More fun for less money
Despite being a popular travel destination and an expensive city, Hong Kong can work out cheap if the tour is planned well
Hong Kong is a popular tourist destination known for its buzzing cosmopolitan culture. From a stunning skyline of skyscrapers that dazzle every evening, to Disneyland where the fun never stops — the city has everything to draw visitors. Even though it is one of the world’s most expensive places to live in, a trip to Hong Kong can be fun and wholesome even under a budget. Here is a list of must-do things that will not burn a hole in your pocket:
Book Tickets in Advance
More often than not, flight tickets for an international trip are the biggest expense — if not planned and booked well ahead of time. The more you delay, the higher will be the ticket price. It is said that the best time to book flight tickets is approximately eight to six weeks in advance, so try and get it done as soon as you plan the trip. Also, flying out on a weekend is always expensive than, say, a Tuesday. So aim for weekdays for flying out and in. One more trick to score cheap tickets is to go for flights that fly late at night or early morning. If you save on flight, you have more to spend at the destination itself.
Finding Best Hotel Deals
After booking flight tickets, comes the task of booking a hotel that is good, comfortable and not expensive. Average rate of a mid-range hotel in Hong Kong is around INR 2,500 per day, but if you do some hard work and research, you can get a much better deal online. Look for package deals that offer free breakfast along with accommodation.
If you’re comfortable with hostels, you can book a good one for half the hotel budget.
Another thing to keep in mind is to book accommodation in an area that is close to the metro station and bus stops, because this way you save on taxi fare. The list of things to do in Hong Kong is long and it can cost you a lot in local transportation, but if you stay at a well connected area, it becomes easier and cheaper. Think Tsim Sha Tsui, or the Central District which are most popular amongst travellers.
Transport within the City
First of all, walk wherever you can. Hong Kong has a strong walking culture and it is fun to explore this colourful city on foot. When you need a transport, say no to taxis, and embrace the blessing that is MTR (Mass Transit Railway, or simply, the Hong Kong Metro). First of all, if your trip is longer than three days, getting an Octopus Card is the best thing. It will not only serve as your MTR card, your local bus card and your ferry card — but you can also shop at a variety of outlets using this card.
Eat Local and Fresh Food
This is something you should do even if you are not on a budget! Experiencing the delight of local food is one of the top things to do in Hong Kong — from fresh sea food to delicious international cuisines; everything is available on a budget. There is plenty of fresh and cheap food outlets in all tourist spots in the city, especially in the Kowloon area.
Vegetarian food is available as well, although with less options. From a plate of Biryani (yes, Indian food is available in Kowloon!) for INR 250 that two people can easily share, to Dim Sums, Dumplings and Cantonese food — you can get a full nutritious meal for as low as INR 375.
Prepare an Itinerary
It is best to prepare a rough itinerary of things you want to do. This will not only save time, but will also help you save money. Along with the most popular things to do in Hong Kong, like a visit to Ocean Park and a trip to Disneyland, pick attractions that are free and equally fun.
Add Avenue of the Stars to your list. Go see the magnificent view from The Peak for absolutely no entry fee. For transport, take a taxi because the tram is expensive.
For no money at all, witness the magical Symphony of Lights and if you love a little adventure, go on one of the many treks and easy to moderate trails in Hong Kong.
A balance of paid and free things will keep your budget under control.
Shop At Street Markets
Hong Kong is often called a shopping heaven, but to get good bargains stay away from the swanky malls and showrooms, and head to one of the many street markets.
From the Temple Street market to the Ladies’ Market, these shopping streets are vibrant and offer great deals on everything from current season fashion items to gadgets — but be ready to haggle and bargain.
(The writer is a travel blogger and author based in Dehradun.)