Hong Kong has the big city specials like smog, odour, 14 million elbows and an insane love of clatter. But it's also efficient, hushed and peaceful: the transport network is excellent, the shopping centres are sublime, and the temples and quiet corners of parks are contemplative oases. The best thing about being in Hong Kong is getting flummoxed and fired by the confluences ...



Saving and Spending Wisely in Europe

So now it's assumed that you've paid for the necessary evils of European travel: transport passes, visa fees, travel insurance, gear, accommodations and plane tickets. However, even if you've already set aside funds for these, it's really the little things that you really have to watch out for when you're out having fun. Small amounts can easily add up and drain a large portion of your daily budget if you're not careful.

Museum passes, a newspaper, a small sketch from a roadside artist, a couple of beers and emergency roll of films, checking your email, doing laundry - these can add some $20 to $50 on top of what you originally set aside for the day! Before you call off that Europe trip however, there's good news. There are many ways to spend less money in Europe and still get really good deals anyway.Try to buy food in open air markets and supermarkets rather than in bistros and restaurants. Most hostels and rooms are equipped with cooking appliances, so you can cook your own breakfast or dinner.

This works out even cheaper if you're traveling with a group because expenses can be slashed into 3 or four. If you don't like to cook, try to eat at the cafeterias and at places where there are a lot of locals. Stay away from tourist-oriented restaurants and cafés, which are usually overpriced. If you do want to eat at a restaurant, read the prices on the menus first and ask about surcharges (most charge a fee for just sitting at their patio).When traveling in the off-peak season, try asking for a discount at the hotel you're staying in.

Most proprietors are willing to lower the price if you ask. Rooms that are shared, like quads or triples, are also cheaper than solo rooms. Just remember to keep your bags and valuables in a place that you can easily see.When traveling across countries, try taking the overnight train.

It will save you an extra night's lodging cost. You can also hand wash your clothes every two days to save on laundry bills. When going around, avoid using taxis. Public transport is quite efficient in Europe, particularly in cities. Buses and trams are always a cheaper and more fun alternative. Don't be afraid to walk! Walking is one of the best ways to appreciate a city.

Many of the top sites in Paris and London are within walking distance from each other and will save you money on transport.When calling home, use phone cards during off-peak hours and check emails for 15 minutes only. Concerts and cultural events are often staged free in the summer, so check out fliers and posters. Many museums and galleries are also half-priced or discounted one day a month or one day a week, or at certain times of the day.

There are also good things to smartly invest in once you're in Europe. Eat out once in a while so you get to sample good local cuisine. Lunch is usually cheaper than dinner in these places. Enjoy the nightlife in a bar, pub, or club as well; just look for bars that have little or no cover charge and often you'll find drinks specials on weekday nights. Just don't overdo it!.


Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Europe Vacation.

By: Michael Russell

Travel Hong Kong

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