You hear the words “budget travel” and you probably have visions of backpackers, hostel dorm rooms, and taking the slow train. To some people, that sounds great – and to others, “budget travel” sounds too much like “uncomfortable travel, which is why it’s important to know when spending a little extra during a trip is worth it.
Take, for example, the city of Hong Kong. It’s a city with a bit of an identity problem, as it’s geographically quite firmly in the famously cheap country of China but retains a bit of the personality of its former English rulers. Hong Kong is neither amazingly cheap or outrageously expensive, although it has elements of both – and navigating the perfect path between those two extremes can be a challenge.
There are certainly well-known ways to do Hong Kong on a budget. Perhaps the most obvious one is the plethora of infamous hostels that often look more like slums in buildings inexplicably called “mansions.” While the horror stories about these hostels may not be entirely believable, the truth is that you don’t have to pay through the nose in Hong Kong to stay in a place that’s much nicer. The YMCA Salisbury Hotel offers a hostel experience that’s more typical of what you can expect in other parts of the world and it comes with none of the seediness of the hostels on Nathan Road.
Shopping is routinely listed as one of the main things to do in Hong Kong, and it’s certainly possible to spend a fortune doing so. Some would argue that you can probably find much of what’s on offer in Hong Kong’s designer shops back home for less than you’d pay in Hong Kong, but if the shopper in you can’t resist picking up a souvenir or two you can save money by avoiding the boutiques and heading for the markets. You’ll need to hone your haggling skills – and be prepared to walk away if you don’t like the prices offered – but this is one way to turn an ordinary shopping excursion into a cultural experience. And if you save money in the process, that’s even better.
When it comes to sightseeing and dining in Hong Kong, the good news is that it’s easy to do both on a budget without feeling like you’re being cheated out of a better (and more expensive) experience. Sure, there are ways to spend more in certain restaurants or by taking the gondola up the mountain instead of the bus, but when you get to eat really well in the many outdoor markets and take the bus (for the same view) for a fraction of the price, why waste the extra money?
What parts of travel do you splurge on?
– by Jessica of BootsnAll
photo by Engle & Smith