Hong Kong on a Budget

Hong Kong Cash

I spent a lot of time researching how to travel to Hong Kong on a budget. I found sites talking about food & places to eat, but very little information on the general day to day costs of the city. So after spending 8 days there last week over Chinese New Year, I thought I would jot down some of the information I gleamed during my stay. I stayed in a hostel and flew Scoot to also keep costs down. I will write about all that in an upcoming post. This post will focus purely on saving money & still seeing all the main highlights & attractions of the city. I will be quoting figures in Hong Kong Dollars.

Get Connected

You are going to need to stay connected whilst around Hong Kong, and instead of spending more money at a 7eleven, rather get yourself an i-Sim, free 7 day simcard. It can be used for Calls, Texts along with the more important data in Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan. Initially you only get 10mb, but once you have installed the i-sim app be sure to click the advertising with the little green i-sim logo and each time you will be credited with more data. I maxed it out at 160mb each day and never had any issues with coverage. The only catch was that when I installed the app, it was entirely in Cantonese until the sim card had been activated and setup. That’s the other odd part, you need to enable roaming & enter a specific APN and tell the app the sim card number, so its a little tough to get up and running… but once it is, its super handy and free! If I had known about it sooner I would have picked it up at the Airport Terminal 1, Airport Reservation Pickup Point… but later found it at the Metropark Hotel in Causeway bay. Check out their distribution list for more.

bus tram hong kong

The Octopus Card

Its like an all in one Transport payment card. You just tap it on the Trains, Buses, Trams and Ferries and all is sorted. You can add credit at 7eleven and loads of other places around Hong Kong. You can even pay for goods at 7eleven & many other shops with the Octopus Card. Its a $150 up front cost, $50 Deposit & $100 credit to spend. If you leave Hong Kong within 90days you will be charged $9 for the pleasure of using the card, but any money still on the card will be refunded. Basically just get one, its easier than messing around with coins the whole time and its definitely going to make getting off a busy bus just so much easier.

Pick your Transport

Surprisingly the MTR is probably the most expensive way to get around Hong Kong. Generally $5 for a short trip and easily in the $10 upwards zone for any trip crossing the Harbour. We used it only twice in our 8 days, once to Lantau island, and once for a quick trip from Mongkok to Tsim Sha Tsui to get back to the Ferry Terminal. The trip to Lantau island was $21.90 so it can add up pretty quick. The trick is to use the Tram (ding dings), buses and the ferries more often.

The Tram sets you back a small $2.30 for any distance trip, you can literally go from one side of the Hong Kong island to the other for just $2.30.

The cheapest way across the Harbour has to be the Star Ferry service which varies depending on if you choose Upper or Lower Deck. The upper deck was about $3.40 and lower just $2.50, but it changes depending on the time of day.

The buses are also great! Just pull up Google map, and ask it to route you, and it will tell you exactly which bus to catch. Its that easy. We caught a bus from Tsim Sha Tsui all the way to the Kowloon Walled City Park for only $5, then a bus back to Mongkok for another $5.

Hong Kong Peak

The Big Attractions

Now obviously avoiding the main tourist attractions also makes a massive difference, but you don’t want to miss the Peak or going to see the Big Buddha.

Well instead of paying the $83 dollars for the Peak Tram & access to the Sky Terrace we took the 15B bus from Causeway Bay right to the Peak for only $11.70 each way. A saving of $60. Sure we did not go all the way up the Sky Terrace, but thoroughly enjoyed exploring the peak along the walk way the routes right around the peak itself. It has some stunning view of the city, without so much fighting with the crowds.

To access the Big Buddha you have a few options too. Most will take the Ngong Ping 360 cable way for $185 return. We caught Bus 23 from the Cableway bus station for $17.20 which dropped us off right at the bottom of the Big Buddha. We may  have missed the cableway views, but certainly enjoyed the drive past the beaches on the south side of Lantau island. It also allowed us to explore more of the island by the jumping on bus 21 down to Tai O for $6.60 and then instead of catching the train back to Hong Kong island we bused to Mui Wo for $11 and caught a ferry back for $15. So the entire day on Lantau island with 5 different trips cost $71.70, that’s Train, 3 Buses and a Ferry. So a saving of $157.10

Daily Breakdown

So I am pretty OCD about tracking every little cost on my trips.. for those interested here is my exact daily spend for each day. Yes I know you will judge me on having McDonalds a few times. Honestly though I haven’t had it in months and have sorta been craving McDs… but the first morning it was the only thing we could find that was open. :p

07/02/2016 — HKD1 = R2.02 | HKD1 = 0.13 USD
150 – Octopus Cards (-41 refund later)
27.50 – McD breaky
25 – sugar cane juice
40 – lunch
26 – dumpling dinner
5.50 – skittles

08/02/2016 – Mid-level Escalator and SOHO
2.30 – Tram
40 – Pizza slice and Drink
3.50 – Ferry to Tsim
31 – Snacks
2.50 – Ferry to Central
2.30 – Tram to Causeway Bay
25 – McD Dinner

09/02/2016 – Victoria Peak
23 – Lunch from Supermarket
11.70 – Bus 15B from Causeway to Peak
49.50 – ice creams (jnsane – expected them to be $18)
11.70 – Bus to Causeway from Peak
20 – Dinner (cup noodles, mixed with left over lunch)
10.50 – beeer

10/02/2016 – Kowloon Walled City & Mongkok
2.30 – Tram
2.30 – Ferry
28 – Starbucks Coffee
5 – Bus to Kowloon
50 – Roast Pork & Rice Lunch with Coke
5 – Bus to Mong Kok
15 – Monkey (souvenir)
18 – Hong Kong Tshirt
10 – Snacks
9 – Beer
50 – Credit onto Octopus Card

11/02/2016 – Big Buddha and Tai O
7.50 – Muffins
21.90 – Train
17.20 – Bus 23
24 – Lunch
18 – Postcards
100 – onto octopus card
6.60 – to Tai O
12 – Nestea
10 – Doughnut
11 – Bus to Mui Wo
15 – Ferry to Central
79 – Clayhotpot & Drink

60 – Dim Sum
25 – McDs
32 – 7eleven snacks
60 – Dinner Delicious Catering & Drink
6 – Doughnut
20 – Beer and Purple Potato Chips

2.30 & 13.20 – Tram & Cheung Chau Island Ferry
12 – Mango Moochi
9 – Deep Fried Ice Cream
9 – Twin Watermelon IceCream
34.50 – Pork Noodles and Cola
10 – Big Mango Moochi
13.20 – Ferry to HK island
2.30 – Tram
21 – Beer & Cup Noodles

50 – Breakfast & Milk Tea
10 – Lyci Red Pockets (souvenir)
11.10 – 3x Int Stamps (to send postards)
5.50 – Sugar Doughnut
8.70 – Ice Teas
26.50 – McDs Lunch
62 – Valentines Beer at Royals Pub
14 – 2x Porcelain Bowls (souvenir)

31 – Bus to Airport from Causeway Bay
28.50 – McDs Breaky @ Airport (only thing open at 5:30am)

Well there you have it. Hope my tips & all this info is helpful 🙂 Enjoy your trip to Hong Kong.

1 Comment

  1. Hein says:

    Nice Chris! I’ll be sure to take your blog along as travel guide if/when we do decide to venture East!

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