Written by Zoe Stephens
With several popular destinations just a short flight away, Hong Kong is conveniently located for a good few days of travel during your backpacking trip around Asia. Hong Kong International airport is a great gateway to other countries in South East Asia and offers cheap flights throughout the world, meaning it’s a great place for an extended stopover (even the airport itself is pretty decent).
Travelling around SE Asia, you’ve probably become accustomed to the insanely great-tasting cheap food, hostels that hardly touch the bank – let alone break it, and generally low living costs. Tourists coming from such destinations may be put off travelling to Hong Kong, with accommodation and food prices to rivalling those in Europe. But rest assured, you can also experience the many delights that Hong Kong has to offer on a budget too.
Getting to and around Hong Kong
As a budget traveller, you’re probably well acquainted with budget airlines Air Asia. You can get to Hong Kong airport from various countries for way less than $100, depending on where you’re travelling from.
From there, you can get the bus into the city for little more than HK$30 (approx. $4).
Once you’re in Hong Kong, make sure to invest in an MTR Octopus card (much like the Oyster card in London). You can use these not only for travel but also to get into museums and art galleries and pay for things around the city.
Using the colourful Ding Ding Trams is a tourist attraction in itself, and a great budget way to get around. A tram ride will set you back a mere $0.30 and can take you around the Northern part of Hong Kong island. They’re colourful, clunky, and cheap – and a perfect way to get around on a budget.
Where to stay
The first Google search you do on budget accommodation in Hong Kong will send you straight for the Chung King Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui. This legendary backpackers’ dwelling boasts an impressive 1980 budget rooms in its 17 stories. It is said that the accommodation here is the cheapest in Hong Kong. There’s never a dull moment at this conveniently located superstructure. It offers 3 shopping centres, a variety of world cuisine, and foreign exchange offices.
If the idea of staying in a crowded and compact mansion building is a bit daunting for you, Hong Kong also has a great selection of budget AirBnBs starting from $20 per night.
What to do
Hong Kong is surrounded by incredible landscapes and views, best enjoyed from outside the city. The most popular hike is Dragon’s Back. With its killer views, ease of accessibility, and short-ish length (can be done in a morning or afternoon) you’ve no excuse to miss out on this one!
After doing Dragon’s Back you may find yourself hooked being lost in nature – Hong Kong has a whole load of hiking trails awaiting you!
- Kowloon Park
Conveniently located in Tsim Sha Tsui, a visit to Kowloon Park is a great way to unwind from city life. Head over here for a picnic, a walk, or to take part in activities such as Tai Chi. The tranquil park also offers an aviary, Chinese garden, and fitness trail. Get lost in here for a day, or escape for 30 minutes!
- Symphony of Lights
This spectacular light show takes place every evening at Victoria Harbour and is an absolute must. Named ‘World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’ by Guinness World Records, it is made up of a symphony of lights, laser beams, and music. It begins at 8 pm and live narration is available in three languages: English on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; Mandarin on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; and Cantonese on Sundays.
Best of all? It’s entirely free! make sure to get there early and find yourself a good spot for the best shots of the river.
- Avenue of stars
Take a trip to East Tsim Sha Tsui and hang out with your favourite celebrities! The floor plaques pay tribute to all the stars that put Hong Kong on the Hollywood map and you can even hang out with Bruce Lee (in bronze statue form). From here you get great views of Victoria Harbour and can watch the Symphony of Lights too.
Unfortunately, it is currently closed for repairs and due to re-open in 2018, so you may have to wait until you can enjoy what the avenue has on offer!
- Traditional Chinese temples
Whether you’re religious or not, visiting some traditional temples is definitely a great activity for the budget traveller. The architecture is often stunning, boasting exceptional attention to detail, massive halls and mind-blowing sculptures and statues. They’re also a great excuse to get out of the city and to more peaceful places, often nestled in forests or tucked away in parks.