Trips to Hong Kong usually last more than 3 days. And people travelling there usually have more than $90 USD to spare between two people. But if you find yourself in this precarious situation like I did on the way back from Australia to the UK, here are a few things that my friend and I managed to do with little to no money to spare…
Wandering is the free-est of the free. You don’t get cheaper than free. Hong Kong, like any major city in the world, can be a bit daunting though – masses of people in a rush to be somewhere, humidity levels that leave the unaccustomed tourist unattractively dripping in sweat, and dodgy looking areas with even dodgier looking people. Two 19 year old British girls were clearly not the safest pairing of people to be wandering alone. But as long as you’re not stupid about it (for lack of a more sensitive term), everything generally is fine. Get a few touristy maps, ask the people in your accommodation where to avoid and where to go, and get up and do it.
The subway system in Hong Kong is easy to use and relatively cheap – as are the shaky little buses dotted around everywhere. Using these elevates wandering out of the aforementioned ‘free-est of the free’ status, but it’s still very, very cheap. Cheapest of the cheap.
If you’re going to do a boredom-eating-I-have-no-money tour of the area, some very basic knowledge of Cantonese or Mandarin would be helpful. Trying to figure out what each meal was by looking at a menu written in either of these languages proved
difficult impossible. We were definitely not anybodies favourite customers.
2) Hong Kong’s Symphony of Lights
This is biggest permanent light show in the entire world – and it is freeeee. Skyscrapers from each side of the Victoria Harbour are lit up with lights and lasers?! – accompanied by music. It happens very evening on both Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon and lasts about ten minutes. It’s easy to find, even easier to get to, and a good way to end a day in Hong Kong on a budget.
If you’re on the brink of zero money as my friend and I were, then the light show is worth a visit a couple of times. It’s not as exciting the second… or third time round, but it’s still good. And much better than staying in your hotel room watching awful television and eating questionable food from a
3) Po Lin Monastry
A trip to the Monastry isn’t free, but if you’re only in Hong Kong for a short amount of time, is definitely worth scraping your last few dollars together for.
The Monastry was originally just a small temple built by three buddhists in 1924, but has gradually expanded into one of the main tourist attractions in Hong Kong due to the world’s largest Big Buddah statue, as well as the beautiful views from the area. It’s a good way to spend a day seeing a different side to the busy city life, and experience the more natural and cultural side of Hong Kong.
To get here you have to take a 25 minute long cable car journey. This isn’t cheap, but the views are worth it. I did spot some people walking on a path below us, so I’m pretty sure you can actually walk to the Monastry. You’d have to be a brave person to do this. With lots of time on your hands. And water. It looked tough.
Hong Kong is a fantastic place to visit, and even though I probably didn’t get to do half as much as I would have liked to, I at least tried to make the most of a potentially dire situation and experienced a taste of the city that made me eager to come back for more.