We all know Hong Kong isn’t the cheapest city to live in. Whether you were born here or moved to the city as an expat, true Hongkongers are always on the lookout for fun things to do without spending a fortune. To help you achieve that aim, we’ve gone around town and uncovered the best wallet-friendly activities in the city. From the best cheap eats and free shows to the best spots for water sports, you don’t have to drop more than $100 to enjoy these awesome affairs.
And if you’re literally down to your last few dollars, check out all the free things to do in Hong Kong that exist for further inspiration.
Cheap things to do in Hong Kong
Get your culture fix for the low, low price of $10. While some museums in Hong Kong are free to the public like the Hong Kong Space Museum and Hong Kong Heritage Museum, most museums require a small payment to gain entry. Impress your next date by expanding your knowledge on local history, fine arts and astronomy. And it’s not all dry information at these museums. There are plenty of fun interactive exhibitions on display and top quality exhibitions.
Even if you’ve only got $10 in your pocket you can still pop along to Happy Valley Racecourse for the regular Wednesday night shindig. With monthly-themes ranging from Bollywood to Christmas celebrations, the weekly horse racing nights promise plenty of action and excitement on and off the track. And who knows, you might win big with a lucky bet. Not that we endorse gambling, of course.
We all joke about it but there’s no cheaper place on a Friday night at 2am than the notorious Club 7-Eleven. The popular convenience store is the only joint in LKF where you’ll find booze for less than $20 and without the need to pay an extra service charge. Granted, there’s no seating or fancy mining tunnel decor (thanks Mine), but you can still have a good time and get sloshed in LFK. Plus, think of all the snacks available to satisfy those post-drink munchies.
See Hong Kong Island via the ding ding
Why buy tickets for a Big Bus tour when you can easily go on a ding-ding and enjoy a trip along Hong Kong Island’s northern shore for only $2.4? Hong Kong’s trams, or ding-dings, as they’re more commonly known, are one of the cities’ oldest modes of transportation, and the tracks pass many city icons including the historic Western Market, the skyscrapers of Central, Wan Chai’s remaining pawn shops, Victoria Park, and the Happy Valley Cemetery and racecourse if you take the Happy Valley loop.
Hong Kong is a shopaholic’s paradise where you can find cheapest bargains and amazing knock-offs that can easily fool anyone for the real deal. If you’re in need of some retail therapy without blowing the bank, hit up the city’s famous shopping streets including the Mong Kok Ladies' Market for the best in fake brand name fashion items, Golden Computer Arcade in Sham Shui Po for deals on computer parts and accessories, Oriental 188 Shopping Centre to find the best prices for the latest console games and Temple Street Market for some eclectic bric-a-brac.
Tuck in at a dai pai dong
Dai pai dongs are pretty much synonymous with good cheap eats in Hong Kong. Fill up on congee, noodles, rice dishes and sweet soups at one of the city’s iconic – and sadly dwindling in number – open air food stalls without forking out more than about $50. Loved despite their rundown, untidy atmosphere and lack of air conditioning, dai pai dongs provide a rare chance to experience a slice of old Hong Kong.
Break a sweat on two wheels while riding through some of the most picturesque scenery that Hong Kong has to offer. The New Territories is our go-to area for the best cycling routes in the city, in particular the track between Sha Tin and Tai Po, which takes you through the Hong Kong Science Park, the Pak Shek Kok Promenade as well as the Tolo cycling track. All-day bike rental only costs around $30 during the week and hovers around $80-$100 during weekends depending on how successful you are at sweet talking the rental owners.
Thanks to the Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Hongkongers can makes waves out on the sea and enjoy watersports without spending over $30. Pop over to any one of these water centres: Chong Hing Water Sports Centre and Wong Shek Centre in Sai Kung, Stanley Main Beach, St Stephen’s Beach and Tai Mei Tuk, and you can go kayaking, sailing and windsurfing for as low as $16-per-hour on a weekday, and only $27 per hour for more than three-hour rentals. If you’re dying to hit the water, this is the way to go!
Nom on egg sandwiches
Hong Kong’s equivalent of a greasy spoon café, cha chaan tengs are some of the best places to eat without blowing the bank. Get stuffed on fluffy egg sandwiches, instant macaroni with ham, and pork chop buns. Don’t forget to order a Hong Kong-style milk tea or a yeunyeung (tea and coffee mix) and an egg tart fresh out of the oven to complete the meal.
Instead of splurging on the latest console game, save some moolah by going retro-gaming. There’s still a handful of old-school game arcades dotted around the city, mostly around Mong Kok. Game Centre in Central is a particular favourite of ours, though. Slot in a $5 coin and start battling with pals on Street Fighter II or strike up a beat on Taiko Drum Master. It’s a super budget-friendly way to spend a couple of hours kicking virtual butt.
Cheap things to do in Hong Kong
Hong Kong has no shortage of amazing scenic hiking trails just a short distance from areas like Central and Tai Po, all varying in difficulty but offering jaw-dropping views of the city. Dragon’s Back is a gentle people’s choice which overlooks Shek O and Big Wave Bay, while Lantau Island’s Sunset Peak (pictured) offers probably the best views come sundown. Though the hikes are free, the MTR to Dragon’s Back costs around $20 for a return trip (Island Line to Shau Kei Wan) and another $7 for the bus towards the starting point.
Down to your last cents and unable to afford any more omakase? Or just undecided on where to get lunch? Giant food supermarkets like Great Food Hall and CitySuper can tide you over. These food halls often offer plenty of samples to promote the latest food products ranging from bratwurst straight from Germany to the newest detox tea. It won’t fill you up but you’ll certainly get to nom on free food and not walk out with an empty stomach.
Though high rents are forcing many bookstores to close, there are still some places you can easily while away the hours browsing literature. Eslite Bookstore at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay spans three floors with a Caffe Habitu right next door. Pick up the latest tearjerker or the must-read biography of the season, flip through gossip magazines or simply discover the odd joke book or two. But we do encourage people to take home something and support the industry.
Back in 2015 PMQ ran an experimental art project and pop-up series titled Play Me, I’m Yours to encourage members of the public to join in and play on 16 street pianos and share their happiness amongst strangers. Though the project has now finished, one beautifully decorated piano remains. It can be found tucked away in a corner on the fourth floor and the public is free to jam on the keys. Whether to show off your badass piano skills or simply Chopsticks, take the opportunity to jam and brighten the mood.
There’s almost too much to see at Ikea. From all the different lamps that come in every shape and size to kitchen utensils you’re most likely going to ignore immediately after buying, one can easily spend hours inside the Swedish furniture store. Try every bed and chair, pick up every knick-knack that catches your eye and hop over to the food hall for the best Swedish meatballs in Hong Kong. They’re only $20 for 10! Bargain!
Looking for free things to do in Hong Kong?
Down to your last dollars? There’s a wealth of free things to do in our SAR and we’ve rounded up the free gigs in Hong Kong's best music venues, free galleries, best comedy shows and much more to keep you going out every day of the week without having to spend a cent.