A $1,000 Day Trip in Hong Kong for $100
The document in my email, set on elegant Four Seasons Hotel letterhead, was entitled “One Perfect Day in Hong Kong.” It specified a one-day, $1,000 agenda that included a Michelin-starred restaurant, a helicopter ride and a private tour of Kowloon.
The document was from the hotel’s concierge team, whom I’d contacted earlier about my plan. After I arrived, Clementine King, a member of the team, went over the specifics as I sipped an espresso by the infinity pool overlooking Victoria Harbor, casting furtive glances at those around me as I tried to figure out who, exactly, stays at a hotel with rates from $645 a night.
The trendy Sevva Bar and Lounge in the Central District requires reservations.
Probably the same sort of traveler who’d spend $1,000 in a day popping around town. (Actually, 7,600 Hong Kong dollars at the time of my visit, at a rate of 7.6 Hong Kong dollars to the U.S. dollar.) My task would be to design a day that was as similar as possible, but at one-tenth the cost. That would require planning and tips from many friends, most notably, Daisann McLane, Frugal Traveler emeritus (1998-2004), who gives private and small group tours through her company, Little Adventures in Hong Kong.
或许他们和会花费1000美元，就为了在城市里短暂逛一天的游客是同一批人吧（在我到访期间，7.6港元可兑换一美元，因此1000美元约合7600港元）。我的任务就是设计出和这个1000美元计划尽可能类似的一日行程，但是只花1/10的价钱。这需要许多朋友帮忙做计划、给出他们的小贴士，其中最重要的一个人就是黛莎恩·麦克莱恩(Daisann McLane)，“穷游”版荣退专栏作者（撰稿期1998-2004），她在香港的公司“小冒险”(Little Adventures)提供私人和小团香港游。
I can’t vouch for the high-end day, but the low end was a whole lot of fun.
High The Four Seasons agenda started at Lin Heung Tea House for dim sum. “Dim sum breakfast is cheap,” Ms. King said. “It’s good bang for your buck.” (Hey, that’s my line!) Her estimated cost: 150 Hong Kong dollars (about $20).
Low My breakfast was at Sing Heung Yuen, which Ms. McLane told me was one of the few old-fashioned outdoor street cafes left in the city. It’s also bucking the trend of ever fancier shops on Gough Street in Sheung Wan. Those newer businesses were still shuttered when I arrived at 8:30, as chattering families filled the cafe’s shared wooden tables. The cuisine is Hong Kong-style diner food; I had a noodle soup thick with stewed tomatoes and topped with a runny poached egg. Total bill, with iced milk tea and toast: 49 dollars (about $6).
High Ms. King said their usual tour guide was too expensive even for our $1,000 day (well, excuse me!) and suggested booking a two-hour tour of Kowloon through the site Sam the Local, requesting stops at the Jade Market and a traditional tea shop. Cost: about 400 Hong Kong dollars.
高价方案：金女士说，酒店的导游费用甚至对于1000美元一天的行程安排也太贵了（我的天！），她建议通过Sam the Local网站预订两个小时的九龙游，要求在玉器市场和一家传统茶餐厅停留。费用：400港元。
Low I used a local, too — a local map. The one from Creative City costs about $7 online and has sharply designed walking maps of six regions of the city, with a bent toward the unusual or creative. I spent a few hours walking the Sham Shui Po and Yau Ma Tei neighborhoods, both on the Kowloon side of the harbor. In bustling Sham Shui Po, I stopped into a 200-year-old “bonesetter” shop, which, according to the map, used to specialize in treating knife wounds.
In Yau Ma Tei, the highlight was a hidden spot called the Hong Kong International Hobby and Toy Museum, with a collection that has everything from a Bedouin doll to a toy version of Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari. Given a choice of toy-themed 30-dollar entrance tickets, I picked the Mr. Potato Head. The woman at the register held the ticket up to my face, comparing. “Same person!” she said. (I’ll take that as a compliment.)
在油麻地，最棒的是地处偏僻的香港国际玩具博物馆，这里收藏了各种各样的玩意儿，从贝督因娃娃到玩具版的“私家侦探玛格农”(Magnum P.I.)的法拉利。门票是30港元，上面印有不同玩具主题可供选择，我选了“土豆先生”(Mr. Potato Head)。检票口的女人举起票比着在我的脸。“一模一样！”她说。我把这当做是恭维。
High The Italian three-course lunch or the Japanese bento box at Aqua, on the 29th floor of a building overlooking the harbor. Cost: 500 Hong Kong dollars.
