Travel, Teach, Live in Asia
If there is one thing I am good at it is living beyond my means.
Though not necessarily a commendable trait, it has made me a hardcore bargain hunter for everything - from food, to sleeping quarters, to clothes, to transportation.
I may not be rich, I must admit, but street smart-- yes I am!
Based on my recent budget trip to Hong Kong, I have crafted a scheme so frugal it will make any Pinoy proud.
This is for all the wanderlusts, who are short on cash.
BUS = US$1.00 and up (depending on destination)
You will be amazed how cheap, well organized and safe it is to ride a bus in Hong Kong. There will always be a bus stop near you so spot that. DO NOT flag a bus in the middle of the road, it will squash you mercilessly! Always opt for the second deck seating for the best view.
DOUBLE DECKER TRAMWAY = US$.50 (flat rate)
Hong Kong's cheapest mode of transportation!
Unfortunately the TRAM's route only covers the Hong Kong Island side. But if you're in the area you can go from Causeway Bay, to the Shark's Fin City to Louis Vuitton in Central with just 12 bucks! Everyone MUST ride the TRAM, at least once, for the whole old school HK experience.
STAR FERRY = US$2.00
This the cheapest and most scenic way to traverse Kowloon and Hong Kong island.
MASS TRANSIT RAILWAY (MTR) = US$1.00 - US$15.00 (depending on the destination)
Not necessarily cheap, the MTR is the most convenient and my favorite way to go around the city. As they say, once you go MTR you can never go back to our local MRT.
*Taxis are the most expensive way to get around HK, so if you want to be a smart travel just say no and walk to where you're going.
CHUNKING MANSION = US$15 PER PERSON
Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Do not be scared of the ghetto façade, the Mansion is safe and dirt cheap (no pun intended). The place has relatively clean beds and each room has its own bathroom with hot water.
Recently featured in Time Magazine, Chunking Mansion is said to be the melting pot of races in Hong Kong with Indians, Middle Eastern people, Nepalese, Sri Lakans, Bangladeshins and Nigerians calling this their turf.
SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS = FREE!!
Star Ferry Terminal, Kowloon
Every night at exactly 8 pm there will be a laser light show. You will hear a musical accompaniment to the laser light, which includes thousands and thousands of lights on various Hong Kong buildings bouncing off each other. Green and white lasers will shoot out from the top of the sky scrappers. It's an amazing opulent experience that is, best of all, free!
VICTORIA PEAK = US$20.00 ++ (WITH FOOD)
Hong Kong Island
The Peak is an SOP destination. Its open rooftop platform offers the best 360-degree view of HK!
Go there around sunset so you see HK's skyline at night. The cheapest way to get there is via open-top bus.
The restaurants and bistros are steep on price so opt for good ol' McDonalds on the second floor. Take out your food and eat it al fresco on the roof deck.
OCEAN PARK = US$30
This is a happier place than Disneyland, especially if your 13 years old and up!
The latest attraction is the SkyFair, here you ride a helium balloon to get a spectacular view of the coastline and South China Sea.
LAN KWAI FONG = US$10
Central District, Hong Kong
The L-shaped cobble stone lane has trendiest pubs, bistros, restos and clubs. This place is an expat magnet so if you're into white boy yuppies you may find your match here.
However alcoholic beverages sold at the bar are worth gold. The solution is to load up on the nearest 711 (a 6pack Tiger beer cost about P300), get bubbly with booze then head to Lan Kwai Fong and just go people oogling.
MONGKOK STREET MARKET
ongkok street is 'The shopping tourist mecca'. There are rows of shops that sell sports goods, branded clothes, computer items, comics, collectible toys, cellphones etc.
The most famous area is the Ladies Market. It is 3 blocks of tent domes that sell stuff you can see in Greenhills. However there are nice items to purchase like cute tote bags, hardcore rocker belts, bling quality fake watches and the ubiquitous pasalubong keychains, ballpens, wallets, t-shirts etc.
If you decide to buy something here YOU MUST HAGGLE like your life depended on it.
Haggling in this area is like a metaphor to a girl's love life. Never show them (boys/hawkers) that you're into them (boys/items). Always bargain for the best deal which is a 75 percent discount. And if they don't give you what they want... WALK AWAY. There will be an 80 percent chance the boy/hawker will give in to what you want.
Another tip if your gonna buy the Hong Kong printed T-shirts the good price is 6 shirts for HK$100 (or P100 each)
LAI CHI KOK
This is fashion wholesale paradise!
To get here ride the MTR, go down the Lai Chi Kok station. Take Exit C.
Cheap bags, t-shirts, jeans, belts, accessories, you name it's here. Haggling is a must. The US$30 leather bags you see in the US as expensive stores are just worth US$15 here.
Causeway Bay??? Hong Kong
For me this is the better than Mango, Sarah, Dorthy Perkin or Top Shop combined. This Swedish brand has the cheapest yet trendiest goods. Lucky for me and my friends we came in during sale season and we bought kick ass shirts for as low as P300 and patent leather bags for as cheap as P600! The accessories are lovely!
H and M caters to all kinds of taste whether you're a wannabe hipster like Lindsay Lohan or a polished trendsetter ala Ashley Olsen.
You cant go wrong with a store that has acquired the talents of such bigwigs as Karl Lagerfeld, Viktor and Rolf, and yes... Maddona and Kyle Minogue!
Dowdy as the brand may seem this clothing store is practical and if you look close enough you can find decent casual, office wear. Check out their SIMPSON tees sold for a steal.
Gone are the cheesy Giordano plain tees with Frog logos, remember the 90s? In Hong Kong, Giordano has put up a Concept Store that has become classy and trendy. Check out their print ad which models Korean Superstars including Rain!
The Concept Stores have quality goods and the designs are minimalist but well structured. As expected the stuff is more expensive than your regular goods. A collared polo shirt can cost US$20, but it's worth it!
The question now is what happened to Giordano Philippines?
CD heaven, enough said.
DOG FRIENDS FASHION STORE
Hipster clothing that street fashonistas will relish. I bought a trench patch jacket at a sale price of US$20.00 from US$100
STREET FOOD AT MONGKOK AREA = US$2.00
The way the Chinese cook their hawker food maybe gross but boy is it yummy. Get authentic dim sum, pork buns, prawn dumpling and Chinese tea here!
POPEYE'S CHICKEN = US$12.00
Order the chicken and the bread. Super worth it!
EGG TART = US$.40
This is Macau's dessert speciality but HK version is also great. Buy at any local bakery
DAN RYANS' CHICAGO GRILL US$25
Best clam chowder, hands.