The experience of visiting Hong Kong for the first time can verge on the overwhelming. You arrive in a city of 6.8 million inhabitants that seems to be in perpetual motion, with crowded pavements and bright neon signs extending in every direction. It’s one of the world's most densely populated places and visitors from across the globe continue to be seduced by Hong Kong's unique culture and expansive skyline.
However, first-timers should not let the sensory overload of this former British colony persuade them to part with their hard-earned cash unnecessarily. After all, you're likely to spend more than enough getting there in the first place, so why not try to keep some money in your pocket as you explore the city?
Although the wealth of Hong Kong means all manner of luxuries are available to travellers, there are also plenty of activities that can be enjoyed for absolutely nothing.
Here's a rundown of the top 7 free things to do in Hong Kong, ‘the city where East meets West':
1) Early morning tai chiGetting up before 9am is not everyone's idea of fun while on holiday, but early risers staying in Hong Kong are in for a treat.
Tai chi, the Chinese martial art known for its health benefits, is a favourite pastime of the locals. Many get out of bed early to take part in a public session on the streets before going to work.
You can watch people practising the graceful, fluid movements of tai chi in many of the city's parks, and of course you won't have to pay a penny. The best spots for spectators include Kowloon Park, Hong Kong Park, Victoria Park and the Zoological and Botanical Gardens.
Getting involved is also completely free, as complimentary classes for beginners are held several mornings a week at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront promenade.
2) Bank of China TowerHong Kong is famous for its towering buildings and paying inflated prices at a skyscraper bar is one way to enjoy the city's impressive skyline. There is another option for those who'd rather conserve their cash, and it's something of a hidden gem.
The Bank of China Tower features an observation deck that is open to the public and admission is free. Just collect a visitor's pass from the reception area and head up to the 43rd floor to enjoy stunning views of central Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour.
3) Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical GardensYou might be used to parting with a sizeable admission fee at zoos in the UK, but entrance to this popular visitor attraction is always free.
Reptiles such as the Burmese python, Malayan box turtle and Chinese alligator call the Zoological and Botanical Gardens home, and shouldn't mind you dropping in for a stroll around the site. Animal lovers will also find orang-utans, monkeys and flamingos at the attraction, which is located on the northern slope of Victoria Peak.
4) A Symphony of LightsDespite its grand title, there's no eye-watering ticket price associated with this nightly feature of life in Hong Kong.
At 8pm every evening, a spectacular 20-minute light show involving more than 40 buildings on both sides of the harbour takes place. Synchronised to music, the event is a source of great pride for residents and likely to leave first-time visitors mesmerised, all without spending a thing.
5) Hong Kong Museum of HistoryEntrance to one of the city's key cultural attractions is usually priced at HK$10, but if you happen to be in Hong Kong on a Wednesday then you're in luck. Admission is free all day, providing the perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge of this intriguing part of the world without lightening your wallet.
6) Temple Street Night MarketThis buzzing street bazaar is a nightly fixture of the areas known as Jordan and Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon. The market is sometimes referred to as Men's Street because many of its stalls focus on male fashion, but plenty of people visit for the atmosphere rather than the items on sale.
You can take in the ambience by strolling down to the market as the streets become crowded at dusk. Try to avoid being persuaded to buy some discounted electronic goods or antique ornaments and this is another great free activity.
7) Kung Fu CornerTraditional kung fu demonstrations take place every Sunday in the pleasant surroundings of Kowloon Park. Be warned, however, that you may be called upon to display your own skills once the instructors have strutted their stuff.
Anything to add to 7 free things to do in Hong Kong? More suggestions?
We love to hear them! Just share it below in the comment section – i will add the additional tips from time to time.[framed_box]
Ryan is the resident blogger at AsiaRooms.
When Ryan is not working he spends his time travelling the globe, drawing on his travel experience and passion for travel to spread the good word. Ryan is also a social monkey and can be found lounging around on Twitter & Google+ and loves to interact with other travel bloggers.
Featured image taken from Flickr (c) by Frank Müller
After reading this maybe Hong Kong will be put on my travel list!
Great tips! It's such a pity we didn't know about the Bank of China observation deck last year, when we visited HK. We would have definitely gone there!
Hm how come I did not know about any of these 7 things when I went to Hong Kong last year? :D
…i would say you have to plan a second stay there ;) i’m looking forward to hear your suggests for hong kong next week!
One of my favourite aspects of Hong Kong is that it has so many free things on offer and interesting cheap forms of transportation to get around the city. A nice budget day for me in the city would include hopping on and off the tram, taking the Star Ferry, wandering around the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, checking out the noon day gun and then finally the Symphony of Lights in the evening :)
Hehe – this itinerary is a cool add-on to the list, Samuel!
The whole set-up of Hong Kong itself is just great due to the fact that this city is somewhere between the western and eastern world – wandering around is propably one of the top free things to do in such kind of cities ;)
wow great tips! I'm bookmarking this because I'm going there in a few days ^_^.
I’ve noted those tips down, I’ll definitely make a good use of them when I’ll finally make it to Hong Kong. Thanks! :)
This article is awesome and have helped me in planning my travel in HK. I’ve got a few discoveries as well
I think there must be lots of thing can do which is free in Hong Kong, also the expenses is not really high in general ( excl the rent )
But I think go to peak ( at central ) is a good idea
or Lan Kwai Fong also at central