Low The comfortable tables on the roof garden of the IFC mall also have a view of the harbor (though not a complete one). And you can bring your picnic from any number of options in the mall. I went to City Super, a Whole Foods-ish market, and bought a gluttonous amount of toro salmon and octopus sashimi, plus Japanese beer, for 139 dollars.
High Ms. King recommended the trendy Soho and Poho neighborhoods, including antiques shopping and gallery hopping on Hollywood Road and into PMQ, a former police housing complex turned beehive of local design and fashion shops, where one could purchase a hand-painted silk scarf by Chailie Ho for 1,280 Hong Kong dollars.
Low I explored the same neighborhoods, even stopping at Ms. Ho’s shop. Ms. Ho herself was there and showed me her colorful, dreamy chiffon and satin scarves. She even made a sale — not a scarf, but very frameable postcards with her Hong Kong-themed paintings, 15 dollars a piece.
I extended my shopping to Sai Ying Pun, where I had read about a shop called Tak Chong Sum Kee Bamboo Steamer Company that sells handmade bamboo (and wood and rattan) goods. “Old man make by hand,” a worker told me. “No young people learning!” I bought three wooden molds, one each in the shape of a fish, a turnip and, hmm, a Reese’s peanut butter cup inscribed in Chinese? They were 25 dollars each, and are now decorating my kitchen.
High Hong Kong is not just a vertical city, it’s an archipelago with extensive green space. For a perspective from above, the Four Seasons agenda included a 15-minute helicopter ride with Heli Services for a mere 1,999 Hong Kong dollars a person.
Low I headed up to the Peak, Hong Kong Island’s famous panoramic lookout. Instead of taking the funicular train to the Sky Terrace platform, which involves long lines and a package fee of 83 dollars. I took Hong Kong’s impressive escalator system to the end and walked the rest of the way — steep, but not that grueling. Then I followed the trail that starts on Lugard Road to take in a view of the city and its natural surroundings. (I took the train back, 28 dollars.)
High Lung King Heen, the upscale but understated Cantonese restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, on the fourth floor of the Four Seasons. Estimated cost: 2,600 Hong Kong dollars.
Low For a cheaper, more classic Cantonese dinner, two of Ms. McLane’s tour guides met me at family-friendly Ser Wong Fun. We ordered three dishes, starting with a pig’s lung soup, which had an arrestingly intense broth sweetened by dried figs and dates. Stir-fried lotus root with lily bulbs and Chinese celery was fresh and tender. And I found out that sweet and sour pork is a real Cantonese dish made with hawthorn berries, far more restrained and fruity than the cloying, gloopy version I’m used to. One-third of the bill was 122 dollars.
High One drink (plus service) at “glamorous but relaxed” Sevva — “so hot, advance table reservations are necessary,” according to the hotel document — is 200 Hong Kong dollars. The day’s total: 7,129 dollars (about $938), leaving plenty for taxis.
Low I had over 200 dollars left, even discounting the several (very cheap) subway rides I’d taken. And so my friend Conrad Lau joined me for splurgy, celebratory gin and tonics for about 120 dollars at the hip, high-ceilinged gin bar Ping Pong 129. But then it was back to frugality at the spot he had been talking up, a Filipino karaoke club, down Li Yuen Street West, a dark alley in Central. A couple of flights up the Fai Man building, we found a sign that said Jovie’s Karaoke, a loungey space full of Filipinos and Pakistanis, with free karaoke. A bucket of six San Miguel beers was 100 dollars. My treat. Total: 727.5 dollars (including subways and other minor expenses), or $96.
低价方案：刨去几次坐地铁（票价非常便宜）的费用，我手上还剩200港元呢。于是朋友康纳德·刘(Conrad Lau)就来和我一起喝一杯奢侈的杜松子酒加奎宁作为庆功，我们在高大、时髦的“乒乓129”(Ping-Pong 129)酒吧花了120港元喝酒，但是接下来又精打细算地去了一家他推荐的菲律宾卡拉OK歌厅，它位于利源西街，是中环上一条黑乎乎的巷子。来到文辉楼，我们爬了几层楼梯，就发现了“Jovie’s Karaoke”的牌子，这是个舒服的地方，有很多菲律宾人和巴基斯坦人，卡拉OK免费唱。半打生力啤酒100港元，我请客。最后总共花了727.5港元（包括地铁票和其他零碎花费），或者说，96美元。