22 January, 2013

Sassy’s top tips for saving money in Hong Kong

22 January, 2013

2013 is here and this year, I have decided to save money. I admit I have champagne tastes on a beer budget (don’t we all!) but after taking a long hard look at myself (and my bank account), I have decided to take action!

Most people think the city revolves around food and drinking. No. You are wrong, my friends! No matter your budget, there is something for everyone… you just have to look for it! The best thing about Hong Kong is that there is so much to do, so over the next few weeks, I’ll be road testing cheap and cheerful HK and bringing you all my best tips.

Before I begin my location-based guides to Hong Kong on a budget, I’ve put together my top tips for saving money in HK:

Public transport, I hear you gasp! When I first met my boyfriend, he scolded me (nicely) for taking cabs. All the time. Was I aware that Hong Kong had one of the most efficient, clean, well-run transportation systems in the world? Well, yes, but I grew up in Kowloon and therefore didn’t understand how the Island system worked (that really was my excuse!).

Nowadays, I am now a public transport pro and sometimes even grumble when I pay for a taxi. Although slightly daunting, Hong Kong buses are fantastic (they often take you nearer to your desired location than the MTR!), the tram is a delight (except at rush hour), the trains runs like clockwork and if you’re crossing over to Kowloon, the Star Ferry is a no-brainer. Simply check out the CityBus & NWFB website or download the CitybusNWFB app which provides you with all of Hong Kong’s bus routes, top up your Octopus card and give it a go.

I once paid $64 for a tomato. A normal red tomato. The price of fresh produce in Hong Kong can be ridiculous but there is a way to work around it. Fruit and vegetables from the markets are equally as delicious/healthy/sanitary for you than something that you purchased in ThreeSixty – they just needs to be properly washed and sterilized (as you should be doing with all vegetables). Purchase some Milton Sterilising Fluid and head to your local market to see what is available. $64 should cover you for a whole week’s worth of fruit and veg!

Another resolution I have made this year is to eat breakfast every day and bring my lunch into work twice a week. I’m a huge fan of cooking and will spend hours on blogs, recipe websites and sifting through cookbooks for new ideas. The aim is healthy, cheap, easy-to-make lunches that I can bring into work. Not only will this save me a few dollars, it’ll hopefully make me healthier in the process. Fingers crossed!

It’s pretty normal to spend a lot of money on an average meal in HK, especially if you are eating in Soho or Central. One of my resolutions this year is to venture to different restaurants – wet markets, noodle bars, cha chaan tengs and local dim sum joints – and get out of my comfort zone. Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Tai Hang and Sai Ying Pun (check out our Sai Ying Pun top five here) all boast some fantastic local restaurants… I just need to try them! The aim of the game is not to become the boring person who orders tap water and asks to pay her share of the bill because she only ate a side salad but instead experience some of the culinary delights that HK has to offer (and encourage friends to do it too!) without breaking the bank.

I remember reading an interview with Nicole Richie where she claimed that going out on the weekend was for the masses – amazing. Channel your inner Nicole Richie by heading out to play on a school night. Did you know that on Tuesday nights, Carnegies do $10 vodkas? And Wednesday and Thursday nights are Ladies Nights in both LKF and Wan Chai? You can check out our list of favourites here! Now I’m not encouraging the horrendous mid-week hangover, but consider this: you’re less likely to be out until 4am when you have to be up at 7am and heading out on a weekday may mean that you don’t find yourself spending the weekend with the blinds drawn… (Maybe?!)

Head up the Peak, run Bowen Road, take the Star Ferry to Kowloon. Rather than meeting your gal pals at the usual bar for a bottle of Sav, get out and explore. Venture to a different part of town (a wander round Island East, perhaps?), hop on the ferry to Mui Wo or any of our fave island day trips or visit the night market. This may not seem like a huge cost-cutting exercise but getting out of your routine is the best way to stop frittering away your hard earned cash!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be exploring different restaurants, activities and bars across Hong Kong – keep an eye out for my guides to TST, Causeway Bay and Central. Happy Saving!

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