If you are on a backpacker budget, Hong Kong can be a little off-putting due to its reputation as an expensive city. But, as I discovered, you can visit Hong Kong on a tight budget, and you can actually do a lot for a little. I thought I would put together some tips which helped me not to blow my budget, and allowed me to have a great time, without spending a fortune.
Last week was all about Hong Kong’s budget accommodation. This week, I’m talking about the very important topic of food; how to eat in Hong Kong without blowing your budget. Next week, I’ll share my favourite things to do in Hong Kong for free.
Cheap Eats in Hong Kong on a Backpacker Budget
For a food fanatic like me, eating is a pretty big part of travelling. So when we decided to go to Hong Kong, I was worried that its reputation for being an expensive city paired with my little budget would mean I wouldn’t be able to afford to eat anything, and that wouldn’t be much fun at all! Luckily, there were cheap food options on offer, and I was able to enjoy some delicious food.
Unfortunately, I was sick while we were in Hong Kong, so I missed out on trying a lot of great street food and hawker stalls. We mostly ate in places that were convenient, so this post reflects that. I long to go back to Hong Kong to do its food justice, but for now, this post is based on my experience of eating in Hong Kong while on a budget.
For breakfast in Hong Kong, and everywhere else, my first priority is always coffee. We spotted a McDonalds next to our hotel and so I was planning to I head straight there in the morning to get my caffeine fix along with some sort of muffin.
In an unexpected stroke of luck, we ended up getting a room that had a fridge in it. This was so great, and gave us so many more options for buying cheap food.
There was a supermarket across the road from us, called Marketplace, in iSquare just off Nathan Road. We went there to stock up on water, snacks, and breakfast items. We bought juice, yoghurt and pastries, as well as a box of instant coffee sachets. This saved us a lot of money, and it was really relaxing to be able to have breakfast in the room when we woke up.
We also got crackers and Laughing Cow cheese. We were able to bring these out with us to snack on during the day. The supermarket also sold some sandwiches, fruit and pizza breads which would be an inexpensive way of eating lunch.
For dinner, we found a few cheap places. There was Pasianos, a popular pizza chain. For $55 ($7.50 AU) you get a giant, delicious slice of pizza and a drink. I didn’t get any photos unfortunately, so you can check the out the above link.
One day we grabbed a McDonalds for lunch, as they do a deal for $21 ($2.85 AU) not bad! The Mc Cafes also do some really nice looking sandwiches like crayfish for reasonable prices.
Subway do a deal for $25 ($3.40 AU) for a 6 inch and a drink. It’s a handy way to fill up when you’re out on the move.
The night markets have lots of cheap, authentic food, and there are tiny little restaurants scattered around selling bowls of noodles for a few dollars. Unfortunately, as I was sick during our time in Hong Kong, I missed out on trying the best Hong Kong food, as I felt queasy and was drawn to more plain food.
The best meal we had was in a Japanese restaurant called Watami, opposite the iSquare. It wasn’t the cheapest option, but on our first night in Hong Kong, it was the cheapest out of the restaurants we checked out. We got pork rice with egg yolk $53 ($7.25 AU) and a pork noodle soup for $48 ($6.50 AU)
Hong Kong is also home to the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurant, a dim sum place. I was incredibly excited about going to Tim ho Wan, as the food sounded so good, and I found it funny that in searching for budget food, a Michelin star place was up there with the cheapest of them.
Unfortunately, we never made it there. On our last night, we headed that way, in the rain, but we walked for so long, soaking wet, only to find ourselves on the edge of what looked like a motorway, which, according to Google Maps, was only halfway there. We knew we would have a long wait once we finally got there so we gave up. So if you are visiting Hong Kong, make a visit to Tim ho Wan a priority!
Here are the addresses:
Tim Ho Wan – Mong Kok Flat 8, Ground Floor, Phase 2, Tsui Yuen Mansion, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street, Kowloon +852 2332 2896
Tim Ho Wan – Sham Shui Po +852 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po
Hong Kong on a budget
Tips for Eating Cheap!
- If possible, get a fridge. It will save you lots of money.
- Stock up on some snacks, like museli bars or crackers to carry around with you during the day. This will fight hunger cravings.
- Supermarkets are your friends!
- Go to the supermarket late at night and the pastries will be on offer. We got two delicious donuts for the price of one.
- Coffee addicts, Mc Donalds is the place to be. Think of your coffee as part of a meal, and get your fix along with a muffin in the morning, or with a sandwich for your lunch.
- If you manage to eat from supermarkets during the day, you may be able to work your budget around one decent meal at night. For example, our Japanese meal cost about $50 each, but the pastries and yoghurt in the morning, plus crackers and cheese for lunch, meant that our food budget was still really low by dinnertime, so we could afford to spend on a meal.
- The local markets also have cheap food, but I can’t speak to them as I didn’t experience this during my time in Hong Kong.
- Mc Donalds and Subway are not to be ignored. You know the food will taste good, and cheapness is guaranteed. Mc Donalds do a lunchtime deal where you can get a meal for $3 AU! We only discovered this on our last morning, otherwise we would have been tempted every day.
- Go to the Michelin starred dim sum places. If not for yourselves, do it for me please!!
*Sorry for the lack of decent photographs, I was sick when we were in Hong Kong so I didn’t think to take enough useful snaps!