Explore the top things to do in Hong Kong with these essential Hong Kong budget travel tips. Travel Hong Kong for cheap whilst getting an authentic cultural experience.
There are many reasons to visit the bustling and energetic city of Hong Kong. Many airlines offer affordable flights to this major hub. It is a popular visa-free destination for many nationalities. Plus you can often get cheaper flights to South East Asia transiting through Hong Kong.
Although shopping in Hong Kong is generally more affordable compared to other major cities like New York, London, Tokyo and San Francisco due to no import taxes or VAT (yes, it’s true!). It can quickly become an expensive travel destination if you don’t know where to eat, where to stay in Hong Kong, which public transport to take or which grocery stores offer the best bang for your buck.
In this guide, we share our 7 top Hong Kong budget travel tips that will not only help you save money, but help you get the most authentic cultural experience in Hong Kong.
Not sure whether visiting Hong Kong is worth it? Take a virtual tour of Hong Kong before visiting and then decide.
Budget Travel Tip #1: Where to Stay in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is notorious for expensive property prices and high rent. That’s why accommodation and hotels will be the most expensive component of travelling to Hong Kong. The upside is that there are thousands of accommodation options in the city ranging from affordable hostels to luxury hotels.
In general, accommodation close to Central, Causeway Bay, Admiralty will be more expensive as these areas are popular for business travel. Tsim Sha Tsui is also likely to be expensive due to its prime location next to Victoria Harbour.
Public transport is very extensive in Hong Kong, so as long as your accommodation is close to public transport, it should be easy to get around.
Before booking your hotels and flights, make sure to read our How To Travel Cheap Guide to find out how you can save up to 53% on your flight and hotel bookings.
Budget Travel Tip #2: Hong Kong Transportation
The Hong Kong transportation system is extensive and easy to use. Depending on the length of your stay it may be more cost effective and time efficient to purchase a Hong Kong Octopus card instead of buying individual tickets.
The Hong Kong Octopus card works like the Oyster card does in London. The Hong Kong Octopus card is actually more convenient as you can make purchases with it at convenient stores such as 7 Eleven or coffee shops such as Starbucks. It works on a cost per trip basis and the costs are slightly cheaper than single ticket trips.
When you leave Hong Kong, you can either give the card back to get your deposit, or keep the card as a souvenir.
When topping up or purchasing tickets, it is important to have cash on hand as the machines as well as the teller does not accept credit or debit cards. You can also only top up your Octopus card in HKD$50 increments.
In general, taking the public bus and red mini-bus will be more affordable than taking the subway. The best way to manage transport costs is to check the cost of your trip on apps like CityMapper. There have been occasions where the bus and train option cost similar, except that the train ride was faster.
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Budget Travel Tip #3: Hong Kong Street Food
Local Cantonese restaurants or street food will always be cheaper than western cuisine. This is a general money saving travel tip for any Asian travel destination.
Not only will it be cheaper, but it will also add to the cultural experience you’ll have in Hong Kong. There are lots of street food options available in the Mong Kok, Prince Edward and even Causeway Bay Area. Food hygiene is monitored by the government so it is clean and safe to eat.
The best way to find the tastiest Hong Kong street food is to go where the crowds are. Most of the signs will be in Chinese. Just take a leap of faith and point at what you would like to try. We recommend the curry fish meatballs and the bubble waffle.
What To Eat in Hong Kong
“Yum Cha” (traditional Cantonese dim sum) is a must-try experience and a top thing to do in Hong Kong. It is more expensive compared to Hong Kong street food, but absolutely worth the experience. You simply can’t get a more authentic local experience than this.
‘Yum Cha’ is very popular amongst locals, so avoid going on the weekend if you can. You can also skip breakfast and go ‘yum cha’ for brunch. Most restaurants start their ‘yum cha’ service from 11AM so if it’s a weekday, you shouldn’t need to queue and wait.
If you’re absolutely missing western food, then going to a franchise will be the most affordable option.
Budget Travel Tip #4: Hong Kong Supermarkets
Another useful Hong Kong budget travel tip is to buy prepared meals and sandwiches from supermarkets instead of eating every meal out.
For fruit and fresh vegetables, we recommend going to a local wet market in Hong Kong. You can easily find one by googling for the closest wet market near you. Not only will the fresh produce be more affordable, you will also get an authentic cultural experience shopping like a local Hong Konger at a wet market.
