The key is to strike a balance in navigating a patriarchal society that selectively embraces feminism.

Cross Cultural Dating

Cross cultural dating in Hong Kong is an accepted part of life in a recently ex-colonialist region and you can find many mixed marriages between westerners and locals. This does tend to be more western men with Asian women than vice versa.

The reason for this is two-fold; one, there are more women then men in Hong Kong so all men will have this advantage and two, there is an appeal of the western man to certain Asian women. Cliched though it may seem, there is a certain allure to a British (or American) ‘playboy’ even if, in truth, he is of average looks.

There is also still a huge ex-pat community (mainly British but other nationalities too) which can offer a large pool of western singles to date.

On the flip side of this is the fact that Hong Kong also attracts a large number of mainlanders and long-term visitors from other Asian nations. In this respect, there can be a real diversity to the culture of dating, depending on where your date hails from.

Compensated Dating: Warning

Compensated dating is a term that is used in Hong Kong and is a popular practice that comes from Japan. Basically, it is the same as hiring an escort with young female students providing companionship services to older men for a charge. The fee can be monetary or can simply be a case of providing expensive gifts, dinners and dates. Though sexual services can also be on offer from the students, it is not always a given.

Just be careful that when organizing a date in Hong Kong that you are not inadvertently hiring a hooker.

compensated dating hong kong
Just be aware that compensated dating has a price to pay. Image via Pixabay.

Hong Kong Dating Websites

There’s a good range of English-language dating websites serving Hong Kong with some offering a free service but others providing better features and improved chances of a successful match with premium membership:

Not a culture known for being backwards in taking up new technology, dating apps are very popular in Hong Kong and there are a lot to choose from to make finding a date easier.

The best two are Coffee Meets Bagel and Paktor. The first is an internationally recognized app which is mainly used by those looking for love whilst the latter is an Asian dating app (Paktor is Cantonese for dating) and has a strong following in Hong Kong.

Other apps which are used in the city, include:

  • Happn
  • Inner Circle
  • Bumble
  • Hinge
  • Tinder

You can also find some more generic Asian dating websites in our feature guide here which also includes some useful dating apps.

hong kong dating websites
Dating in Hong Kong is made easier with the professional’s help. Image via Hong Kong Cupid.

Lastly, there is trend in Hong Kong, particularly among the wealthier locals, to use the services of a professional matchmaker or dating coach. The rise of this ‘profession’ has been meteoric over the last decade and you can employ any number of people who profess to being able to help you find, prepare for and behave on a date in Hong Kong.

There is no harm in seeking some extra help if you are struggling to meet the right person and, who knows, it just may pay dividends. However, their industry thrives on the ‘fear factor’ that you could end up alone so don’t be manipulated into thinking the dating scene in the region is that hard. It’s not, you just have to make the time to explore it yourself.

Featured image via bruce mars via Pexels