If you’ve seen Wong Kar-Wai’s Chungking Express, then you know how easy it is to feel isolated in this urban jungle. After all, you can only have so many beers solo until the loneliness sets in. Don’t worry – making friends here is a lot easier than you may think.
5. Tinder. Seriously.
Probably wise to skip to #4 if you’re already in a relationship, but if you’re single – congrats! While undoubtedly popular around the globe, Tinder is mainly used in Hong Kong by the younger expat community. Since there’s a definite stigma in Asian culture when it comes to online dating (especially with the more traditional minded folks), when you get a match on Tinder, chances are good that they are also from overseas like yourself.
I should warn you though: your mileage will vary. This is particularly so if you look a bit local like I do, as people may immediately assume you don’t speak English at all. Also, you kind of need to be good looking (apparently only my mom thinks I’m handsome).
I once witnessed my blonde haired, blue eyed, Danish friend get close to a hundred matches in one sitting – whereas I got, like, one. I’ve always been more of a personality than appearance guy anyway, so whatever, it’s cool (:( ).
It goes without saying that while Tinder is primarily used for dating, it can also form the foundation of great friendships. Many of my friends have managed to developed close platonic relationships thanks to the app. Though, if you’re looking to meet friends of the same gender, Tinder probably isn’t a very good option – which brings us to the next item on the list.
Pro Tip: unless you’re cool with crossing over to Shenzhen, do not set a discovery distance over 30km or you may receive matches north of the border.
4. Be hip, use the interwebs
The internet is by far the easiest method of meeting people.
‘But what if I meet a serial killer?!’
I won’t lie. You’ll probably have a few bad experiences, but there are a surprising amount of expats out there – sane, normal people – who, like you, just want to make new friends to hang out with.
Consider joining an online forum like GeoExpat or asiaXPAT, both of which have small but dedicated user bases and regular meet-ups. Make an account, submit a post, and you’re bound to receive some messages in return. If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of meeting a random stranger/potential-Terminator off the web, you could always try to arrange a large group meet-up so you won’t be their only victim.
Another very active site is Meetup. The difference is that they specialize in group activities like sports, board games, movie nights, etc. If you prefer to meet people with similar interests, then definitely give Meetup a look.
Personally speaking, I got very lucky and met fantastic bunch of people off GeoExpat – but again, your mileage may vary. As of yet, I have not spoken to anyone who has failed to make at least one friend using GeoExpat.
Remember to try not to let one or two bad meet-ups deter you from your quest – they’ll make for great horror stories to tell later on.
3. Hit up Lan Kwai Fong & Wan Chai
If I had a penny for every time someone struck up a conversation with me outside the 7-Eleven at Lan Kwai Fong, I would have like a dime.
Being obvious tourist hubs, Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai are excellent places for meeting new people (unless you go on like a Monday afternoon, then I’d have to question your decision-making abilities). This is even easier the later into the night, once everyone has been sufficiently socially lubricated.
If you’re in the ages 19 to late 20s bracket, Lan Kwai Fong is for sure where you want to be. For the uninitiated, LKF (as the cool kids call it) is a strip of bars conveniently located minutes away from Central MTR Station. There’s music blasting from bars, people singing and dancing in the street – just a great time all around.
If you’re slightly older, you may have better luck in the more restraint Wan Chai (if you’re a girl, you can pretty much get drunk for free there every Wednesday on Ladies’ Night). This area is quieter and the bars and restaurants are catered more so towards the business types. The action will be primarily located on Lockhart Road around the Luard Road intersection.
Best part is, as there are three 7-Elevens in LKF and at least two in Wan Chai, you don’t actually need to spend an arm and a leg at any of the bars. Grab a cheap brew from 7-Eleven and chill in the street like everyone else. There’s no shame in being a smart spender!
Fun Fact: you’ll quickly come to realize how small Hong Kong actually is when you start bumping into the same faces night after night.
2. Live in a dorm
Ignore this tip if you already have a decent rental in Hong Kong. But if you have yet to settle down, consider a quick stay at one of the numerous dorms around town. These accommodations are cheap, leased on a month-to-month basis, and often have nice communal rooftop areas where you can drink and socialize with other tenants.
The catch is that these rooms tend to be very TINY (probably around 50sq.ft), and you’ll have to share common facilities like washrooms and the kitchen with the other two billion people on your floor. On the bright side, you are guaranteed to make new friends.
1. Be a Yes Man.
The next time
someone anyone asks you to do something – be it a stranger at the bus stop who offers a cigarette or your neighbor who asks you to get dim sum – say yes. You may not get on with that person, but you just might get on with his/her friends, or maybe even his/her friend’s friend’s friends.
Seriously. The spirit of ‘yolo-ness’ can get you very far in Hong Kong.
You never know when where your adventures will take you and who you might meet along the way, so open up! Try chicken feet, pop a $2HKD beer – and who knows what could happen? Food poisoning, probably, but don’t let that stop you.
Expats come and go, which means there are always openings in friendship circles waiting to be filled by nice, gentle people such as (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt) yourself. Unfortunately, this means the friends you make will inevitably leave as well. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
So what you waiting for?! Head out tonight and take to someone new. You’ll be glad you did.
Aaaand that marks the end of The Quasi-Local’s inaugural Top 5 list. Did you learn anything new or has this been a massive waste of bandwidth? Let me know in the comments below and I wish you best of luck in your meet ups!