Hong Kong was recently named the world’s most expensive city for expatriates. While Hong Kong is known as an expensive city, there are also tons of cool activities travellers can take advantage of for less. From access to the best contemporary art, dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant or even a day trip to another island, there are a number of cheap and free things to do.
For savvy travelers visiting Hong Kong, here are seven ways to spend your HK vacation that will cost you less than S$5.
The world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant
Hong Kong is heaven for foodies on a budget. It’s not only home to some of the best restaurants in the world but also to the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred joint, Tim Ho Wan. While they have branches all across Manila and in Hong Kong, only three boast Michelin stars and they are the in the latter’s North Point, Sham Sui Po and Tai Kwok Tsui locations. Extremely long queues are to be expected, but it’s all worth it after you’ve taken your first bite of the signature baked bun with barbecue pork for HK$22 (approx. S$4) or steamed dumplings starting from HK$12 (approx. S$2).
Eat and drink all you can
Mr. Wong’s Restaurant located in Mong Kok is something of an institution. A favorite hangout for expatriates looking for a cheap bite, the hole-in-the-wall on Shamchun Street offers unlimited drinks (booze included) for HK$60 (approx. S$11) served by Mr. Wong himself. While it’s not Michelin-starred, it has become a local pre-party spot because of its friendly ambiance (it’s definitely the kind of place where you can exchange stories with other customers) and its affordable price.
Place your bets at the Happy Valley Racecourse
Known for its infectious atmosphere, the Happy Valley Racecourse has been a staple Wednesday-night haunt for Hong Kong locals, expatriates and tourists alike. Open from September to July, entry to the attraction is HK$10 each (approx. S$2) for standing room, while the seated area costs HK$20 (approx. $S4). A jug of beer sells for HK$150 (approx. S$27 each), and you can, of course, share it among your friends.
Ride the Star Ferry
Taking the Hong Kong junk tour of Victoria Harbour may set you back another HK$320 (approx. S$57), but there is a cheaper alternative. Take the Star Ferry instead. The local transportation, which carries passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon via the Victoria Harbour, costs only HK$2.50 (approx. S$.50) for the upper deck and HK$2 for the lower deck (Mondays through Fridays).
If you’re staying in Hong Kong for more than three days, it is also economical to purchase the “tourist ticket.” For only HK$25 (approx. S$5), you can enjoy unlimited transits between Tsim Sha Tsui/Central and Tsim Sha Tsui/Wan Chai for four consecutive days .
Go to museums
While it can be pricey, Hong Kong is also one of the best places to admire for free. Aside from the street art and graffiti works that decorate the city, it’s also home to several museums that offer free admission, including the Hong Kong Museum of History, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence and Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum. For contemporary art, tourists can also check out modern art galleries such as 10 Chancery Lane, White Cube, 2P Contemporary Art and, last but not least, the Gagosian, which is currently exhibiting the works of notable British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor.
Take the ferry to Lantau Island
Lantau Island is a must-visit. Apart from being the location of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, the area is also home to other famous attractions such as the Tian Tan Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, Inspiration Lake Recreation Centre and the Silvermine Beach in Mui Wo. The 70-kilometer Lantau Trail is also a popular stop for hiking enthusiasts, while shopaholics can enjoy marked-down prices at the Citygate Outlet.
Go to Shek O and Big Wave beaches
If you’re looking to take a pause from Hong Kong’s hustle and bustle, head to the MTR Shau Kei Wan Station and, for less than HK$20 (approx. S$4), take bus 9 towards Shek O or Big Wave Bay for a quick beach break. Located 40 minutes from central Hong Kong, these small villages are welcome refuges from the city’s hectic center, with fine, golden sands, good waves (making them popular among surfers) and clean waters. Revelers with a bit more budget also have the option to rent lounge chairs and umbrellas, as well as a barbecue pit if they wish to cook their own food.Search for flights to Hong Kong
What’s your favourite thing to do in Hong Kong? Let us know in the comments.