Hong Kong – budget split and saving tips

Usually people travel to HK for a stopover – just for a few days, – so generally it is not final destination. The city it is a huge Asian hub for many airlines, traveling via HK usually is the cheapest option.

talking about the budget, HK is definitely not Norway, neither it is South-East Asia

We spent 9 days in HK, more than average. While there is stuff to do for much longer than that I would still only stay for 5-7 days, especially in summer. October is still very hot and being all day outdoors makes you sweat a lot, hiking stops to be an option and running can only be possible at 6am and only if you are enough of a maniac. Also it is very hard to find a couch surfing host, so be prepared to pay for your bed.

Well if talking about the budget, HK is definitely not Norway, neither it is South-East Asia – our spending on food, -supermarkets/bakeries/street food stalls for lunch and breakfasts and cheap restaurants for dinner – was around $17 per day per person; lodging – $15, transport -$4.

Lodging.

according to CS Hong Kong group residents get so many requests every day that many are staying without the answer

The living space situation in Hong Kong is complex. HK is 4th most densely populated country, so space is scarce. Most live in 30-40-floor apartment buildings in 25-40sq. m. flats, rooms can easily be mistaken for cupboards (put in a 1.5 bed and the door will not open). We were lazy enough not to check that before we went, hoping that CS will work as usual. Well, it did not. 100 requests and zero replies later we started to get nervous. Indeed according to CS Hong Kong group residents get so many requests every day that many are staying without the answer. This happens when popularity of destination meets with small living space.

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Finally we were able to find only one host for 2 nights out of 9 – the guys offered a 6 sq. m. room with a bed for us. And it was huge luck!

All the rest days we spent in hostels’ private rooms with a shower. They usually can be found in old 17-25-floors buildings called “mansions”. The most affordable and famous is “Chung King Mansions”, owned by Indians – the whole building is full of curry rice, cheap hostels and drug-dealers 🔥. Many people are scared of such places but if you are in for the cheapest option, Chun King is your best bet. For the unbeatable price of $25-30 you get your own 6 sq. m. with a double bed, a shower (directly over 🚽), an air-con, perfect location in the city center and even wi-fi. Around you will find Rolex watches shops, fast food stalls, neon lights, crowds, bakeries, noodle bars, drug-dealers, buses – all the madness of Hong Kong is here! Lovely!

Our spending for 7 nights in two different hostels totals to $205 for a double private room with a shower and an air-con.

do not book hostel in advance, just drop by, check out several options and bargain the hell out of it: you will save min 10% vs official price and might even have a window in your room

TIP #1:
If you are sure of your negotiation skills – do not book in advance, just drop by, check out several options and bargain the hell out of it: you will save min 10% vs price on booking/hostelworld and might even have a window in your room. Prices start from 100HKD for a place in a dorm or 200HKD for a private double-room. You will get the best rate if pay by cash.

The only cheaper option is camping with a tent in the outskirts of the city – on hiking trails. You could do that for several days but only in Dec-Feb when the weather allows.

Transport.

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I love public transport in HK! Fast. Cheap. Clean. Clear. Air-cond. And Safe.

We mostly used MTR (metro). Good things about it:

  • very clear navigation in English, with color-coding, number-coding and fast transitions from line to line. Better than in Moscow and New York.
  • trains coming each 2-3 min
  • Stations are air-conditioned, very quiet and safe
  • MTR shops – you can buy a lunch, a bun, use ATM or whatever else in numerous nicely located and neat kiosks underground.
  • people respect your private space – feels like London almost – the culture being promoted by social ads and proper floor navigation

Overall we spent $4 per person per day incl. airport bus. It sums up to $73 per 9 days for two of us.

Get yourself an Octopus card already at the airport

TIP #2:
Get yourself an Octopus card already at the airport ($6.5 deposit for a card and $13 minimum fill) and go to the city by bus. While MTR is a great option in the city with rides costing $1-2, taking bus from the airport is 2.5 times cheaper still.

TIP #3:
Do not use The Peak tram, it costs $11.5 for a return ticket and the bus is only $2.5 or $0 if you want to hike a bit: it is just 1hr to get to the top.

TIP #4:
If you just need to cross the harbor – use the ferry, it’s nice view and costs two times less than MTR.

Cash.

Choose the right bank for free service in foreign ATMs.

Hong Kong is very cash oriented. If you buy mostly street food or your check is under $13 then usually the merchant accepts either cash or octopus card, no credit card.

Octopus card is an MTR transport card, which you can top up only with cash.
It covers buses, mini-buses, ferries and you can shop in small city shops, 7-eleven, McDonalds, Starbucks, municipal swimming and sport complex, etc. It is very convenient and much faster then using cash.

Since Octopus card can be purchased or refilled only by cash you have to change money to HKD.

I prefer doing it in ATMs since my bank does not charge me for withdrawal in foreign banks. We spent just $3 on a bank fee for $500 withdrawal.

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TIP #4:
If your bank charges you a fee then try to withdraw big amount at once.

I would calculate cash need as $20 (150HKD) a day per 1 person for a budget traveler. This would include only transport (via octopus card) and meals/snacks but not hostels which might accept only cash (add extra 100-150HKD in this case).

Internet.

It is actually a saving tip 😂 HK is WiFi friendly, so do not bother buying a SIM card. My favorite is a government network called HK WiFi gov which is everywhere near parks, city center, metro stations – it is fast and reliable. McDonald’s and Starbucks are every 300m on central streets. And since the heat will be killing your sweaty body you will like malls, McD and Starbucks not only for free WiFi but for an air-con as well 😝

 

stay tuned for next article about amazing free stuff to do in HK by Oleg
previous article on food planning is right here

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