The ultimate Solo Travel guide to Hong Kong!

"So you are travelling alone again?", my mum asked.
"Yes, and I am going to have a lot of fun too!", I replied with a twinkle in the eye.
I got the feeling that she wasn't quite pleased with the reply and moved on to other questions, like my packing list.
"I checked the temperature in Hong Kong and I think you will need a jacket", she added with authority. I had completely forgotten about it and quickly packed my beloved leather jacket.

Very soon I was inundated with messages form my uncle connecting me with a second cousin in Hong Kong I had met at a wedding a few years back. I promised to try and meet him, though I completely failed on the family front, as usual.

That's pretty much how my last few hours were before I started my solo travel to Hong Kong :)

At the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong

So why was I travelling alone?

Well, though I often don't travel alone by choice, I actually quite enjoy it. I love the freedom that comes with it like taking impromptu decisions or changing plans at the last minute. Or completely skipping popular destinations, like Ocean World and Disney in Honk Kong. These are, of course, wonderful, destinations for families travelling together (read my guide: Travelling Hong Kong with family), but my priorities are often different.

A great to me is the one where I meet lots of locals, hear their stories, eat at local food places, stay in accommodations which represent the place and so on. Of course, I love travelling in style, like I recently did in Finland, but what I like even more is a balance of both. Life is always about balances, right?

So that's how my solo journey to Hong Kong started - with love and scepticism at home, really high expectation at my end and tons of new experiments in my head. I flew with Cathay Pacific (read: My flying experience with Cathay Pacific) and had a wonderfully relaxed journey where I slept most of the time.

Before I move on, let me quickly showcase to you how my journey went through this short video :)



Tips for Hong Kong on a budget

Since this is a post primarily about solo travel on a budget, let me give you some quick tips on how you can do this:

Book your flights much in advance and use deals like this one: Flights to Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific is also a member of Oneworld alliance and you can also use points from your previous trips to save the cost.
  1. Pick the right area to stay. The way I do it is by checking where the local middle class population of the city lives, and also by asking any connections in the new place. I chose Mong Kok for two reasons - it was affordable plus it was the hub for local culture, food and street-life.
  2. Chuck the hotels and use couchsurfing or Airbnb. Though I usually prefer couchsurfing, this time I stayed in a rather simple and minimalist accommodation with Airbnb, which had everything I needed but nothing more.
  3. Walk a LOT! Walking is one of the best places to explore on foot so don't miss out on this opportunity.
  4. Use ONLY public transport and NO taxis. Actually public transport is so good in Hong Kong that you won't need to use the taxis, but still keep this in mind. This is one of the only affordable things in the city!
  5. Buy an Octopus card for public transportation. The card can be recharged at any local 7/11 stores and also be used for shopping for small groceries.
  6. Eat local and at local places, especially the street food in places like Mong Kok. The food is awesome and very affordable. 
  7. Shop local in local markets. You can find much cheaper souvenirs. In fact i suggest not buying any souvenir at all, but if you have to buy one do it from a shop on the streets and bargain hard, almost what you would do in India as well!

My recommended spots in Hong Kong

So now that we are done with the tips to save some money while we travel in Hong Kong, here are some of my recommendations to make the most of your stay. Of course I did the things I enjoy doing and you must do exactly the same - that's perhaps the best thing about solo travel, you decide everything!

Walk the streets

To me this is the best way to see a city and Hong Kong doesn't disappoint at all. Whether you are in an old area like Mong Kok or Kowloon, or in the downtown, walking is always the best way to see and absorb the city. If you ever get tired, just hop onto a tram or a bus or metro and move on to your next destination!



Check out Instagram pier

I had no clue a place like this existed until I met Priyanka, an Instagram friend. We decided to do a photo-walk together and she took me here. It's a local secret, and is actually quite a popular destination for taking pictures, making videos (we saw a music video being shot there), cycling, do yoga and so on.


Street food at Mong Kok

Being a vegetarian I was a bit apprehensive about trying out the street food here, but I was also keen to try out the local flavors. The good news - most places will be able to fix something vegetarian, and it's perfectly safe to eat unless you are too fussy about it (I am not).


Victoria Hill on the tram

Well, this is certainly not off-beat, but there is no way I would skip talking about it. I went there early morning on the day I was leaving back for India and as luck would have it, the morning turned out to be completely foggy. So did I see the famed city view at all from up there? Check out the video to know :)



Island hopping

To take a break from the busy Hong Kong, I decided to visit one of the islands around and guess what my Octopus card worked here as well! I went to the Cheung Chau island and spent an almost day walking on the hill, chilling on the beach, eating some unique local food and praying at the temples of sea god and goddess. But you can also hop onto other islands as well through the ferries and can spend an entire day doing that :)


Hiking in Hong Kong

Well, I had no clue that there so much greenery in Hong Kong before I started planning for a trip there. Not only are there hills covered with green foliage, there are some excellent hikes as well. One of the most popular ones is called Dragon's back and though I missed going on this, I can easily recommend it you based on all the reviews online.


Ride the junk boat

Junk boat - now what's that? Aqua Luna organises a junk boat ride in the sea and the views from the boat are some of the best in the city. The ride also coincides with the famous lights show, Symphony of Lights.

Planning for a visit from India

Now that we know all about what to do in Hong Kong, here's some practice information as well to plan your trip there.

Have a doubt still? Feel free to ask in the comments below.

