Hong Kong has long been a destination for travellers and is world renouned for its shopping and tourist activities.
As a solo female traveller, there are plenty of free and cheap things to do in Hong Kong. It’s a is a safe and fun destination to visit on your own. In comparison to other Asian countries, it is a little expensive, but there are also plenty of things to do in Hong Kong that won’t break the bank.
Until the 1st of July 1997, when it reverted to Chinese rule, Hong Kong was a colony of Britain, so there is plenty of evidence of westernisation in Hong Kong.
This also means that most people speak English and signs are mostly in English and Cantonese, making it easy to get around and understand what is going on.
Hong Kong remains a Special Administrative Territory of China which enables people from a number of countries to continue to visit without a visa (check your local government immigration site to see if this pertains to you). Hong Kong’s history also means that it provides a wonderful mix of East and West and a great introduction to China for first timers and solo travellers.
One of the best free things to do in Hong Kong is to spend the day exploring its different areas. Public transport is a great option for getting around in Hong Kong. You can pick up an Octopus Card at the airport for $150 HKD with $100 HKD credit to get you out and about for a few days. Octopus can be used on the buses, trains, trams and most ferries in Hong Kong and can also get you a late night snack at the local 7 Eleven.
There are plenty of places for you to top up your Octopus Card.
You can still walk to many of the local sites, depending on where you are staying, however, Hong Kong is quite a hilly city meaning it can take a while to get from place to place. Like many Asian countries, the MRT is lovely and clean and easy to get about on. At peak hour the MRT can be quite crowded, but the ferries provide a great option at these times.
In my previous blog I wrote about my favourite things to do in Hong Kong you can check these out here.
On my visit I was also challenged to find 5 Travel Hacks for Hong Kong for the online travel organisation TRVL. You can check these out here.
Having decided to stay away from the shops and with a budget of $30 AUD a day (excluding accommodation), I was easily able to find some great things to do and see in Hong Kong.
Free and Cheap Things to do in Hong Kong
Garden of Stars
At the time of my visit the Avenue of Stars was under renovation and will reopen later in 2018. During this time the Garden of Stars has been set up with the statues you would normally see on the avenue. It’s an interesting little walk and will afford you a great view over Victoria Harbour.
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Hong Kong is full of surprises. Alongside skyscrapers and busy streets, there are some wonderful green spaces. Opened in 1871, Hong Kong’s Zoological and Botanical Gardens are a beautiful retreat from the madness of the city. There are a range of tropical and exotic plants on show in the gardens. To be honest, the gardens also provided a little relief from the smog that sits over the city too. Hong Kong’s Zoological and Botanical Gardens are a great place to spend some time and are free to access and open from 6 am to 7 pm daily.
Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Located at Ngong Ping on Lantau Island you’ll find the Tian Tan (Big) Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery. Tian Tan Buddha was built in 1993 and is a truly amazing structure that measures 34 metres in height and weighs approximately 250 metric tons. 286 steps will take you to the alter of the Tian Tan Buddha.
Tian Tan is one of the 5 giant Buddha’s in China and is named Tian Tan because of it’s base which is a model of the Alter of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan in Beijing. Entrance to the outside of the Tian Tan Buddha is free, it will cost money if you wish to enter the exhibition halls. Tian Tan Buddha opens at 10 am and closes at 5.30 pm.
Po Lin Monastry was founded in 1904 by 3 monks from Jiangsu Province on Mainland China. The statues of Buddha that are housed within the main building of the Po Lin Monastry represent Buddha’s past, present and future lives. (Unfortunately, taking photos in the main building is not allowed.
Getting to Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Take the MTR to Tung Chung on the Lantau Island line ↔ Ngong Ping – Bus No. 23 (Cheapest option)
Take the MTR to Tung Chung on the Lantau Island line then catch the Ngong Ping 360 Gondola lift between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping (Cost from $86 HKD).
Hint: The first Gondola gets to Ngong Ping at 10.30 am, if you catch an earlier bus you not only see different parts of Lantau Island, but you beat the crowds and can get some almost alone time in the Monastery and with the Tian Tan Buddha.
Take the MRT out to the New Territories
To really get a taste of how people live in Hong Kong, a trip on the MRT out to the New Territories provides a glimpse of the day to day. You’ll also find great food at a really cheap price in the New Territories.
Ride the Peak Tram up to Victoria Peak and take a hike
A ride on the Peak Tram will give you a great view of Hong Kong and is the easiest and quickest way to get to Victoria Peak. Built in 1888, to transport locals to the high and mid levels of the city, the Peak Tram is the worlds steepest funicular railway. A return ticket will cost $45 HKD and the journey to the Peak takes about 7 minutes.
There’s some nice walks around Victoria Peak. I took the Lugard Road trail, which afforded me a lovely walk and gorgeous views over the city (even though it was a wet and overcast day). Best of all it’s free.
Explore Central Hong Kong and take the world’s longest outdoor escalator to check out the Mid-Levels
Built to ferry Hong Kong’s workers between Central and the Mid Levels, the escalator is something of a landmark and the easiest way to make your way up the hill. Check out the Soho district, Hollywood Road and little side streets on your way up the hill. Here you’ll find some great treasures, street markets, restaurants and bars. All the local attractions are well sign marked.
Hint: The escalator travels down hill before 10am.
Whether you want to spend a little or a lot, Hong Kong has a plethora of free and cheap things to do in Hong Kong. Spend a day or two or even a week and you’ll find plenty to do each day. A great destination for the first time solo female traveller!