This is the first of a series of posts with budget summaries for every country we visit. Here we will share with you all of our expenses, from accommodations and food to random items we buy, like souvenirs and hygiene products.
The daily budget reported here, however, does not include the following:
1. Flight tickets from Canada to Hong Kong and later on our return tickets from Asia to North America
2. Travel insurance
3. Gear we bought for the trip
The reason we are not including those items here is that they will be averaged out throughout the entire duration of the trip. Since we have yet to decide the exact date we will go home, we will leave these expenses to the end, when we wrap up everything.
Our first country was Hong Kong, which we expected to be one of the most expensive places of our trip, so we were prepared to spend the extra buck there.
Country: Hong Kong
Dates visited: 20.08.14 – 27.08.14
# of days: 6
Daily Average Budget: $60.90 per person
Exchange rate: USD 1 to HKD 7.75
While Hong Kong has lots of accommodations options, none of them are cheap. I already had an experience a few years ago at Chung King Mansions (one of the shady hostels) and we didn’t want to repeat that. We used Airbnb to book our accommodations here and it worked out pretty well. Rooms were clean and at great locations (Mongkok / Jordan) for an average of USD 54.30 per night.
Money Saving Tips – Hostels and Airbnb will be much more affordable than hotels; of course, you don’t get the luxury or space in a tiny city like Hong Kong. Living outside the main areas of Kowloon or Hong Kong Island will also be cheaper; however, you sacrifice living close to the main attractions and the commute each day will be longer.
You can expect to pay around USD 10 for a meal at a mid-range restaurant. A bottle of water or tea (330ml) ranges from USD 1.00 to 1.50. We highly recommend dim sum and desserts!
Money Saving Tips – Go to dim sum in a group so you can try many dishes and the bill is spread out. Don’t just go to fancy restaurants (many serve western food) – smaller shops and street foods are often much more authentic and cheaper.
Bus/Metro – Public transportation is efficient, clean and inexpensive, getting you anywhere you want in the city. We didn’t feel the need to take any cabs here.
Ferry – The Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour is rated by National Geographic as one of 50 ‘places of a lifetime.’ And it’s only USD 0.32 per person! It is by far the cheapest and most scenic way between Central and Kowloon.
Tram – The earliest forms of public transportation in Hong Kong (over 110 years!), the double-decker trams still run along the length of Hong Kong Island today. For USD 0.30 per person and a seat by the window, it is a great way to see the different neighborhoods in Hong Kong Island.
Money Saving Tips – Take public transportation instead of taxis. Not only will it be much cheaper, you will also get a much more authentic experience living like a local and seeing the city. You will also learn to appreciate how amazing public transportation in Hong Kong is. Getting an Octopus card to pay for public transportation also saves you a percentage of the fare and makes traveling so convenient – just place the card on the sensor and it will automatically deduct the appropriate fare. Octopus cards are accepted on all forms of public transportation: subway, bus, ferry, tram, etc!
The Peak – This is a must-see. It has a great view of the city and Victoria Harbour from afar. We took the bus up and down, which saved us some money and lots of time considering the insane lines at the Peak Tram and the cost of a taxi. Entrance fee to the Peak Tower was USD 5.80 per person. Bus 15 from Central up to the Peak was USD 0.55 per person each way.
Money Saving Tips – Take the bus or the Peak Tram instead of a taxi. If you don’t want to pay the entrance fee to the Peak Tower, there is a similar view for free on the third floor of the Peak Galleria. However, we feel the USD 5.80 per person fee is worth the unobstructed view.
Sky100 – At the 100th floor of the 6th tallest skyscraper in the world, you can see Hong Kong from the top, this time from the Kowloon side. Entrance fee was USD 19.50 per person.
Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car – The cable car ride is 5.5km long and takes you to a giant Buddha statue and Ngong Ping village. USD 24.40 per person for Crystal Cabin one way and Standard Cabin back (1+1).
Money Saving Tips – Use the coupons found on the Discover Hong Kong website for 10% discount at attractions such as Sky100 and Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car (only available for Discover HK SIM card users). HSBC card holders can also get 20% off at Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car when using their card to purchase tickets. Standard Cabin will save more money, though lines are longer and views are not as great. The 1+1 deal gives you both cabins for a lower price than Crystal Cabin both ways.
Walking along Avenue of Stars
Hong Kong Park (HK version of NYC Central Park)
Tian Tan Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, Wisdom Path (only the cable car there was paid)
‘Window shopping’ Hong Kong Night Markets (don’t forget to haggle if you do buy something!)
5-day Discover HK SIM card – 1.5GB data + unlimited local calls over 5 days for USD 8.90
Shampoo & Body Wash
We are happy with the results in Hong Kong, as we expected to spend more here. It is possible to visit Hong Kong spending less than what we spent (or a whole lot more), so it all depends on your travel budget.