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Ultimate Hong Kong Backpacking Travel Guide 2020

Comprising three regions (Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories) and over 260 islands, Hong Kong is a destination that delights all five senses of a traveller. Packed with nature reserves, bustling markets, and towering skyscrapers, Hong Kong is full of culture. Use this Hong Kong backpacking travel guide to plan your trip and get the most out of your trip.

Hong Kong at a Glace

Language

Chinese and English

Currency

Hong Kong dollar

Best Money Exchange

large bank or ATMs

Local Dishes

Sweet and Sour Pork

Drones Allowed

Yes

Is water safe to drink

Yes, after boiling

Vaccinations

Check CDC

Power Plug Type

G and D

Car Sharing Options

Uber

Peak Season

October-December & Lunar New Year

Backpacker Friendly

Yes

Hitch hiker Friendly

No

Credit Cards Accepted

Yes

Preferred Payment Method

Cash/Cards

Low Season

May and June

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Hong Kong

1. Lantau Island

The largest island of Hong Kong known for featuring the impressive Buddha, a popular theme park, stunning beaches, and large shopping areas.

2. Lamma Island

Delicious seafood in the relaxed atmosphere pop into the quirky shops before heading to its pristine beaches.

3. Kowloon

Thai eateries, colorful cafes, and serene temples. It is known as Mini Thailand of Hong Kong for the rich history of culture and traditions.

4. Peng Chau Island

Offering picturesque views this place is great for hiking and houses stunning gardens, small markets, and eateries.

5. Cheung Chau Island

A small dumbbell-shaped island particularly famous for its beaches, temples, and an entire street dotted with seafood restaurants.

Other Things to See and Do in Hong Kong

1. SoHo

Akin to Los Angeles, SoHo welcomes people with its pleasant atmosphere and is full of boutique shops, art galleries, antique stores, dining venues and bars.

2. Tai O Village

A quaint fishing village where you can enjoy boat rides around the village, visit local markets, and sample the freshest seafood.

3. Victoria Harbour

Victoria Harbour is the most beautiful tourist spot in Hong Kong offering dazzling views of the city’s skyline and is a site of the annual firework displays.

4. Victoria Peak

The highest point on Hong Kong Island that offers stunning views of the cityscape. Apart from witnessing amazing views of the city, you can also visit the Madame Tussauds wax museum, the Peak Tower, and Sky Terrace 428.

5. Repulse Bay

The bay is famous for its most expensive residential complexes and wide, crescent-shaped beach where people can relax while enjoying impressive sunset views.

6. Stanley

Stanley is a small Chinese town particularly famous for its markets, hills, and two serene beaches where people can swim and enjoy windsurfing.

7. Tsim Sha Tsui

Also called TST, it is a shopping and entertainment center where you can find numerous boutiques, eateries, and other unique vendors.

Typical Costs

WPCS 2.1.4

Transportation

The easiest and cheapest mode to get around is the Hong Kong metro. You can get a 72-hour pass for $45.00. If the metro isn’t accessible in some of the areas, you can always get an Uber or taxi which costs almost $32.00 from the airport to central areas. You can also take the local buses which serve the same routes as the metro and are a little cheaper too.

Accommodation

In Hong Kong, you can find dorm rooms costing as little as $15.00 per night with free Wi-fi and a common kitchen to cook your own food. Expect to pay about $30.00 for private rooms in hostels which can go as high as $50.00 for a double room. You can also find budget hotel rooms starting at $35.00 per night. For a whole apartment, you’ll need to pay about $100.00 a night

Food

You can eat cheap food such as dumplings and noodles for almost $6.00 per meal while at casual restaurants, a meal with a drink costs $13.00. But if you want to splurge, expect to pay nearly $45.00or more for American or Italian food. You can get drinks for roughly $4.00$7.00, though cocktails and wine can be available between $10.00$20.00. The best option to save money is to buy your own groceries which will cost you around $50.00 a week.

Activities

In Hong Kong, you can find various budget-friendly and sometimes even free activities. You can visit markets, Hong Kong Park, and Avenue of Stars. Or you can uset he peak tram which will take you on a short trip to witness beautiful views over Victoria Harbour.

Suggested Budget

Though Hong Kong is not cheap, people with different budgets and preferences can find a range of options, thanks to its diversity. Use the following chart to get the general idea of how much you need to spend daily:
Travel Style Accommodation (per night) Food (3 Meals) Transportation Activities (Per activity) Daily Cost
Backpacker
$20.00
$15.00
$10.00
$10.00
$50.00-$70.00
Mid - Range
$50.00-$80.00
$80.00-$100.00
$25.00-$40.00
$20.00
$100.00-$150.00
High - End
$120.00+
$110.00-$120.00
$35.00-$60.00
$80.00-$100.00
$300.00+

Budgeting Tips

Hong Kong is known as one of the most expensive destinations in the region. Undoubtedly, it is pricier than other Southeast-Asian countries in many ways but it doesn’t mean you can’t plan a budget trip to Hong Kong. We have done the work for you – take a look at our following tips for saving money during your trip to Hong Kong:

1. Purchase the Octopus Card

The Octopus card is extremely useful for getting around Hong Kong which works as a known payment method for convenience shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions. Using this card, you can simplify the process of purchasing tickets on public transportation (trams, buses, rails, MTR, etc.).

2. Use public transportation

The public transportation system of Hong Kong is quite smooth, well-connected, and affordable. So, instead of using taxis, go for public transportation.

3. Ridesharing

When you need a ride, choose Uber instead of taxis as they are way cheaper and the best option to get around the city. The Uber Pool feature is also available using which you can share a ride with others for better savings.

4. Couchsurfing

As accommodation is expensive in Hong Kong, Couchsurfing can connect you with locals providing a free place to stay. There are many hosts including locals and expats who take part in the community, so you’ll always find one.

5. Don’t stay on Hong Kong Island

If you are looking for affordable accommodation options, try avoiding Hong Kong Island and choose Kowloon and other islands instead. However, if you end up staying on Hong Kong Island, Causeway Bay has the cheapest accommodation.

6. Visit the markets

Many locals shop at the markets because they have the cheapest and freshest foods, sometimes available at half of the price than grocery stores.

7. Visit free attractions

There are many things to see and do in Hong Kong for free, including Buddhist temples, botanical gardens, or simply wandering around the streets. You can also visit museums that are free to visit on Wednesdays and learn about the culture, heritage, and history of Hong Kong.

8.Avoid alcohol

Hong Kong has a thriving nightlife but their drinks are also the most expensive in Asia. So, it is better to get acquainted with the local drinking culture which means having drinks on the street with the locals. You can also save money by waiting for Happy Hours which are quite inexpensive. I remember paying about $15.00 for a watered down drink.

9. Eat at local restaurants

Despite the presence of many Michelin-starred restaurants, you can still eat great tasting food in the city for a cheaper price. Head over to the Temple Street night markets, you’ll find various authentic Chinese food stalls, fresh seafood, and even exotic food range. Most of the streets are dotted with small shops selling tasty duck, dumplings, and dim sum alongside the locals.

Where To Stay

Like all other destinations, accommodation is not something you can easily get around. Every place is expensive and Hong Kong is no exception. But it is important to stick to hostels offering great options at reasonable rates. Following are some of our backpacker hostels recommendations:

Hong Kong

Rainbow Lodge HK

Hong Kong

YesInn

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Hostel

How To Get Around

Hong Kong is a happening place where you’ll surely find world-class dining, nightlife, and shopping options. But with so many things to see and do, one of the challenges is to figure out how to get yourself to different corners of the city.

