Boozing and hiking: what Hong Kong bankers really do to relax

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Matthew, 29, is a Hong Kong-based banker from Australia. He works in a VP role at a large investment bank and admits that Hong Kong has its hedonistic side.

“There is a drinking culture here; it can’t be helped really,” says Matthew, who asked not to be named.

To Matthew, Hong Kong is living up to its reputation as a place where bankers work hard but also play hard.

“I think the banking sector is still influenced by British culture, and grabbing a beer down at the pub isn’t an unusual occurrence. But your local pub just tends to be a bit ritzier than what you might find back home,” he adds.

For the most part, the famous Lan Kwai Fong district is still the perennial favourite area for bankers to unwind after work. Its proximity to Central (where bankers work) and Mid-Levels (where many of them live) makes it an accessible destination.

In recent years, however, the banking party crowd has been moving west of Central.

The area west of Hollywood Road – including Sheung Wan, the recently gentrified district of Sai Ying Pun, and even as far as Kennedy Town – has become a popular place to grab a decent drink and meal with all the hipster comforts of New York or London, according to bankers we spoke with.

But relaxing if you’re a Hong Kong banker isn’t all about eating and drinking.

Bankers, especially expatriate ones, are increasingly getting involved in Hong Kong's booming hiking scene in order to explore the territory’s many hills and beaches.

“It’s one of those things you don’t expect when you come to Hong Kong. It starts out as a novelty, but now I go out on the trails at least a few times a month,” says Angus, who’s worked at Citi in Hong Kong for five years.

“Hiking and Hong Kong are becoming synonymous to the expat experience,” he adds.

More competitive bankers are starting to get into trail running. Michel Lowy, co-founder of boutique investment bank SC Lowy, and three colleagues recently finish second in the corporate category of the Barclays Moontrekker Moonlit 30km trail race on Lantau Island.

Meanwhile, exclusive health clubs are springing up for those who prefer to do their exercise in Central.

“There’s no shortage of high-end yoga studios, gyms and boxing studios. And there's always a handful of 20-something expat bankers sweating it out next to you there – sometimes a roomful,” says investment banker Matthew, as he downs his third local craft beer of the night.

Image credit: bowdenimages, Getty

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