Free things to do in Hong Kong
This one’s a feast for the eyes and a free workout. The 431 steps leading up to the monastery are lined with life-sized, gold-painted Buddha statues, each entertainingly unique. Once you reach the temple complex, also known as Man Fat Sze, you’ll be dazzled by 12,000 more gilded statues, as well as gorgeous pavilions and a crimson pagoda – not to mention the Instagram-worthy panorama of Sha Tin and its mountainous surrounds.
Can’t afford a gym membership? Take on the Dragon’s Back, one of the easiest hikes in Hong Kong, for a decent workout. The trail takes you past spectacular views of Tai Tam Harbour, Tai Long Wan and Stanley as well as Shek O’s beautiful panoramic sceneries from 284m above the sea. The trail ends at Big Wave Bay Beach where you can relax and dip your feet in the sand. Or hit the water and work off some more calories. You can start from Shek O or from Tai Tei Wan.
Tucked away in Ma Tau Kok’s sleepy 13 Streets neighbourhood, Cattle Depot Artist’s Village is one of Hong Kong’s most precious artistic hubs. Notable for its colonial era red brick buildings, the site was formerly a quarantine base and slaughterhouse before it was renovated and converted into a local art community in 2001, well ahead of similar projects like PMQ. Always free to enter, the village is home to approximately 20 art organisations, arguably none more prominent than Videotage, a Unesco-listed media art organisation that focuses on new media. Visit for the historic architecture, stay for the art.
The Hong Kong public libraries, including the easily accessible Central Library in Causeway Bay, offer a service with regular free talks and workshops taking place throughout the year in either Cantonese or English.
Best known for its impressive seafood buffet spread, you can stuff yourself to your heart’s content at The Cityview Hotel’s City Café when your birthday rolls around. Dig into a fantastic variety of fresh seafood like sea salted-baked Alaska queen crab leg, shredded abalone and baked oysters. It’s free for any birthday boy/girl but your buddies will have to cough up $438.
Built in 1960, this former courthouse was the centre of Kowloon’s legal activity for almost half a century and a prime example of the stripped classicism of mid-20th century civic architecture. Featuring high-ceilinged courtrooms, ornamental balustrades and marble wall finishes, it still evokes the judicial grandeur of its glory days. The building currently serves as the Hong Kong branch of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and regular guided tours of the building are available to the public for free (online booking required).
One of the oldest buildings in the city, Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware Flagstaff House, located in Hong Kong Park, 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 houses exhibitions, demonstrations, tea gatherings and lectures that promote China’s tea drinking culture.
Ever wanted a peek into the inner workings of the Hong Kong executive? Well, Government House doesn’t exactly provide that but it’s an architectural delight all the same. Built in 1854, the neo-classical mansion has faint Asian influences, including its terracotta roof and central tower, and relics of the 1942-45 Japanese occupation. The house isn’t open all year round but keep your eyes peeled online for the next open day announcement in October. It’s worth it for the chance to explore the building’s sumptuous ballroom and ornamental garden.
Anyone looking to cut a more stylish rug should take advantage of the city’s free dancing lessons. Hong Kong Swings is a long established swing outfit (the clue is in the name) and on their regular Wednesday night sessions at Grappa’s Cellar they hold free beginner sessions on Lindy Hop from 8.30pm to 9pm. If you’re not entirely strapped for cash, you might want to help keep the classes free by ordering a couple of drinks at the bar.
Gym memberships can make a massive dent in the bank account. While there’s a wealth of hiking trails available in Hong Kong that allows you to work out without paying a cent, it can sometimes be a hassle to get there. Sometimes you just want to pop in and pop out after work. Here’s where the seven-day free trial comes in. Gym chain Gojo Studio’s trial package allows you to a whole week to try out different classes around town, ranging from yoga, body pump, Zumba and spinning.
Discover more things to do in Hong Kong
Whether you’re a first-time traveller looking for the best Hong Kong hotels or a seasoned vet of Lamma Island and LKF, these are the essential things to see, do, eat and drink while you’re in town. From the most picturesque hiking trails in Hong Kong to the city’s best museums, here’s a roundup of the very best experiences in our city.