Anyone that has spent a night or two out in Lan Kwai Fong will think you can get away with most things in Hong Kong. But even the most innocent of activities could land you in hot water with our boys in blue. From laws that hark back to times gone by to the more recent (though no less peculiar), these are just some of the city’s bizarre laws you may not have realised you were breaking.
1. Quit monkeying around
Seriously. Kam Shan Country Park might be affectionately known as the home of Monkey Mountain, but if you get too close to these cheeky devils and throw them a banana or two, you could face a $10,000 penalty. Sound like a raw deal? It gets worse – that’s per monkey!
2. Dial down your drunken antics
Believe it or not, but it is an offense to be found drunk in any public space. That includes your local pub, the Hong Kong sevens, and any and every concert you’ve been to in the city. The price you pay? Aside from a potential headache from hell, blow to your credit card and dignity, your late-night revelry could cost you – a whopping $50 fine.
3. The days of ding dong ditch are over
Unless you have a ‘lawful excuse’ – and we’re not sure your upstairs neighbours blaring techno counts – ringing a doorbell or causing a deliberate nuisance is another way to find yourself foul of Hong Kong’s judicial system. Time to head down the alternative prank route, then.
4. Save the singing for the karaoke bar
Beachside barbecues with a little campfire singalong – sound like a weekend well spent? Not here, it’s not. Singing and playing a musical instrument on Hong Kong’s beaches can land you in jail for up to 14 days – guess we’ll have to stick to Jack Johnson on the loudspeakers, then.
5. On that note…
Music matters are contentious in Hong Kong. Budding musicians and will need to take note of the necessary permits in place before they can hit the streets and busk a move. Applications for a permit can be sent to the Police Licensing office and are free of charge, but you best be good – if your application is denied, there is no appeals process.
6. A minor detail
Technically (and legally) speaking, a minor is able to purchase alcohol at a convenience store without breaking any laws, but the moment they open that bottle of Smirnoff Ice, it’s a different story. Oddly enough, if you ask the kiosk clerk to open a bottle for you, that’s illegal – as the premises is without a liquor license. So, if you see the bottle opener attached to the counter-top, by all means, help yourself.
7. Be wary of looking too uniform this Halloween
Whether you’re anticipating a last-minute look down Pottinger Street on October 30th or you’ve had your glad-rags ready to go for some time now, you might want to make sure your costume isn’t too realistic. If you’re geared up to go as a doctor or policemen, a little ghoulish face paint will go a long way. Anything too closely resembling a uniform could leave you in a spot of legal trouble – a fine of $1,000 or up to six months imprisonment.
8. More friends than you can count? Well, count to 30
Pub Golf, Christmas Crawls and the like – there are times when you’re bound to head out with a growing group in tow. But if you’re ‘processing’ down the street with more than 30 people in tow, you’ll need to notify the Commissioner of Police ahead of time, or face violating regulations against unlawful assemblies.
9. Watch your words
Roller coasters and plunging log flumes leave you with nothing but expletives for the friend who made you go? We can’t say we blame you, but if you’re in Ocean Park, someone else might. Swearing or shouting in the amusement park violates the park’s bylaws and could see you imprisoned for up to a month.
10. Dance like nobody’s watching (unless you’re a lion, dragon or unicorn)
That’s right – these ethereal creatures are subject to strict regulations. Anyone looking to stage a public lion, dragon or unicorn dance in Hong Kong will need to file the appropriate paperwork well ahead of time (at least 14 days before the event).