Hong Kong units of measurement

Hong Kong units of measurement

Hong Kong units of measurement is based on the measurement units of Chinese of Qing Empire, British Imperial and metric. Both British Imperial and Chinese units were used until recently. In 1976 Hong Kong started the conversion to the metric system. This has now been almost completed with almost all Hong Kong Government business and legal requirements being in metric units. Customary Chinese and Imperial units are still widely used in all walks of life.

There is a chapter of Metrication Ordinance in the Law of Hong Kong for conversion between systems of measurement.

Some Chinese units are gradually being replaced by Metric units as the sole custom and trade because of new developments in technology and Hong Kong becoming a much more urban city.



In the old days, in the Chinese system, the most commonly used units are 里 (li), 丈 (tseung/cheung), 尺 (tsek/chek), 寸 (tsun/chun), 分 (fen/fan) in descending scale order.

These units are now rarely used in daily life as the preferred system is the Metric system.

The unit character for Imperial is the same as the Chinese system. In order to distinguish between units in both systems, it is sometimes written with a prefix of 英 (Ying) for the British Imperial system and 華 (Wa) for the Chinese system. Sometimes special crafted characters are used; with radical 口(mouth), that denote it is colloquial, for writing Imperial units.

The most commonly used units are the mile (哩, li, 英里), yard (碼, ma), foot (呎, chek, 英尺), and inch (吋, tsun 英寸).


Both Chinese and Metric weight units are used in Hong Kong. The choice of system depends on the type of goods and their origins. Metric is used for all official purposes, for example the Post Office and Road signs.[1][2] All packaged foods must have labels giving metric weights.[3]

There is still some use of traditional weights, for example, vegetables, meats, Chinese medicines are usually measured in Chinese system while fruits are sometimes measured in the Imperial system.

The trading of gold, silver and platinum are in the Chinese system though there is little discrepancy from other goods.


The traditional measure of flat area is in square feet (方呎,fong-chek,平方呎, ping-fong-chek) of the Imperial system. Apartment or office size is generally still given in square feet. Traditionally, the measurement of agricultural plots and fields are conducted in 畝(mau) of the Chinese system.


In Chinese system, the measurement of volume of rice is 斗 (tau) but it is replaced by packaged rice in weight. The volume of water and fuel is the litre. The gallon (加侖, ka-lun) of the Imperial system is still occasionally used.


Time measurement follows the International system. The Date is written in the western way according to the Gregorian calendar but the Chinese method is also very important in everyday life.

English name Chinese name Cantonese pronunciation Equivalent Note
Year (Gregorian) nin 365 or 336 Days Roughly follows a solar cycle. Historically, the Chinese refer to the return of the Sun in the winter solstice as 歲 (Sui).
Year (Chinese) nin 12 or 13 Chinese month In the Chinese year with 13 months, the 13th month is known as the intercalary month.
Month (Gregoiran) yeut 28, 29, 30 or 31 days. The Gregorian month lost the meaning of the moon cycle.
Month (Chinese) yeut 29 or 30 days. Roughly in sync of the moon cycle
Day yat 24 hours
Hour 鐘/小時 chung/siu si 4 quarters or 60 minutes 鐘 also means Clock or Bell. The Bell or Clock chimes every hour.
Quarter kwat 15 minutes 骨 (kwat) is the Cantonese word for "quarter".
Minute fen 60 seconds
Second miu


The Joule or Calorie is the unit used for the measurement of energy in food.


Horsepower (馬力) is still the dominant measurement for the power of Cars and Air Conditioning Systems. The Chinese counting word 匹 (pat) is the unit to describe it in the Cantonese language.


External links

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