Top Free Things to Do in Hong Kong
Spending time in Hong Kong? Got more time than money? We have your back. There are tons of cool things to do in Hong Kong that don’t cost a thing. Here, we go beyond your standard Symphony of the Lights and Big Buddha trips to cover 8 of the best free things to do in Hong Kong.
Man Mo Temple
The historic Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, is definitely worth pencilling in. Dedicated to the gods of literature (Man Tai) and war (Mo Tai), this temple was originally built back in 1847 – so it’s safe to say it’s pretty much older than everything else in the trendy district combined (and it also doesn’t cost anything, unlike, well, the other places on the street). The complex is especially popular around Chinese New Year and just before public examinations when students flock to worship the gods in the hopes of attaining good grades. Our tip for visitors? Put your cameras away while inside the temple.
Kowloon Walled City Park
You’ve no doubt seen photos of the former Kowloon Walled City, originally a military outpost built by the Qing government of Imperial China that in modern times became a crime-ridden, largely lawless settlement for many years. It was demolished in the early 1990s, and a park was built in its place. Many historical features remain, like the South Gate and the Walled City’s yamen structure, featuring columns and walls with tiled roofs that marked the entrance to the settlement. The park is open to the public free of charge, seven days a week.
Kam Shan Country Park
The beautiful Kam Shan Country Park in Sha Tin features picturesque hiking trails and fresh air (a rarity in Hong Kong), but the best part is its abundance of wild monkeys who roam the grounds with abandon. It’s hard to imagine such a scene in a concrete jungle like Hong Kong, and if you love everything nature has to offer, you should stop by. Be aware that under Hong Kong law, hunting or “willingly disturbing” wild animals can land you a fine of HK$100,000 and a year in prison.
Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre
If you think it’s strange for us to tell you to go to an information centre, hear us out. The rooftop garden at IFC is free to the public (see below), though did you know that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority – located on the 55th floor of the same building – has an observation deck that has an even better view? Alongside an exhibition detailing the history of banking in Hong Kong, alongside an unobstructed view of the harbour and beyond. And, of course, admission is free.
Hong Kong Public Spaces
Land is at a premium in Hong Kong, so you might be surprised to know that plenty of public spaces around the city are free and open to all due to a law allocating a percentage of space for public use in some commercial buildings in the city. The IFC rooftop, located on 4/F at the mall, features restaurants and bars – but you’ll find all tables and chairs outside these establishments with a label indicating that they’re free to use by anyone. It’s the same with the deck just by Pier 7 Cafe and Bar at Central Piers, the rooftop at historic The Pawn in Wan Chai, and even the space just outside legendary nightclub Dragon-i on Wyndham Street.
Hong Kong Museums on Tuesdays
Public museums in Hong Kong normally cost HK$10 to enter, but on Tuesdays, most of them are free. Hey, every dollar counts, right? These include the Heritage Museum, the Museum of History, and the Science Museum, just to name a few. Check this page for a comprehensive list of admission fees and opening hours.
Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
With a prime location in Central, Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens is another must-visit, especially if travelling with kids. First built in 1860 and opened to the public in 1971, the park is the oldest in the area and is divided into two parts. The eastern part, known as the ‘Old Garden’, features aviaries, a playground, greenhouse and fountain terrace garden, while the western part, or ‘New Garden’, is home to an array of reptiles and mammals, including monkeys, sloths, otters and meerkats. And yes, admission is free of charge.
Lai Chi Kok Park
Located in Kowloon, Lai Chi Kok Park covers just under 18 hectares and offers a peaceful hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. The park is home to Lingnan Garden, a Chinese-style garden featuring beautiful water features, sculptures, stone carvings and woodwork. But Lai Chi Kok is more than just charming green spaces—it also features a range of activities with tennis courts, a soccer pitch, a skate park, playgrounds, fitness stations and chess tables.
Where to stay in Hong Kong?
Ovolo Central sits at the crossroads of Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo and offers the perfect base to explore the historic landmarks, gardens and museums of Hong Kong. The boutique hotel features 41 spacious rooms with plenty of perks, including slippers, designer toiletries and free minibar snacks. Kick back in the hotel bar/lounge or venture to Veda, a world-class vegetarian restaurant.
Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.