Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How I Saved $500 and Spent Only $800 For a 5 Day Holiday in Hong Kong!



2 weeks ago, I went to Hong Kong for my 1st holiday since I started my working life as a young adult! When I was an exchange student in Europe, I really lived the budget backpacker lifestyle. Now, as a working adult, I am still a bit influenced from my younger days. Cheap travelling, with the focus on experiences and memories, that's my motto!

Don't worry, this is not going to be a post where I rub my happiness in your face. Instead, this will be a post where I share with everyone how I managed to keep my expenses low (or save money), but still had the time of my life in Hong Kong!


Air Tickets

Airfares are going to be the major expense for any overseas trip. Let's face it, regional plane tickets are not cheap, especially when compared to the prices that they have in Europe (Ryanair, come to Asia please?)

Good news though, I stumbled upon this article titled, "When should you buy your airline tickets?". It is a pretty recent article posted in Mar 2014 with all sorts of interesting statistics, but check out this graph!


They have identified the sweet spot for booking airline tickets to be precisely 54 days! However, since it really depends on the route and period of booking, generally booking between 1 and 3 months in advance before your flight should ensure that you get quite a decent deal!

I booked my tickets through CheapTickets, and managed to get a really really good price on my airfare! I also like to look at SkyScanner because they also do a fantastic job of helping to search for flights with good prices too!

Currently, how much is a round trip ticket to Hong Kong, booked about only 1 weeks in advance? Answer:



How much did I pay?


Wow, amazing savings! What a difference timing makes! I saved about $256 by deciding to buy my tickets early and travelling during a period which has nothing special about it!

Notice, I also flew on a proper, full functioning airline, not a budget airline! The timings of my flight were also pretty good, meaning that I didn't have to wake up in the middle of the night to catch my flight, nor did I waste a day by having my flight too early. At the time of booking, budget airlines were very similarly priced, so I knew that Cathay was offering a great deal!

Moral of the story: Plan early and book early! Shop around and don't only look at some airlines, because some of the others might be having some great promotions!


Accommodation

Accommodation is usually the next biggest item on your travel list that will cost you! However, I always check Agoda and look for the best rates available! I have used Agoda before many of my trips overseas and I have never had any problems with any of my bookings. I have tried looking at alternative websites when planning this trip, such as AsiaWebDirect and Expedia, but they do not offer rates as good as Agoda! I compared the prices of the same rooms at the same properties, and somehow Agoda always managed to price themselves lower than the competition!

http://www.agoda.com/en-sg/city-guest-house/hotel/hong-kong-hk.html?cid=1646281

The hostel was exactly as I expected, except cleaner and nicer, haha! Of course, the room was small, it is Hong Kong after all. If you had decided to stay in a single room in a "starred" hotel, expect to pay a lot more. Even Agoda's good pricing can't save you! 3 star hotels are between $100-$180 per night, averaging around $150. Staying in a private room in a budget hostel was perfect for me, especially since I don't plan on staying in my room, except to sleep! Why pay so much just for a place to sleep for a few hours?

Moral of the story: Compare, compare and compare! Add that with combining reviews and photos, it is very possible to find a cheap place, with a good location and have a great stay!


Expenses

I never took a cab when I was in Hong Kong. My friends gave me tips, and I took the cheap airport bus from the airport to my hostel, and the opposite way when I was returning back home. Each trip was only 33HKD, compared to 100HKD if you took the Airport Express MTR!

I also walked and took public transport when I was in the city. Getting an Octopus Card (similar to EZ link) was a good idea, since you can use it to travel hassle-free. I took the MTR if I was going somewhere far, and I always took the super cheap ferry 2HKD (60 cents?!) from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and back whenever I could!

Food and drinks in Hong Kong is not very expensive too. I think it is very similarly priced to food in Singapore, with a good price range of offerings as well. Wanting to keep expenses low, I searched for all the most hotly reviewed local places which served great food at wallet friendly prices! You don't necessarily have to spend more money to have a better experience, and I think most people will agree that $3 chicken rice ALWAYS tastes better than $6 chicken rice, haha!

Leisure was not priced too high, it was quite fair I felt. The only real tourist place that I went to was the Peak, which had fantastic views! Well worth the price I paid, I don't remember exactly, but I know it was not too expensive (not like Singapore attractions!)


Conclusion

This is the breakdown all everything that I spent for my 5D4N holiday in Hong Kong!

Airfare: 286 sgd
Accom: 224 sgd
Travel Exp: 30 sgd
Food + Leisure Exp: 261 sgd (or about $52 per day!)
Total: 801 sgd

If I had been a spoilt traveller, with bad last-minute planning, high-class food taste and too lazy to walk around, I can imagine by trip being quite expensive:

Airfare: 500 sgd
Accom: 400 sgd
Travel Exp: 70 sgd
Food + Leisure Exp: 400 sgd (about $80 per day? I think I'm too nice!)
Total: 1370 sgd 

I spent a grand total of just $801 SGD when I went to Hong Kong for 5D4N! That is really not bad, if you think about it! I didn't live like a beggar, I had plenty of good food and most of all, I enjoyed myself! Even while doing all of these things, I could still be mindful of how I spent money. If I had spent the extra $500, I don't think I would have also been able to see as much of the local culture as I did. Most of the locals travel by public transport and eat at local places too. Why travel to a foreign country to NOT observe the local culture?

Anyway, this is just my opinion and a personal sharing how you can be on a flexible but tight budget, and still have an amazing (budget) holiday without the budget experiences! If anyone has any good travel tips on how to keep costs low and still have an enjoyable time, please comment because I would love to hear it!

Disclosure: I am an Agoda affiliate because I believe in their website and I personally use it myself, as well as recommend it to my friends and family. I earn a small commission if you make a booking through the links here.

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