Free and easy
Hong Kong may be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but with a little careful planning, you can experience some real Hong Kong gems without even taking your wallet out of your pocket.
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is free to visit – though you do have to negotiate over 430 steps to reach it, as it is located high on a hillside above Sha Tin (look out for wild monkeys as you climb).
Once up you will find not just one temple, but five, plus four pavilions and a pagoda. Inside the main temple you’ll find almost 13,000 miniature Buddha images, none of which, remarkably, are the same.
Legs still have some life left in them? Scale the spiral staircase to the top of the nine-storey pagoda for sweeping views of Sha Tin and the New Territories.
NEXT: Visit the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens →
This 5.6-ha Victorian-era garden, located on the northern slope of Victoria Peak, is a welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of what is the one of the world’s most densely populated cities.
Set foot inside and you are transported into the wild, as you explore its array of green spaces, from a bamboo and herb garden to a magnolia and azalea garden, all interspersed with bubbling fountains and sculptures.
It is also home to about more than 200 birds, mammals and reptiles. Look out for the ring-tailed lemur, buff-cheeked gibbon and American flamingo.
NEXT: Stay for A Symphony of Lights →
Situated between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula, Victoria Harbour is famous for its spectacular city skyline views. And just when you thought the harbour couldn’t get any more splendid, the tourist board throws some music, lights and pyrotechnic fireworks into the mix.
Every evening at 8pm, you can view the “A Symphony of Lights” show from the harbour’s shores.
Named the ‘World’s Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’ by the Guinness Book of World Records, it sees coloured lasers and flashbulbs light up the city’s soaring towers on both sides of the harbour, synchronised to music. There are five main themes: Awakening, Energy, Heritage, Partnership, and – the grand finale – Celebration.
NEXT: Mingle with locals at Temple Street Night Market →
Even if you don’t plan on shopping here or feasting on the dazzling array of dai pai dong (street stall) food on offer, it’s worth a visit to Temple Street come nightfall just to experience the vibrancy of what is the city’s liveliest night market.
It is at its best from about 7pm to 10pm, when it is packed with brightly-lit stalls and swarms of people.
Rows upon rows of vendors vie for space, selling everything from handbags, belts and clothing to antique trinkets and local arts and crafts. The foods stalls – serving up spicy noodles, soups and seafood – fill the air with delicious smells.
NEXT: Go to museums on Wednesdays →
If your trip coincides with a Wednesday, you’re in luck – some of the city’s most engaging museums open their doors to visitors for free for one day mid-week.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is a treasure trove of historical and cultural relics. Highlights include the Bruce Lee: Kung Fu Art Life exhibition, showcasing over 600 items, including movie costumes and hand-written letters.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Science Museum has over 500 hands-on exhibits. Centre-stage is the 22-m-high Energy Machine (it occupies all four storeys of the museum), which, when set in motion, gives a impressive audio-visual demonstration of energy conversion in action.
NEXT: Watch performances at the Kung Fu Corner →
Each Sunday from 2.30pm to 4.30pm at the Sculpture Walk at Kowloon Park there are free performances of traditional kung fu demonstrations by Chinese martial artists.
To add to the spectacle, the demonstrations are accompanied by colourful lion and dragon dances and ceremonial drumming.
At the end of the show, Jackie Chan wannabes (the actor was born in Hong Kong) are invited to have a go themselves, with the instructors on hand to lead visitors through typical kung fu movements.
NEXT: Climb the steps to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery →
By Nicola Iseard, SilverKris, August 2016
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