Whether Hong Kong is cheap or expensive is one of the most common questions asked by potential visitors to the city. It has a well-earned reputation for being one of the world's priciest cities. In 2019, it tied for first place with Singapore and Paris as the most expensive city in the world.
Hong Kong certainly has the potential to cause a raid on your bank account. It's possible to spend more on life’s little luxuries in Hong Kong than anywhere else on earth—and five-star Hong Kong hotels will certainly help empty your wallet.
But just because the city can be expensive for residents and travelers alike, doesn't mean you have to empty your wallet on a trip to Hong Kong. It's easier to save money here than in most other world cities. There is fairly reliable, cheap transportation, loads of delicious and cheap food, and plenty of attractions and experiences that are completely free. Below, we look at the average price of goods and services.
Price of Accommodation in Hong Kong
It's a well-known fact that Hong Kong is short on real estate. With a growing population and finite land Hong Kong has some of the most squeezed real estate in the world.
As such, the hotels are usually very busy and when rooms are in high demand, prices skyrocket. Expect to pay HK$1,800 (US$230) and upwards for a five star and HK$600 (US$77) and up for a three star.
Stays in guesthouses and dorms start as low as HK$150 (US$20), although they are frequently of very low quality. Luckily there are some hotels that are affordable and desirable. If you're looking to save some cash, see our picks of the best Hong Kong hotels under US$100, and similar hotels under US$200. Alternatively, look at this list of best AirBNB apartments in Hong Kong.
Price of Transport in Hong Kong
Getting around Hong Kong is cheap, cheap, and cheap. Hong Kong has a fantastic public transport system where prices are kept low, to try and encourage people to use public transit instead of driving on the traffic-clogged streets.
A Star Ferry ticket to cross the harbor is just HK$3.40 (US$0.40), while an MTR ride around downtown will cost around HK$12 (US$1.50). And a tram that covers Hong Kong Central’s busiest streets will cost HK$2.30, no matter how long your tram trip.
All these modes of transportation use the contactless Octopus Card, a priceless tool for transport around Hong Kong.
Price of Eating Out in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is not only a fantastic place to eat out but you don't need to spend much to eat well. There are Cantonese restaurants on every street corner and the classic combo of rice and char siu can go for as little as HK$30 (US$4), although HK$60 (US$8) is a price you'll see more often.
Dim Sum, Chinese barbecue, buffets and other local favorites are similarly cheap. Costs jump if you want to eat British or international food, with a decent burger place charging around HK$100 (US$13) and a dinner at Gordon Ramsey's Bread Street Kitchen costing HK$200 (US$25).
Price of Going Out in Hong Kong
If you like a pint or three, Hong Kong has the potential to clean your wallet out. A pint of local lager in Lan Kwai Fong will set you back HK$60 ($8) and cocktails regularly top HK$100 (US$13). There are regular happy hours that can help reduce costs.
Away from the bars, a movie ticket is about HK$60 (US$8) and a takeaway coffee HK$30 (US$4). It does mean that incidentals can very quickly add up.
Cheap or Expensive?
Ultimately, Hong Kong can be a relatively cheap holiday. Stick to the local restaurants, walk the streets and markets and stay at a three-star hotel and you won't leave with an empty pocket. But choose steaks and pints of imported beer and those credit card bills will stack up quickly.