Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the busiest and most vibrant areas of Hong Kong, full of shopping, food, history and culture. Facing the always-impressive Victoria Harbour, ‘TST’, as everyone calls it, has many attractions that are free or very cheap to enjoy. However, we’ve also included a few quintessential Hong Kong experiences in TST that are definitely worth paying money for. So spend a few hours walking around this area, and take in the sights without breaking the bank.
1. Admire the skyline along the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
One of the most beautiful spots in Hong Kong, the promenade stands next to the Star Ferry Terminal and stretches along Victoria Harbour. This is the best place to stroll, relax, and enjoy the view of Hong Kong’s incredible skyline.
Every night at 8 pm, the Symphony of Lights show illuminates the city’s most important buildings on both sides of the harbour, and the Promenade is the best place to watch it.
2. Pose with Bruce Lee’s ripped pecs
Film buffs always seek out the iconic statue of Bruce Lee, located on the Avenue of Stars, which honours Hong Kong actors, actresses, directors and filmmakers. To find it, take a walk along the TST Promenade to the Avenue of Stars, and cross Salisbury Road to the adjacent Garden of Stars, where his statue is located.
3. Ride the Star Ferry
Whether you’re staying in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island, you must ride the Star Ferry at least once. The beloved and iconic green boats have made the short ride across the harbour since 1888, giving passengers a beautiful ride with awesome views. It’s also one of the cheapest rides in town, at just HK$2.20 for a ticket.
4. Get a foot massage at Tai Pan
It isn’t free, but it’s so worth it after walking around all day. Tai Pan Reflexology is located in a basement on Nathan Road, and designed like a classy 1940s Oriental-style beauty parlour. For HK$168.00, you can get a 30-minute foot massage, or a head and shoulder release, which is just enough time to recharge and enjoy the unique ambiance.
5. Take in a museum
There are a number of major museums in the area, all of which have at least one free-entry day a week. The Museum of History is always free, while the Museum of Science and the Museum of Space are both free on Wednesdays. For more museum info, check out our guide to Hong Kong’s best museums.
6. Walk through Chungking Mansions
You don’t have to stay in one of the hostels in Chungking Mansions in order to explore Hong Kong’s most notorious backpacker haven. The building is full of money changers, souvenir shops, and restaurants on various floors, which you can go and check out. Skip the line at the elevators and take the stairs instead, and see a million wires snaking their way up the walls, like electric veins.
7. Have one drink at Aqua Spirit
This skyscraping bar has been around for a long time, and still never fails to impress. This is where the beautiful people like to go, so dress to impress (or at least change out of your running shoes). With a prime spot on Peking Road, Aqua Spirit directly faces Victoria Harbour, but to sit right at the window, you need to book a table in advance, and wonder at the world below you.
8. Explore Kowloon Park
There are three must-sees in Kowloon Park. Every Sunday from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm at the park’s Sculpture Walk, you can watch lion and dragon dances, as well as tai chi and martial arts. There’s also a great outdoor public pool which will help you cool down on a hot day. And be sure to go into the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre, which was once a military barracks, and learn about the local culture.
9. See a free show at the Cultural Centre
The Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui hosts a lot of big shows and concerts, including world-class ballets, operas, and symphonies. However, for the cheapos of the world, they also hold a Free Foyer Programme to encourage interest in the arts. Check their schedule to see what’s on, and you might get to see some awesome free performances.
10. Have high tea at The Peninsula
The true grand dame of Hong Kong, The Peninsula is one of the most beautiful buildings in town, and will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to colonial days. Having high tea at The Peninsula while violinists serenade you with their strings is one of those quintessential experiences—but it does come with a fairly steep price tag of HK$350.00 per head. But if you’re looking for a splurge, this is a pretty good place to do it.
Still need more free places to go? Head to Harbour City shopping centre, where the rooftop has recently been converted into the new Ocean Terminal Deck, with 270-degree harbour views, and open to the public for free. Go there at sunset time and relax on the grassy garden space to watch the sky change colors and the lights of the city start to shine. The deck is open until midnight.