In January 2018, we travelled to Hong Kong and Macau to experience the Hong Kong Marathon and some great local food and culture. This was our second trip to Hong Kong and Macau, so some of our favourite things to do are not included in this itinerary. We’ll leave some details at the end on some of the great things we recommend if it’s your first time in these cities.
=> Read our guide to Hong Kong and Macau for tips on getting in, transport and budget.
Including a few splurges here and there, we had a very comfortable experience on a budget of around US$140 per person per day, or around US$2,300 total for 2 people for the full trip (excluding international flights to and from Hong Kong).
As a densely populated city, Hong Kong can be an expensive destination. Accommodation was our largest expense comprising over 50 percent of our travel costs (US $1,196) for upper mid-range hotels. We stayed at Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay in Hong Kong for 3 nights, Altira Macau for 2 nights, then Royal Plaza Hotel in Kowloon for the final 3 nights. The average cost of our accommodation for 2 people was US$150 per night.
Public transport is extremely convenient and relatively cheap in Hong Kong. Transport in Macau is also very simple thanks to its small size. Including the cost of trains to and from the airport and the ferry to and from Macau, we spent around US$20 per person per day on transport. The day-to-day transport costs within cities were closer to US$5 per person per day. This was about as cheap as you could feasibly travel in Hong Kong, though it was a very comfortable experience.
Food and miscellaneous costs
These expenses include our food costs, as well as drinks, snacks and attraction entry fees. Unique to this trip was a US$60 per person entry fee to the Hong Kong Marathon. Averaged over the 8 days, and including a couple of splurges, we spent around US$30 per person per day on food, and another US$20 per day on miscellaneous expenses. It wouldn’t be too difficult to get by on around US$20 on food, and US$10 on other miscellaneous expenses.
Day 1 – Flying from Canberra, Australia to Hong Kong
We used points to upgrade to Business Class on the Canberra to Melbourne route, which gave us access to the Qantas Business Class Lounges in both Canberra and Melbourne. After arriving in Hong Kong, we were treated to an upgrade with a view at the Metropark Causeway Bay before heading out to try some awesome street food in Central Hong Kong.
- Eating delicious food at Yat Lok, a Michelin-starred roast goose specialty restaurant (HK$202/US$26 for 2 dishes and drinks).
- Hanging out at Sing Kee daipaidong, a traditional Hong Kong local open-air street food location (HK$197/US$25 for 3 dishes and beer).
Day 2 – A great Hong Kong food experience
This day involved touring around the Hong Kong food scene, picking up our race kits for the marathon, and trying out a range of great transport options to see the city. While we didn’t load the day’s schedule with tourist activities, it was still a great, cheap and authentic experience in Hong Kong.
- Catching the Star Ferry for amazing views across the harbour (HK$3/US$0.40 per ticket).
- Riding the double-decker trams through Hong Kong Island for an authentic experience of street life in Hong Kong (HK$2.30/US$0.30 per ticket).
- Eating delicious dim sum at Tim Ho Wan (HK$142/US$18 for 6 dishes), and incredible beef brisket noodles at Kau Kee (HK$121/US$16 for 2 noodles, 1 drink).
Day 3 – Hong Kong Marathon and recovery
The Hong Kong Marathon was a huge highlight of this trip and we would highly recommend this as a great way to get among the locals and experience the roads of Hong Kong closed off for 80,000 runners as you weave through the skyscrapers of this iconic city. The local spirit was high, with spectators along the 21km route yelling “加油”, which roughly translates to “put the pedal to the metal!”. Entry US$60 for each race.
=> Read more about how to enter the Hong Kong marathon.
- Eating dimsum breakfast at Sam Hui Yat in Sai Ying Pun (HK$75/US$10 for 3-4 dishes).
- Eating at the Michelin-starred Kam’s Roast Goose after a patience-testing 90 minutes in line (HK$272/US$35 for lower 1/4 roost goose and noodles and rice).
Day 4 – Off to Macau and a taste of 6 star luxury
What better way to recover from the big race than to travel to the entertainment resort mecca of Macau. It’s just an hour by ferry from Sheung Wan near the Central District of Hong Kong Island (HK$171/US$22 per ticket) and offers amazing luxury at surprisingly affordable price.
- Checking into the Altira Macau, a 6 star resort with gigantic 60sqm suites featuring inspiring panoramic views of the Macau Harbour (a surprisingly affordable US$160 per night including breakfast and access to the equally amazing infinity pool and gym area).
- Getting picked up in a Mercedes Benz limousine from the ferry terminal (less than US$20 each way).
- Exploring Macau’s local delights around Taipa and the old town, including Margaret’s Egg Tarts (MOP$10/US$1.30 per tart) and pork chop bun (MOP$74/US$9.50 for 2 pork buns and milk tea).
- Indulging in high quality Northern Chinese cuisine at North by Square Eight in the MGM resort (MOP$242/US$31 for 4 dishes).
