Hong Kong on the Not Cheap

I’m a budget blogger for the most part, but even I can recognize the benefits of a good splurge. After nearly 9 months of complete austerity bumming my way around South East Asia, my second visit to Hong Kong (pesky visa issues) seemed like as good a time as ever to let loose and spend (a little) money.

I really don’t have a ton of money to throw around. But if I did, Hong Kong would be an exceptionally good place to do it. As a major commercial center and a vacation spot for China’s “new rich,” it’s unparalleled as a shopping and luxury mecca. It’s on part with London or New York (link) as a place to splash out.

I didn’t do a very good job of living the high life in Hong Kong, but if I were really going to give it a shot, here’s what I would do:

Fancy Hotels

In actuality I was camped out at a hostel in Fortress Hill, but I had the opportunity to visit some very nice hotels in Hong Kong, and imagine what a more fancy life might be like. For example, I was invited to a lovely lunch at the Nam Fong restaurant inside the Meridian Cyberport Hotel*. Now there is a luxurious hotel- perched overlooking the ocean, with one of the nicest pools I’ve seen in a long time and some stellar restaurants.

On the tour I got to see the gym, the salon, the flat screen tvs, until I was basically seething with envy. It was hard to go back to my dorm room after that.

So Much Food

I’d like to say I was eating out at fancy modern restaurants every night, but budget-stubborn me failed on this one too. It probably says something not so great about my current state that my idea of a fine dining splurge was to visit California Pizza Kitchen. But hey! After 3 months in China, any pizza at all looks pretty damn good:

yes, I ate it all

That said, there are a lot of really great (and probably fancy shmancy) restaurants in Hong Kong. Maybe next trip I’ll actually get to see some.

Shopping Overboard

This is one area I felt I could truly master. In my past life I was a major shopping addict. I loved to browse for nothing in particular, and now, after 9 months living out of a bag, heaven knows I’d love some variety to my wardrobe. Luckily, Hong Kong may have more shopping malls than just about anywhere on earth. Massive, luxurious shopping malls with confusing elevator systems just made for wandering.

Which is pretty much all I did. Wander, aimlessly, paralyzed and unable to justify spending $50 on a dress.

One evening my cousin, who is kind of a Big Deal in Hong Kong, took me to a cocktail party. It was a part of Hong Kong art week and was inside of an extremely ritzy department store. The elite of Hong Kong (the majority seemed to be expats) sip champagne and buy ridiculous and ridiculously expensive trinkets. I couldn’t really get on board.

Okay, so maybe it’s still a little hard for me to shed my thrifty ways- but hey at least I had fun!

Has backpacking changed me? Maybe. Ultimately it was the free/cheap pleasures of Hong Kong I enjoyed the most. Riding the cable cars and eating at the corner bakery. Or these fun flamingos I stumbled upon, just chilling in Kowloon Park. 20 minutes of entertainment watching them flap about- cost: zero dollars.

Has traveling made you thriftier?


Disclosure: The Meridian Cyberport invited me to lunch. All opinions are my own.

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8 thoughts on “Hong Kong on the Not Cheap”

  1. Yes it is not cheap at financial/commercial/tourist district in H.K. If you go to some place where local people live like Shamshuipo you can find everything cheap there.

  2. No need to tell me how expensive Hong Kong can be! Try moving here when you’re still unemployed! Scary stuff! But now that I’m working and living in Hong Kong, I LOVE it!

  3. I was there a couple years ago during my RTW trip. I didn’t splurge at all and found it cheap if you wanted it to be. I had my own room for $38 off Nathan Rd and had neat snacks everywhere. NOW I am going on a media trip there next week and will be traveling in style! I can’t wait. Shangri-La here i come!

  4. I’d love to say it has made me thriftier. While I’m at home saving for my trips, I’m pretty good about not spending money. When I get out on the trip itself, I always spend more than what I think I will. very little of that comes from budgeting wrong, most of it comes from being presented with experiences I consider singular and deciding to splurge on that. I’ve rarely even regretted these splurges, so I think it’s something I’ll probably continue to do.
    My other weakness is that I almost always travel solo and am a light sleeper, which usually necessitates a budget hotel instead of a hostel. That gets expensive. I’m thinking of going to Eastern/Balkan Europe next year and the only way I can stay within my lodging budget would be to stay in dorms at least some of the time. Should be interesting.

    Thanks for the though provoking post. have fun at TBEX.

  5. I grew up in Hong Kong as an expat and find it a pretty hard not to spend money there. It’s such an awesome place to eat and shop! I think when you’re traveling for awhile you get used to not spending so much. Besides you don’t want to buy too much anyways because there’s no room in your bag to fit anything else…and you don’t want to carry the extra weight! 😉

    Your photos really make me miss Hong Kong though. Specially the shopping mall photo! Is that Times Square in Causeway Bay?

  6. I still don’t consider myself thrifty — as I still like my splurges… and I don’t usually opt to stay in hostels… like ever. But I have found that living out of 2 bags has helped me cut back on the urge to buy stuff. Plus, it probably helps that there isn’t a whole lot to buy here in Wuxi! I’m hoping to get to Hong Kong this summer — but, oh man, my wallet’s going to take a hit!

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