There are so many things to do in Hong Kong and it is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, but it can also be one of the most expensive. I recently read a story in the news that listed Hong Kong as the most unaffordable city to live in. Mostly this is due to the cost of housing, which means that your travel budget could be blown on accommodations. But the bright side is that there are a number of FREE activities that you can do in Hong Kong. Here are our favorite 5 free things to do in Hong Kong.
Free Things to do in Hong Kong #1 – Take a Walk: the Promenade, Parks, and Neighborhoods
During my first visit to Hong Kong was as a solo female traveler. I was on a budget and looking for some time to myself, so just wandering around the city was exactly what I was looking for. The Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is a well-developed area where you can walk along Victoria Harbor.
It’s great for taking photos and admiring the Hong Kong Island skyline (if the weather is good). This area is also where you will find Hong Kong’s “Walk of Fame” – complete with Hollywood-style stars on the ground, and a famous statue of Bruce Lee. Also a great location to stay in Hong Kong.
Taking a stroll through some of Hong Kong’s parks is also a fun free activity. There are many parks all over the city, but Kowloon Park is one of our favorites. There is a sculpture garden, an aviary, flamingos and other animals, as well as beautiful gardens and waterfalls. It’s a huge park, and quite peaceful in the middle of the bustling city.
Lastly, take a stroll through some of Hong Kong’s many unique neighborhoods. Prior to my first visit to Hong Kong, I bought a simple “walking tour” guide to Hong Kong — and it was my best friend during the trip. It took me on walks all around town, telling me about the history in the area and pointing out good restaurants and shops. I loved it!
Free Things to do in Hong Kong #2 – See the Nightly Light Show in Victoria Harbor
Victoria Harbor is also the stage for Hong Kong’s nightly light show. Each evening, the city comes alive with a musical show with lights and lasers that dance around the harbor and the buildings of the skyline. Check with the local tourism board about times, but typically the show is around 8 pm and lasts around 13 minutes. For special events, such as Chinese New Year or other holidays, the show will be adjusted to be more grand and include fireworks over the harbor.
You can see the show from many places, but the best place is the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade. You can also see it up top at the Peak Lookout. It’s not free to get up there…unless you hike! (possible, but not very enjoyable)
Free Things to do in Hong Kong #3 – Explore the Many Street Markets
As with many cities all over Asia, it’s all about the street markets in Hong Kong. There are many to check out all over Hong Kong. One popular market is the Jade Bazaar, where you can find all kinds of jade jewelry and décor. During a recent trip, we bought some reasonably priced jade and red bracelets at the Bazaar to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
As with any market in Asia, be prepared to haggle for a good price!
At night, the major shopping street markets include the Temple Market and the Ladies Market. The Temple market has a number of electronic gadgets, and some off-the-wall experiences, such as fortune tellers. While the Ladies market is all about clothing, shoes, accessories, and trinkets. These are the places to put your bargaining skills to the test, and to find a lot of inexpensive souvenirs. You don’t have to spend any money here, you can just walk around take a look.
Po Street Bird Garden is the place to go in the morning, where you will find many older Chinese hanging out with their birds. Okay, maybe so technically this isn’t a market — but I love this place (and it is right next to a flower market). They bring their birds in their cages and hang them up near each other — they believe it is good for the birds to socialize with one another. So there’s a lot of chirping going on here! The owners of the birds take this time to sit and relax, chatting with each other and playing Chinese checker games.
Free Things to do in Hong Kong #4 – Visit a Temple to Experience the Local Culture
Hong Kong’s Asian heritage is built around the Eastern religions and philosophies of mainly Buddhism and Taoism. If you are interested in experiencing more of the local culture and religious activities, then check out one of the many temples located all over town (there are hundreds of them!).
Popular temples include:
- Chi Lin Nunnery – which we LOVED – and the Nan Lian gardens across the street are incredible!
- Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island
- Man Mo Temple (the one in Sheung Wan – near Hong Kong Central is our favorite and is easily accessible by bus lines, including the Big Bus Tour).
You are welcome to visit these temples, just be sure to dress modestly and be respectful of others who are there to worship. Typically, you can take photos. For a donation, you may even be able to buy some incense and have a moment of personal reflection for yourself.
Read also the The Hong Kong Story – History of Hong Kong
Free Things to do in Hong Kong #5 – Go Geocaching
If you are familiar with the two of us, then you know that we are always up for a bit of Geocaching, especially when we are exploring a new destination. In Hong Kong, you may be surprised to learn that there are MANY great Geocaches hidden all over town. From parks, historical buildings, shops, restaurants, etc. these caches can take you on their own tour of the city.
If you are unfamiliar with Geocaching, click here to learn more about it.
** As a bonus, the city of Hong Kong even has FREE public WiFi in major public areas — yeah!!! So you can do a bit of caching (and anything else you want to do) online wherever you are, without paying a fortune in roaming fees.
So even though Hong Kong is technically one of the most expensive cities in the world, you can still have a good time as a budget traveler. Combining these FREE activities with inexpensive street food and budget hostel accommodations, and you can have a great time in Hong Kong without spending a fortune.
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