5 Days Hong Kong + Macau DIY Trip: Guide, Itinerary and Budget

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Perhaps there is something with Hong Kong that drives me to visit for the second time around and became one of the foreign cities that I briskly explored more than once. I had been in Hong Kong once in 2017, and I visited this bustling city again months ago. But the latest one was with a twist— it was during Hong Kong political turmoil.

We’ve planned this 5-Day trip months ago, right before the anti-government protests in Hong Kong burst out uncontrollably in June 2019. Then we started to worry the following month, the clashes became more violent and frequent between police and protesters. It is all over the news— you’d probably remember that.

… But we trusted the airlines and our friends in Hong Kong more than what was posted online, so we still pursued the trip.

In April 2020, protests in Hong Kong were still not over, but demonstrators faced challenges anew as the government has implemented more stringent lockdown measures to aid the COVID-19 pandemic.

HONG KONG FREE PRESS

Prepare as we uncover our 5-Day “real adventure” Hong Kong itinerary with a day trip to Macau despite its political tensions with the Chinese government (guide, itinerary, and budget included).

Pre-Trip Essentials

Currency

The official currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar with an HK$ sign or HKD code. For foreigners who wish to travel to Hong Kong, you can think that US$1 is about HK$7.8 or about US$130 for every HK$1,000.

Connectivity

Get a wifi pocket or SIM tourist card to suit your needs. Average pocket wifi is cheaper (group travel) while a SIM card is good for individual use. An eight-day SIM card with unlimited 3G data costs US$7.09 and an unlimited 4G Pocket Wifi costs US$2.35 a day. Pocket Wifi requires a HK$500 deposit that can only be refunded until the device is returned. Both can be pre-booked and collected from the airport.

Airport Express

Going to and from Hong Kong International Airport couldn’t be any smoother and quicker with Airport Express. The Airport Express tethers the airport to Hong Kong Island, Tsing Yi and Kowloon in under 30 minutes. For Smart Ticket holders, a single ride to Hong Kong Island on the Airport Express costs HK$115 and HK$205 for a round trip. Ticket prices can differ by type. Get more types of tickets here.

Octopus Card

Getting around Hong Kong couldn’t be any easier with an Octopus Card. If you want to spend more than a day in the city, it is recommended that you get one of these cards to get around easily. These Octopus Cards can be used with only one tap to ride the MTR, bus, train, ferry, and tram. Grab a reloadable Octopus Tourist Card that comes with HK$50 credit for just US$12.

Weather

Never mess with Hong Kong’s erratic weather, since it has an average of 137.0 rainy days annually. We visited Hong Kong in June and August and it usually rains in the afternoon and evening. So if you wish to visit between the months of June and September, never go out without an umbrella with you.

Where to Stay in Hong Kong

Having your lodging in either the Kowloon Peninsula or Hong Kong Island is the safest choice.
Kowloon Peninsula
Budget Hostel: Cool Budget Hostel (US$12/ Night- Dorm Type)
Best Value: Hong Kong Inn (US$48/ Night- Standard Twin Private Ensuite)
Luxury: One-Eight-One Hotel & Serviced Residences (US$261/ Night- Harbour Twin Room)
Hong Kong Island
Budget Hostel: Rainbow Lodge HK (US$14/ Night- Dorm Type)
Best Value: Amu Dreamhouse (US$65/ Deluxe Twin Private Ensuite)
Luxury: The Beacon (US$112/ Night- Superior Double or Twin Room with City View)

Understanding Hong Kong & Macau

Hong Kong is a lively and busy Asian tiny city renowned for its diverse combination of east and west, concrete and natural jungle, modernity, and tradition. It consists of Hong Kong Island, New Territories, Kowloon Peninsula, and the other 200 outlying islands that are linked by comprehensive networks of trains and buses. Hong Kong has thus far become one of Asia’s most developed and busiest metropolitan hubs in terms of business, trade, and tourism.

Hong Kong Island is the central location of international and economic centers. It also houses the various attractions of tourism, including Victoria Peak.

Kowloon is where most of the museums, malls, and Stars Avenue are situated. This also has the largest number of inexpensive guesthouses.

Situated in the North Kowloon, the New Territories is home to Ocean and Theme Parks.

Lantau Island takes pride in Ngong Ping (Giant Buddha and Po Lin Monastery), one of its outlying islands.

