Guide to Hong Kong on a Budget



Hong Kong is known to be an expensive getaway in Asia. Surprisingly, it can easily be done on a budget and still be pretty unforgettable. Here is my : Guide to Hong Kong on a Budget.

890 HK$ / $115 / £95
in 2.5 days

There were a few things that personally made me question whether visiting Hong Kong should be on my list. One of them was the simple fact that it’s a big city, with a tonne of people, meaning it’ll be super busy and hectic.

But then, I wanted to go away for a few days and the cheapest flights available were to Hong Kong.
I gave in and booked a 3-night ‘vacation’. Straight away, I was loving it.

My main focus :
• Go with the flow
• Do it on a budget

There is a lot to do and the food is insane. The main thing that caught my eye was the brilliant contrast between the old and the new, due to its British history.

This guide includes everything you need to know to enjoy your time in Hong Kong without spending a fortune. From the octopus card and airport transfer to the free tours and markets. Enjoy!

 

hong kong on a budgetPhoto by the lovely Jenn : jelauphotography.com | Facebook

 

Stopover Tip : 

 

If you only have a few hours in Hong Kong, you can still make a trip out of it.

There is a discounted bus and train fare to get to the city if you buy a return ticket. The bus takes approx. 1 hour and the train 30 mins, more info on that below.

You can store your luggage at the airport – Level 3, Terminal 2 (5:30 – 1:30).

 

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hong kong on a budget

How much I’ve spent

 

Total Spendings
890 HK$ / $115 / £95

Octupus Card
150 HK$ / $19 / £15 (+ 100 HK$ top up)

Hostel
160 HK$ / $21 / £16 (Urban Pack)

Mitchelin Star Restaurant
60 HK$ / $8 / £6

Food / Drinks
200 HK$ / $25 / £20

Free Walking Tour (donation)
100 HK$ / $12 / £10

Other
115 HK$ / $15 / £12

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hong kong on a budget

Accommodation / Hostel

 

Accommodation is the biggest expense and if you want to do Hong Kong on a Budget – this can be your first huge money saviour. Consider staying in a hostel, a much cheaper option that will leave you with a lot more spending money.

I recommend staying in or near the Tsim Sha Tsui area. It’s a great location for getting around and exploring, right next to the Kowloon park, clock tower, harbour and lots more.

The Hostel I’ve stayed at :

Urban Pack Hostel
80 HK$ / $10 / £8 a night | 8 Bed Dorm

 

Why I go for hostels :

 

Social & Safer

Opposite to what many people think, personally I feel safer staying at a hostel. When staying at a hotel while travelling solo – I am alone, completely. Staying at a hostel makes it SO much easier to meet people, which means you’re rarely on your own and most of the time have someone to venture out with. Great especially at night.

Organised Events etc

Most hostels organise different events or day trips, all on a budget. Perfect if you’re not sure where to start or what to do in a new city, and again – it’s super easy to meet people that way.

Cheap

It’s a lot cheaper, of course. I spent a ‘whooping’ 160 HK$ / $20 / £16 on my accommodation. When some people that I’ve met, were paying 200-400 HK$ / $30-50 a night for a hotel.

Tip: Try and plan the length of your visit smartly. For example, get to Hong Kong early in the morning, meaning you won’t have to pay for an extra nights accommodation.

 

Check here for good hotel & hostel deals
( Select : ‘price low to high’ for cheapest options )

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hong kong on a budget

Octopus Card

 

As soon as you arrive at the airport, go to the info desk and get yourself an octopus card. I cannot stress this enough!

The card can be used on all public transport except ferries and taxis. You can also pay with it in shops and even some food places. Most importantly, it can be used on the bus from the airport to the centre (more on this below).

The card costs 150 HK$. This includes 50 HK$ deposit, which you will get back when returning the card. The remaining 100 HK$ is credit, so go crazy.

 

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hong kong on a budget

Bus it from the airport (or not)

 

Public transport in Hong Kong is probably the easiest that I have ever experienced. The most advertised way of getting to the centre is The Airport Express train, which costs about 90 HK$ / $12 (160 HK$ return) and takes 30 mins.

The bus costs 33 HK$ and takes just under an hour. My preferred option by far.

 

Bus :

A21 is the most common (A22/A29 also serves the Kowloon area)
Price : 33 HK$ / $4.20 / £3.50 (50% off a return journey on the same day with the Octopus card)
Time : 60 mins

Bus A21 dropped me right outside my hostel – stop 13. It was super comfortable with very clear and easy to understand display of each stop (English names and numbers).

