Personal Finance

Hong Kong on the Cheap

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When people think of Hong Kong, they think of it as an expensive place to travel to.  Hong Kong can be as expensive as you want it to (think pricey glamorous restaurants at $100 USD per person) or as cheap as you want it to (think $0.40 tram rides or $5 wonton noodles).

On a recent trip to Asia, I used Hong Kong as a base to go to the Philippines.  I had thought it would be an expensive adjunct to the Philippines but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Here are a few ways to do Hong Kong on the Cheap:

Getting In and Out

Hong Kong is a major hub for international flights.  I redeemed my Aeroplan points through travel hacking and was able to get a flight for $200 from Vancouver to Hong Kong return via Air Canada.  However, there are periodically cheap flights from the west coast of Canada to Air Canada.  Most recently there was a fight with a Japanese airlines to Hong Kong for $200 max, including return.

The bus is the cheapest way to get into town, however taking the MTR and Airport Express is another option as it is much quicker.  However,  it is much more expensive than taking a bus (and less scenic too).

Places to Stay

Hong Kong is notorious for having expensive accommodation (well, it is the place in the world with the highest cost of real estate).  One way to bypass this is to look for deals on Orbitz, or to use Airbnb.  There are also tons of options such as hostels where you can find a place to stay for under $35 a night, you can check out Lonely Planet’s guide.

Related: FlipKey vs Airbnb Review


There are many fast food chains that have reasonable meals, such as Fairwood or Coral Cafe, especially for breakfast, where you can get a drink, and a breakfast meal for under $5.  Other options include going for local food stalls which will yield you a cheap low cost meal for under $5.

Getting Around

The best thing to do is to get an Octopus card.  You can use this to avoid carrying change to use on the MTR, the tram or the bus, and can even use it at the 7-11 or other convenience stores.  There is a bit of a discount on fares when you use the Octopus card.  The MTR is a great way to get around, but taking the bus or tram is more economical.  The Tram costs $0.40 and gets you around most of Hong Kong island.

Uber is in full force in Hong Kong and many people use this instead of taxis to get around.  The interesting thing about Uber in Hong Kong is that you’ll be sitting in some really fancy cars, since most people who own cars are wealthy in Hong Kong (you usually need a chauffer and cars cost about double the cost in North America).

Things to Do

Instead of paying $20-40 for a tram up to the peak (including mandatory Madame Tussaud’s wax museum ticket), we opted to take the escalators up to the midlands and walk up the Old Peak Road hike to the peak.  It was a good 30-45 minute walk once on Conduit road and the hike was very steep at times (actually it was steep about 70% of the time) but the view at top was great!  We walked down the Peak, took the stairway all the way down to the Lan Kwai Fong area and back into Central.

Another thing to do in Hong Kong is to take the Star Ferry across to Kowloon, or to take the MTR to the Mong Kok station to the Ladies Market to try your hand at bargaining in the evenings when the night market is in full force.

Once you get an Octopus Card, you have a lot of options for places to go.  You can take a $4 30 minute ferry ride to Discovery Island and explore the beach there, or take a small bus to Repulse Bay and Stanley market area for the day to explore.

For more tips on how to see Hong Kong on a budget, check out this post on seeing Hong Kong on the cheap.

Readers, have you been to Hong Kong?  Any budget friendly places to eat at or things to do that you would recommend?


Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals.

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