Everything is relatively near in Hong Kong, you can even manage to make a day trip to Macau for the glitz and glamour of casinos and extravagance.

Macau is often referred to as Asia’s Las Vegas because of its massive malls and casinos on the Cotai Strip. A rare mix of glitz, glamour, and gaming makes Macau a Mecca for visitors who want to explore Chinese culture surrounded by breathtaking Portuguese architecture.

Macau is currently one of the world’s most heavily populated nations, with nearly 0.7 million average population in a total land area of 11.8 square miles.

📚 READ: Here’s You Can Venture Macau in 24 Hours From Hong Kong

When to Visit Hong Kong

If you’re from humid countries, you definitely have to visit Hong Kong between October and early December because the weather is nice, sunny but cool.

The weather during winter (Nov-Jan) months is mild and warm, suitable for walking the crowded streets of Hong Kong. It’s hard to explore and hike in the summer (Jun-Sep) because it’s quite humid during those months.

January and February are the best time for culture travelers to experience the two Chinese Festivals (Spring and Lantern Festival) in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s Christmas festivities are also outstanding.

Remember that, between May and September,  intermittent typhoons and vicious thunderstorms are expected.

How to Get to Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong is a famous travel hub in East Asia so you’ll have plenty of options to fly to Hong Kong whichever part of the world you’re in. For budget travelers, I would suggest comparing rates using JetRadar or Skyscanner to get the cheapest flight.

Subsequently, traveling to Macau from Hong Kong can now be done seamlessly— thanks to the new route launched last October 2018.

Ferry

The most suggested way of transportation from Hong Kong to Macau which takes around an hour by boat. The one-way fare costs only HK$170, while it’s marginally more costly for the night ferries and during holidays.

Hong Kong-Zhuhai—Macau Bridge (HZMB)

The new addition and convenient route through a shuttle bus across the Hong Kong-Zhuhai—Macau Bridge (HZMB), which takes just 40 minutes from HZMB Hong Kong Port to Macau. Tickets are usually priced at HK$65, and a HK$70 nightly rate from 12 am to 6 am.

Helicopter

The quickest and coolest way to get from Hong Kong to Macau. A 40-minute direct flight at a price of HK$4,300 one-way.

We took the HZMB route for the first time on this trip. By boarding a public bus #B4 from Airport Terminal 1, we arrived at the HZMB Hong Kong Port. By the way, these public buses operate regularly from 7:20 am to 10:20 pm. So if you wish to follow this route, take note of your flight arrival time.

After having security-checked and passing the Immigration, we bought our HZMB shuttle bus tickets from the counters near the Immigration. Optionally, tickets are also available from the vending machines. Then we headed towards the same floor exit to get to the shuttle bus pick-up point.

Things to Do in Macau

Macau is a small region, you’ll certainly enjoy walking as we do. Roads and transportation are relatively tourist-friendly, and you can also take free shuttle busses that interconnect mega-resort casinos. Below, we’ve listed the things that you could do in Macau:

  • The Ruins of Saint Paul Church. The Ruins of St. Paul is one of the most iconic and best attractions in Macau today. It is the remains of St. Paul’s College and the Church of St. Paul (aka Mater Dei) in the 17th-century. The facade is nearly 89 feet tall, 77 feet long and 9 feet deep.. It’s amazing how it endured years of weathering after the fire that destroyed the rest of the church. I went there twice and it’s always crazily crowded but each visit was worth the time.
  • Senado Square. Don’t hesitate to head straight to Senado Square (aka Largo de Senado or Senate Square), an 8-minute walk from the ruins of Saint Paul. This paved town square is part of Macau World Heritage Sites’ UNESCO Historic Center covering an area of 3,700 square meters surrounded by Baroque and Portuguese-style buildings. Today, it’s one of the city’s busiest downtown districts, heavily inhabited by a multitude of shops spanning from clothing, jewelry, cosmetics to mouth-watering street food assortments. Prepare yourself to get extravagant as promotions are enticing.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf is the largest leisure and themed entertainment site in the Macau Peninsula located on the shore of the outer harbour. It is deemed to offer a world-class dining and entertainment experience in a European setting. To be honest, you can skip this attraction if you only have a short-time in Macau. This place was still deserted when we arrived on the night of Aug 2019 since its opening in 2006.
  • Eiffel Tower at The Parisian Macau. The Parisian Macau Eiffel Tower is the renowned replica of the original one in Paris. So if you’re not going to travel to Paris anytime soon, this one is worth your time in Macau. The spectacular light show is an experience that you can’t skip, thrilling audiences in a 15-minute interval from 6:15 pm until midnight. If not yet enthralled, climb to the observation deck for a panoramic view of the lights of the city. Tickets are available on-site and at Klook.
  • Gondola at Venetian Macau. Take a glimpse of The Venetian Hotel ‘s magnificent interior in style by sailing down a conventional gondola at Level 3. Guests can enjoy the romantic vibes as gondoliers serenade while passing through the scenic Grand Canals of Shoppes with Italian songs. Each ticket will cost MOP139 for adults, MOP105 for children, and MOP542 for private hiring. Check the actual rates at Klook.
  • The House of Dancing Water at City of Dreams. House of Dancing Water (HoDW) is a water-themed entertainment that you can find on the Cotai Strip. This spectacular masterpiece is only performed on the City of Dreams and is the largest of its kind. The tickets are selling out too quickly, so we’ll encourage you to purchase through their website or via Klook in advance.

