Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Rent is comparable if not higher than New York or London. If you are traveling here or living here on a budget, that budget can be quickly spent. Don’t worry, here are few things you can do for free, and still have an amazing time, in one of the most expensive cities in the world.  *Free or basically free by Hong Kong standards

Hike the peak: Victoria Peak offers amazing views of the city and harbor. Don’t wait in the never ending line and pay the money to ride the tram to the top (it doesn’t even go to the top) hike to the top instead. The trails are great, and the views are amazing! Start on the Morning Trail by Hong Kong University, take it to Lugard Road and take the Peak Circle Walk. You’ll have better views, and save money at the same time. If you still want to ride the historic tram, it is cheaper to ride it down than it is to go up. Hiking Hong 

Linq Bar/Wednesday Night: Sorry girls, this one is for guys only. LINQ bar in Central offers free Absolut vodka mixed drinks to guys Wednesday night from 10:00 p.m. – midnight. They are pretty simple, vodka soda, vodka juice, and in plastic cups, but they are the cheapest cocktail you’ll find in Hong Kong.  Linq Bar


Free Museum Day: On Wednesday, most museums in Hong Kong are free, or the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Exhibit is always free. Even if you aren’t a finance nerd, the museum is located on the 55th floor of 2 IFC, and is worth pretending to be interested just for the views. Hong Kong MuseumsMuseum Info

Historic Trams: The historic trams in Hong Kong clank down the length of Hong Kong Island. They are only 2.3 HKD per ride regardless of how far you are going. They can be used for practical reasons, or better for just enjoying the ride and taking in Hong Kong. When boarding, go to the top level and try to snag a seat in the front. The views from the top-front seats are amazing, and you’ll really feel like you are absorbing all of the energy and bustle of Hong Kong.

Star Ferry: A ride across Victoria Harbor on the Star Ferry is an iconic Hong Kong experience, with amazing views! The ferry started in 1888, and takes passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. Rides are about 2 HKD, or about 30 cents US. It is interesting to note that in 1888 the ride across the harbor took much longer than it does now due to land reclamation.  Star Ferry

Star Ferry crossing Victoria Harbor

Happy Hour: The best deal of a happy hour in Hong Kong is at Stone Nullah Tavern in Wan Chai. Come prepared to race against the clock, and fight your way to get the bartender’s attention. Monday through Friday starting at 5pm, the race begins. House spirits, house wine, and cans of PBR start out at $1 HK, and double in price ($2, $4, $8, $16, etc.) every 20 minutes. If you are trying to make friends, don’t start a conversation during the first two rounds, this is serious business, and there is no time for chatting, just drinking. Every 20 minutes the bartender will ring the bell, and prices double, and the crowd lets out a moan for the newly increased cost of a drink. Hong Kong has plenty of other happy hours as well. Do a quick Google search for the best ones and you’ll receive dozens of options. Stone Nullah

IFC Rooftop Bars: In Hong Kong, you are allowed to drink in most public places. Level 4-roof garden, of the IFC (International Finance Center) above the sprawling mall, is actually a public space. The public space is surrounded by high-end bars, but all of the chairs and space outside the bars is actually public space, and you are allowed to BYOB. Stop by the convenience store, grab a few beers, and hang out looking up towards the IFC towers, Central skyscrapers, and across Victoria Harbor towards Kowloon.

Street Markets: Hong Kong is known for its markets, and you could easily spend days exploring them all. A few of the most interesting are bird street, flower street,  goldfish street, and Temple Street. Start with the pet bird market, and be prepared to hear more birdsongs than you ever thought possible, then stroll through the flower markets, and on to goldfish street where all types of aquarium pets are for sale, then finish walking through the night market on Temple Street.  Start exploring from Prince Edward MTR station north of Mong Kok.

Club 7-11: isn’t a cool new club, but just a reference to drinking from the 7-11 instead of buying drinks at bars. Most bars in Soho and Lan Kwai Fan have patrons spilling into the streets, and since you can drink in public spaces, buy your beer at the 7-11, then return to the crowds outside the bar.

Buddhist Temples: are some of the most visited sites in Hong Kong, and they are free to enter. Some are tucked away on forested hill sides; others are crammed in between high rises.  Man Mo is dedicated to the god of literature, and war and is one of the most popular. Explore the temples with offerinDSC_0852gs, and incense burning throughout. There are temples throughout the entire territory. If you want to venture from central the Chin Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden are great to explore. They are located near the Diamond Hill MTR station. The 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is the little further out on the Sha Tin MTR station. There are also many other places of worship in Hong Kong that can be visited for free.

Central to Mid-Level Escalators:  is the longest covered escalator system in the world. It runs from Central Hong Kong to the residential area of the Mid-Levels, passing through many vibrant neighborhoods including Soho. Start in Central by crossing the pedestrian bridges from the IFC over Conaught, Des Veux, and Queen’s Road, and then start the climb. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the terminus at the top, and covers about a half mile while climbing almost 500 feet. Escalators and moving walkways run downhill for the morning commute, and uphill till Midnight. The system carries almost 100,000 people per day, and is lined with bars, restaurants, and shops if you need a break from the climb.

Symphony of Lights Show: Every night at 8:00 p.m. the harbor lights up with a light and music show. The best place to watch is on the promenade in Tsim Sha Tsui. Take the ferry from Central, and you are there! The show involves 40 buildings on either side of the harbor and is named the largest permanent sound and light show in the world.

The view of Victoria Harbor facing Central from the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront.