Seeing and Tasting Hong Kong on $15

Seeing and Tasting Hong Kong on $15

When I traveled Southeast Asia, I found it easy to visit all of the sites and enjoy the best meals on $15.00 per day. The only hitch was Hong Kong.

Most of the tourist sites were pricey and the restaurants most frequented were unkind to a traveler's wallet. But if you know how to take advantage of the inexpensive transportation and can discover the tastiest bites on the cheap, you'll leave Hong Kong without feeling like you've been had.

Here is a one-day guide for enjoying the highlights of Hong Kong on just $15.00.


8:00 am: Dim Sum

Lin Heung's Tea House on Wellington Street is the city's best and most authentic place for dim sum. Men in barbers' coats wait on tables, impatient women push the carts, and the diners are a mix of elderly locals reading their newspapers and business folks breakfasting before work.

Getting to the dim sum, however, is the hardest part. The cart driver is not likely to stop and you'll have to contend with crowds looting the delectables. Aside from the delicious dim sum, Lin Heung Tea House, as the name implies, also has some of the best, free tea.

A word of advice: waste some of that tea by pouring it into the large bowl at the center of the table. You'll use your fingers and the hot liquid to clean your cup, spoon, bowl, and chopsticks. Unfortunately, I learned this hygienic technique after I ate with dirty utensils. (The entire story is in my free travel ebook, Misadventures of Southeast Asia). Two orders of dim sum will cost about $5. All prices are in US dollars.


10:00 am: The Peak

Everyone takes the tram to the Peak, which offers the best panoramic views of the city. But why pay $8 to stand on long lines for a ride to the top and then pay $4 more to be admitted into a crammed viewing area?

Instead, take public bus #15 from just outside the ferry terminal. The vistas from the bus's upper deck are great, but even more spectacular are the free views along two-mile Peak Circle Walk. The bus to the top is $2.50. (You can also hike up for free, but it's quite a steep climb.)


1:00 pm: Food Carts

When you return to the city, it's time to eat lunch. You can find a delicious and filling meal on or near Stanley Street, where food carts are lined up. The best meal for the least amount of cash is on Gutzlaff Street, an alley running perpendicular to Stanley Street. The Shui Kee food cart serves the equivalent of Vietnamese pho for $2.50.


2:30 pm: The Markets

Not only are the markets free of charge, but it's also where you'll be the most exposed to the culture.

First head to the intersection of Graham and Gage, where the fishmongers, butchers, and produce sellers gather. The meat vendors were my favorite as they butcher in flip flops and shorts. There are plenty of beautiful cuts hanging from hooks, but I'm sure the pinkish-gray tongues dangling beside hairy pig legs and above buckets overflowing with chicken feet will consume your attention.

Then head up to the Cat Street Market. Though they cater to antique shoppers, it feels more like a flea market with Garfield clocks sitting next to corpulent Buddhas and Bruce Lee playing cards. It's also where you'll find all things Mao, from plastic-covered pocket-sized books, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, to porcelain busts of the former communist. Just up the block is the small but famous Man Mo Temple. It's also free.


6:00 pm: The Rooftop

Head inside the IFC Mall and go up to the fourth floor rooftop. Amid the fancy bars and wealthy bankers, there are public tables available for picnicking, free of charge. Best of all, you can have a picnic on the couches and wicker chairs. Food can be purchased downstairs at City Super or at a cheaper grocery.

The public area is open well into the evening and you can watch Kowloon glow across the harbor. Either spend your last $5.00 on a nice picnic or just buy yourself a $1.00 beer and take your change to Gough Street where you'll be able to find a cheap and delicious bite.


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