Many backpackers write off Hong Kong as too expensive. Their loss. The city boasts beautiful beaches, historic temples, scenic hikes and markets full of world-class street food – all attractions that don’t cost more than a couple of bucks. And although its backpacker scene is still growing, there are a number of great hostels sitting among the skyscrapers.
Hop Inn on Carnarvon isn’t just an affordable place to stay – it’s also an art gallery. Every living space has been transformed by a local artist or illustrator, adding a colourful splash of creativity to the wide range of single, double, twin, triple, quadruple rooms and four- to eight-bed dormitories. This arty guesthouse boasts a prime location in the Tsim Sha Tsui district, and also operates a sister hostel one block away on Mody Road.
The newest lodging in Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Harbour is custom-built for digital nomads, providing an assortment of co-living and co-working spaces. Mojo Nomad’s several dedicated work areas and free, ultra-fast wifi fosters a community of like-minded creatives, who also enjoy access to a library, music room, multimedia room, gym and yoga spaces, and stylish common areas.
Japan is famous for its capsule hotels, but you can spend the night in a pod in Hong Kong, too. The Mahjong – named after the beloved Chinese tile game – offers dormitories made up of six, eight or 10 pods, giving guests a private sleeping nook for a fraction of the price of a hotel room. The compact hostel is in To Kwa Wan, one of the few Hong Kong neighbourhoods that retains its original Chinese character.
Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions is infamous for its minuscule hotel rooms. Luckily, there’s a much more comfortable hostel perched just across the road. Rainbow Lodge HK contains spacious dormitories with four, six, eight and 10 beds in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui – the perfect base to explore the Avenue of Stars, Star Ferry Pier and Harbour City.
Inspired by lively European backpacker hostels, brother-and-sister team Wincent and Tracy opened their own guesthouse in 2012, combining a Western-style hostel atmosphere with warm Hong Kong hospitality. Situated just a stroll from the waterfront on Hong Kong Island, this family-run hostel organises a stack of activities and excursions, such as water sports, horse racing and hiking tours.
When a fire ravaged the Shek Kip Mei neighbourhood in 1953, tens of thousands of homeless people were resettled in public housing blocks. In 2013, the only remaining block was converted into a hostel – YHA Mei Ho House – with 129 rooms renovated from the original units. The themed rooms, retro-style cafe and heritage museum walk guests through the history of the building, the area and Hong Kong’s cultural life since the 1950s.
What’s the key to Urban Pack’s super-friendly communal atmosphere? Bottles of wine on the hostel’s 15th-floor terrace overlooking the Hong Kong skyline, according to the two Canadian pals who run the place. One of the best spots in town to meet fellow backpackers, Urban Pack offers great-value dorms, private ensuites and even serviced apartments if you’re travelling as a family or in a large group.
Culture vultures, this is the place to stay in Hong Kong. This trendsetting guesthouse is kitted out with chic vintage furniture and even a small cinema, record store and gallery. Well-equipped workspaces make Wontonmeen popular with writers, creatives and other digital nomads, while the enviable location in the middle of Prince Edward, Sham Shui Po and Tai Kok Tsui is ideal for travellers.
Siobhan Warwicker contributed additional reporting to this article.