 

The Airport Express :

Price : 90 HK$ / $11.50 / £9.50 (160 HK$ return)
Time : 30 mins

I haven’t personally taken this service, but it’s a good option for those in a rush. For example, if you only have a few hours to explore the city.

 

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One Dim Sum - cheapest michelin star restaurant

The Cheapest Michelin Star in the World

 

The food in Hong Kong is insanely good. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s home to the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world called One Dim Sum. Dining there cost me a whooping $8.

Read : How I Dined at a Michelin Star Restaurant for $8 – One Dim Sum

 

hong kong on a budget

Food, Food, Food

 

Hong Kong is known for Dim Sum, this alone is a great reason to visit the place. No joke.
Easily put, it’s based on the Chinese tradition of drinking tea (yum cha) while eating little bite-sized dishes called dim sum. Because of this, you’ll often be served tea before even ordering food.

When it comes to food in general, there are many cafes and local restaurants around with either an English menu or pictures, making it easy enough to order. During my short stay, I was spending about 50/60 HK$ on a meal including a drink.

We found a great place just next to my hostel, which strangely reminded me of an American Diner with a Hong Kongese twist. The staff was super friendly and the food delicious. Oh, the portions were huge too. I think the name was Wah Yuen Fast Food.

PS. The chocolate egg balls in the picture above are delicious, you can get them all over the place with different fillings. It’s like a pancake in a ball. So good.

 

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hong kong on a budget

What to see / do

 

Tip : The Tourist Information Office

There is a Tourist Information Office at Star Ferry pier. Head there and stock up on maps, guides & coupons plus ask any questions you may have (they speak English).

 

hong kong on a budget

Free Walking Tour

 

Whether you know a lot or completely nothing about Hong Kong and it’s history – I couldn’t recommend the walking tour enough.

First of all, it’s free aka. donation based. To be honest, it’s only fair to donate something as the guides usually put a lot of effort in. The donation can be anything that seems fair to you based on the experience.

Every tour has a meeting spot (the clock tower for the one that I did) and a set time, usually twice a day.

Depending on the city and the tour organisation, they usually take about 2 – 3 hours. The guides are very well educated about the specific place, meaning you can ask anything and leave with a bigger knowledge ;).

You will usually walk away with many tips and tricks on what to do in the new city.

HK Free Walking Tour :
Pick up a flyer or visit the website here

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hong kong on a budget

Kowloon Park

 

I know it sounds slightly boring, but this place is perfection for a little chill out time, lunch or just a walk. There are also kung fu and lion dance performances every Sunday.

Surrounded by the busy streets and skyscrapers, Kowloon park reminds me of Central Park in Manhattan. But if feels even more tranquil as soon as you step walk in.

Check out the Chinese Garden, where you can see a two-tier lotus pond linked by a rock cascade, pretty impressive. There are also some pretty sweet spots where you can view the city from pretty high up. I recommend visiting on a Sunday for the kung fu and lion dance performances.

This area actually used to be an army fortress before it was handed over for public use in 1970. Pretty cool.

 

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hong kong on a budgetPhoto by Jenn : jelauphotography.com | Facebook

 

Street Markets 

 

Shopping, shopping, shopping. The night markets in Hong Kong are insane, so if you cannot control yourself – maybe consider a bigger budget..

Tip 1 : Don’t forget to haggle. It’s very normal and prices can go down even by 40%.
Tip 2 : The markets are a good place for fake branded stuff such as accessories and clothes.

 

hong kong on a budget

Temple Street Night Market

Right next to Kowloon Park, it’s known as one of the busiest flea markets at night in the area.

You can buy anything from trinkets and tea ware to electronics, watches and clothes. There is also lots of food. Temple Street Night Market is a great example of a traditional Chinese market, with great decorations and atmosphere.

 

hong kong on a budget

Ladies Market

Another place to practice your haggling skills. Ladies market is a stretch of over 1km on the Tung Choi Street with over 100 stalls of absolute bargains including accessories, clothing and souvenirs.

I’ve heard two stories in regards to the name. One was that it’s taken from one of the street names where the market originally started. The second story is that it’s simply from the crazy amount of clothing and accessories sold for women of all ages. Saying that, now anything can be bought there – whether it’s men, women or kids.

There are lots of food places around too.



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hong kong on a budget

Nan Lian Gardens

 

Surrounded by highways & skyscrapers – there is a place called Nan Lian Gardens.

Nan Lian Gardens is a Chinese Classical Garden located in Diamond Hill, Kowloon. As soon as you step in, it will feel like you just landed in a different city, the place has little hills, stunning water features, plants, rocks and wooden structures. If that wasn’t enough – there is a stunning teahouse as well as permanent exhibitions of Chinese timber architecture and more.

