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East Coast Park Precinct
Photograph: AFP/Dale De La Rey

18 Amazing free things to do in Hong Kong

Because the best things in life are free

Jenny Leung
Written by
Jenny Leung
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Hong Kong isn't exactly a cheap place to live in, but there's no need to panic when payday is far away and your bank account is draining empty, as there's a wealth of free things you can do all across the city. From museums and art galleries to abandoned villages and country parks, our list of activities will give you all the free entertainment you need without spending a cent!

RECOMMENDED: Add more activities to your to-do list and complete the 63 Most incredible things to do in Hong Kong.

Free things to do in Hong Kong

Explore a formerly restricted part of town

Located in the northern part of Hong Kong near Shenzhen, Sha Tau Kok is part of the Frontier Closed Area that was once closed off to non-residents. Since June 2022, this formerly restricted part of town has been opening up in phases to allow visitors to enter and explore what the area has to offer – from Hakka-style food to local attractions and cultural experiences.

If you're interested in visiting Sha Tau Kok, whether by joining a tour or travelling on your own, do note that all visitors must hold a valid Tourism Closed Area Permit. Simply head to the HKPF Online Applications Platform and navigate to the e-Services tab. Click on 'search forms' under Closed Area Permit (CAP), and you will be taken to a page where you can select the Tourism Closed Area Permits.

  • Attractions
  • Shek O

Like a page out of a storybook rather than bustling Hong Kong, Cape D’Aguilar provides a picturesque escape from the intensity of the city’s urban environment. The Cape’s lighthouse isn’t just the oldest surviving lighthouse in the city, it’s also among the earliest colonial structures to be built here and the first of its kind to be put into service in 1875. The declared monument and its magnificent ocean views make for a stunning postcard-worthy photograph.

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  • Things to do
  • Peng Chau

On the peaceful island of Peng Chau lies a secret garden like no other. Tucked away along Wing On Street sits a dark alleyway with a signboard bearing the words ‘Leather Factory My Secret Garden’. The alleyway, marked by a collection of mismatched ornaments, leads to a former leather factory which has been revitalised into a surreal artsy junkyard. Filled with various sculptures and installations made from unwanted waste materials – think, hanging chandeliers, scrap iron robots, and a chair-stacked tower – the seemingly chaotic garden injects vibrancy into an otherwise modest island.

  • Travel
  • Kennedy Town

Formerly a public cargo working area, Belcher Bay Promenade opened in Kennedy Town as a 5,900sq m public space facing the water with a boardwalk, children's playground, and even a community farm and garden. During the weekend, it is filled with renegade skateboarders, dogs, kids, and couples looking for a romantic moment. A great place to head out and enjoy the breeze and some people-watching.

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  • Art
  • Ma Tau Kok

Tucked away in the sleepy neighbourhood of Ma Tau Kok, To Kwa Wan, Cattle Depot Artist’s Village is one of Hong Kong’s most precious artistic hubs. Formerly an animal quarantine depot and slaughterhouse, the colonial-era red brick buildings were renovated and converted into a local art community in 2001 – well ahead of revitalisation projects like PMQ and Tai Kwun. The site is free for the public to enter and explore as exhibitions and open days are held throughout the year by different art studios based in the village. 

  • Attractions
  • Sheung Wan

Upper Lascar Row is a quaint outdoor street market, aka Cat Street, best known for its enticing antique shopping. It has more than 100 years of history and the shops here sell everything from delicate porcelain and Buddha sculptures to Maoist memorabilia, Ming dynasty ceramic horsemen, and old movie posters. While most of us won't be able to buy expensive rare vintage pieces just willy nilly, window shopping for them is never a bad idea.

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  • Things to do
  • Wong Tai Sin

Rebuilt in 1998 in the style of the Tang Dynasty, Chi Lin Nunnery is a large temple complex that boasts elegant wooden architecture and serene lotus ponds. Several temple halls and buildings form part of the complex where treasured Buddhist relics are kept. Chi Lin Nunnery also houses the beautiful Nan Lian Garden, which should also be on your must-visit list.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Causeway Bay

One of the main features that make East Coast Park Precinct so popular is its 100-metre-long breakwater – the first in Hong Kong to open to the public within Victoria Harbour – where visitors can sit on benches and enjoy a slammin' view of the harbour. The park also boasts various outdoor installations, a lawn area, slides, and a bike track for the little ones. The park is open to the public 24/7, including pet owners and their fur kids on leashes. An easy half-day out sorted.

