Hong Kong is an intriguing blend of eastern roots and British colonialism and a city that's both exciting and easy to explore, whether for a brief stopover or a longer stay or a on your round the world trip. From Chinese street food to towering financial skyscrapers and views over the bay, you'll find plenty to keep you busy here!
If you have time to spend in Hong Kong but not much cash, here’s how to see some of Hong Kong’s highlights on a budget with our free things to do in Hong Kong...
In colonial times, the British elite built grand villas on Victoria Peak to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and panoramic views. They also built the tram to transport them in comfort between their mountain top homes and the city below.
These days, most of Victoria Peak is public parkland and is open for all to enjoy with a web of footpaths and trails crisscrossing the Peak. One of the most popular walks is the Peak Circuit Trail which begins at the Peak Tower where the tram drops you off and takes you through lush forest, which soon gives way to reveal stunning views right across the city and Victoria Harbour. The walk takes no more than an hour and is well sign posted.
The tram costs around HK$20 each way (£2) and takes just over 10 minutes from downtown Hong Kong. If you’re feeling really energetic you can always hike to the top and back down again for free, although the steep climb combined with the heat and humidity makes the tram a very tempting (and cheap!) alternative.
Named the "World's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show" by the Guinness Book of World Records, Hong Kong's Symphony of lights is a spectacular show involving searchlights, lasers and pyrotechnics, accompanied by classical music and featuring 44 buildings on both sides of the harbour.
One of the best spots from which to enjoy the show is the ‘Avenue of Stars’ on the Tsim Sha Tsui's Waterfront on Kowloon. This pedestrian promenade stretches from the Star Ferry port along the Sha Tsui and Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront. It’s a great place to go for a stroll at any time of day but especially so at night, when the lights of Hong Kong Island’s skyscrapers shimmer across the water.
The Symphony of Lights lasts for about 14 minutes and takes place every evening at 8pm.
For one of the most densely populated places on the planet, Hong Kong has a pleasantly surprising amount of green space. Take sanctuary from the chaotic city in one of the city’s sprawling parks.
Formerly the site of a British Army barracks, Kowloon Park encompasses a green space of around 33 acres. On Sundays, be sure to check out the Kung Fu Corner, where between 1430 & 1630 you can see free traditional kung fu demonstrations.
Hong Kong Park, close to Admiralty Station, is a tranquil haven of parkland, lakes and waterfalls. It also features a huge walk through aviary and the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware.
Don’t miss a trip across the bay on a famous Star Ferry – although it’s not technically free (it costs about 30p). This short passenger ferry trip lasts only 7-8 minutes but gives you great photo opportunities of the Hong Kong skyline whilst you ply across the waterway amongst the other ships and ferries.
If you take the crossing just before 8pm, you’ll get a mid-harbour view of the Symphony of Lights show too, as the ferry lingers a little longer in the harbour for you to take some photos!
The Cultural Kaleidoscope is an innovative program offered by the Hong Kong tourism board which gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about Hong Kong’s unique culture and meet the locals. The best part is that most of the activities offered are completely free!
Learn how to get your home life in perfect balance with a free Feng Shui class or balance your body and mind with a free tai chi class. Or for something completely different, try a Chinese Tea Appreciation Course or a Cantonese Opera Appreciation Class.
You need to register in advance for any of these activities (many of which are free!) so head to Discover Hong Kong
"Spend the day on Lamma Island, south West of Hong Kong Island. It has plenty of pretty beaches and you can walk from a port on on side to one on the opposite side in a couple of hours."
"I would definitely suggest you eat at Tim Ho Wan – not exactly free but it’s the world's cheapest Michelin starred restaurant! Queues can be 2-3 hours but it’s well worth it. Baskets of prawn dumplings and pork buns cost a mere 80p!"
"If like me you love the view from high up – go up to the observation deck in the Bank of China Tower (the amazing triangle-faceted glass tower). It’s free and you'll get great views over the harbour."
"Take the tram up to Victoria peak at night for the best view of Hong Kong and to see all the buildings lighting up."
"Visit the Buddhist Monastery on Lantau Island where there is a 100ft tall Buddha Statue."
"You've got to jump on the Star Ferry between HKI and Kowloon! 10 minute spectacular harbour cruise for a few pence. I'd also explore the Hong Kong Trail - the whole trail is about 30 mile long and meanders West to East in central Hong Kong Island. Though there are lots of opportunities to hop off the trail and jump in a cab to return to civilisation, there are also plenty of places where if you didn’t know better, you would bet your life savings that you weren’t in the middle of the most densely populated place on earth. If you do the walk, the vast graveyards near Aberdeen are also a surprise in a place where land is at such a premium. Try the street escalators on Hong Kong Island – go to Elgin Street or Shelley Street. There are lots of trendy bars and café’s dotted about in the area too."
If you’re interested in a Hong Kong trip or holiday, we can tailor-make something to suit your style and budget – ask us for advice! Call us today or request a quote by email.