In January 2018, we spent 10 days in Hong Kong, and even though it was freezing cold and we both caught the flu, we totally fell in love with this city! Hong Kong is an intensely dense city with ±6500 people per squared kilometer. Consequently, the area has the most skyscrapers in the world, which is such an amazing sight. We were absolutely amazed by the skyline of Hong Kong. Even though hotels can be a bit pricey, there are many free tourist attractions in Hong Kong. Read on to check out the best things to do in Hong Kong while traveling on a budget.
Avenue of Stars
The first place we visited was the Avenue of Stars and we were instantly impressed by the view! The view of Hong Kong Island is by far the most amazing skyline we’ve ever seen. We spent hours taking pictures from every angle here. We came back multiple times during our stay to watch the Hong Kong Island skyline (and to take the ferry to Hong Kong Island).
China Ferry Terminal
The China Ferry Terminal is where the ferries to China Mainland and Macau depart from. We had a bit of a hard time finding the right ‘Instagrammable’ gold-colored buildings. You have to go inside the terminal, get to the top floor and then find a way out. Once outside you will see the right buildings. Try to visit during sunset on a clear day as the disappearing sunlight reflects perfectly on the golden buildings.
Kowloon Park is located in the middle of Kowloon. We’ve never been to a city park with different kinds of parrots, toucans and flamingos, but Kowloon Park has it all! It’s fun to walk around the park and to visit the bird lake, the aviary and trying to talk with parrots (they sometimes talk back which is so funny!).
No entrance fee.
Garden Hill is one of our favorite places in Hong Kong. It’s a hill in the middle of Kowloon with incredible views over the city and Hong Kong’s skyline. The observation deck on top is easily reachable by stairs. Everyone up here is either flying their drone or taking pictures of each other or the view. So, come prepared with your camera gear and bring your drone if you have one because this is the perfect place to fly it!
Victoria Peak (hike)
The Victoria Peak is probably the most famous tourist attraction of Hong Kong. Despite being such a popular tourist attraction, the view from Victoria Peak is amazing. You can reach the Victoria Peak either by taking the Peak Tram or by hiking to it. We decided to hike as the line at the Peak Tram was very long and we don’t like waiting. At first, we just followed the path alongside the Peak Tram. When we couldn’t go any further we used a combination of Google Maps and some Hong Kong hiking blogs to reach the Peak. We walked in the wrong directions multiple times as we were also very busy with taking pictures and playing with the cats we saw along the way. We advise you to stick to one hiking trail and don’t get too distracted, like we did.
During the hike, you probably won’t see many people but at the Peak it can be very crowded. We visited at the end of the afternoon and it was packed. There are two buildings with shops and restaurants: the Peak Tower and the Peak Galleria. And of course, they have thought about entertainment as well: Madame Tussauds is located in the Peak Tower, in case you get tired of the view. Both the Peak Tower and the Peak Galleria have an observation platform. We didn’t visit the observation platform of the Peak Tower as it was packed with people. The observation platform of the Peak Galleria was very beautiful during sunset. We didn’t feel like hiking back down and as the line for the Peak Tram was still insanely long, we decided to take the bus instead (bring small coins as there’s no change). As the sun had set already, this was a beautiful ride down, looking out over a lit-up, nighttime Hong Kong.
Victoria Peak is open 24/7
Victoria Peak Tram runs daily between 07.00-00.00
Peak Tower daily: 08.00-23.00 (may differ between shops and restaurants)
Peak Galleria daily: 10.00-22.00 (may differ between shops and restaurants)
Entrance to Victoria Peak itself is free. If you’re going there by Peak Tram, you have to buy a ticket for the tram.
Nan Lian Garden
The Nan Lian Garden is a beautifully designed Chinese Garden. It’s a very tranquil and peaceful place and we loved walking around the Garden and taking pictures of all its beauty.
No entrance fee.
Choi Hung Estate
The pastel colored houses and the basketball field of Choi Hung Estate are a true hit on Instagram. Many people have a hard time finding the basketball field as it’s on top of a car park and therefore hidden from the eye. When we exited the metro, we walked past a sign with a map of the Estate, including the location of the basketball field. This link is the exact location of the basketball field at the Choi Hung Estate.
