Trust me, I know how easy it is drop a few hundred on a casual Tuesday night in Hong Kong. I also know how easy it is to get so wrapped up in doing what everyone else is doing around you and to lose yourself in the city. There is the pull of the bars, the expensive restaurants, the shopping, the holidays... but what about the times when you’re strapped for cash? The CNY bonus is all used up, how can you survive in the city on a budget? Some simple survival tips to still be social and have fun in HK when the strong are being pulled on the wallet.
Walking/Running/Hiking - whatever floats your boat.
For the exercise freaks out there (and those who just like to dabble) HK is full of trails to hike/ walk or run if you’re into that kind of thing…
Whether you’re into the long (4+ hour) adventures or like me, you just like a quick 2 hour max round session, there is plenty out there to explore. Grab the water, the dog (or steal your neighbours) and head up the peak, to Lions Rock, along the ‘I’ve got a tourist in town’ favourite (Dragon’s Back), over Violet Hill, anywhere on Lantau or there are plenty of varied levels and lengths along Maclehose trail too. A list of trails can be found here.
Tai Po to Tai Wai Bike Riding
For a day out of the high rises, jump on a train to Tai Po Market station where you’ll find plenty of shops near the station to rent a bike. Once all geared up, head off on the path to Plover Cove Reservoir, stopping on your way back for a bite at the local restaurants - cheap as chips!
For the yogis out there or even just those needing some stretch and flow in their lives, there are plenty of cheap (and some even free) yoga classes around HK. Ben and Jenny, Yoga Union and Grass Roots Yoga HK are all pay as you wish classes for varying levels and practice type.
Picnic in the Park
I’ve been the person who complains about no grassy parks in Hong Kong to hang out in but now I finally have some answers for those also wanting a patch of grass to lie down on with a book or somewhere to picnic with friends. Victoria Peak Garden (not to be confused with Victoria Park which is just pavement) is a great spot with plenty of grass, benches and areas to run around. Right on the waterfront you’ve got Tamar Park (but best to pack a blanket as people say lots of dogs go past to pee in the park). HK Park and the Zoological and Botanical Gardens are also another easy spot on the island to take some time out.
Being DIY month and all, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share some cool DIY ideas to save some money and keep you occupied for a while.
Secondhand shopping - If you are into making clothes or love finding something old and turning it into something new, secondhand clothing stores are the place to go. DIY denim jeans are an easy place to start- take an old pair of jeans and add embellishments, parthes, cut the bottoms or add some tears - head to Me and Gee’s in Central to find some old jeans for experimenting (9 Li Yuen Street West, Central).
Fabric Markets in Sham Shui Po are also a great source of material for a quick DIY project - whether it’s the linen wrap skirt perfect for the impending summer heat or some DIY Napkins, SSP is the place to go.
Feel like I am stating the obvious here but HK is the cheapest city to get around in I’m sure of it!
Trams- I’m all about the tram rides in HK- above ground, out of the overdone air conditioning and in amongst the buildings, the trams are a good way to save some pennies if you can spare a little extra time.
Use those legs- Not kidding you I can get from Central to Causeway Bay within half an hour on foot. I’ve even made it from Causeway Bay to Prince Edward in 50 mins with a quick ferry only to get me across the harbour. I understand walking in the horrendous summer heat can be a bad idea before work because no one want to sit next to the sweaty girl but why not strap on those shoes and walk home after work? Save money on that expensive gym membership and go pound the pavement.
NLNL is a global dance community - giving people from all backgrounds, shapes, sizes and dancing abilities a place to get their groove on after work on a weeknight in the dark. Originating in Melbourne, NLNL is on every Wednesday down at the Sai Ying Pun Community Complex (alcohol free). No discrimination against your lack of rhythm - come get your dancing shoes on.
Monthly morning dance session to get you invigorated before work- alternating between a dancing in a pitch-dark space and dancing on a rooftop in the light. Plenty of coconut water to go around too.
This works for both those on a budget needing new clothes or those needing to make some room in their wardrobe for the summer and make some cash on the side. What could be better that heading off to some cheap and cheerful vintage and secondhand markets with some friends on a sunday afternoon, having some drinks and meeting new people? At $50 for the entrance fee which includes a free drink and entrance into the lucky door raffle, it’s too good an offer to pass up. There will be over 30 sellers with items in all shapes, sizes, colours and makes - you couldn't possibly leave empty handed.
Food and Drink
This is where most of us get unstuck- the copious amount of great restaurants and bars. Here are a couple of cheap night options for you:
Dai Pai Dongs- These traditional Chinese outdoor eateries are great for a night out with friends. Cheap food, cheap beer and good atmosphere. Found all over HK.
Food Courts- You'll find a lot of Chinese restaurants at the top food court level of wet markets. Often cheap, delicious and BYO friendly.
Mark and Spencer Meals- tricks of the trade, M&S discount food every day in the evenings. Get in quick to snap up the good ones.
208 Hollywood Rd- For $208 every night you can go to 208 and get the weekly pizza special that comes with 2 drinks.
Happy Hours- deciding to drink earlier and getting home earlier can save you a lot of cash mula. Use up those happy hours all around town for some cheap drink deals. A lot of them will also serve snacks and nibbles during happy hour as well.