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Group therapy: clubs and associations to join in HK

There are many clubs and associations here in Hong Kong, run by groups with national identities, charitable endeavours or social activities in common. Joining a social club a great way to meet like-minded people, and develop some new hobbies and interests.

Social clubs in Hong Kong
Joining a club or association is a great way to make new friends in a new city

Associations

A number of associations are run by members of the expat community to reflect the culture of their home countries. However, they are by no means exclusive and welcome membership from all, regardless of citizenship. Some operate in conjunction with the associated Chamber of Commerce, whereas others are established independently of business interests to promote social connections and charity work. They can be a good starting point to provide support and information when you first arrive in Hong Kong, and a dose of empathy for the inevitable pangs of homesickness!

READ MORE: Sports clubs to join in Hong Kong

The American Women’s Association is one of the largest of these organisations, but groups including the Australian Association of Hong Kong, the Alliance Française of Hong Kong, the Canadian Club, the India Association, and the New Zealand Society of Hong Kong also offer low-cost membership and a variety of events. British and Irish interests are represented through the St Andrew’s Society (Scottish), St David’s Society (Welsh), St George’s Society (English) and St Patrick’s Society (Irish). While some countries may not be directly represented, there are organisations for those sharing a common language, such as the Spanish Speaking Women’s Association of Hong Kong, which fulfil much the same function.

As well as reflecting their home countries’ cultural celebrations and commemorations through events such as the Diwali Ball or the Shakespearean Long Lunch, these groups often promote understanding of local Hong Kong traditions. Associations might field teams for Dragon Boat racing, arrange cultural walking tours around the city or hold lessons. Joining one can both offer the comfort and advice of fellow compatriots who remember what it was like to be a newcomer. It can also help you engage with the wider Hong Kong community.

Social Clubs

Whether your interests are sporting or cultural, there are a wealth of clubs here to choose from. The long-established Hong Kong Gardening Society arranges tours to formal gardens and nurseries around Hong Kong and members’ own gardens alike. The Royal Geographical Society organises field trips to destinations around Asia, and hosts fascinating guest speakers including such luminaries as Michael Palin and mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington. If am-dram is your thing, the American Community Theatre group offers its members the first chance to audition for their productions ahead of the general public, while those who enjoy singing can try out for the Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir – you don’t have to be Welsh – or the Hong Kong Women’s Choir, where you’ll find a good mix of both local and expat participants.

The Helena May Club, founded in 1916 by the wife of the then Governor of Hong Kong, was originally a women-only organisation, though it now welcomes men as associate members. It is housed in a wonderful heritage building on Garden Road. Members can enjoy activities including lectures, bridge and fitness classes, an English language library with a children’s corner, dining, and function rooms. It also still offers accommodation. The YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) occupies a large headquarters on McDonnell Road and offers many educational, sporting and social activities for adults and children, with 15 classrooms, a pool, sports hall and a full teaching kitchen where a variety of cooking courses are held. The parallel men’s organisation, the YMCA, is based in Salisbury Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, where a reasonably priced annual membership is open to all, regardless of religious affiliation.

There are a number of exclusive recreational clubs around the city, many dating from the colonial era, such as The Hong Kong Club, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Private members’ clubs can be hard to join. They tend to have long waiting lists and prohibitive membership fees running to tens of thousands of dollars. You may be offered club membership as part of an employment relocation package. You can then enjoy excellent sport and leisure facilities, and great dining in luxurious surroundings. There are also a number of business networking events. These are organised by various business chambers.

Getting connected

Social media now plays a huge role in the sharing of information for expats. A huge array of community-based Facebook groups exist, and they are full of tips about local services and issues. Expat Living Hong Kong has its own Facebook page! Like us as facebook.com/expatlivingHK

Further information

This article first appeared in Expat Living‘s CityGuide. Get your free guide now!

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