Day 5 – Relaxing and enjoying Macau
Feeling very well relaxed and rested, we expanded our horizons a little with a tour through the casino district of Cotai and the old town of Macau. While we had some great food throughout Macau, we couldn’t go past North by Square Eight restaurant for a second night, and it did not disappoint! The service, food, atmosphere were all incredible and the price was absurdly cheap for what you’re getting (MOP$303/US$39 for 5 dishes). In particular, the glutinous rice dumplings were to die for.
- Having a brilliant, local and cheap lunch at Chan Kong Kei roast duck (MOP$154/US$20).
- Touring through the Venetian, Parisian and Studio City in the Cotai casino district (and winning – a small amount).
- Finishing off a great day with drinks at Altira’s 38 Lounge, with a particularly excellent view of the Macau Harbour and city lights.
Day 6 – Food and shopping in Kowloon
We made our way back to Hong Kong after a great couple of days in Macau. We took the hotel limousine to the ferry terminal and enjoyed our rather bumpy ride back to Hong Kong. Back in Hong Kong, we checked into the Royal Plaza Hotel in Kowloon, the non-island side of Hong Kong city. Kowloon is a bit more wild and grungy than Hong Kong Island, but has some great gems if you know where to look.
=>Read top five things to do in Kowloon.
- Eating hand-made bamboo noodles at Kwan Kee (HK$146/US$19).
- Exploring Ladies’ Market in Mong Kok, Kowloon.
- Relaxing at Royal Plaza Hotel, a luxurious and relatively affordable 5 star hotel in Mong Kok (HK$1136/US$161 per night).
Day 7 – Hiking up Lion Rock and enjoying northern Kowloon
Having recovered well from the race, today was the first real opportunity for some more physical activity. So what better way to see the city than climbing up a 500m high peak, Lion Rock in northern Kowloon for glorious city views
- Exploring Nan Lian Garden and Kowloon Walled City Park (free entry).
- Amazing, authentic and super spicy at Sijie Sichuan Restaurant (HK$341/US$44 for 4 dishes).
- Delicious claypot rice at Hing Kee at the Temple Street Night Markets (HK$107/US$14 for 2 pots and drinks).
Day 8 – Day trip to Lamma Island and a special treat for dessert
For our last full day in Hong Kong, we decided to explore somewhere we hadn’t been before, so we got on a boat and headed off to the outlying island of Lamma Island (HK$18/US$2.30 per ticket). Lamma Island is a part of Hong Kong that was left behind by the development seen elsewhere in the region, and has a sizeable European population and expatriate population. It was great to see this alternative side of Hong Kong and trek through the island, even if it wasn’t our favourite experience overall.
- Catching a fishing boat back from Lamma Island to Aberdeen on the southern end of Hong Kong Island (HK$12/US$1.50).
- Going back to Yat Lok (HK$114/US$15) and Sing Kee daipaidong for lunch (HK$182/US$23).
- Having an improvised dessert arrangement created by a dessert artist at Atum desserent (HK$460/US$59).
Oh – and one more thing: As we were unwinding at the hotel in the afternoon, we got a notification from Qantas that our business class upgrade request had been successful at a cost of 100,000 frequent flyer points! Needless to say, this changed our plans significantly for the next day as it opened up unlimited access to not only the amazing Qantas Hong Kong lounge, but the world-famous Cathay Pacific business lounges, giving a strong incentive to get to the airport nice and early.
Day 9 – Goodbye Hong Kong city, hello Business Class lounges!
Our flight back to Australia left at 8:30pm in the evening, so we took the opportunity to have some last-minute Hong Kong city experiences before heading to the airport. After taking a taxi to the Kowloon train station and checking into our flight at the station (a fantastically convenient option which allows you to drop off your bags in the city and not see them again until you arrive in your destination country), we made our way to a couple of great eateries throughout the city before going to the airport at around midday.
- Amazing and cheap silken tofu at Kung Wo Dou Ban Chong (HK$62/US$8).
- Eating and relaxing at the fantastic Qantas Lounge at Hong Kong Airport.
- Enjoying the noodle bar at the Cathay Pacific Wing lounge.
- Drinking tea and preparing for the flight at the luxurious Cathay Pacific Pier lounge (one of the best business class lounge in the world).
- Business class flight on a Qantas A380 back to Sydney.
Extra Hong Kong and Macau ideas!
As we mentioned before, this wasn’t our first time in Hong Kong and Macau, so some of the best things to do were given a miss so that we could prioritise new experiences! If you have a week in Hong Kong (or even less), you should seriously consider:
- The Peak Tram to Victoria Peak at sunset (HK$99/US$13 including access to the Sky Terrace)
- The Ngong Ping 360 cable car to Tian Tan Buddha (HK$235/US$30)
- Hong Kong Disneyland (HK$619/US$80)
- Ozone Bar at the Ritz Carlton on a clear day for incredible views of the city (Cocktails for HK$215/US$28)
- Hong Kong Museum of History (Free)
- House of Dancing Water, City of Dream, Macau (Tickets from HK$598-HK$1498/US$77-US$193).
- Macau Old Town – Museum of Macau (MOP$15/US$1.90) and Ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral