Hong Kong City Tour does not have to be expensive, you can DIY! There are numerous beautiful spots with no entrance fee in HK. Diverse places which ranges from religious and traditional like temples, as well as modern tourist-drawers like the The Avenue of Stars.
Last February, the three of us, me Penfires, my hubby Field Trip Boy, and my sister That Neverland Girl without much deliberation decided to book a ticket to fly to Hong Kong when Philippine Airlines announced they are having a round trip promo fares which included HK (may 30 kilos free baggage allowance pa!). The last time Titus and I was there was for our honeymoon 2 years ago, so another visit was definitely in order.
We dedicated one full day to explore the city’s sights and sound, and this is our DIY itinerary for our Hong Kong City Tour with focus on places with free entrance. Nagtitipid, haha.
We rode the MTR for our Hong Kong do it yourself tour except for going to Victoria Peak wherein we rode the Peak Tram both ways. You can also get to these place via buses / tram to but if you value time more, the MTR is the best transpo choice.
First stop, Wong Tai Sin Temple
Wong Tai Sin Temple is mayhap the most popular of all temples in Hong Kong. It is easy to locate if you take the MTR. From your hotel, make your way to the nearest MTR station, and exit in the MTR Station Wong Tai Sin and take EXIT A. The temple’s main gate is about 200 meters from the MTR exit.
*It was surreal to be in the middle of the temple, observing people of different faith, their way of worship, prayer. The smoke rising from the incense sticks, the altar fire, the silent prayers, the offerings. We may have different ways of praying and worshipping, but one thing is sure, we have faith and we believe.
What to watch out for: The main altar square, the Chinese Zodiac statues, Good Wish Garden (explore! explore!), Nine-Tailed Dragon Garden. You can also buy amulets and good luck charms in the stalls at the entrance.
This is a Taoist Temple dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, but you’ll also find shrines dedicated to Confucius within the compound. Again, this is a popular temple, expect lots of pilgrims and visitors.
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Second stop, Nan Lian Garden
Direction to Nan Lian Garden – ride the MTR and exit at Station Diamond Hill. This station is inside the Plaza Hollywood Mall. Turn left as you exit MTR, then walk out of the mall, you will cross the street. You’ll be seeing an overpass less than 100 meters away, walk towards it. Just before you reach the steps to climb the flyover / overpass, there is a small nondescript wooden gate, this is side entrance to Nan Lian Garden.
What to watch out for: Trees, flowers, garden! The shrine in the middle of a garden pond.
*When we visited Nan Lian, there were few tourists, the place permeates calmness. Spend time to just do nothing, experience stillness, it’s a beautiful landscape garden.
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Third stop, Chi Lin Nunnery
This 3rd Hong Kong tourist spots is connected to Nan Lian Garden. From the garden, go up the flyover, you’ll see right away the sprawling wooden gate of Chi Lin Nunnery. Once inside you’ll see a huge square with mini ponds replete with lotus plants.
There is an inner gate, once you enter it picture taking is prohibited. Inside is even more impressive with huge statue of the great Buddah. Please observe silence as you explore the inner sanctuary.
What to watch out for: The whole place, the temple halls, the main altar, the rock garden, bonsais, the Golden Buddha
*It was perfect timing, as we entered the inner temple grounds, a Buddhist monk was earnestly praying. For someone of a different faith, it was a blessing to experience how Buddhist worship.
The place was silent save for the melodic chanting rising, fading, the rustling of the wind, and the sound of careful steps made by visitors like us as we explored the inner sanctum.
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From Chi Lin Nunnery, we took our lunch in a branch of Singapore’s Toast Box inside the Plaza Hollywood mall. Lots of restaurants in case hunger pangs hits your DIY Hong Kong City Tour. 😉
Fourth stop, Victoria Peak
From Diamond Hill, we again took the MTR and exited at Central Station J2. You need to make your way to Chater Garden road.
Make this iconic building, the Bank of China Tower, your compass, you need to make your way near this building.
