Backpacker’s Guide to Budget Travel in Hong Kong

Travel Tips — By on 25/10/2012 12:49 pm

Hong Kong Avenue of the Stars Bruce Lee statue Backpacker’s Guide to Budget Travel in Hong KongHow To See the Best of Hong Kong For $320

Hong Kong is one of the most fascinating and tourist friendly places to travel to in China. It is also the most expensive place to visit with costs such as accommodation and entry tickets at least double the equivalent costs in Beijing and most other Chinese cities.

You can still see the best Hong Kong has to offer and have a great time with out breaking your budget. I’ve outlined below how you can do this with a schedule, suggestions of what to do and see and cost saving tips

Things to See and Do
The list below outlines the main things to see and do in Hong Kong with the most expensive at the top and the cheapest at the bottom.

Visit Ocean Park
Visit Po Lin Monastery & Tian Tan Buddha
Visit Victoria Peak
Visit Lamma Island
See the world’s highest bar – Ozone bar
Swim at Stanley Beach
Walk through Temple Street Market
Dance and/or drink in Wanchai
Ride the Star Ferry
Ride Hong Kong Island’s classic tram
See the World’s largest permanent laser and light show – A Symphony of Lights
Visit the Avenue of the Stars

Disney Land does not make the list because it is the single most expensive tourist activity in Hong Kong and a complete waste of time.

You will need to be in Hong Kong for at least 5 to 6 days to do everything at a comfortable pace.

Getting to Hong Kong
The best way to include Hong Kong as a part of your holiday in China is to fly into Beijing at the start of your holiday and fly out of Hong Kong at the end OR the other way around. This allows you to travel the entire east side of China that includes all the top spots between Beijing and Hong Kong such as Shanghai, Xiamen, Guilin, Yangshuo and Macau with a few detours for inland spots such as Huangshan and Xi’an.

The best way to travel between China and Hong Kong is by a train that runs between the border crossing at Lo Wu and the main station in Tsim Sha Tsui called Hung Hom. The fare is HK$35 and the trip from the border to Hung Hom takes 43 minute.

Cost – HK$35

This is the most expensive part of your trip to Hong Kong and where you can blow your budget if you are not careful. The cheapest places to stay are dorms in ghettoes such as Chungking Mansions that cost HK$100 or more. I’d only recommend you stay in these places if you a REALLY on a tight budget. The best of these cheap places I’ve found is the Dragon Hostel (click here for details) for HK$105 a night which is dirt cheap in Hong Kong.

My recommendation for budget accommodation in Hong Kong if you can afford it is the Wang Fat Hostel (click here for details) that is ideally located in Hong Kong Island’s Causeway Bay and cost HK$148 a night.

Cost – HK$888 (6 nights at HK$148 each)

Hong Kong is a gourmet’s delight and a good meal can set you back anywhere from HK$20 to over HK$1000. As long as you stay away from the glitzy tourist restaurants and eat where the locals eat, you can get easily get great meals for HK$30 to HK$40.

For day trips to places like Ocean Park or Victoria Peak, pack your lunch. The Welcome supermarkets have excellent selections of precooked pizza, bread, savouries, puddings and more and one of these with a bottle of water or juice make a good meal for around $30. HK$100 a day will comfortably cover your meals and still allow you to experience the best of Canton food.

Cost – HK$600 (18 meals for 6 days in Hong Kong)

Public Transport
Unlike many other parts of China, public transport in Hong Kong is incredibly efficient, easy to use and runs 24 hours a day. It is also reasonably cheap so forget about taxis unless you are lost. Subway tickets for travel on Hong Kong Island or on the mainland cost around HK$4-6 and increase in price by around HK$10 when you travel between the island and the mainland. Bus fares vary from HK$4 to $12 and also cost an additional HK$10 for travel between the island and the mainland.

In general you should not need to spend more than HK$30 a day with HK$40 being the maximum. To cut down on transport cost (and have more fun) you can use the Star Ferry to cross Victoria Harbor and the tram to travel on the north side of the island.

Cost – HK$240 (6 days at $40 a day)

Your Budget Itinerary 
This itinerary assumes you arrive in Hong Kong from China and fly out of Hong Kong but can also work the other way.

Arrival in Hong Kong
You cross the border at Lo Wu and catch the KCR train to Hung Hom in Tsim Sha Tsui. You then catch the MTR to Causeway bay and check into your hostel.

