The city of Hong Kong is a dazzling jewel in the middle of the South China Sea. Even more dazzling can be the price tag for spending a week there. Real estate has always been at a premium due to the scarcity of land upon which to build, and lodging alone can seem fairly steep for the frugal traveler. Thus, you’ll want to check out these five great Hong Kong experiences that won’t break the bank.
1. The Star Ferry
A favorite of visitors and locals alike, this historic fleet of boats will get you across the harbor in less than ten minutes. Choose the more enclosed upper deck seating or the lower open deck which is closer to the water and more of a breezy “seafaring” experience. Each ferry has a different name, such as Twinkling Star or Morning Star, and the journey never costs more than HK$3 (less than US 40¢). Boats go from Tsim Tsa Tsui to either Wan Chai or Central HK. If you’re travelling between the mainland and the island, you’ll never want to miss the great harbor views and economy of the Star Ferry. (starferry.com.hk)
2. Parks and Gardens
In one of the largest, most bustling cities in the world, you may be surprised that Hong Kong offers over thirty parks for visitors to roam, explore and enjoy, all at no cost. No matter where you are in the territory, there’s likely a park near you, featuring a variety of landscaped paths, water features, and glimpses of wildlife. Hong Kong Park and Victoria Park are two notable destinations on the island side, while Kowloon Park is equally impressive across the harbor. And because the Southeast Asian climate is subtropical, you can enjoy these outdoor havens at most any time of year. (lcsd.gov.hk/en/ls_park.php)
3. Scenic bus to the Peak
From Central Ferry Pier, catch a #15 bus to the top of the highest point on HK Island—the Peak. For about HK$9, one third of the standard Peak Tram fare, you’ll catch many breathtaking vistas along your upward journey, which lasts about 40 minutes and takes you to the pinnacle where you can remain at your leisure. In a place where even the tourists seem to be in a hurry, this is a great option for travellers with time to savor, slow down, and enjoy the view—and the ride.
4. Sky Lobby at Central Plaza
If you have less time, but still want a great view of the city, check out the observation lobby on the 46th Floor of Central Plaza, one of the largest structures in Hong Kong. Located in Wan Chai, the building is easy to identify, as it features so prominently along the island skyline with its impressive gold side panels and lighted spire. It’s a short walk from the Wanchai ferry pier or a trip via MTR, where the building’s main lobby is immediately accessible from Wanchai Station. Although not widely advertised, elevators to the Sky Lobby are accessible to the public on weekdays from 8am-8pm, and Saturday from 8am-2pm. Don’t miss this free, 360º view of Hong Kong. (centralplaza.com.hk/eng/index.php)
5. Hong Kong Island Tram
Jump on the chance to travel on one of the most historic (and cheapest!) transportation lines in the territory. The tram system is a perfect way to create a self-guided tour of the island, offering six routes and over 100 stops. Hop on in the back, enjoy the ride, and pay at the front as you alight. Fares are HK$2.30 for adults (less for children and seniors), and trams are designed to greatly reduce air and noise pollution. And just imagine—people have been travelling this way in Hong Kong since 1904! (hktramways.com/en/home.html)
These are a few options for the Hong Kong traveler looking for low cost ways to enjoy the city. You’re bound to discover more as you explore further inside this amazing, historic and captivating destination. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised that finding adventure in one of the world’s most expensive cities doesn’t have to cost a fortune!