DIY sightseeing tour for less than 25 DOLLAR - food & transport included!
A day out exploring and sightseeing in Hong Kong doesn't need to cost you an arm and a leg. If you plan smart, use local transportation and eat where the locals eat you'll be able to even afford some must-do attractions such as a ride with the PEAK TRAM. See below our tested and approved itinerary for a full day out exploring the sights of Hong Kong on a set budget of 25 USD per person including transport & food! You'll be amazed of what you get for your money!!!
If your Hotel doesn’t offer breakfast don’t worry! Hong Kong's Bakeries got you covered. Our Hotel was in Mong Kok and there were at least 5 bakeries within a 50-meter radius from our hotel. The offer everything from savoury sausage and egg buns to deliciously sweet cakes and chocolate buns. In addition there was a Mc Donalds, a Starbucks and several 7-11 stores just a few steps away which all would have offered something to please your breakfast cravings without spending a fortune. But even if you are not living somewhere with a shop or bakery close by you will usually find one in the bigger stations so let’s get going!
RIDING THE METRO
If you are living too far to walk to the sights of Hong Kong than the Metro is your perfect alternative. It is fast, cheap and clean (however also terribly crowed at rush hour so try to avoid those peak periods).
On the first day we went to an information desk at the station and bought an Octopus Card. This is basically a pre-paid electronic travel card similar to the Oyster card in London, if you are familiar with these. You pay an initial 150 HKD which includes a deposit of 50 HKD and 100 HKD to be used for your metro journeys. You'll get back whatever is left on your card when you return it. Together with the deposit minus a 9 HKD handling fee.
The whole process was super quick and within minutes we were proud owners of a Hong Kong Octopus Card. Also turns out that you can use your precious Octopus card not only for public transport but also in most supermarkets and snack shops. So whenever you see the yellow card reader you can just use your Octopus Card for paying. I loved it!
Once we had our Octopus card we were good to go. We went from Jordan Station to Central Station. Here you take Exit J which leads you to a little park. Cross the park and follow the signs for Peak Tram. You have to walk up a little steep hill but only for a few minutes until you see the Peak Tram Station.
RIDING THE PEAK TRAM
Now that is something you simply HAVE TO DO when you are in Hong Kong and I promise it will be an unforgettable experienced! The Peak Tram is one of the oldest funicular railways in the world. Sometimes it's so steep that you cannot imagine the tram going any further. But it does and rises to 396 meters above sea level.
Try to be at the Peak Tram Station as early as possible. Lines can get really long the later it gets and you don’t want to waste your time just waiting around until it is your turn. You have the option buying the sky pass including access to the sky terrace 428 for 88 HKD or just a return ticket for 45 HKD. Of course you can also use your Octopus card. The single journey up the hill will cost you 32 HKD and the second ride down only 13 HKD.
SAVER TIP: Go for the ticket only option without the sky terrace. There are so many viewpoints at the peak as well as a second terrace at the shopping mall that offer quiet similar views FOR FREE.
There are also a lot of restaurants and cafes which offer spectacular views. So you might spend your money on that as well. We decided to use the saved cash to get ourselves a coffee at Pacific Coffee for 10 HKD while watching the skyline from the comfort of our seats (as it was pouring outside this was definitely the best choice for us).
THINGS TO DO AT THE PEAK
You can easily spend hours and splash your cash at peak markets or the big adjacent mall with tons of shops and restaurants. You can also visit one of the attractions up on the hill such as Madame Tussauds or the mentioned Sky Terrace, offering 360 degree panoramic views of Hong Kong. As we were on a tight budget neither dining in one of the fancy restaurants nor a long shopping trip was on the agenda. Instead we got a quick bite at Mc Donalds (btw also offering panoramic views from their terrace!) and also explored the views from the mall. It's built behind the sky terrace 428 however still offering spectacular views.
After that we went for a 1 hour scenic walk along the Hong Kong Trail which circles the Peak offering you breath-taking views over Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour, and the outlying islands. All FOR FREE and with no others obstructing your views and jumping in your way when you want to take a picture. If the weather had been nicer I recommend grabbing some snacks from the 7-11 shop at the peak and having a little picnic along the way while enjoying the view!
For more suggestions on the various trails and things to do at Victoria Peak drop by at the cute, vintage-style Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre which is located just outside the mall in a converted 49 year old tramcar from the 50s. After having spent quiet some time here at Victoria Peak it was time for us the head back down.
SCENIC STAR FERRY BOAT RIDE
Once back down we had a little walk around Hong Kong Island before heading back to the pier where we boarded the next ferry ride back to Tsim Sha Tsui. (Just follow the signs to STAR FERRY PIER).
Of course you can pay with your Octopus card again and the ride only costs you – I couldn’t believe it – 2.5 HKD!! Thus making it probably the cheapest scenic boat ride in the world! such a bargain! 🙂
Tip: Pay attention to get your ticket for the upper deck from where you'll have a fantastic view of the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island, absolutely stunning.
As we were hungry after all the walking we were up for some food. Your best chance for grabbing a cheap but good bite is by heading into one of the many restaurants in Mong Kok and Kowloon, sampling the food from one of the many street food stalls (I loved the steamed buns and the egg waffles!!!). Or going to the famous Temple Street Night market, which is what we did. While sitting on little plastic chairs we feasted on Singapore noodles, fried rice and steamed vegetables all for around 60 HKD p.P. – also a great spot for people watching as well as for buying some souvenirs.
SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS
After dinner we headed back to Tsim Sha Tsui to secure our spot at the promenade to watch the Symphony of Lights. Every day at 8pm Hong Kong puts up a FREE 15 minute Laser Show accompanied by music which can be best enjoyed from this promenade (or one of the boats however that comes with a heafty price tag).
We however think that the view is as good on the promenade as on the boats. However try to be there as early as possible if you want to get a front row seat. We arrived just 5 minutes before 8pm but luckily Chinese people are small and we are tall so we still had a fantastic view of the show. 🙂
Don’t expect fireworks or all buildings to suddenly light up at the same time. It’s more one building at a time in accordance with the music (so make sure you stand somewhere where you can hear the music properly). However I still think that it was magical!
With the perfect ending to our day we headed back to the hotel having spend no even 175 HKD, or better said NO MORE than 25 Dollar! 🙂