The one Chinese phrase you need to learn: “Shénme shì nǐ zuì piányí de yǐnliào?”
We came expecting knock-off watches, cheap tailored suits and street food that would only cost a couple of dollars. Unfortunately, with a booming economy and a weakening Aussie dollar, Hong Kong was not the budget paradise we anticipated. The concern of “higher than expected prices” quickly spread to an area much more important to uni students—nightlife. Being the generous people that we are, we volunteered to test out the Hong Kong scene in an attempt to map out a cost efficient night that still capitalised on all that this chaotic city has to offer.
5pm: Sugar Lounge at East Hotel
The “good things comes to those who wait” advise your mother fed you as a child is null and void in a city that moves at a hundred miles an hour. Get to Sugar Lounge when it opens at 5pm to ensure you get a good seat. If, like us, you’re touring the city during July, do not be fooled by the enticing outdoor balcony – Hong Kong often reaches 35 degrees and 90% humidity. A much better option is to set up camp at one of the lounges inside (which also have spectacular views) and venture outside for photos. As an additional victory, the 5pm start also allows you to make use of everyone’s favourite time, “Happy Hour”. Sugar Lounge’s Happy Hour prices are very generous for an upscale bar, with a pint or standard cocktail setting you back about HK$60 (AU$10).
Once you have burnt a small hole in your pocket at the Sugar Lounge, it is time to retreat back to the significantly less glamorous, significantly cheaper wonder that is 7-Eleven. Affectionately named ‘Club 7-Eleven’ by locals, the convenience store has quickly proven to be a favoured go-to-option amongst the group, with its AU$2 pints and AU$1 mixer drinks. With a store literally on every corner, it was easy to pick up a few drinks and head back to Hotel Jen’s rooftop pool to enjoy the equally inspiring views of the sun setting over the harbour.
On a Friday night, D’Aguilar Street in the Lan Kwai Fong District (LKF) is the place to be. Thankfully, the street is easy to reach via the MTR and a short walk from Central Station.
The Hong Kong Brew House proved a favourite amongst the group, with its free bar snacks and affordable steins. However the cheapest drinks can be found at the bar with the biggest queue on D’Aguilar Street—7-Eleven. The glorious convenience stores do not skimp on service with bottle openers hanging from chains outside the main entrance, complimenting the several fridges stocked to the brim with ice-cold beverages. While LFK was packed, the mood was refreshingly friendly and upbeat, starkly contrasting the vibes of 2am in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.
Alternative Approach: K-Town
If nightclubs are not your scene, Kennedy Town (K-Town) is the place to go. Described by QUT graduate and blogger Geneva Vanderzeil as Hong Kong’s up-and-coming area, K-Town is filled with a vast range of westernised bars from classic hardwood to boutique hipster joints. It is also a great place to indulge in a range of different cuisines with interesting hole-in-the-wall eateries hidden in the quiet side streets. We stumbled upon a small Vietnamese restaurant, which our group regards as one of the best meals of the trip.
Hong Kong gives NYC a run for its money as the city that never sleeps. Whether you are looking for a chance to let your hair down or have a more laid-back night out, the city’s array of bustling nightlife has something for everyone!