Every blog I have read about Hong Kong has told me how expensive the city is and how anyone on a backpacker’s budget will seriously struggle. As someone who is travelling out of one such backpack for six months, I was filled with dread about how to afford my five night stay in Hong Kong at the beginning of this month.
My budget was a pretty pokey £130 (including accomodation) so I was set for some serious (if slightly boring) penny pinching. But what backpackers and travellers should know is that you can enjoy Hong Kong on a budget! More than that – I had THE best time and fell in love with this amazing city that can be visited by anyone – and on a shoestring budget. Therefore, this post is designed to give some tips and tricks for those visiting Hong Kong on a budget. I mean, high tea at the Peninsula won’t be part of your budget itinerary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Hong Kong in style.
SEEING THE SIGHTS
One of the best things about Hong Kong is that most of its amazing cultural and tourist sights are free. We managed to enjoy the best Buddhist and religious attractions Hong Kong has to offer including the Big Buddha on Lantau Island (otherwise known as Po Lin Monastery), Wong Tai Sin Temple, and the Ten Thousand Buddhas all for free! We didn’t have to pay a single entrance fee, which coming from mainland China was music to our ears!
Another attraction which is free are the night markets – both Temple Street and the Ladies market. These are full of souvenirs, clothes, and cheap food and we managed to whirl away a very enjoyable evening wandering through them.
Hong Kong is also known for its hiking and there are countless trails, including the Dragon’s back,to enjoy. A visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without a trek up Victoria Peak, but there is also a tram lift for those who would prefer to rest their weary legs!
We were pleasantly surprised at the price of the metro in Hong Kong. Most journeys will cost no more than £1.50 (which compared to the London tube is crazy cheap!) The star ferry, which is a tourist attraction in itself, is even cheaper than a metro journey (and quicker!) so we were able to tick it off as we made our way to Hong Kong Island to visit Victoria peak. Walking around is also another great way to get to know Hong Kong.
Wandering around Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) was one of my highlights – you can take in Hong Kong’s main shopping district and the centre of its nightlife for free. I also felt very safe everywhere we went in Hong Kong so you don’t have to worry about walking around late at night. The light show on the harbour is another top tourist site. Whilst I was a bit disappointed with the display, it was still good to see and totally free!
This was my main expense during my five day trip. Known for its amazing food scene, even as a backpacker I managed to stuff myself with delicious foods and still have change. One of my highlights was a huge slice of pepperoni pizza at Paisano’s pizzeria for less than £2.50.
Whilst walking near the markets in TST and down the back alleys, we stumbled across a Chinese restaurant rammed full with locals – and we soon realised why! A huge plate of rice and two toppings were on offer for $28 HKD, which is £2.65. I plumped for a double serving of sweet and sour chicken (a month travelling around China and not one plate of sweet and sour in site) and it was super filling and tasty. Another cheap eat are the street food vendors around the temple street market. You still get to sit down in a restaurant, but prices are much cheaper than downtown TST.
WHERE TO STAY
We booked a hostel in TST, Rainbow Lodge, which was a steal at £15 per night, especially compared to nearby hostels. It was very cosy, but also offered free tea, coffee, and water, so we were able to fill our bottles up every morning – another money saver! TST was such a great location as there was so much on our doorstep – shops, bars and tons of restaurants. We would have spent a lot more on transport if we hadn’t been so central in Kowloon, so I would highly recommend staying in the TST area.
Hopefully these tips have been useful and show that whatever your budget, you can enjoy everything Hong Kong has to offer. I am currently travelling through Asia for six months having quit my flat and job in London. Follow me and my best mate Rowena’s exploits at Row and Anna Travels.
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