Hong Kong is not a cheap place to visit and prices creep up at every opportunity, as any local can testify. But don't despair: many of the city's best attractions – skyscrapers, nature trails, vintage transport – are free or cheap. With a bit of planning, you can save your pennies for indulgences.

Free Museums

Many of Hong Kong's major museums are now free; those that are not still sometimes offer free entry on Wednesdays:

  • Museum of History

Get context on all of Hong Kong's history all in one place.

  • Heritage Museum

Features exhibits on folk traditions, the life of Bruce Lee and Cantonese opera.

  • Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

An elegant showcase of vintage tea ware inside Hong Kong Park.

  • University Museum & Art Gallery

Rotating art and sculpture alongside permanent Chinese antiques.

  • Hong Kong Railway Museum

Featuring Hong Kong's railway history with disused train carriages for the kids.

  • Museum of Coastal Defence

A museum detailing Hong Kong's coast defence over six centuries.

Places offering free English tours

  • Tai Kwun

The former Central Police Station on Hollywood Rd is a complex of a dozen or so heritage buildings.

  • Blue House Cluster

Hong Kong’s last remaining wooden tenement building is a heritage success story.

  • Asia Society Hong Kong Centre

A former explosives magazine that stages top-notch exhibitions.

  • Heritage of Mei Ho House Museum

This museum shows the development of public housing in Hong Kong with photos and replicas.

  • Tai O Heritage Hotel

This former police station guarded the coast against pirates (book online).

Places You Can Only Visit on a Free Tour

  • Tsz Shan Monastery

An elegant antiquity-inspired modern Buddhist monastery.

  • Lui Seng Chun

An old building with a Chinese medicine clinic.

  • Helena May

Edwardian institution and members' club beside the Peak Tram.

Free Festivals & Events

  • Dragon Boat Races

Dragon boat racing against a backdrop of decorated fishing junks.

  • Hungry Ghost Festival

Elaborate rites to appease roaming spirits in the seventh lunar month at this festival when the gates of hell are believed to be open.

  • Fire Dragon Dance

A smoky dance by a straw dragon stuck with glowing incense sticks during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

  • Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Modern reenactment of a Qing ritual where climbers scramble up bun towers and try to pocket as many buns as possible at this festival.

  • Freespace Happening

Annual kaleidoscope of live music, film, dance, parkour and handicrafts, in West Kowloon (www.westkowloon.hk/en/freespacehappening).

Nature Escape

  • Hills

Hike, cycle or take long walks in Hong Kong's beautiful countryside.

  • Beaches

Hong Kong's beaches come with lifeguards; just bring sunblock and beer.

Cheap & Cheerful

Not quite free, but near enough to warrant inclusion.

  • Tram

For a couple of dollars you can rattle your way through the urban canyon of high-rises on a tram.

  • Star Ferry

Give up pocket change for the voyage of a lifetime on the Star Ferry.

  • Off-peak-hour dining

Many Chinese restaurants offer discounted prices on either side of the noon to 2pm lunch hours. Cha chaan tang (tea houses) and fast-food chains have good-value afternoon tea.

  • Happy Hours

Around sundown generous happy hours are a feature of many bars.

  • Movie Tuesday

On Tuesdays, a movie ticket costs from HK$10 to HK$25 less than usual.

  • Horse-racing

For only HK$10, you can experience a night at the races at Happy Valley Racecourse.