However, if you’re vegetarian, vegan or very sensitive to smells and seeing chopped fish and meat, this experience is probably not for you. Instead, you can go to a more western adapted supermarket like Welcome, Taste and Park ‘n Shop, which are the more affordable Hong Kong supermarkets.
These supermarkets have tasty and affordable prepared meals. From sandwiches, sushi platters, to stir fries and pastries.
Budget Travel Tip #5: Hong Kong Nightlife
A visit to Hong Kong is incomplete without experiencing Hong Kong’s nightlife and visiting the infamous pub district of Lan Kwai Fong. It’s one of the top things to do in Hong Kong for a reason.
It is an amazing and fun experience but can quickly become a very expensive night out if you’re not careful.
Our recommendation is to start the night early and make use of happy hour. The other option is to buy drinks from the 7 Eleven in Lan Kwai Fong and enjoy a few drinks in the street.
Don’t worry, it is legal (only in the district of Lan Kwai Fong). Lots of expats and locals do it so it’s part of the Hong Kong experience and is also a nice way to meet locals.
Budget Travel Tip #6: Exchange Foreign Currency for Free
We recently discovered the world of mobile banking and its many benefits, particularly for travelling. The one we use most regularly is Revolut. We’ve used this card at every single travel destination we’ve been to since we started travelling full-time.
The most useful benefit for us is that we are able to buy and hold up to 23 currencies on the card. The game changer is that we are able to buy or sell these currencies at the real exchange rate (i.e. the googled exchange rate) without any commission. So effectively we’re buying foreign currency for FREE!
What makes this even better is that Revolut gives you free cash withdrawals up to £200 (or equivalent if registered outside the UK) every month. These small savings add up if you love to travel.
You can use your Revolut card anywhere where they accept Mastercard or VISA, but you can currently only register if you’re a UK, European or Australian citizen/permanent resident.
Downloading the app and registering is free. They offer different account options. The basic account is free, but you will need to pay £5.95 (or equivalent) to order a physical card.
These are just 2 out of the 7 benefits of using the Revolut card for travel. If you want to find out its other travel benefits, make sure to check out our full list of 7 honest reasons why Revolut is the best travel card for 2020.
This is our top money saving tip for any travel destination.
Budget Travel Tip #7: Plan Excursions For Your Hong Kong Itinerary
It’s always a good idea to see how much excursions cost beforehand so you can include the things you want to do in your budget.
Another reason why you would want to buy your tickets online rather than at the counter is to avoid the long queues. Yes, you will definitely be getting a very authentic Hong Kong experience standing in a queue for hours, but it’s not fun when you have limited time to explore.
If it’s your first time in Hong Kong, here’s some top things to do in Hong Kong to get you started:
- A half-day trip to Ngong Ping to see the Big Buddha
- Victoria Peak to get an amazing bird’s eye view over Hong Kong
- Take a break from the city bustle and take a Cruise Tour to Stanley by traditional Chinese Junk Boat
You can find more excursions in Hong Kong here:
If that was too much to absorb, here’s a quick summary.
Hong Kong Travel Tips
- Book your accommodation in Hong Kong outside of the popular office and shopping districts for cheaper prices
- Top-up a Hong Kong Octopus Card when using public transport instead of buying individual tickets
- Save money eating out in Hong Kong by sticking to Asian instead of Western cuisine
- Buy prepared meals and snacks from supermarkets so you don’t need to eat every single meal out
- Make use of Happy Hour specials when pub crawling in Lan Kwai Fong
- Exchange foreign currency for free and make use of free cash withdrawals using Revolut
- Plan your Hong Kong itinerary and book your excursions beforehand for cheaper prices and avoiding long queues
Travel Destinations Close to Hong Kong
From Hong Kong To Thailand
There are plenty of cheap flights from Hong Kong to South East Asia. If you’re heading to Thailand, be sure to explore outside of Bangkok and Phuket so you can get away from the crowds and make the most out of your adventure.
If it’s your first time travelling to Thailand, make sure you read our 7 Krabi travel tips. We may have written it specifically for Krabi, but most of the tips are applicable for travelling anywhere in Thailand. Get useful tips like how much to budget daily, whether it is card friendly and even how to rent a scooter in Thailand.
From Hong Kong To Indonesia
We also have some really useful travel guides for Indonesia:
- Jungle trekking and seeing wild orangutans in Sumatra
- Is Tangkahan Elephant Sanctuary a true and ethical elephant sanctuary
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