Hong Kong is one of the most densely-populated places on earth. Composed of three different islands (Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories), there are more than enough sights and sensations to soak up during any type of trip you have planned. From traditional street markets and beautiful temples to the fast-moving, skyscraper-dotted streets, to the endless food and drink options, there is so much to do here. This is one of my favorite cities in the world and I always fly into it when I visit Asia to take in the sights, eat dumpling and dim sum, and have a fun night out.I can’t get enough of the city, and if you are a foodie like me, it is heaven. It’s hard not to walk away a few pounds heavier. Hong Kong is one of the most exciting places on earth and, even after countless places, the city remains in my top five. Please don’t rush your visit.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Hong Kong
1. Visit the temples
2. Take the Star Ferry
3. Ride 360 Ngong Ping
4. Visit the street markets
5. Ride the Peak Tram
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Sheung Wan District
Famous for its bird’s nest and shark fin soup (which you should not eat), this area reflects the old Hong Kong. High end apartment and office blocks tower over small stores and traditional markets and it’s less developed with modern buildings than other parts of the city.
2. Jungle trekking
Outside the congested area of the city you’ll find lots of places to explore nature. You can explore or trek along one or more of the eight different “geo-areas” distributed across the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region. Both areas provide a great place to experience a side of the city few people ever see because they can’t escape the hustle and bustle of the area!
3. Disneyland and Ocean Park
If you’re on a family trip, or even if you’re a backpacker in touch with your inner child, head to Disneyland or Ocean Park for a fun-filled day. Hang out with Mickey Mouse and shake hands with sea creatures. Moreover, you can see Giant Pandas at Ocean Park, which in itself justifies the whole visit. Tickets are not cheap and a day in either park will put a dent in your wallet…but somethings are worth it!
4. Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront
Stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront, and take in the breathtaking skyline view of Hong Kong island. While you’re here, make sure to visit the Avenue of Stars, Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood “Walk of Fame.”
5. Mai Po Natural Area
This endless stretch of mangrove forest and muddy swampland is a paradise for birds and invertebrates. Overs 430 kinds of birds have been documented here. From October to April you can even watch the annual migrations. It’s another option to see more than just the buildings of HK.
6. Visit the Po Lin Monastery
Built in 1924, this temple is situated on Lantau Island. It is commonly known as the ‘Buddhist Kingdom in the South,” and ranks as the most magnificent structure among the four Buddhist temples in Hong Kong.
7. Explore Tung Shoi Street
Also known as Ladies Street, this open-air bazaar is situated in the central area of Mong Kok. It is one of the busiest places in Hong Kong and is filled with shops and cheap goods. Remember to bargain!
8. Experience the nightlife at Lan Kwai Fong
LKF is the main nightlife and party area in Hong Kong and is filled with tons of bars, clubs, sheesha, and cheap drinks. Nights out here are wild and crazy and the place is packed any night of the week. If you’re looking to get wild, you can’t go wrong here.
9. Hike the Dragon’s Back
This trail is easily accessible from the city and is a nice way to spend a day outside the hustle and bustle of the city. The trail will take a few hours, so be sure to bring lots of water. There are also plenty of other trails in and around the city, too!
10. Rent a junk boat
If you can round up a group of 15 or so people you can rent an entire junk boat for the day (or half-day). Sail around the harbor in traditional style. Expect to pay around 200 HKD per person.
Budget hotel prices – Prices start from 325 HKD per night for a basic double room in a hotel. Larger, more international chains start at around 650 HKD per night. There are a lot of apartment rentals via sites like Airbnb that are a much more affordable option if you don’t want to stay in a hostel but can’t afford a hotel. They are usually where I stay. Expect to pay around 275 HKD for a shared Airbnb, and 800 HKD for an entire apartment/home.
Average cost of food – While Hong Kong is generally expensive, there are plenty of options for cheap food. Market food, noodles, and dumplings will cost around 50 HKD per meal. Sit down restaurants with table service will cost around 100 HKD for a meal with a drink. If you decide to splurge, you can expect to pay around 350 HKD or more for something fancy or Western (like Italian, Steak, or American fare). But you’ll find there is enough cheap markets and noodle shops to keep you busy during your visits. Drinks are roughly 35-50 HKD, though wine and fancy cocktails can be between 75-155 HKD. If you are going to buy your own groceries, expect to pay around 400 HKD per week. See my guide at the end for a list of my favorite restaurants.
Transportation costs – A tourist travel pass costs 65 HKD per day and covers unlimited travel on the metro, tram, and light rail service. Individual tickets are based on distance and range from 7-23 HKD. The Star ferry between Hong Kong and Kowloon island is 2 HKD. The subway goes everywhere but late at night, taxi cabs are a good option to get around and are inexpensive.
Suggested daily budget
400-500 HKD / 51-64 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
Beyond the general tips of eating local, avoiding drinking, taking public transportation, here are some specific tips for saving money in Hong Kong:
- Eat at the buffets – Many restaurants offer an all you can eat menu for less than 110 HKD. They are filling and cheap and provide the best value.
- Avoid staying on Hong Kong Island – If possible, avoid staying on the island of Hong Kong. The other islands have much cheaper accommodations but if you do end up on Hong Kong island, Causeway Bay has most of the cheapest accommodation.
- Visit the markets – Most locals shop at the markets as they offer the cheapest and freshest foods, at times up to 50% cheaper than grocery stores. Do all your grocery shopping here.
- Stay in Chungking Mansion – While a far cry from even a 1 star hotel, Chungking Mansion offers the cheapest accommodation in the city. It’s not the nicest place but it’s certainly an experience. Prices can be as low as 50HKD so if you are on a tight budget, stay here.
- Get a transit day pass – Trains in Hong Kong can add up quickly as fares are based on distance. Getting a day pass will be much more economical if you are traveling all over the city and into the New Territories. A day pass is 65 HKD.
- Skip the taxis – While taxi fares are not astronomical, the hectic traffic will make your bill add up quickly. Public transportation is affordable and reliable. Skip the taxis!
- Save money on rideshares – Uber is way cheaper than taxis and are the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi. The Uber Pool option is where can you share a ride to get even better savings (though you can get your own car too). You can save $15 off your first Uber ride with this code: jlx6v.
GO DEEPER: Nomadic Matt’s In-Depth Budget Guide to Hong Kong!
Want to plan the perfect trip to Hong Kong? Check out my comprehensive guide to Hong Kong written for budget travelers like yourself! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel and save money in one of the most beautiful, and exciting in the world. You’ll find suggested itineraries tips budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, and my favorite non-touristy restaurants, markets, and bars, and much more!! Click here to learn more and get started.
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