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12 free (or very cheap) things to do in Hong Kong

By: Melissa Stevens

Hong Kong is famously expensive but there are plenty of fun, unique things to do that won’t break the bank. Here’s some suggestions of free things to do, and a few others that are as cheap as chips. Enjoy!

The daily Symphony of the Lights is one of the best free things to do
The daily Symphony of the Lights is one of the best free things to do, especially when visitors are in town

Rooftop Roaming

IFC Mall’s landscaped rooftop provides one of the city’s few free public seating spots, making it perfect if you bring a coffee and book or plan a city picnic with the kids. The sight of ferries chugging across the harbour never gets old.

Take in a Temple

A quick trip to a temple is instantly transporting. Man Mo in Sheung Wan is worth wandering, while the Wong Tai Sin temple with its statues of the zodiac animals, clouds of incense, and soothsayers is payment enough for the longer trip. A memorable option of the free things to do.

READ MORE: Must-see temples and places of worship in Hong Kong

Explore a Park

Take an escalator from Pacific Place mall up to an unexpected oasis. Hong Kong Park contains fountains, an aviary and a children’s playground. Or escape Causeway Bay’s crowds at Victoria Park, where going early will get you a glimpse of local Tai Chi groups. Playground spaces and a rock park keep kids entertained. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Garden offers the chance to watch monkeys up close for free.

READ MORE: Parks, playgrounds and outdoor centres for the kids

Go to a Museum

Looking for free things to do on a Wednesday? You are in luck, as some of Hong Kong’s excellent museums are open for free on Wednesdays: the Museum of Art, Museum of History, Heritage Museum, Science Museum, Space Museum, Museum of Coastal Defence and the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum. The Flagstaff Museum of Tea Ware, Hong Kong Railway Museum, Lei Cheng Uk Han Tomb Museum, and a handful of folk museums are free of charge every day, as are the exhibitions at the Hong Kong Film Archive and the Hong Kong Arts Centre.

READ MORE: 10 of the best museums in Hong Kong

Brush Up On Art

Galleries along Hollywood Road are an ideal first art stop but you can also head to the JCCAC artist colony in Shep Kip Mei, where about 140 artists have studios. Open from 10-10pm daily. Perfect for those who want free things to do with a cultural flavour.

READ MORE: Your guide to Hong Kong’s cultural institutions 

Take a Hike

About three quarters of Hong Kong’s land space is Country Park so getting into green space is surprisingly easy. Central’s Morning Trail is a great first introduction. The paved stroll takes you up to The Galleria at the top of the Peak, with gorgeous city views to boot.

READ MORE: 5 hikes you should try in Hong Kong

free things to do: Hong Kong's colourful markets can be a cheap experience if you absorb the atmosphere without getting caught up in haggling
Hong Kong’s colourful markets can be a cheap experience if you absorb the atmosphere without getting caught up in haggling

Get to a Market

The vibrant street markets have a lively, bustling energy and provide great people watching, as customers haggle with stallholders. Of course, the cost of this outing will rise if you start buying things! There are also speciality markets such as the fish, bird and flower markets.

See the Light Show

Hong Kong’s iconic skyline takes on a new glow as buildings each side of the harbour beam lights across the water. The Symphony of Lights spectacle takes place at Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront every night at 8pm.

Soak up the Sand

Hong Kong has too many beaches to count, but all provide days of free things to do. White sand at Repulse Bay is accessible and expansive; Big Wave Bay attracts surfers and camping bays at Pui O allows you to wake to the sound of rolling waves.

READ MORE: Top Hong Kong beaches

Hop on a Tram

This is not free, but super cheap. Hop on at Western Market and view the city with new eyes as the tram trundles through Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. It’s just HK$2.30 to experience this piece of iconic local culture.

Take the Star Ferry

The iconic Star Ferry plies back between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui and a ride on this tourist attraction will cost you $3.40 for the upper deck and give you spectacular harbour views of the city to boot.

Happy Valley Races

Wednesday night at the Happy Valley Races is a favoured Hong Kong pastime. It costs just HK$10 to get in and see the spectacle of race fans watching world-class horse racing against a backdrop of skyscrapers.

This article appears in Expat Living’s 2017 edition of City Guide. Get your free copy now!

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