We visited the Choi Hung Estate on a Sunday afternoon and it was very crowded. It seemed like all the locals and tourists in Hong Kong we’re at the basketball field at the same time. Everyone was taking photos and there even were some girls that brought suitcases full of outfits. It was all very fun to watch. If you want to take photos without any crowds in it, try to visit the basketball field early in the morning and avoid the weekends.
Shek Kip Mei Estate
The Shek Kip Mei Estate is the only place we didn’t find on the Internet beforehand, but discovered it ourselves wandering around. The Estate has both older (lower) and newer (higher) buildings and all are painted in pastel colors. Especially the higher buildings are perfect for some nice perspective shots.
Tim Ho Wan
Eating at the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant is an absolute must do when you’re in Hong Kong. Tim Ho Wan, originated in Hong Kong, is a famous dim sum restaurant with 45 locations around the world, twelve of which are located in Hong Kong. Please note that only three of these twelve are rewarded a Michelin Star: Sham Shui Po, North Point and Tai Kok Tsui. We had dinner in the restaurant in Sham Shui Po. We were lucky there wasn’t a line upon arrival, which is something you should be prepared for as it can be very crowded.
It was our first time eating dim sum and it was actually very good. We can’t tell you whether it’s better than ordinary dim sum restaurants as we’ve never eaten dim sum since. What was even better than the food, was the bill. The total bill for the two of us was only HK$ 94, which is the equivalent of € 10! If you want to brag to your family and friends that you’ve eaten at a Michelin-star restaurant for only € 10, this is the place to go!
Eat an HK egg waffle
Especially in Mong Kok, egg waffles are sold at every street corner. There is often a huge line at many egg waffle shops. We had never seen those kinds of waffles before and, to be honest, we still haven’t tried them! We did go to am.pm, where they also sell egg waffles, but we went for the soufflé pancakes instead which is their signature dessert. It was very good and we definitely recommend dropping by here when you’re in the neighborhood!
We loved wandering around the streets in Mong Kok. One of the famous streets in Mong Kok is Fa Yuen Street, more commonly known as Sneaker Street, where over 50 stores sell sneakers. Unfortunately, they didn’t have our dream sneakers, but it was lots of fun checking out all the stores (yes, we’ve been to all of them). Besides shopping for sneakers, this area is a perfect place to shoot some of those awesome city shots. There are many colorful neon signs, so come at night and bring your camera!
Sino Centre is a shopping center along Nathan Road with many cool, small shops. The shopping center has four floors and every floor has its own theme. If you’re a fan of Japanese anime and manga this is the place to be (and we actually liked it better than the shopping centers in Japan). Many shops sell all kinds of fan goodies from your favorite Japanese series, from (stuffed) toys to merchandise to tableware, you can find it all in this place! There is also a floor solely dedicated to videogames. It’s definitely worth it to wander around the shopping center and feast your eyeballs about all the stuff they’re selling, and maybe buy one or two unique finds.
As we caught the flu, we had to slow things down a bit and couldn’t visit everything we wanted to. We still have the following places left on our list.
“Instagram Pier” at Kennedy Town
The Instagram Pier is actually a public cargo work area, but it was given this nickname due to the high amount of Instagrammers coming here to take photos.
Yick Fat Building
The Yick Fat Building must be Hong Kong’s most photographed building. Many photographers and Instagrammers come here daily to capture this massively dense building. You might recognize this place from the movie Transformers 4. It looks very impressive to us, we hope we can make it there next time!
Hong Kong Island
As we were staying in Kowloon, we were mostly exploring the streets over there. Of course, we’ve been to Hong Kong Island and visited some places like the streets with the street art (like Graham Street and the surrounding streets), but we didn’t explore this part of the city as much as we’d like to. Next time we have to make sure to spend more time on Hong Kong Island.
Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls in Tai Mo Shan County Park
We found the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls on Hongkonghikes.com and it looked pretty nice so we wanted to check it out. We weren’t able to do so because we didn’t feel well, but hopefully we can make it next time.
Tung Ping Chau
Tung Ping Chau is a beautiful island in Hong Kong. It is the easternmost island and it consists of shale rock. Its surrounded by turquoise waters and it looks like the perfect nature getaway from the city.
Have you ever been to Hong Kong or would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments below!
Be sure to check out more of our visual experiences on Instagram!