Welcome to part three of How to do Hong Kong on a Budget. Last week was all about where to find cheap food in Hong Kong. Part one was about how to sleep in Hong Kong without blowing your backpacker budget, and today is about all the things you can do in Hong Kong for little or no money!
Seeing the Sights of Hong Kong for Free!
When it came to things to do in Hong Kong on a backpacker budget, I was pleasantly surprised. There was lots for us to do each day, and we managed to see a lot in a short space of time.
Walk, walk, walk. Hong Kong is an exciting and vibrant treat for the eyes. The best way to see it is to just stroll around.
Once you step outside your door, you are sightseeing. The busy streets packed with people make Hong Kong a vibrant city, and the fabulous footwear worn by the young people is enough to keep you amused alone, and very jealous!
From the skyscrapers and bright lights, to the fascinating people watching and the shoe envy, taking a stroll around Hong Kong is the best sightseeing you can do.
Hong Kong is also a city of luxury. Just because you have the tiniest of budgets doesn’t mean you can’t take in a bit of the finer life for free. Everywhere you turn there are designer stores; from Channel, to Tiffany, to an endless supply of designer watch stores. In the evenings, we saw people queuing outside these designer stores on a few occasions. It was strange to think that the stores had such demand that there were queues. Maybe they were waiting to enter to buy an exclusive bag or something, but even still, it was pretty surreal.
There are some really nice hotels around too, but beware, they may have you longing to trade in your 6 foot room in one of the Nathan Road Mansions!
Hong Kong Skyline
One of Hong Kong’s claims to fame is its impressive skyline. When we were there, it was really overcast and smoggy, but we could still make out the impressive buildings, although we did have to squint a little! The area of Kowloon around the Avenue of the Stars is a great spot to see the skyline on the other side of Victoria Harbour, and likewise, from the other side, the view is also great.
At night, the buildings are lit up, and so they are much easier to see!
Avenue of the Stars
Located on the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade on Victoria Harbour is Hong Kong’s Avenue of the Stars. Very like the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, the Avenue of Stars celebrates the best of Asian film. It makes for a slightly strange tourist attraction, as the names are mostly unfamiliar, and seeing other people going crazy to get their photos taken next to them is a little funny.
It also gives a different perspective on the Hollywood version, in that going crazy over a tile in the floor doesn’t really make sense!
COST: Tsim Shu Tsui to Central- $5.30 (and if you want to go from Tsim Shu Tsui to Wanchai, it’s only $2.20 HK!)
This is an absolute gem of a tourist attraction for anyone visiting Hong Kong on a budget. For $5.30 HK you get to board a nice ferry and enjoy a short journey across the water to Hong Kong Central. I couldn’t get over the price of the ticket, by Hong Kong standards it is an absolute steal, and it seems like the kind of experience you could easily pay $20 AU or more for in another city.
The journey is very peaceful and offers great views of both skylines as you cruise along. When we were in Hong Kong, it was very overcast and smoggy, as you can see from the above image of the skyline during the day. When we were on the Star Ferry, we were able to get a better look at the skyline of Central than we could when we were standing on the Tsim Shu Tsui side.
If you are coming from Tsim Shu Tsui, when you get off the ferry the contrast of being in a more business-like district is refreshing. From there, you’re free to wander the sometimes very steep hills and dart in and out of tiny lane ways which house jam-packed market stalls.
We only did one return trip on the Star Ferry, but I would have liked to have done it again. I would say it is a must-do if you are visiting Hong Kong. The ferries have been making the journey since 1888!
Central Mid-Levels Escalators
This was something I was really excited to do before we got to Hong Kong. They are the longest outdoor covered escalators in the world, but I was excited to see the different slices of Hong Kong life, all while standing on a moving escalator!
Travelling up the escalators was really fun, I loved seeing all the different scenes and people of Hong Kong, and found it very hard not to hang over the side for ages, just staring down and around. At some points, the escalators travel right beside buidlings, so it is perfect for people watching, and slightly pervy!
As you rise, you go through different areas, including a lovely looking hipster area with tiny little bars facing the escalators. Unfortunately, they were out of our price range, but they looked really good.
As we got close to the top, a couple of the escalators were out of service. This made the last bit of the journey a little unpleasant, as we had to take the stairs.
We reached the top, but it wasn’t the actual top, so there were no views to be seen.
At that stage we were famished, and hot and tired, so we gave up on trying to find a way up, and headed back down, which was easier!
The Spectacle of Lights
This nightly light show and music sounded great, and we were pleased it was free. We were looking forward to seeing the Hong Kong skyline all lit up and showing off, hurried to finish our dinner on time and made our way to the waterfront. A huge crowd was gathered, which was impressive, as the Spectacle of Lights was on every night. But, once it began, it was a bit of a letdown. The buildings looked nice all lit up, but they were very spread out, so it was hard to see the full effect. I
found myself looking at a couple of buidlings that were doing a more interesting light display, rather than the whole picture. The music was a little bizarre, and with the crowds, it was kind of hard to see. That being said, I’m glad we got to see it, and that it was free. It is pretty cool of Hong Kong to do such a display every night.My favourite part was actually when it ended and the crowds thinned. The skyline was more obvious and I loved people watching.
That’s the end of my Hong Kong on a Budget series, I hope they come in useful if anyone is planning a trip to Hong Kong. I am also going to do a post on getting your China visa in Hong Kong, but next week I’ll give another country a turn!
You can check out the other parts here…