Enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea as well as a plethora of skyscrapers, Hong Kong is often known as one of the most expensive cities in the world for travelers. However, with a little knowledge as provided in this guide, you can save money on accommodation and still be in the thick of it all.
From budget hostels like the Check Inn or beautiful private bedrooms on Airbnb, all the way up to luxurious accommodations like the Conrad, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. This guide will help you save some money so you can spend it on the world-class food, nightlife, and shopping that Hong Kong has to offer.
One of the most expensive things about Hong Kong is accommodation and coming at a time when many others also arrive will put you in a tight spot. Due to the influx of Chinese tourists, it’s best to avoid the peak Chinese holidays of Golden week, which begin on both May 1st and October 1st. Chinese New Year is another holiday to avoid if you’re looking for cheaper hotel rates, and business conventions and fairs can also make things expensive, which usually run in spring and autumn. For specific business convention information, you’re best to research before you go. In terms of budget accommodation and hotel deals, the best time for visiting Hong Kong is in the summer and winter months.
There are many ways to get into the city center from Hong Kong’s International Airport with the most popular option being the Airport Express service. The Airport Express is the quickest way into the city, making only three stops along the way including Kowloon and Hong Kong. Though the Airport Express is fast (just 24 minutes to Hong Kong station), it isn’t that cheap at a cost of $13 one-way. Families can save money by buying an Airport Express group pass. The trains leave every 10 minutes between 5:54 A.M. and 12:45 A.M.
If you take the Airport Express but don’t want to be left at the LRT station, there is a free shuttle bus that takes you to various major hotels including Island Shangri-La, Pacific Place, Holiday Inn Express SOHO, and many more. These shuttle buses leave regularly, arriving and departing every 20 minutes. If your hotel is not on the list, the quickest option is to take a taxi.
Alternatively, several other stored-value tickets are available for non-Hong Kong residents who will be in Hong Kong fewer than 14 days. For about $40, the Airport Express Travel Pass is good for three days of unlimited travel and includes a round-trip ticket to and from the airport on the Airport Express Line. For $30, the card includes just one trip to or from the airport.
Another option is the airport bus, which is cheaper than the Airport Express. Bus service takes longer than the train but it also has more drop-off points, which means you might get closer to your hotel or other accommodation. Expect a one-hour trip to reach Hong Kong with a cost of $5. Children pay just half price.
Taxis reach Hong Kong but are typically the most expensive option with a cost of approximately $40. While this is the most direct route, it is not always the fastest due to traffic and other conditions.
Hong Kong has an extremely efficient public transit system that takes you practically anywhere you would want to go. Public transportation includes subways, buses, ferries, taxis and trams.
If you’re planning on visiting Hong Kong for a few days, consider purchasing an Octopus pass. This electronic card allows you to hop on and off all forms of public transportation without carrying loose change. The Octopus card can be bought at all subway stations as well as at the airport for a cost of approximately $20 (including a $6 refundable deposit). Children and seniors will pay less. Another option is the Tourist Day Pass, which allows one day of LRT travel within the city for just $7.
Hong Kong is a popular business city and there’s no shortage of business hotels. While choosing the location of a hotel will likely come down to where your meetings are taking place, staying anywhere downtown will put you close to all the attractions, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife you could want.
While there are no budget hotels in Hong Kong with business class, there are some mid-range options including 99 Bonham Strand Boutique Hotel Apartment, which has one of the best locations in the entire city as well as the Holiday Inn Express, which is located in the popular SOHO district of the city. Other options include Butterfly on Wellington and the Courtyard by Marriott Sha Tin.
For those looking for luxury, Hong Kong has plenty to offer. Consider L’hotel elan, which won a traveler’s choice award with TripAdvisor or Hotel Indigo, which has a rooftop bar with excellent views of the city. Another popular option is the W Hong Kong with its rooftop infinity pool or the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, which is located right in the business hub and has a very luxurious spa.
Hong Kong is a great city for using Airbnb to find budget accommodations. Private bedrooms can be found for as low as $60 near central Hong Kong and staying in the Yau Tsim Mong area can drop prices further. Due to the high volume of visitors Hong Kong receives throughout the year, many Airbnb listings have dozens of reviews, which help you make a quality choice. Considering Hong Kong hotels start at $90 and rise quickly, this is a great way to save some money.
For solo travelers, a hostel is often a better option than cheap Hong Kong hotels. If staying in a dorm-style room is an option, you can expect to pay around $30 and still be in a desirable location, although you might be bunking with as many as nine people or more. If you want a private room the price jumps to $60 or more. Popular hostels include the Yesinn Causeway Bay and Check Inn Hong Kong, which are both located close to the LRT.
Known by many as Asia’s World City, Hong Kong packs a serious punch of sights and activities. Although most people think of Hong Kong as a concrete jungle, it’s actually surrounded by beautiful mountains and rocky islands allowing you to explore a little bit of nature next to one of the world’s great cities.
Without a doubt, the most popular activity in the city is Victoria Peak -- the best place for witnessing the impressive skyline that Hong Kong is famous for. The panoramic view from the top is so iconic that missing it would be like missing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Plan to arrive an hour or so before sunset so that you can see the city at both day and night. Another iconic activity to do is the Star Ferry, which takes you from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. Although the ferry ride is just eight minutes, it’s a great way to see the harbor and is quite possibly the cheapest thing to do in the city at just 28 cents.
While looking at the vast city of Hong Kong from many angels is entertaining, getting educated on its past will make it come alive. For a look into its history, stop by the impressive Hong Kong Museum of History located in the Kowloon district and see why travelers rave about this fantastic museum.
With all of the activities keeping you active throughout your stay, you’re likely to work up an appetite and Hong Kong is a great place to try the local flavors. One of the most famous local eateries is Lin Heung Tea House, which serves authentic food in a decades-old parlor. While it can be busy, it’s worth the wait.
When you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle and begin craving some nature, head to Lantau Island where you’ll find a giant statue of Buddha and many short hiking trails. The gondola that brings you there offers impressive views of the sea, mountains, and airport, adding to the experience. If hiking isn’t your thing, consider finding a group of travelers and renting a junk (a motorized pleasure vessel) and exploring some of the 260 islands that makes up the archipelago.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.