Armchair Travel: Hong Kong Coffee Table Books

Although we’d prefer to show you around Hong Kong in person, it’s simply not possible right now. For the moment, the only way to travel to here is from your armchair. So, if you are hankering for Hong Kong, why not treat yourself, or gift a friend one of these ‘tickets’ to our fair city.

Here is our top 5 favourite Coffee Table Books.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click through and make a purchase, this means that at no additional cost to you, we may make a small commission.

History and Culture

Sunset Survivors

Lindsay Varty’s Sunset Survivors is a unique book. It captures traditional craftspeople and small business owners working in industries that are fast fading from Hong Kong. When these people retire, it’s unlikely that they will be replaced. Varty tirelessly tracked down each person in the book and interviewed them giving a very personal insight into the lives and disappearing skills.

These intimate and fascinating snapshots capture a unique slice of Hong Kong life, preserving it for posterity. Author Lindsay Varty grew up in Hong Kong and is one of our famous rugby stars.


Hong Kong Then and Now

Hong Kong Then and Now captures the city’s breakneck speed of development, from a collection of sleepy fishing villages, to a skyscraper thicket.

Author Vaughan Grylls has achieved this temporal juxtaposition by presenting contrasting old black and white photographs of well known Hong Kong locations alongside contemporary photographs.



Hong Kong Corner House

Alongside the glittering and famous skyscrapers of Hong Kong, there is the more utilitarian and often brutal architecture of dense public housing. Michael Wolf documented this in his brilliant Architecture of Density, sadly this book is not easily available and has become rather pricey.

Instead, his Hong Kong Corner Houses book is a cosier alternative and is both more affordable and readily available. We love these curved and aesthetically pleasing buildings.

We love the interesting story behind how Hong Kong’s corner houses came to exist. You’ll have to buy the book or come on one of our tours to find out more.


Trope brings together a smorgasbord of modern images by emerging photographers both from Hong Kong and further afield. You’ll find dense skyscrapers, neon lit streets and instagram hotspots.

Furthermore, the images are accompanied by maps and location details should you want to explore any of the locations in person.



Hong Kong Diner

For all you home cooks craving a taste of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Diner by Jeremy Pang will enable you to recreate classic Hong Kong comfort food from your own kitchen. Technically, this is a recipe book. Nevertheless, we think it would look great on any coffee table and provide a mouthwatering talking point.







Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click through and make a purchase, this means that at no additional cost to you, we may make a small commission.

Hong Kong & Macau Gifts and Souvenirs

Garrison Kellior famously quoted, “A book is a gift you can open again and again”, if you’re looking for a gift for a young reader, see our top recommendations for Hong Kong children’s books. Alternatively if you have a soft spot for Hong Kong’s neighbor Macau, check out our Macau Bookshelf. 

However, if books aren’t your bag and you’re after Hong Kong themed gifts or goodies for yourself or a loved one, hop on over to our Hong Kong gift guide featuring several homegrown brands.




How to Count on one Hand in Hong Kong

When you’re abroad and don’t speak a language, you may have to rely on pointing, smiling, body language and gestures to get by. Although not foolproof, pantomiming can be a surprisingly effective way of communicating. Nevertheless, even innocent gestures can get lost in translation causing confusion, embarrassment or even offense. Can you imagine that  something as (seemingly) easy as holding up 3 fingers to order 3 cups of coffee can get be misunderstood depending where in the world you are?

That’s right, different parts of the world have different ways of counting to 10 or beyond using their hands or even other body parts.

Mind blown.

We’ve put together this handy infographic to help our Hong Kong visitors. Although many Hong Kongers speak excellent English, these hand signals could still come in very useful in a local market or crowded restaurant.

finger couting cantonese count on one hand gestures hong kong


Finger Counting Across the World

Mainland China has a similar, but slightly different finger counting system to Hong Kong. Meanwhile, in Japan, fingers are folded down to represent a number, so to outsiders a thumb tucked in and four fingers raised could be mistaken for 4, when the counter is in fact only counting 1. Interestingly, in some parts of Asia, different sections of the fingers or knuckles are counted to allow for higher numbers.

Equally, in the west people tend to use fingers to count to 10, but how they do that is quite different from China and Hong Kong. Furthermore, there are even slight differences between the UK/US and Western Europe.

Finally, in places such as Papua New Guinea, body counting (which involves pointing to various parts of the body) allows for even higher counting.

Demystifying Hong Kong Food and Culture

Now that you know how to count in Cantonese, let us share some other useful infographics with you. We’ve put them together based on questions our guests in Hong Kong often ask us:

What is the difference between Cantonese and Peking Duck?

Are Macanese and Hong Kong Egg Tarts the same?

Are the terms High Tea and Afternoon Tea interchangeable?