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10 ways to do more in Hong Kong for less

Time Out Hong Kong
  • Written by Time Out Hong Kong
11 ways to do more in Hong Kong for less
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Hong Kong is filled with world-class restaurants, action-packed theme parks and one-of-a-kind souvenirs to buy. That doesn’t mean you have to stretch your budget to have an unforgettable experience, though. Considering that Hong Kong is one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, you might be surprised by how much you can see and do for free (or almost free) here. 

Tai Kwun

Soak up the atmosphere at Tai Kwun

The much-anticipated renovation of the Central Police Station, Former Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison has quickly become a favourite for both locals and tourists. The many bars and restaurants that spill out of Tai Kwun ’s charming colonial buildings into the old prison yard might be a bit pricey. You can, however, drink in the atmosphere (rather than an Aperol Spritz) before heading inside to take a free peek inside original jail cells at the prison museum. There are often free or low-cost art exhibitions happening at Tai Kwun, too

Fuk Wa Street

Hunt for a bargain in Sham Shui Po

Whether you’re on the hunt for bargain electronics or simply looking to sink your teeth into some of the best street food in Hong Kong, Sham Shui Po’s famous street markets have you covered. Check out Apliu Street for the latest gadgets and computer accessories; ‘Toy Street’ (Fuk Wa and Kweilin streets) for cheap toys and games; and the area around Fuk Wa and Pei Ho streets for excellent food at landmark restaurants like Yuen Fong Dumpling Store and Kung Wo Beancurd Factory . It’s up to you whether you want to track down deals or just take it all in and window-shop for free.

Tai Long Wan

Hike to Big Wave Bay Beach, Shek O

You can reach  Big Wave Bay Beach , only two ways: by boat or the recommended way, by foot. A beautiful, roughly hour-and-a-half hike along stage two of the MacLehose Trail leads to this tucked-away white-sand beach north of Sai Kung. The effort is worth it: once you’re there, you’ll be rewarded with what might be Hong Kong’s best stretch of sand. Make the most of this stunning location by grabbing some local food as the sun goes down, then take in the stars during your night hike back — just be sure to pack a torch.

The Wanch

Rock out at The Wanch

One of Hong Kong’s best live music venues, The Wanch hosts local bands and live events every night of the week. A cut above the neighbouring late-night haunts in Wan Chai’s backstreets, The Wanch offers free entry, but (of course) drinks are going to cost you. But the music more than justifies the price of a drink or two. So put on your best rock ‘n roll attire and drink it all in. You won’t regret it.

Tim Ho Wan

Try Michelin-starred dim sum at Tim Ho Wan

Hong Kong’s eclectic dining scene boasts some of the world’s most expensive restaurants and fanciest eateries. And then there’s Tim Ho Wan , one of the cheapest Michelin-starred establishments in the world. The low-key, canteen-style restaurant chain is famous for its char siu bao — baked barbecue pork buns — among its other dim sum classics. Crisp yet yielding, sweet yet savoury and, best of all, delicious yet thrifty, a basket of three will set you back HK$20.

Happy Valley Racecourse

Have a punt at Happy Valley Racecourse

Even on a budget, you can have a punt, if not a pint, at Happy Valley Racecourse . The stunning backdrop of lush green mountains and high-rise buildings makes this a unique experience everyone should try. Entry is HK$10, which is also the minimum bet amount. Every Wednesday during race season there’s a different themed night featuring live bands, street food and drinks. You’ll have to hope your horse comes in a winner if you want to splash out on all of that, though.

Take a ride on the Star Ferry

The Star Ferry has been carrying commuters and tourists across the harbour for over 100 years. Amazingly, it remains one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to go from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui. No wonder the iconic green and white boats carry over 50,000 passengers every day. With fares as low as HK$2.20, hop on for the best-value views of the harbour from a unique angle.

Dragon's Back

Hike the iconic Dragon's Back Hike

As Hong Kong hikes go, Dragon's Back Hike offers the best value in terms of the quality of the views to the amount of effort required. Take the number 9 bus from Shau Kei Wan to Shek O Road and get off at To Tei Wan bus stop. Follow the signs along the gentle climbs as you enjoy the vistas over the eastern shores of Hong Kong Island. End your hike with a picnic at Big Wave Bay then hop on the number 9 again to get back to MTR Shau Kei Wan station. Total expenditure: 500 calories and HK$14.4 for the bus fares.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Find inner peace at Wong Tai Sin Temple

Escape to the tranquillity of this beautiful temple, tucked away in the shadow of Lion Rock in Kowloon. A place of worship for three religions — Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism — Wong Tai Sin Temple  commemorates the fourth-century monk of the same name who was later deified. He’s also known as the Great Immortal Wong, which is perhaps the best name given to anyone or anything, ever. The temple is famous for giving worshippers exactly what they pray for and a visit costs no more than a voluntary donation. A small price to pay for spiritual balance and inner harmony.

Kam Wah Cafe

Indulge your sweet tooth at Kam Wah Cafe

Head to Kam Wah Cafe in Mong Kok for a taste of classic Hong Kong bakery favourites. Pineapple buns — named for their resemblance to the tropical fruit, not the use of pineapple as an ingredient — are a real indulgence, crisscrossed on top and stuffed with a generous slab of butter. The flaky, savoury-sweet egg tarts are another local marvel. Gulp down a cup of hot milk tea and some pastry for no more than HK$30.

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