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  • Museums
  • History
  • Admiralty

One of the oldest buildings in the city, the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware Flagstaff House was built in the 1840s and was formerly the office and residence of the commander of the British Forces in Hong Kong. It became the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984 and now houses exhibitions, demonstrations, tea gatherings, and lectures that promote China’s tea-drinking culture. 

 

  • Attractions
  • Kowloon City

Originally used as a maritime defence station in the 15th century, the Kowloon Walled City was notoriously known as a slum of poorly-built high-rises and a breeding ground for various kinds of criminal activity. The city was eventually torn down in the 1900s and now, a Jiangnan garden-style park sits on top of its former site boasting impressive water features, traditional gardens, lush greenery, and historic remnants of the once semi-lawless enclave.

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  • Art
  • Central

A massive independent art space in the heart of Central, Tai Kwun is one of the biggest creative hubs in the city. Consisting of heritage buildings, art galleries, and various bars and restaurants, the former Central Police Station compound hosts a diverse range of performances, exhibitions, and workshops on the regular. F&B aside, most events and exhibitions are free to the public. 

  • Attractions
  • Tsim Sha Tsui

Avenue of Stars pays tribute to Hong Kong’s enviable cinematic history and the stars that have made an impact. Grab selfies with Hong Kong legends such as martial arts master Bruce Lee, singer and actress Anita Mui, as well as the beloved cartoon character McDull along the waterfront; compare hand sizes on over 100 handprint plaques, and soak in the breathtaking view of the Victoria Harbour right in front of your very eyes.

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  • Things to do
  • Lai Chi Kok

This multi-purpose park in Lai Chi Kok provides a wide range of recreational and sports facilities, but the main attraction here is its beautiful pond and Chinese-style pavilions. Home to a variety of aquatic plants and fish, the pond is surrounded by winding corridors, making it a perfect spot for a stroll on a breezy day.

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  • Property
  • Tsuen Wan

Forget Taiwan's famous Rainbow Village, we've got our own colourful village filled with cute murals and a rainbow staircase. Located on the foothill of Tai Mo Shan, Kwong Pan Tin Mural Village is arguably the most Insta-worthy village in Hong Kong with artworks created by residents and volunteers all around the space. Whether you're an art lover or just someone looking for the perfect photo spot, you'll have a field day at this place – for free!

  • Things to do
  • Sheung Wan

Located on Hollywood Road, close to the many nearby antique stores that dot Hollywood and Cat streets, Man Mo Temple is a mid-19th century historic building and a declared national monument. A place of worship dedicated primarily to Man Cheong (god of literature) and Mo Tai (god of war) – a pair frequently worshipped by young students taking Imperial China’s civil service exams – the atmosphere created by the heavy clouds of incense is a world away from the hubbub of Central racing past outside. 

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  • Museums
  • Tsuen Wan

Sam Tung Uk, or literally known as 'three beamed houses' in Cantonese, was a Hakka walled village built in 1786 during the Qing dynasty. Today, this site is a public museum where Hongkongers can learn about the city's fascinating cultural heritage. Duck in and out of different dwellings, row houses, and exhibition rooms inside the museum. There are all kinds of multimedia displays and interactive elements for you to experience and learn everything from the making of mahjong tiles and dim sum to traditional performances like Cantonese Opera and the Hakka Unicorn Dance.

  • Things to do
  • Tai Po

The Tsz Shan Monastery is quite the sight. Tucked away on the hillside of Tai Po District, this Tang Dynasty-style Buddhist compound consists of several grand halls, a Buddhist museum, sweeping gardens, and of course, the famous 76-metre-tall white Guan Yin statue. There's a strict limit on how many visitors can come here each day so follow our guide on things to see and do, how to make reservations, dos and don'ts, and more.

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