10 Things to Do in Hong Kong – FREE

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10 things to do in Hong Kong … FOR FREE

Compared to its Southeast Asian counterparts, Hong Kong is by no means a cheap place to visit. The city is full of trendy shops and restaurants, designer labels, custom tailors and franchise attractions like Disneyland. Here are ten fun activities every bit as rewarding as emptying your bank account in Hong Kong, but available for free, or nearly free.

Temples:

Hong Kong has some 600 temples and joss houses. Some are ornate holy sees, like the Temple of 10,000 Buddhas, which starts with a trail lined with larger than life gold sculptures and ends in rooms literally lined with tiny Buddha statues. Others are simply smoky side-of-the-road shrines where worshipers light a coil of incense for a departed ancestor. These are all free and make for great photo opportunities. Remember to be respectful of the monks’ and worshipers’ privacy, however.

Mid-Levels Escalator:

The 2,600-foot-long Central-Mid-Levels escalator is the longest covered outdoor moving sidewalk system in the world. I know it sounds silly, but you’ll be grateful it’s there when you see the steep grade it covers, rising some 440 feet over its course. As most businesses are near the harbor and most housing on the hillside, the system runs downhill in the morning. Then, at 10am, each section of escalator is ceremoniously closed and its direction switched. The system offers a unique perspective on the city and passes by many nice restaurants and hole-in-the-wall shops. Make the locals happy by standing to the right and walking to the left.

Jade Markets:

Yes, the word market implies buying, which is not free. But a visit to Kowloon’s Jade markets is well worth the price of whatever trinket you choose to purchase. Try getting out without buying something if you want a true test of willpower. Old jade, new jade, odds and ends – it’s all there. Most of the shops are found between Jordan Road and Kansu Street on Canton Road.

Wet Markets:

Less tempting are the items for sale at the city’s numerous wet markets. Walking through the hordes of vegetable vendors, incense sellers and open-air butcher shops can be an olfactory overload. For an authentic look at iconic old-Hong Kong, however, nothing compares to dodging delivery trucks while vats of live crab or fish splashing water into the street.

Beaches:

Weather patterns can be tricky in Hong Kong, but when the sun’s out nothing beats a day at the beach. Feel free to ignore the countless umbrella and chez lounger hustlers if you like, and enjoy getting your feet in the sand. Be sure to check ahead about water quality, however. Beaches on the smaller islands tend to be fine, but the sea at some beaches closer to city centers can be too dirty for safe swimming.

The Tram:

OK, it’s not free – but for US$0.26 a ride, this has got to be one of the world’s cheapest sightseeing trips. The century-old tram runs from Kennedy Town in the west to Shau Kei Wan in the east, through some of Hong Kong Island’s most iconic districts. Jostling along steel rails in the street, the rickety double-decker wooden cars can fill up with busy shoppers, but if you are lucky you can claim one of many seats. Top level views from the front of the tram offer a dramatic take on Hong Kong’s towering skyscrapers and snaky traffic.

A Symphony of Lights:

Called the world’s largest permanent outdoor light show, A Symphony of Lights turns the super-dense forest of skyscrapers along the both side of Victoria Harbor into a disco of sorts. High-power laser lights shoot off the rooftops while multi-colored LEDs race up and down the sides of the buildings. The hour-long display starts at 8pm and is best seen from the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront or Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai.

Lan Kwai Fong Madness:

Unquestionably the heart of Hong Kong’s nightlife, the Lan Kwai Fong district in Central is home to scores of nightclubs, bars, street eats, and general Bacchanal. Several roads are blocked to motor traffic allowing the party to spill into the street, which can resemble Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras on any given night. Since the city’s smoking ban went into place last year, most of the party is outside anyway. Body paint, head-to-toe bear or gorilla suits, and glow-in-the-dark headbands are as common as designer dresses and business attire. Living it up with the hundreds (or thousands, depending on the evening) of thirsty night owls can be expensive but gawking at the costumed revelers is absolutely free and well worth your time if you don’t mind crowds. If you do get thirsty, budget-minded patrons head to the busy 7-Eleven convenience store at the heart of it all. Unlike many cities, Hong Kong does not ban consuming alcoholic beverages in the street, so locals have dubbed the mini-mart “Club 7-Eleven.” Lines to and from the beverage cooler at the back of the store can get pretty long during peak hours. The friendly cashiers are always happy to open your bottle if you have forgotten your opener.

Sitting Out Areas:

One of Hong Kong’s most delightful and best kept secrets is its public spaces, or “sitting out” areas. Some of these are normal parks, while others are little public alcoves on private property – somewhat like an outdoor hotel lobby. One uniquely beautiful space sits in the rooftop courtyard of the upscale restaurant, The Pawn, in Wan Chai. Visitors enter through the restaurant and either ascend stairs or take the elevator to the roof, where they can choose to dine from the restaurant menu or simply look out over hectic Johnston Road. Cushioned seats and canvas awnings make the space a lovely, free resting spot in an otherwise hurried part of town. Another public sitting area along a popular nightclub strip in Mid-Levels allows voyeuristic views of barhopping without the associated noise and liver damage. Located between Arbuthnot Road and Wyndham Street, the waterfall-lined space overlooks several clubs and is within earshot of party central, Lan Kwai Fong. To truly get the experience, budget voyeurs can drop in to the nearby 7-Eleven store on Wyndham and buy the beverage of their choice for a fraction of nightclub prices, then enjoy a nightclub-esque drink while literally being above it all.

Hiking:

Perfectly juxtapose to the uber-modern city landscape, Hong Kong’s miles of green space make for lovely hiking during the mostly dry and cool winters. Trails range from easy to ruggedly difficult, but usually let out near a bus stop or canteen. One popular trail is the mountainous Dragon’s Back.

Source: www.allvoices.com

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