Hong Kong can often feel like a city of extravagance, but it needn’t be such a strain on your wallet, even for big celebrations. Whether you want to indulge with a big night out, or a take a day trip further afield, there are plenty of ways to celebrate your birthday in Hong Kong without seriously denting your bank balance.
1. Sing to your heart’s content at Junels Resto Bar
This Filipino karaoke bar and restaurant in Sai Ying Pun is a lively and welcoming joint which has become a firm favourite amongst locals. Be ready to perform your favourite hits to an enthusiastic crowd, but take a few mates for moral support. It’s free to book a table and each song will set you back just HK$2.00, accompanied by entertaining computer-animated music videos (don’t expect to see many genuine music videos here). Songs are selected on a first-come, first-served basis, so bear in mind you might have to wait your turn.
In the meantime, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to affordable tipples; a bottle of beer costs just HK$38.00, cocktails start at HK$50.00, spirits start at HK$50.00 and a bottle of white or red wine is just HK$155.00. Feeling peckish in between songs? Tuck into some traditional Filipino food for less than HK$100.00 per plate.
2. Enjoy craft beer and stunning harbour views at The Beer Bay
Can’t afford the luxury of drinking at a rooftop bar? Grab some drinks at The Beer Bay and head to the roof at Pier 3 for a great view of Victoria Harbour. The bar boasts an eclectic mix of craft beers from about HK$60.00. Enjoy some classic Hong Kong fish balls if you’re feeling hungry. While you’re indulging, watch the city’s famous Symphony of Lights, where buildings on the opposite side of the harbour put on a dazzling display to a fun soundtrack, at 8 pm daily.
Then consider recreating the feeling of a nighttime junk boat trip by nipping over to Pier 7 and taking the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui. Octopus card fares start at just HK$2.70, rising to HK$3.70 on weekends. (Alternatively, a ticket for a longer one-hour evening tour will set you back HK$200.00.) Once on the other side, grab some cheap drinks from 7-Eleven and take in the beautiful views along Tsim Sha Tsui promenade.
3. Spend the day on Cheung Chau island
If you’re lucky enough to have the day off, take a ferry from Central to the island of Cheung Chau for a day of feasting, exploring and, depending on the weather, swimming. You can rent bicycles from just HK$10.00 per hour (plus HK$200.00 refundable security deposit) to tour the narrow streets of this quaint island. There are a few bike hire shops to choose from if you turn left and head along the waterfront after disembarking the ferry.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab lunch at one of the many Chinese seafood eateries, like New Baccarat Seafood Restaurant, where huge sharing plates cost about HK$100.00. Alternatively, enjoy fish and chips for just HK$88.00 at the outdoor cafe next to Cheung Chau Windsurfing Centre. Later, catch some rays at Kwun Yam Wan beach or Tung Wan beach, before cooling down with a swim.
4. Enjoy a free day at a theme park
If you’re more of a thrill-seeking type, head to Hong Kong’s Ocean Park and claim a free day pass in honour of your birthday. The offer only applies to Hong Kong resident card holders. Just make sure you find some good mates who are willing to pay the HK$480.00 entrance fee!
5. Check out Hong Kong’s best beach
Depending on the weather, enjoy a hike to Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung, widely regarded as the best beach in Hong Kong. It takes a while to get there from Hong Kong Island, but it’s totally worth the trip. Take the MTR to Choi Hung, hop on the 1A green minibus to Sai Kung, then take the 94 bus to Pak Tam Au. From there, it’s a 90-minute scenic hike to Tai Wan beach. Take a perch at one of the Chinese cafes next to the beach for a budget-friendly meal, or bring your own picnic to save a few extra dollars.
If you want to make a weekend of it, consider hiring some camping gear (HK$100.00 for a two-person tent, HK$50.00 for a sleeping bag) from a vendor in the neighbouring village of Ham Tin Wan and pitching your tent on the beach. You can even take a short walk from Ham Tin Wan (about one mile) to Sai Wan waterfalls, namely the Sheung Luk stream, to cool off in beautiful surroundings.