In Budget Roundups, Budgeting, Travel

Hong Kong and Macau 2012 Total Cost and How We Saved Money

As promised in an awesome infographic that I spent a lot of time on.

(Gawrsh those things take a long time!!)

Update: It is actually 24 days, because in addition, 4 days were spent traveling (time zones) which makes it 28 days, or 4 weeks.

It isn’t exactly 5 weeks (as in 35 days), but it was the tail end of one week, and the beginning of another, so I thought of it as 5 calendar weeks in my head, when the actual weeks by numbers is really 4.

I am making this long-winded note because I don’t want to redo the infographic. *sigh*

Update 2: Damn it. DAMN my OCD self. I updated it to say 4 weeks.

Here’s what the budget looks like in terms of percentages:

As you can see, flights and hotels obviously cost a lot more than everything else.


We took flights that had a stopover and that was about $400/ticket in savings.

Actually, this is probably better than a direct flight because it gives you a break from the plane.

Our flights were basically 2 legs: 15 hours, 3 hour stopover, 1 hour flight from somewhere in the U.S. back to Canada.

It gave us a nice break from the airplane, a chance to stretch, and either the first or the last leg was very short.


As mentioned, we stay in cheap hotels like Ibis.

There were two of them in Hong Kong — Ibis North Point and Ibis Sheung Wan, with the Sheung Wan location costing about $30 more per day.

We didn’t stay there because it was new and we didn’t know how big it would be (almost double the size of the Ibis North Point, and the size of an American-normal-sized budget hotel room).

As a result, we saved a lot by sleeping in a 120 square foot closet, also known as the Ibis North Point hotel.


Food is the third biggest cost, and it could have easily been double if we had not been avoiding restaurants, and eating pre-made meals and buying fruit from a grocery store instead.

The hotels we stayed in also had mini fridges, so we bought milk for the morning and were able to keep small things in there.

A typical breakfast would be about $10 per person, and lunches and dinners are $20 per person, so had we been going out to eat every day for 24 days, it would have been $50/day per person on average.

24 days x $100 (for 2 people) = $2400 which is a reasonable budget for what we consider good food

(Also, we don’t like cheap or junk food when we go to restaurants because it’s crap, and if I’m going to a  restaurant, it had better serve real food.)

Instead, we bought everything we wanted to eat (fancy yoghurts and sushi), and spent only $30.51 per person, or a little over half.

24 days x $61.02 (for 2 people) = $1464.48 is what we really spent

We saved about $935 doing that, although BF was getting antsy about the food costs near the end and wanted me to stop stuffing my trap so much.


We used the handy Octopus card, and spent $252.39 for the two of us to travel pretty much anywhere we liked in Hong Kong.

In contrast, taking a taxi would have probably tripled that budget, to about $1000. Or more.

$1000 / 24 days = $41.66 per day for transportation.

(We have no clue what it costs, as we don’t take taxis even in our daily lives, but if the prices are anything like in Toronto, it’s an expensive luxury.)

Cabbing to and from the airport, to and from sights and back and forth from the hotel adds up.

Anyway, the tram was way more fun and a great, cheap way to tour the city for the low price of $2.30 HKD or $0.29 USD!!!!!


Not too shabby.

Every little bit and every little sacrifice adds up to significant savings when you travel. That amount that we saved above, is enough for another week or two weeks somewhere.

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

Am my own Sugar Daddy. Am a millionaire at 36 after getting out of $60K of student debt in 18 months, a little over a decade earlier, using I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K with an average lifetime savings rate of 50%. I have 11 side incomes that are on track in 2020 to make me $50K - $75K. I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I am all about balance - between time and money, and also enjoying my money. I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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  1. Bridget

    haha LOVE the infographic!! I keep meaning to use them in posts but have a hard time putting one together. I really like how you did this… also I’m super jealous of your trip (but that goes without saying)

    1. Mochi & Macarons

      It takes forever to make an infographic!

  2. SWR

    So cool. Sounds like you had a great trip. Unless there are babies in the mix, we’re planning on heading abroad in February 2014. Enjoying other peoples’ travels (yours included) until then 🙂

  3. Anne @ Unique Gifter

    1 – Awesome infographic, they take forevvvver to make!
    2 – Sounds like a really awesome trip that you pulled off for an affordable price, well done 🙂 I’d love to hear more about it.

