Hong Kong is the epitome of east meets west. Once a former British colony and now back in the hands of China, you feel as if you’re back in the UK – although the signs are in Chinese. The special administrative region has its own currency and acts almost independently from China. Your jump off point is Hong Kong International Airport, found in its own island.
Hostel – Most of the hostels can be found in the Tsim Sha Tsui or near Lan Kwai Fong. Prices range from around $15 above to a dorm room, and private rooms can range from $30 above.
Hotels- can range anywhere from the $50 mark above. The best places to stay in for budget travelers are within reach of the Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei, Jordan, and Mong Kok MRT area.
Food – Food is fairly cheap in Hong Kong, if you eat at the street side stalls or good old fast food. These range from around $5 and can go higher, depending if you want to eat at a sit down restaurant. Hong Kong is known as a food lover’s paradise, so you can try some of the cuisines and experiment! Note- some off the wall restaurants only have menus written in Chinese and only provide chopsticks instead of cutlery you may be used to.
Transportation – The country has an effective transportation system comprising of buses, trams and MRTs. The buses and MRTs operate on a distance basis. To get the bus and MRT fares from your origin to your destination, click here for more information. Taxis range from $3 (flag down rate), and increases in increments of $0.25. To get specific rates, click here. The cheapest way to get from the airport to the main tourist sites is the MTR, although you are paying off the lower price for a longer travel time.
How to Save Money
- Get an Octopus Card – The Octopus card is a stored value card that you can use on public transportation (no need to struggle with exact change when trying to board buses or figuring out how much the fares are in the MRT) and also at certain shops (widely accepted in convenience stores like 7-11). Although you pay a deposit for having the card, it is very convenient and saves you a lot of time when you’re out and about the city. You can reload them easily at various metro stations and convenience stores if you feel your balances are getting low.
- Take public transportation – taxis are moderately priced, but taking public transportation can save you a lot of money. Going between two MRT stops? Walk. You get to see more and save a few dollars too.
Top things to see and do in Hong Kong:
- Hong Kong Disneyland – The first Disney theme park in Asia, this is the quintessential Disney Park – although the shows are mostly in Chinese! You’ve got to love the detail they poured into it though –try to find hidden mickeys scattered all throughout: from the MRT going to the park (with Mickey silhouettes for windows and handrails), and in the Disney hotel.
- Ngong Ping 360 (including Tian Tan Buddha & Po Lin Monastery)- Situated on the other side of Lantau Island from Disney, the 25 minute cable car is a shortcut to the longer route of driving or riding the bus up the mountain. From the cable car, you can see a view of Hong Kong’s other islands, the airport, and the Buddha. Once you’re up the mountain, you’ll pass through the Ngong Ping Village (tourist trap though, wouldn’t recommend buying souvenirs here), then climb the 200+ steps to get to the Tian Tan Buddha. You can also go to the Po Lin Monastery near the base of the Buddha.
- Avenue of the Stars (best spot to watch A Symphony of Lights over Victoria Harbour)- Designed to be like the Hollywood Walk of Fame (except with Hong Kong stars), it is Hong Kong’s tribute to the film industry. It is free of charge and also an excellent spot to watch the symphony of lights (daily, free of charge, and the world’s largest permanent light & sound show).
- Victoria Peak (The Peak) – The peak is a tourist attraction that features excellent views of the skyscrapers around Hong Kong Island and Tsim Sha Tsui. More notable is the funicular that goes up to the top of the mountain (riding it is a must, but paying for other attractions at the Peak itself is just plain expensive).
- Mong Kok – known for its street markets and malls, it is a shopper’s paradise. Some streets have themes that only sell specific items (be it birds, flowers, electronics, and clothes) – this is the perfect place to buy souvenirs or kitsch items.