Cost – HK$48

Day One – Ocean Park, Star Ferry, Avenue of the Stars & Symphony of Lights

You have a simple breakfast, buy lunch from Welcome and catch a bus to Ocean Park which has an all inclusive ticket for HK$280. In the afternoon you catch a bus from Ocean Park to Central and then catch the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui. Once in Tsim Sha Tsui you walk along the waterfront and enjoy the very kitschy Avenue of the Stars and take photos yourself next to Bruce Lee. By that time it should be close to 8pm when the Symphony of Lights starts and you can watch it from the waterfront. Dinner can be from one of the many small restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui’s back streets

Cost – HK$280 for Ocean Park

Day Two – Victoria Peak, The Ozone Bar and a night in Wanchai
Catch the tram to Exchange Square bus stop in Central then catch a bus to the Peak. The best place to enjoy the views on the Peak is the Sky Terrace 428 which cost HK$30. Not cheap but worth paying for and you can have lunch on the terrace while enjoying the awesome views. A round trip ticked for the Peak tram ticket which includes the Sky Terrace is $65 which is not too expensive but not worth queuing for.

Hike the Peak or relax in the afternoon then have a delicious meal at an out door restaurant on Stanley street in Central for HK$40. After dinner catch the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui and walk to the Ozone Bar which is in East Tsim Sha Tsui on the top of the Ritz-Carlton hotel. If you feel thirsty, enjoy a beer for HK$90 while you are at the world’s highest bar.

Catch a ferry back to Wanchai and hopefully it will be around 11pm when the action starts. For drinks, you can buy beer for HK$15 a can from a 7/11 store that is in the club area.

– Peak HK$30
-Ozone Bar beer HK$90

-Drinking in Wanchai $60
Costs – HK$180

Day Three – Lamma Island
You catch a ferry to Lamma Island in the morning, enjoy the day hiking/walking, eating and relaxing at the beaches then catch a ferry back in the afternoon. Ferry fare each way is HK$14 at the most and takes around 30 minutes.

Cost – HK$28

Day Four – Stanley Beach
Catch the MTR from Causeway Bay to Chai Wan then catch a mini bus that will go clock wise around Hong Kong Island to Stanley where you can enjoy Stanley Beach and Market. At the end of the day catch another bus to Central which follows a very nice scenic route. The restaurants at Stanley are pricy so pack lunch or search for a cheap back alley restaurant. Meals and bus fares are covered by your budget.

Costs – HK$0

Day Five – Temple Street Night Market
Have a laid back day and go window shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui, check out some of Hong Kong’s better parks or just be lazy. Once the sun goes down, catch the ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui and walk north to the Temple Street market. You’ll find at least several good restaurants along the way for dinner. Don’t shop or eat at the market because everything is over priced. If you are feeling adventurous and still have energy, head across Nathan Road and go north to Ladies Market which is also fun to see. At the end of the night, be lazy and catch the MTR back to the hostel for around HK$14 which is covered by your budget.

Cost – HK$0

Day Six –  Po Lin Monastery & Tian Tan Buddha then the Airport
The Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha are both on the top of a small mountain on Lantau Island and right next to the airport. If you have a flight at 2pm or later, you have plenty of time to see monastery and Buddha on the way to the airport. The MTR fare to Tung Chun station at bottom of the mountain is HK$23. You can catch the gondola to the top of the mountain for HK$125 return which has great views or catch the bus that cost around HK$20 return. You can store your luggage at a locker at the gondola station for HK$40. The bus from MTR station to the airport takes 10 minutes and cost HK$10.

-MTR – HK$23
-Gondola – HK$125
-Locker – HK$40

Cost – HK$188

Total Cost to See Hong Kong
HK$48 Getting to Hong Kong
HK$888 Accommodation
HK$600 Food

Day One – HK$280
Day Two – HK$180
Day Three – HK$28
Day Four – HK$0
Day Five – HK$0
Day Six – HK$188

Total cost HK$2452 which is around US$320 at current exchange rates.

So you see best of Hong Kong, stay at a reasonable hostel and eat like a king for a paltry $320

Useful Links for Travel in Hong Kong

Maps of Hong Kong
Maps of Kowloon and Tsim Sha Tsui
Maps of Public Transport in Hong Kong
Maps of Ocean Park, Star Ferry and other top attractions


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  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for this inspiring post. Traveling to China is very tempting, though I always thought that Hong Kong is extremely expensive. But seeing Hong Kong for a little more than $300? You've put a bug in my ear.

  2. I like this site..Its nice and it gave us lots of ideas..Thanks for sharing great info. on tours and travels,

  3. Sightseeing is basically the easiest thing to do in Hong Kong. Walk along the Avenue of the Stars of Tsim Sha Tsui during the day and amuse yourself with the lively atmosphere as people dash and stop for some pictures.

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