With a dazzling skyline, neon-lit streets and a beautiful countryside, Hong Kong is one of the world cities that you just can not miss out on. However, these experiences come at a steep price, as Hong Kong consistently ranks as one of the top 5 expensive cities in the world. Here are 15 tips to save money on your trip to Asia’s financial capital:
1. Skip the Airport Express.
Although the Airport Express gets you to the city within 20-30 minutes, it costs a bomb. If you are not in a rush, go to the bus terminal and catch an airport bus to the city. They are custom-made for travelers carrying luggage. Here is a complete list of buses to the city from the airport. If you absolutely must take the Airport Express, book the ticket online using Klook to receive a discounted price.
2. Get an Octopus card in the arrival hall, before leaving the airport.
It is the transport card that can be used in buses, MTR (metro), and also for payment in many shops like McDonald’s. It will cost you around HK$150 with HK$100 credit. The HK$50 is a refundable deposit with a HK$7 handling fee, depending on the duration of usage. The card can be reloaded in MTR stations, 7-Eleven, and Circle-K outlets.
3. When you are in Hong Kong island, consider using the ding ding tram.
The tram is one of the cheapest ways to get around the island: not to mention that you will truly experience Hong Kong like a local when you ride it.
4. Stay in Kowloon instead of Hong Kong island.
Kowloon is located midway between Hong Kong island and the New Territories and is well connected to both. Find a guesthouse in areas like Yau Ma Tei, Mong Kok, or in Chungking Mansion to save money on accommodation. It is also worthwhile to check if the guesthouse is legally operating under the Office of Licensing Authority using this tool. Remember, land prices in Hong Kong are skyrocketing and accommodation may just be your biggest expense here.
5. If you are planning to stay for a while, consider Couchsurfing.
Hong Kong has an active Couchsurfing community. Attend some events and make friends. Make sure you have a complete and verified profile with positive reviews before you send requests to potential hosts.
6. Visit the Tin Tian Buddha but skip the cable car.
The Tin Tian Buddha at Ngong Ping is a famous attraction and is well worth it. Most people choose the cable car which costs between HK$145 for a single trip and HK$210 for a round trip on a standard cabin. If you are on budget, use public transportation instead. The Number 23 bus from Tung Chung Town Centre or the Number 11 from Tai O Ferry Pier will take you there.
7. Experience the great outdoors of Hong Kong.
From the famous Dragon’s Back and Tai Mo Shan to the lesser known Hong Kong UNESCO Geopark, Hong Kong offers some of the best outdoor adventures at almost no cost. If you are looking for something less hectic but equally beautiful, then consider the To Fu Shan viewing point in Tai O.
8. Avoid eating western food and eat at a Dai Pai Dong instead.
Dai Pai Dongs are Hong Kong’s street-side kitchens serving some of the most delicious meals you will ever have. Also, look out for the Michelin Star restaurants — some of them can be surprisingly budget friendly!
9. Shop in the night markets of Yau Ma Tei (Temple Street) and Mong Kok.
These night markets feature a wide range of products from suitcases and portable chargers to cute socks and trendy scarves. Walk around, bargain a lot, and soak in the crazy vibe of Mong Kok. Be sure to check out Fa Yuen Street Market, Goldfish Market, Yuen Po Bird Garden, and the Ladies Market in Mong Kok.
10. Experience Hong Kong’s buzzing nightlife in Lan Kwai Fong.
But be sure to buy your drinks from the nearby 7-Eleven!
11. Get your heart racing at the Happy Valley racecourse every Wednesday night.
Gambling is in Hong Kong’s DNA and Happy Valley is the perfect place to witness it. For an entry fee of HK$10, you can watch the horses racing in the lush green field at the backdrop of skyscrapers and thousands of people screaming their heart out!
12. Visit at least one of the numerous temples for free.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Chi Lin Nunnery, Po Lin Monastery, Tin Hau temple, Wong Tai Sin temple, and the list goes on.
13. Visit the outlying islands on a weekday or a Saturday.
From Cheung Chau, Peng Chau to Lamma Island and Stanley, Hong Kong’s outlying islands are heaven for every nature lover. They can be accessed by ferry from Central ferry pier. The prices are the highest on a Sunday and any public holiday. Here are the prices and schedule of the ferries.
14. Skip the Peak tram and the Sky Terrace 428 and instead opt for the Peak Circle Walk trail.
The Peak Tram and Sky Terrace together cost about HK$90. The Peak Circle Walk offers an almost equally stunning view of the skyline for free! You can either walk up all the way or catch the bus 15 from Central pier (HK$9.80) to reach the Peak Galleria. Besides the mall, find the narrow path and walk along it to find the vantage point. If you really want to take the Peak Tram, be sure to keep a few hours in hand to queue for the tickets, especially on weekends and public holidays.
15. Make your visit coincide with Chinese New Year.
You can be part of the massive celebrations and the joyous vibe that embraces the whole city. Watch the Chinese New Year parade and the spectacular fireworks along Tsim Tsa Shui harbor, all for free! Touch the dragon that goes along the parade for good luck and don’t forget to queue a few hours in advance near the streets for the best views. Download the map of the parade before you go.