Visa for Hong Kong

There were recent reports about visa free arrival being withdrawn for Indians, but there is absolutely no truth in it. You need to do an online pre-arrival registration before you travel, and then get a notification slip online and print this with you before on boarding the flight. Simple.

Flights

Like I already mentioned, I flew economy class with Cathay Pacific, and I would absolutely recommend anyone to fly with them too. They have also been  named 'World's Best Airline' four times in the Skytrax World Airline Awards and that in itself is a reason to pick them! Plus they have some good in-flight entertainment options to pick from as well - despite being so tired I was tempted to try it out and ended up watching La La Land! Do explore all the options when you do fly them :)

Where to stay

Again I will go back to my earlier recommendation and say use Couchsurfing or Airbnb, or maybe a youth hostel for your stay there. In fact even if you are a small group of close friends, use these - it will help you save a lot of money!

Travelling within Hong Kong

Public transportation is excellent and also very affordable in Hong Kong, and there is really no reason to ever take a taxi there. To avail all public transport you need to get something called an Octopus card. Buy it at the airport itself and then keep recharging it as per the needs. The recharge can be done across numerous utility stores across the city or at metro stations.

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Disclaimer: I flew to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific as their guest. However all views expressed here are unbiased and based on my personal experiences.

Comments

  1. We recently visited Hong Kong for the first time and really enjoyed it. Some lovely tips, including a few that aren't in the usual lists, have bookmarked a couple for next time!

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  2. I just want to go to Hong Kong now! All the talk about street food and local people, I agree this is the kind enjoyment I get out of an adventure. You've hit the nail on the head there! Thank you for the list, it'll really help when I plan my adventure to Hong Kong!!

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  3. Beautiful photography and tips. Saw your video before. Hong Kong is on my bucket list for sure.

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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  4. Oh wow, you have just made me miss Hong Kong. During my last visit i was with my workmates, but I plan to travel in Hong Kong again Solo. Yes, just like I enjoy the freedom of flirting with my decision when i travel alone. Anyway, this is such a great blog post with a complete budget friendly guide for those that are planning to visit Hong Kong alone. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  5. I have been wanting to visit Hong Kong for awhile! This city just fascinates me and after spending so much time in Asia I still can't believe we haven't made it. I love the video you shared, I like how you were able to show off a long period of time in just a minute! The hyperlapse really showed the spirit of the city! Also, I have heard it's quite pricey in HK so good to know there are couchsurfing options!

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  6. Once again you have succeeded in making me nostalgic about the place! I found myself nodding to most of the things you have mentioned. We also stayed in Mong Kok area for the same reason. Used Octopus cards in buses and in ferries. Visited local markets and ate local food. :)

    Useful information. I have been to Hong Kong 3 times, won't mind another trip. ;)

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  7. I love Hong Kong so much! It was actually where I had my first ever solo travel experience. This is a great guide and you weaved your personal experience well with informative bits!

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  8. I am really glad that I came across your blog, I love the design and I love your writing style, it really pulls people in! I loved the conversation you had with your mom about traveling solo, it reminded me of conversations I have with my dad when I travel solo. Haha! I have been to Hong Kong, but not for a long time and this article is definitely making me want to go back!

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  9. I really dig Sid that you can enjoy a good dish of veggie fare street-side without dying LOL! Always helpful to have those options. My wife is a vegetarian and I eat veggie when it lands where it is normal, or easily acquired, fare. Loved this roundup bro. Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

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  10. I actually had no idea that HK had street food! Glad you were able to find some vegetarian options too. I personally haven't been to HK yet but I always hear good things about it - I'll be sure to follow your budget tips too to keep a trip from getting too expensive!

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  11. I loved exploring Hong Kong through your videos and pics! Glad to know that it's possible to travel frugally, using public transport and trying out street food. I would love to go on a tram and check out Victoria hill!

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  12. Your article is really thorough, I like that! I enjoyed the clip of you getting there so we subscribed to see more! I will read the article about going as a family as we are heading out there in November, but there was good tips in here we can apply anyway! Thanks

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  13. Hong Kong is such a lovely destination. The best way to travel in big cities is using the public transport else you can burn a hole in your pocket hailing taxis. Would love to visit Hong Kong sometime soon.

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  14. This is a great post! I don't solo travel but it applies to everyone and I will bookmark it for later! Thanks for the post

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  15. HK is my favorite city country. I just love the place. Also, i enjoy traveling alone its a great experience.

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  16. I loved Hong Kong and like you I was there totally solo. Though I was coming home from Mongolia to Australia. I wish I had more time especially when I read posts like this and see amazing photos like yours. One day I'll make it back to eat myself silly

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  17. HK has been at the top of my list for a while. The views from Victoria Peak looks incredible - I can't wait to see them for myself. And a visit to the Big Buddha is a must. Oh and don't let me forget trying all the yummy food! I need to get to Hong Kong soon!

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  18. I would love to visit Hong Kong, sounds like a pretty easy place to travel solo - kudos for embracing solo travel and enjoying the perks even though you may not go our of your way to make that choice :) Thanks for the heads up on the Octopus card for public transport - we love walking though so it's nice to hear that it's a walkable city. Will have to find that Instagram Pier when we go - looks like a great place to capture life and people photography :)

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  19. I also went to Hong Kong alone a couple of years ago and I loved every second of the journey. I understand your family worries, but you shouldnt worry about it. I loved your photos and recommendations for Hong Kong. This is a very comprehensive guide for the big city.

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