    1. Mochi & Macarons

      They DO take forever to make. Then you make one mistake and you can’t sleep until you fix it…….

      Yes, I had a great trip! I am thinking of posting photos….

  4. Mochi & Macarons

    Let me make it clear that *I AM a huge snob* when it comes to food because I don’t eat that junk in my regular life, so why would I start now in Hong Kong? It gives me pimples (a sign of my body’s allergic reaction).

    On the contrary, food WAS a priority for me. A priority to and eat food I can’t find otherwise in North America.

    All we do when we travel, is look for good food, but we’re not willing to eat crap. We’re snobs like that.

    Unfortunately, most countries don’t know how to make good food for sale other than in France, so we always end up in grocery stores, making our own tapas (in Spain), burritos (USA) or our own sandwiches and burritos with the local pre-cooked foods that they sell, which ultimately tasted better than the “real thing” in restaurants, and cost 1/4 of the price.

    In general, all cheap restaurants ARE crap. I can’t imagine it being any different, unless the currency is a lot lower than CAD or USD.

    Even here in North America, cheap restaurants are crap. How do they make their profits serving you real food with butter in it, rather than a cheap substitute like lard or margarine?

    Unless I buy the food and make it myself, it *can’t* be any cheaper, and I * know* what went into it.

    Actually, I didn’t mention it to be polite but as you brought it up, I mostly didn’t eat out because I don’t like Chinese food in general, unless I make it myself.

    Kudos to everyone else who can eat the food including my whole family, but I’m not going to pay for something I don’t like, seeing as I’ve eaten it ad nauseum as a kid. (Just as how some people hate raw fish, and I love it.)
    Even “real” Chinese food, not fake American-style Chinese food, leaves a lot to be desired for me. I am not a fan of herbal soups, dim sum, stir fry the way they do it, SPAM passing off for meat, or anything deep fried like their fried bread sticks for instance.

    I will eat congee, and things like 1000-year old eggs, but BF hates that stuff so to be fair to him so he could eat, we went where he could have food too.

    I also pretty much starved in China when I visited because the food was inedible for me, other than the Peking duck and this awesome Beijing bread we found made by the locals.

    In Singapore, I liked the Indonesian and Malaysian fare, even some Indian dishes, but I stayed clear away from Chinese food.

    Even in Europe, in Portugal I hate their super salty cod dishes, so I avoided those plates.

    If I was visiting Japan, I’d go hog wild because I trust their standards in cooking (they are world renowned), and the food is simply amazing. Unfortunately, not every country’s cuisine is to my taste.

    *My bottom line is: I can still enjoy a city and like everything it has to offer without eating their food* if it doesn’t look good to me (or if I know I already won’t like it).

    Thanks for the comment — you brought up some good points and I’m glad I had a chance to tell you my side.

    1. Jasmine L

      Thanks for your response and apologies in advance for this even longer one.

      If you don’t like Chinese food, there’s nothing that can really be said about that; everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences. However, I have to strongly disagree with many of your statements regarding your perception of food in other countries. With all due respect, you are doing your readers a disservice by making generalizations based upon your own personal eating habits.

      To preface this, my husband and I have also travelled around the world, including the countries that you have mentioned. In most countries you will be able to find good eats if you know where to look.

      Hong Kong is well regarded as one of the culinary capitals of the world. It is food-centric by nature, and some of the best food can be found in this city. Oh, and it’s super cheap by North American standards. We know several people (some being ex-pats) living in Hong Kong, and the city rotates around its food culture. The work/life balance is such that it is the norm to work 12-14 hours a day, 6 days a week. With such a hectic schedule, most people will actually “eat out” as a regular part of their daily routine. This structure creates the need for quick eats that are easy and most of all, affordable. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of places serving “crap”, and a ton of high-end, expensive places serving world class cuisine. But nestled in between these two polarities are a slew of restaurants and stalls serving up fresh, quality food at very reasonable prices.

