The Backpacking Freelancer - Part X

30 June 2011
sleeping cats
Are the entrance fees and commute costs making you want to stay in the hostel or guesthouse all day? Don't let them! As the famous Hallmark tagline goes, sometimes the best things in life are free.

A visit to Hong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park and the Peak may cost some money indeed. Luckily, there are quite a number of fun things to do in HK that don't require monetary payment at all. The only investment required on your part would be good walking shoes.

Fun Things to Do in HK for FREE
  • Go malling. The airport is the best place to start (or end) your HK vacation. Some stalls are open during the wee hours of the night, but you'll probably enjoy your window shopping spree during normal work hours. This privilege is absolutely free for all passengers (if you don’t mind lugging your bags with you). You might need to present your boarding pass or passport for purchases at the Duty Free shop.

  • Witness the Symphony of Lights. Travel agencies will charge you big bucks for this event, but the display is actually free for all. Just make sure you hover around Victoria Harbor or the Avenue of the Stars from 8:00 p.m. The Avenue of the Stars is a leisurely stroll from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Stations, and there are signs to guide you.

  • Stroll the Avenue of the Stars. The path where names of the big stars of Asia are immortalized may resemble Hollywood, yet the atmosphere at the boulevard is truly HK. There are many fixtures along the avenue that give wonderful photo opportunities for tourists: the line of red stars, a statue of Bruce Lee and a view of passing fishing boats and ships amidst Hong Kong's skyscrapers.

  • Pass time away in Kowloon Park. The huge grounds have plenty of seats for the weary traveler as well as a myriad of sights for the enthusiastic photographer. The time that you spend in Kowloon Park is in itself an educational tour. You can do yoga here, visit the macaw aviary, or mingle with calligraphers and artists. The park opens at 5:00 a.m. It's a fantastic place to start your mornings at Tsim Sha Tsui.

  • Check out the night market. The sight of merchandise laid out on the street, and the streets blocked to make way for tents is quite fascinating for many Westerners. To Cebuanos, the night market is reminiscent of the "tabo sa banay" where you get to haggle with the sellers. It's not mandatory that you buy something there. You will probably find better priced merchandise of similar quality at Gaisano.

Your Pocket Money

So, how much pocket money should you bring to Hong Kong? The amount really depends on you. Variables such as your eating preferences, type of accommodations and planned activities will affect the figures. Granting that you remain a fun-loving but frugal freelancer in a 3D/2N vacation, the following budget should work for you:
  • Round-Trip Airfare: 5,000 - 9,000 PHP  (or less, depending on seat sale promos)
  • Philippine Travel Tax: 1,620 PHP
  • International Terminal Fee: 550 PHP  (if departing from Manila, add P200 more)
  • Octopus Card: 150 HKD
  • Guesthouse: 900 HKD at 450 HKD/night
  • Disneyland: 350 HKD (including all rides)
  • Ocean Park: 250 HKD (including most rides)
  • Peak Tram + Madame Tussauds: 190 HKD
  • Ngong Ping: 115 HKD
  • Food: 900 HKD at 300 HKD/day

Conversion: 1 HKD = 6 PHP*
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