6 Hacks for a Budget-Friendly Hong Kong Trip

There are *great* ways to afford one of the world's most expensive cities.
by | May 10, 2016

The sky-high cost of living in Hong Kong can hurt any traveler’s plan to visit Asia’s World City, but keeping in mind a few hacks can make the trip lighter on the budget!

Prepare an itinerary

Having an itinerary will help you make the most of your travel funds. Save travel time and commuting expenses by organizing walking tours and grouping destinations by proximity.

Plan your trip with the help of online guides, Discover Hong Kong, and government-powered apps like MTR Mobile, HKe Transport, Enjoy Hiking, and My Observatory.

Take the bus from the airport

With comfortable seats and express service, the Airport Express charges a premium fare of up to HKD100. Save more than half of those rates by taking the Citybus A21 to Kowloon (HKD33) or A11 to Hong Kong Island (HKD40).

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Get an Octopus card

… only if your itinerary suggests that you should, as an on-loan card will require a cash out of HKD150 at the beginning of your tour. Using an Octopus card has its benefits:

  • The card has an initial value of HKD100 and can be used in all public transport, as well as in vending machines, restaurants, convenience stores, and a lot more.
  • No need to rummage your bag for coins, especially when riding buses and trams (where no change will be given). Just tap your card on the reader!
  • Get discounted fares with your Octopus card at the MTR. For example, a short ride from Mong Kok to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) will cost you HKD5.20 (regular fare = HKD5.50), and a longer trip from TST to Disneyland Resort is only HKD19.80 (regular fare = HKD22.50).

Upon return of the card, any unused balance plus HKD50 will be returned to you. Do note too that if you return the card within 90 days of issue, you need to pay HKD9 as refund handling fee.

Take alternatives to the MTR

The cheapest MTR fare is HKD4.40, but you can save some more $ with the following tips:

  • Walk! With major roads like Nathan, Salisbury, and Canton as your anchors, all you need to have are a map and a trusty pair of shoes when exploring Kowloon.
  • Board the world-famous Star Ferry and spend only HKD2.50 on weekdays or HKD3.40 on weekends and holidays on Central/TST or Wan Chai/TST trips.
  • Take the Hong Kong Tram (HKD2.30 flat rate). It runs from west to east of Hong Kong Island, making it easier to find your way and do some sightseeing atop the double-decker ding ding around Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and North Point.

Save on attractions


Visit two of the top attractions in Hong Kong without leaving a dent on your trip budget:

Victoria Peak
  • An alternative to the busy Peak Tram (HKD40 round-trip) is taking Bus 15 (HKD 9.80 one-way) from the Exchange Square Terminus, across from Central Station. The uphill road leading to The Peak is long and winding, but interesting views of the Island await.
  • The Peak Galleria has a free observatory just outside the Trick Eye Museum. It is a few levels below the Sky Terrace (HKD40; HKD 83 with The Peak Tram package), but it offers the same, breathtaking sight of the harbor and Hong Kong’s famous skyline.
Ngong Ping Village
  • Aside from the cable car (HKD185 round-trip on standard cabin), another way to get to Ngong Ping is through the New Lantao Bus 23 (HKD17.20 on weekdays, HKD27 on weekends, one-way) from the Tung Chung Town Centre.
  • The village and other attractions like Po Lin Monastery, Big Buddha, and the Wisdom Path are free admission.

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Be on the lookout for discounts

A lot of paid attractions in Hong Kong offer admission price drop to attract more visitors. Check the free Hong Kong Map in various languages for coupons, visit the attractions’ websites for online ticketing exclusives, or buy discounted tickets from deal sites like Klook.com.

For restaurant discounts, buy vouchers at Groupon.hk or download coupons for free at OpenRice.com.

It goes without saying that one should not leave Hong Kong without trying out the street fare; haggling in markets; and visiting free attractions like parks, gardens, and temples—activities that will not hurt your wallet any further.

All fares indicated are adult fares. Rates are accurate as of writing. Got more tips? Post them in the comments!

Mina is a marketing practitioner by day, writer by night, and graduate student on weekends. Her travel goals include visiting a territory in each time zone and stopping by the tallest observatory in every city she is in.

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