💡 TIP: Still ain’t had enough of Macau? Check out the top things to do and must-see places in the city!

Things to Do in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a stunning and exciting city with a treat for travelers in every corner. Below are the popular activities in this former British colony, explore them conveniently with its reliable transportation systems; MTR (Mass Transit Railway), trams, and buses:

  • Ngong Ping. Ngong Ping Village on Lantau Island is one of Hong Kong’s main tourist attractions, owing to its giant Tian Tan Buddha (aka Big Buddha) on a mountain top. There are various ways to get to Ngong Ping; by bus and taxi, but the most popular way is the 5.7 kilometer-long cable car (Ngong Ping 360) from Tung Chung. According to CNN, Ngong Ping 360 in Tung Chung is one of the most stunning cable cars rides in the world. If you don’t have vertigo, pick the Crystal Cabin (glass-bottom) for a more thrilling experience. Standard tickets available in Klook, start at US$ 20 per way.
  • Tsim Sha Tsui. A district in Kowloon where there is a concentration of famous landmarks and attractions. Here you’ll find the Cultural Center of Hong Kong, the Clock Tower, the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the infamous Stars Avenue, which was renovated and reopened in January 2019. Alongside with these attractions, Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade is also the perfect spot to enjoy the views of the iconic buildings concentrating on Victoria Harbor.
  • Victoria Peak. Victoria Peak is undoubtedly the best spot in Hong Kong to admire the iconic skyline of 355 skyscrapers (the highest number in the world). Kowloon is visible miles from the peak on a clear day. Getting to the Victoria Peak is possible in different ways but, particularly for first-timers, the most common mode is via the Peak Tram. Not only does the tram have the most direct path to the 1,000-feet peak, but it also provides a special and thrilling way to see the harbour and skyscrapers of Hong Kong. Often the wait at the Peak Tram can be crazily long but you can save time by using fast-track combo tickets available in Klook with Chocolate Shop, Observation Wheel, Madame Tussauds, and a highly-recommended Sky Pass (Night Terrace 428) add-ons.
  • Mong Kok. Busy as it seems, Mong Kok houses the most organized shopping streets in Kowloon district and is famous for all types of shopping. Each street is named according to the kind of goods sold in the area. If you are looking for women’s clothes and accessories, head to the Ladies Market, the area’s busiest even to its Temple Street counterpart. They’re open throughout the day too. Sneaker Street (Fa Yuen St.) lies next to the Ladies Market. An area where big brands of shoes are sold at discounted prices. Head to Goldfish Street (aka Goldfish Market) near Tung Choi Street to work out your aquarium needs, Photocopy Street for photocopying solutions, or buy a variety of fresh flowers from the Flower Market (Flower Market Rd.).
  • Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Compared to Ocean Park, Hong Kong Disneyland is undeniably the most known internationally and locally the largest. The theme park resort is deemed to be the “happiest place in East Asia“. Who doesn’t agree? It’s a favorite day out for visitors of different ages living their dreams in Disneyland. Be sure to wear your Disney inspired Ear Hats and Headbands to start your day of fun. Basically, you will literally need a whole day to tour its seven major themed parks and more than 100 amusement facilities and exciting entertainment performances. Book 1-Day or 2-Day discounted ticket passes on Klook with an optional meal coupon for convenience. Download their official mobile app so you can check the approximate waiting times for each attraction, see schedules, browse maps, and more.
    Get It On Google Play Download on the App Store
  • Ocean Park. Countless aquariums, zoos, and a theme park. That’s what you should expect from Ocean Park Hong Kong. We recommend seeing popular zones as soon as the park opens (in-order): Giant Panda Adventure, The Grand Aquarium, Summit Section (pick among 4 Roller Coasters), The Sea Jellies, Polar Adventure, and The Tram. Book your discounted 1 Day e-Ticket and get instant access to 80 + attractions. Though the park can be confusing to navigate, you can install Ocean Park’s official mobile app for a quick virtual tour and reference for various attractions and shows.
    Get It On Google Play Download on the App Store
  • Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. The uphill hike to this quirky temple that houses over 10,000 Buddhas can be a good exercise. Other thousands of gold-coated statues lining up the trail walls leading to the main complex. The walk is about 10 minutes away from the closest MTR (Sha Tin) and not very well marked, so get directions ahead of time. Trust us, the climb can be difficult, the trail is long and some parts are pretty steep so be physically fit before you go. Yet the experience is pretty good at the top of the temple, you’ll get a picturesque view of Hong Kong and Sha Tin District.