INSANE views and the feeling of tranquillity right in the middle of everything that’s going on is breathtaking.
(My favourite spot in Hong Kong.)

 

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hong kong on a budget

Ferry Ride

 

One of the known attractions in Hong Kong is the ferry to Central, which takes wait for it.. 7 minutes. Yup.
This will cost you about 3 HK$ and is so famous that it’s rated as one of the cities best attractions.

3 HK$.. it’s hardly a question whether to add this to the list or not.

There is also the traditional Hong Kong Junk, which literally looks like something out of a painting. This is the reason why I would recommend going for the normal ferry – most probably you will have a chance to get up close to the junk boat as it looks stunning in front of the Hong Kong skyscrapers. A view you cannot get when you are on the actual junk.

Tip : Try to time the ferry for the sunset or the Symphony lights (read more below) which begin at about 7pm.

 

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hong kong on a budget

Symphony of Lights

 

Slightly overrated and touristy.. but it’s free. Plus, who are we kidding, everybody likes a bit of colourful lights (and lasers) dancing to the rhythm of the music, especially when it’s coming from 40 cool looking buildings right next to the harbour.

Tip 1 : As recommended earlier on, see if you can get on the ferry and watch the show from the water.

Tip 2 : The Harbour City Mall offers free coffee and drinks (all you can drink) at the Customer Care Center. Winnings. Second-floor wing parallel to the docks on the left.

 

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hong kong on a budget

Victoria Peak

 

For the brilliant view of the Hong Kong harbour and its skyline, head to the famous Victoria’s peak. The views are mental and it’s definitely worth going up, especially for the sunset.

Tip : Take some warmer clothes as it gets chilly at the top.

 

There are a few ways to get there:

 

Tram

Price : 45 HK$ / $6 / £5 Return | Time : 15 mins

The most recommended form of transport for a reason. It’s old school, the views are insane and the way up is crazy steep through the towering buildings and trees. It feels really surreal and kind of like a traditional rollercoaster.

Make sure you have extra time to spare as the waiting line can be ridiculously long.

Tip : If you have the octopus card, you can cut the normal line. You will probably be asked about it when waiting. Make sure you have enough money in credit beforehand.

hong kong on a budgetView of Hong Kong from The Peak Tram

Bus

No. 15 | Price : 10 HK$ / $1.30 / £1 | Time : Approx 40 mins

Cheaper and still an exciting form of transport, which takes you all the way to the peak.
You can catch the bus from outside of the Star Ferry pier (central side) or the Exchange Square bus station.

The one negative about taking the bus is that it takes longer. However, considering the huge line for the tram.. it will most likely work out exactly the same or better timewise.

The bus goes through different areas and sights of Hong Kong, including residential and commercial streets.It also passes the public wet market building in Wanchai.

When getting to the main peak road, the bus follows the winding, hillside road with twists and turns plus steep fall-offs giving you a brilliant view of the Hong Kong island.

Tip : You can get off slightly earlier and enjoy the rarely seen views of Hong Kong on foot.

 

Hike

There are different routes that you can choose and which will offer stunning views of the city and its nature. The walks are easy to access and clear to follow. You will still probably end up taking the peak tram and choose one of the hikes from there. The time varies between 30-60 minutes.

Find out more here.

 

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hong kong on a budget

Walk around the Central District (at night)

 

Whether you’re a fan of architecture or not, Central will for sure leave you slightly speechless. The endless amounts of skyscrapers and unique looking buildings will make you feel like you’ve just stepped into the Matrix movie.

I especially enjoyed it at night, with all the crazy lights around.

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hong kong on a budget

If You Have Extra Time

 

  • The Big Buddha
    (Second largest outdoor sitting Buddha in the world, located on the Lantau island).
  • Hiking, hiking, hiking!
    (Hong Kong is surrounded by stunning mountains!)
  • Zoological & Botanical Garden
  • Hong Kong Park
  • Hong Kong Museum of Teaware

 

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hong kong on a budgetPhoto by Jenn : jelauphotography.com | Facebook

 

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Hope you enjoyed this Guide to Hong Kong on a Budget!

Do you have any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

I’d love it if you could share this around! <3

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hong kong on a budgetPhoto by Jenn : jelauphotography.com | Facebook

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  • This is the best Hong Kong guide I found with so much detailed information. I never realised it can be done cheaply.. everyone always said its one of the most expensive places in asia. Thanks a lot Eli. I appreciate it. Will be going next month and will use all of your tips.