      To say that all cheap restaurants are crap is just plain wrong. Restaurants operate by different structures, but depending on rent and overhead, some places are able to crank out excellent food at ridiculously cheap prices. The average food cost in a restaurant can range from 15%-30%+, with some exceptions. The rest of the operating costs (rent, utilities, labour, etc…) are highly variable and will change depending on where you are setting up business. This is not just for difference countries, but within different areas of a city, things will wary greatly. To state the obvious, if I open a 4000sf restaurant downtown, my operating cost will be much different than if I’m running a food cart in an industrial area. If my food cart is busy and high volume, my profit can even be greater than the restaurant downtown, because my operating costs are so low. Remember, the cost of food is only a fraction of the total picture. There are a ton of large, fancy restaurants that just break even or make around 1-2% profit when all is said and done. This is why so many seemingly nice restaurants with good food close down. It’s a tough, tough business. This is also why in every city, there are hole-in-the-wall places that crank out good food, and run successful profitable businesses that sometimes are around for generations. It’s all about balancing the cost of doing business. So it IS possible to be a “cheap” restaurant and still provide real, quality food, no matter what country you are in.

      Part of eating in a different country is not about whether you can “make it better” by going to a grocery store. My husband is a chef and food developer and is able to replicate most things that we eat while abroad. This however is not the point. Dining in another country for us is experiencing the culture through food. We may not enjoy every meal, but we have an appreciation for how the local people eat, and therefore gain a better understanding of the culture. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be picky with your food choices, but by going with an open mind you might be surprised at the things you might enjoy.

      Obviously you can make things cheaper and have full control when making it yourself. It then becomes where you find value for your dollar. For us, when we dine out, we tend to eat things we won’t cook at home. It’s not that we can’t do it, but sometimes with the time and effort involved it makes no sense to do it yourself. I don’t have time to simmer pho broth for 14 hours, or smoke a brisket, or catch a fresh tuna for sashimi. Sure, we can do these things at home, but what I’m paying for at a restaurant is the care, time and attention they have put into it. I pay for the convenience of having just a portion of it, without the time and effort involved. When I’m eating in another country, I want to experience the love the locals put into their craft, I want to taste the expertise that has been honed over time through years of experience. What I don’t want to do is to go to the grocery store and make myself a ham sandwich because this is what I’m used to eating at home.

      If you don’t like Chinese food, that’s fair enough. I won’t get into the Chinese food debate as everyone has different tastes and preferences. What I will say is that if you think Chinese food is limited by the things you’ve listed (SPAM is manufactured in the US by the way) you probably haven’t had good Chinese food before. Sure, there is a lot of MSG laden garbage that passes as Chinese food in every country, but there are things in Chinese cooking that are used by many other cultures, including the Japanese. Ask an experienced French chef about quality Chinese cooking and they will tell you they share a lot of the same philosophies in coaxing flavours and building well-rounded dishes.

      I agree that you have to be very careful when eating in China, as food safety is a huge issue. However, if you know where to look you will find all kinds of food that will rival the best restaurants anywhere. You make it sound like none of the food is good or even edible in China. Over a billion people would disagree with you.

      Food is such a subjective thing, which is why it’s sometimes hard to quantify if something is “good” or “bad”. But to call food “crap” just because you don’t
      like it, comes off as slightly ignorant.

      It’s good that you can experience the culture in different ways, and everyone has their priorities when travelling. But if food is a priority for you, and you can’t find good things to eat in a city like Hong Kong, you are clearly looking in the wrong places.

      1. Mochi & Macarons

        Oh I found great food to eat in Hong Kong, but as I said, it was pre-made stuff in grocery stores. They had amazing chicken that I’ve never tasted before (cooked in banana leaves and so on).

        What I meant was I don’t go to cheap restaurants or restaurants in general to eat the local fare because I don’t like it, period.

        I should also clarify that when I call food crap, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t taste good to me and I don’t want to indulge once in a while (I try not to, I know what it does to me afterwards and I don’t like the consequences).

        It’s crap because it’s bad for me.

  5. Leigh

    Love the infographic! Sounds like you guys had an amazing trip – welcome back!


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