13 Budget Tips for Hong Kong
Hey Explorers, I’m thrilled to share a guest post with you today from New York Times bestseller Matthew Kepnes, also known as Nomadic Matt. His excellent travel blog and Superstar Blogging course were a huge source of inspiration and guidance when I took TDR Explorer to the next level.
Chances are you’re spending time at Hong Kong Disneyland. This means you’ll want to save money and spend time in the city of Hong Kong (I try to visit every few months). These expert tips from Nomadic Matt help you cut costs when you are soaking in everything Hong Kong has to offer.
Huge thank you to Matt for this guest post. Enjoy these fantastic tips and make your trip to Hong Kong that much cheaper!
Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s jam-packed with amazing food (so many dumplings!), nonstop nightlife, and all the history and culture you need to have an enjoyable and insightful trip.
But it isn’t cheap.
Most people only spend a couple days in Hong Kong before they move on, knowing that an extended stay can break the bank. Fortunately, there are ways you can save money during your visit, allowing you to get the most out of your trip.
Here are 13 budget travel tips for Hong Kong:
- Avoid staying on Hong Kong Island – The other islands have cheaper accommodation, which will save you money every night. If you do end up staying on Hong Kong Island, try to find somewhere in Causeway Bay, which has the cheapest accommodation in the area.
- Binge at the buffets – Hong Kong has some amazing restaurants. Fortunately, many of the best places to eat in Hong Kong offer a buffet menu for as little as 110 HKD ($14 USD). These are a great way to fill up without spending a lot of money.
- Enjoy the free public spaces – There are plenty of free spaces in the city to relax in and do some people-watching (plus, you’ll need to walk off those buffets!). Kowloon Park and Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade are two such places worth checking out. Also, every night at 8pm is the Symphony of Lights, a free light show that takes over the city. It’s definitely worth watching once!
- Visit the markets – If you’re going to be cooking your own food during your stay, get your groceries at the markets. They’re where the locals shop, because the food is sometimes 50% cheaper than at grocery stores. Plus, it’s usually fresher! For another fun experience, check out the Ladies Market, a nightly market with over 100 vendors. It can be crowded, but it’s a great place to stroll through, soak in the culture, and people-watch.
- Buy an Octopus Card – While this doesn’t save you money per se, it makes your life a lot more convenient (and time is money, right?). The card will simplify the process of paying for transportation so you don’t have to carry around coins or pay in exact change. You can use the Octopus Card for virtually all public transportation: MTR, light rail, trams, etc. On top of that, you can use it at convenience stores, restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions. Think of it like a prepaid debit card. If you’re going to be in Hong Kong a few days, save yourself some time and hassle and get one.
- Get a transit day pass – If you’re going to be taking a lot of trains or buses in one day, get a day pass. Public transportation in Hong Kong isn’t cheap, so tickets will add up if you’re traveling all over. A day pass is only 65 HKD ($8 USD), much cheaper than buying a handful of single
- Avoid Western food – Hong Kong is a foodie city, but if you want to save money, you’ll need to avoid eating a lot of Western food. Compared to the local cuisine and groceries from the market, it’s expensive, upwards of 155 HKD ($20 USD) for a meal. Hong Kong has many, many Western restaurants that are worth a splurge, but try not to constantly eat at them if you want to save money.
- Use hospitality networks – Accommodations are expensive in Hong Kong, and this will be one of your biggest costs in the city. To save money, consider using Couchsurfing, a site that connects travelers with locals offering a free place to stay. Not only will this cut your accommodation expense but it will help you better understand Hong Kong’s culture. There are tons of hosts in the Couchsurfing community, so you can almost always find one. Even if you don’t want to stay with someone, you can still download the Couchsurfing app to meet them for coffee. There are also a lot of events and of meet-ups too, which is a fun way to make some new friends. It’s a great resource for getting insider tips, so definitely try to meet some locals if you can!
- Avoid drinking wine – Not surprisingly, drinking in Hong Kong will deplete your wallet pretty quickly. At 80 HKD ($10 USD) for a glass of vino (and not even the good stuff!), it’s not worth it. This also applies to fancy drinks, so stick to beer or basic cocktails, like vodka tonics.
- Stay in Chungking Mansion – A far cry from even a one-star hotel, Chungking Mansion is the cheapest accommodation in Hong Kong. Don’t expect much, but it gets the job done. A room costs around 125 HKD ($16 USD) per night. If you’re on a tight budget, this is where you’ll want to look for a bed.
- Use Agoda – If you’re going to be booking your accommodation online, make sure to first search Agoda.com, which usually finds the best deals (followed by Booking.com).
- Enjoy free sightseeing – The Hong Kong Museum of History, the Space Museum, the Museum of Coastal Defence, and the Science Museum are all free on Wednesdays. Po Lin Monastery (with the giant Buddha) is free everyday. Take advantage of these free activities to save yourself
- Get a budget guide – As Hong Kong has so much to offer, make sure you go well armed. Get yourself a budget travel guide that will help you make the most out of your visit. If you’re not sure what to do in Hong Kong, a guide is the best way to learn about all your options. Which guide to get? Well, I may be biased, but this one is pretty great!
By using these 13 budget tips, you’ll be able to keep your wallet intact as you explore one of the best cities in the world. Enjoy!
With the Octopus card, you can actually get a refund if you are not buying a special edition one.
And the ticket fare is cheaper than buying a ticket when travelling on the MTR 😉