Taxi

As compared to other big cities in the world, taxi services in Hong Kong are not too costly. It is a comfortable alternative for getting around if you don’t like using public transportation. Multiple types of taxis operate throughout the city whose fare starts from $3.00 every two kilometres.

Trams

Serving the city since 1904, Hong Kong’s double-decker trams are not only used for sightseeing but is also the cheapest way to reach famous destinations in the city. The flat fare for kids is $0.17 and for adults is $0.34 which can be paid in cash (exact amount only) or using Octopus card.

Hong Kong MTR (Metro)

Hong Kong’s MTR is a quick and simple mode to get to most of the places in the city. It covers major districts in the territory through its 11 rail lines reaching 160 stations. Though it is not cheap as bus travel but is definitely faster and more convenient than buses. You can get single tickets but fares are a bit cheaper with an Octopus card.

Bus

Buses and minibuses can be found anywhere in Hong Kong and are great options to explore the city. Most of the buses here are double-decker and equipped with air conditioning. These buses are self-service, indicating you should keep lots of $1.00 and $2.00 coins.

Ride Sharing

If you don’t like public transportation, use Uber as it is the best and cheaper option than taxis.

Ferry

As Hong Kong is a coastal city, it regularly operates ferry routes connecting Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and Outlying Islands. The ferries make for great day trips without costing you over $5.00 to get there.

Hitch Hiking

This is a great way to get around and is a common practice in the country areas and mountain regions where public transport isn’t commonly available.

Resources

When To Go

Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate which generally remains mild more than half of the year. The best time to visit Hong Kong is from October to December when the weather is cool and pleasant and hotel rates are also reasonable. After the New Year, the number of tourists increases significantly, leading to increased hotel prices and more crowds. If you plan to travel during one of the major holidays (January/February), you should book accommodations and tours in advance as it can be the busiest time in Hong Kong.

How To Stay Safe and Aware of Scams

Since Hong Kong is one of the safest regions in the world, safety isn’t a big concern here. The crime rate is relatively low in Hong Kong, but you should still take precautions where some crimes are common. Here are a few warnings and dangers to keep in mind at all times, regardless of where you stay in the city:

1. Fake monks

If a monk approaches you and offers small ornaments or blessings, simply decline. Real monks never beg for money as they are officially supported by the association they belong to. So, if you see a monk roaming the streets, holding a bowl, and asking for monetary donations, then know that is merely a show.

2. Taxi scam

Beware of the dishonest taxi drivers especially operating around tourist spots. These drivers don’t use the meter, say that it’s non-functional, or charge an inflated fare. So, ask your hotel staff for a taxi, use taxi booking apps, and ensure that the meter is working before riding

3. Massage scam

At markets, you’ll see people offering ridiculously cheap prices for massage and various benefits. But after getting the service, either they’ll charge you additional money or threaten you to give whatever you have. So, head to only reputable shops and never accept an invitation from a stranger.

4. Ticket scam

If you are approached by someone selling tickets to events, shows, or attractions, simply refuse to buy. There is a higher likelihood of the ticket being fake and using a fake ticket is illegal for which you can get arrested.

5. Pickpocketing

Public transportation and markets are the spots where pickpockets are so common. So, keep your money and other valuables in a hidden pouch and look out for such people.

Packing List

No matter at what time of the year you are visiting Hong Kong, following are some of the essential items you’ll need to pack for your trip:

2 Pairs of Shorts

5 shirts

8 pairs of underwear

Medicine

2 Pair of jeans

Flip flops

Toiletries

Locks

Swim Trunks

Comfortable Sneakers

Microfiber towel

Laundry Bag

Sunhat

8 pairs of socks

Dedorant

Hand Sanitizer

Power Bank

Lightweight backpack

Sun Glasses

Sun Screen

Raincoats

Bug repellant

Hiking Jeans

Refillable water bottle​

First-aid kit

LifeStraw

umbrella

Foldable Umbrella

Universal adapter

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