💡 TIP: Still ain’t had enough of Hong Kong? Check out the top things to do and must-see places in the city!

Must-Eats in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Must Eats
A must try Canton’s Kitchen Dim Sum Expert in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Hong Kong not only provides picturesque scenery and memorable travel opportunities, it also gives its tourists tasty food experiences. Below, we’ve brought together the must-eats for your next trip to Hong Kong:

  • Dim sum. One of the main reasons you should be traveling to Hong Kong is eating genuine Dim Sums. Popular Dim Sum orders include shrimp dumplings, pork siu mai, spring rolls, shrimp-stuffed tofu, chicken feet, all devoured with hot Chinese tea. Wherever you’re in Hong Kong, you’re definitely going to be surrounded by Dim Sum Michelin restaurants which are often queued up.
  • Clay Pot rice. Exactly what its name means, long-grain rice is cooked in a clay pot over a traditional (charcoal) cooking method topped with varieties of meat such as chicken, pork, and Chinese sausages. It is seasoned with regular or dark soy sauce before serving which does the trick and makes it smell good.
  • Fishball Noodles. Fish Balls are Southeast Asia’s most famous processed seafood. Perhaps these can be delicious and refreshing, particularly if they’re made from real fish meat. Fishballs are comparatively attractive in Hong Kong. Its excessively soft and spongy texture has made it popular as an ingredient of major dishes such as noodle soups.
  • Lo Mai Gai. Lo Ma Gai is somewhat identical to Clay Pot Rice. This Cantonese food is made of glutinous rice, mixed with chicken and pork, and sometimes Chinese sausages, wrapped with a lotus leaf then steamed for 30 minutes. And this must-eat favorite can normally be ordered from Dim Sum restaurants in Hong Kong.
  • Roasted Goose. Hong Kong roasted goose is marinated with over 20 secret spices, cooked over a charcoal fire for 40 minutes, or until the skin turns to maroon color. Roasted goose is often served with an iconic, sweet, and acidic plum sauce that’ll surely tickle your taste buds. This Cantonese staple is also a must-eat in Hong Kong.
  • Ichiran Ramen. Ichiran is a popular ramen restaurant in Tokyo that opens more branches internationally, specializes in tonkotsu ramen noodles and has its first foreign setup in Hong Kong. This world-famous noodle restaurant is worth a visit, if you’re a ramen fan.

💡 TIP: Check online for more Hong Kong Food Trip Ideas and grab exclusive offers.

Hong Kong with Macau Sample Itinerary

5 Days Hong Kong + Macau DIY Trip: Guide, Itinerary and Budget

We’ve made the file available for FREE in PDF format.

Afterthoughts

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Our trip to Hong Kong went successful, despite the life-threatening situation in Hong Kong during political protests. Yes, we were terrified at first. But when we reached the city we only followed the strict travel advice. Some of the guidance includes; not wearing black shirts, avoiding demonstrations at all times, and being vigilant.

In fact, we didn’t really notice that the demonstrations had an impact on tourism in Hong Kong. Everywhere there were still a lot of visitors, walking around, queuing up to get tickets for the attractions and going shopping.


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Victoria Peak at Night.

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