Cross Queens Road Central and Garden Road heading to Cheung Kong Center. Then, you need to walk again to Garden Road until you reach Lower Albert Road. You’ll be passing by St John Cathedral, then once you see a fountain on the left side, you are very near the Victoria Peak Lower Tram Terminus.
You can take a short taxi ride (flag down rate is 22 HKD), or walk. Walk we did.
We bought round trip tickets on the Peak Tram, price is discounted if you buy round trip tickets. We did not buy the Peak Tram Sky Pass which gives one access to the 360 degrees viewing terrace experience. Why not? Because it’s a lot more expensive, and we are trying to save. More importantly, there is another mall in the Victoria Peak which also features a roof top terrace that offers amazing view, for free.
*It was cold, chilly when we got to the top. Fog was rising fast, we only had a few minutes window of seeing the famous Hong Kong buildings from Victoria Peak.
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Fifth stop, Central Ferry Pier
This was an unplanned stop, we got lost. Lol. And I am to blame haha.
What to see: Central Ferry Harbour is a vantage point if you want to see sky scrapers after skyscrapers. This is also part of what you will see if you will be in Victoria Harbour witnessing the Symphony of Lights show. You can also visit the the Hong Kong Maritime Museum and this ferris wheel.
If you have time and money, getting on the Hong Kong Observation Wheel located in Central would be a treat. Just not sure if it operates in the afternoon, or only at night? I checked the official website, it says there the ferris wheel operates from 10 AM to 11 PM, every day. Adult ticket price $100 HKD, Children 3 to 11 years old $70 HKD.
*Since I got us lost, I had to give-up my navigation task to Titus after this haha. We also had to walked the long stretch from Central Ferry Pier 8 to Central Station. By the way, if you are a big fan of Apple Inc, you’ll see Hong Kong’s huge Apple Store building from the walkway.
Sixth Stop, Avenue of Stars
Take the MTR, exit at Station East Tsim Tsa Tsui, exit J.
Disclaimer: Renovations was on-going in the Avenue of Stars when we visited Hong Kong last February.
Penfires is including this in this list of Free Sites for Hong Kong Do It Yourself City Tour since this is one famous tourist spot that you shouldn’t miss. This is located in Tsim Tsa Tsui Promenade, a few walks from Victoria Harbour.
What to see: the famous Bruce Lee sculpture, HK Walk of Fame, the Hong Kong Central skyline, and more!
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Seventh Stop, Victoria Harbour and Symphony of Lights and Sound Show
Take MTR, get off in East Tsim Sha Tsui, exit L6. If you are already in Avenue of Stars, just walk to the main viewing area in Victoria Harbour. This is beside the pier for the famous hong kong junk boat.
Nightly at 8 PM, buildings in Central, across Victoria Harbour lits up and put on a grand show, including the Hong Kong Observatory Wheel from our 5th stop. The best place to station yourself is in Victoria Harbour.
The Symphony of Lights and Sound Show is one must see and experience attraction in Hong Kong. I think, you haven’t really been to HK, if you haven’t seen this show. It’s for free, and there are benches in case you got there early.
*The night of our HK DIY City Tour, the temperature dropped further down to 22. We were chattering from the chill and strong winds haha. The three of us were huddled together sharing 2 scarves, trying our best to keep warm, stretching the tiny cloth over our exposed legs haha. We got to the harbor early, we didn’t even had dinner yet, Titus just grabbed some sandwiches from a 7 Eleven nearby to keep hunger at bay. It was really cold, to the bone chilly.
Eight Stop, 1881 Heritage
The 1881 Heritage is part of a mall complex. You will pass this if you are going back to the MTR Tsim Tsa Tsui station from Victoria Harbour. Every season, this place is dressed-up following a certain theme.
Back in December 2014, they have a beautiful Christmas display with rows of beautifully decorated Christmas trees. Last February 2017, the theme was related to ‘opera’, they have a bench at the center and tourists took turns taking pics.
That’s it, those were the no entrance tourist destinations in Hong Kong we visited. Hope you get to visit and experience more of HK too!
SHARE this travel itinerary post especially to those going to Hong Kong soon, give them choices of where to explore and take those amazing vacation photos. 😊