The best of Hong Kong on a budget: top 5 things to do

Our top 5 things to do in Hong Kong – without breaking the bank.

Young traveller with a backpack walking through market stalls in Hong Kong
  • Jetstar
  • January 2018

It’s been a long time since Hong Kong was seen merely as an international stopover hub. Now one of Asia’s hottest destinations in its own right, the autonomous territory of China offers a tantalising mix of culture, sightseeing, great shopping and incredible food. Here are our recommendations for the top 5 things to do in Hong Kong – without breaking the bank.

Browse for trinkets in Sheung Wan

The city has literally millions of treasures going for a song in its markets and antique stores. Tourist-friendly Cat Street in Upper Lascar Row is a great place for a stroll through history and to do some cut-price souvenir shopping. And of course it’s free to browse, taking in the diverse vendors and endless variety of of trinkets and useful household items. You can find everything from noodle bowls, teapots and chopsticks to funky old-school movie posters. Chat with the stallholders, meet some locals, and take a little piece of the city home with you, all for loose change.

Location: Cat Street, Upper Lascar Row

Our favourite link: Next Stop Hong Kong: Antique Street and Cat Street opens in new window

Take in the street life in Kowloon

Across the harbour on the Chinese mainland is the bustling district of Kowloon. This is the quintessential Hong Kong, where you’ll see all manner of intriguing sights as you soak up the street life and watch locals go about their daily business.

Animals bring good luck here, which explains the wonderful goldfish market in Mong Kok. Thousands of goldfish make a colourful display suspended in rows along the street. Nearby is the delightful Yuen Po Bird Garden with its traditional bamboo cages filled with songbirds. Be sure to cast an eye at the (in)famous Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road, an apartment building, ultra-cheap guesthouse and centre of bargain-basement world trade – brace yourself and go in for a closer look.

Location: Kowloon

Our favourite link: Kowloon: 9 best things to do opens in new window

Hike through Po Toi Island

To escape the city, take the scenic route on public transport to the quaint coastal village of Stanley, just an hour south of Hong Kong. Formerly a fishing town, today the peninsula is home to many attractions, including the lovely Edwardian-style Blake Pier. From here you can really get away from it all by taking the 30-minute ferry ride (on weekends and public holidays only) over to Po Toi Island. The island is known for its interesting rock formations and has a flourishing edible seaweed industry. Discover its natural beauty by hiking its wilderness – rocky landscapes have created a natural track, a moderately difficult trail which will reward you with gorgeous views from the Ngau Wu Teng pavilion at the top. Monk Rock, Tortoise Rock, Palm Cliff and the 3000-year-old Nam Tum cliff carvings are unique highlights along the trail

Location: Po Toi Island

Our favourite link: Discover Hong Kong: Po Toi Island opens in new window

Take in the skyline at Tsim Sha Tsui

One of the most recognisable images of Hong Kong is its skyline, and for good reason. There are almost 8000 high rise buildings in the city, more than 1000 of them skyscrapers, and the collective sight of them is breathtaking – only more so as night descends.

The skyline is transformed during the free nightly light show ‘A Symphony of Lights’, which you can watch from the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade on the Kowloon side at 8pm. Coloured lights and lasers illuminate dozens of buildings in a 40-minute choreographed show, complete with musical accompaniment. Watch as the cityscape takes on a totally different character to the hazy silhouettes of daylight.

Our favourite link: Next Stop Hong Kong: A Symphony of Lights opens in new window

Visit the stars of Hong Kong’s silver screen

Whether you’re already a fan, or totally new to the Hong Kong film industry, a visit to the Hong Kong Film Archive is a unique and interesting experience. The archive is home to more than 1000 titles dating back to the 1930s, and along with regular screenings, it also hosts a wide range of fascinating exhibitions. See original costumes from specific eras of the Hong Kong film industry and exhibitions dedicated to some of region’s greatest silver screen stars. Entry is free to the archive and most special exhibitions; admission is charged for film screenings.

Location: 50 Lei King Rd, Aldrich Bay

Our favourite link: Hong Kong Film Archive opens in new window