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    How to spend a perfect day in 5 expensive cities for less than HK$450
    Insider tips from locals for cheap things to do in some of the world’s most expensive cities
    Tower of London Beefeater guards
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    Hong Kong

    Ignoring price-per-square foot, Hong Kong is a budget travel playground – Tamsin Cocks

    Hong Kong Xiqu Centre and Star Ferry

    Credit: Derry Ainsworth and Joel Fulgencio

    Get fired up on the Morning Trail hike to the Peak – you can be up and down in an hour while enjoying those money-can’t-buy views. Reward yourself with a dim sum feast: a HK$2.30 tram ride will deliver you to the North Point branch of Michelin-starred chain Tim Ho Wan , where dishes hover around HK$30.

    Avoid the post-dumpling slump with a leisurely walk through Victoria Park to the Wan Chai ferry pier for a cross-harbour trip on the Star Ferry (HK$2.50).

    Once in Kowloon, bargain shopping options include Fa Yuen Street for outlet stores; Tung Choi Street Ladies’ Market for souvenirs; or the colourful bloom of the Flower Market. Then head to the city’s most famous cha chaan teng: the Australia Dairy Company , renowned for its scrambled eggs and brusque customer service (HK$38 for a lunch set).

    Get an art and culture fix at the new West Kowloon Cultural District: rent a Smartbike to explore the waterfront Art Park (HK$20 per hour), or immerse yourself in traditional Chinese opera at the Xiqu Centre (tickets from HK$180). In the evening, head to neon-lit Causeway Bay for street food classics from Ying Heong Yuen: fish balls in curry sauce (HK$12), plus spicy octopus skewers (HK$15).

    Total spend: HK$329


    The Lion City’s prices might be steep, but there’s plenty for thrifty tourists – Sanjay Surana

    Singapore China Town and Hindu Temple

    Credit: Getty Images

    Grab Breakfast at Simply Bread in Cluny Court – a whitewashed cafe that serves sticky buns, raspberry twists and smooth cappuccinos (S$7/HK$39). From here it’s a short stroll to the immaculate Unesco-listed Singapore Botanic Gardens , where entry is free and attractions include wetlands, a palm valley and a ginger garden. Continue exploring the outdoors at Thomson Nature Park , opened at the end of 2019 to help conserve the critically endangered Raffles’ banded langur. 

    For lunch, New Rong Liang Ge Cantonese Roast Duck Double Boiled Soup is a beloved hawker stall that debuted on the Bib Gourmand list of the Michelin Guide Singapore 2019, and serves roast meats with rice from S$2.50/HK$14. 

    Afterwards, squeeze in a visit to the free exhibits at Singapore City Gallery ; or catch a free afternoon performance at the Esplanade theatres. You should also have enough time to join a free afternoon walking tour of Chinatown, Little India and the Malay Kampong Glam area, run by Monster Day Tours .

    Bring your appetite to the Japanese buffet dinner at Kiseki (from S$40/HK$223), with a gut-busting selection of sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki and yakitori. Continue the party at Artemis Sky Bar with a 3pm-to-close Happy Hour (S$15/HK$84).

    Total spend: S$64.50/HK$360


    How to pull off Parisian-chic on the Parisian-cheap –  Madévi Dailly


    Credit: Getty Images

    Start with caramelised chausson aux pommes at Sain Boulangerie (€1.60/HK$13) to fuel a browse of nearby rue de Marseille’s outlet shops. If your budget doesn’t stretch to discounted Maje or A.P.C., check out Macon & Lesquoy’s bright stick-on patches (from €10/HK$85) for your wardrobe classics. Follow the cobblestones south to continue foraging in the hip boutiques of Le Marais. 

    Come lunchtime, grab a stool at L’Îlot’s tiny counter for half a dozen Fine de Claire oysters (€9.50/HK$80), served with a glass of crisp Picpoul (€4/HK$34). A 10-minute walk away, Lafayette Anticipations champions cutting-edge contemporary art; in April, catch a free exhibition of Rachel Rose’s dream-like films, collages and sculptures. 

    Download the Lime app to whizz your e-scooter down the car-free banks of the Seine (€5.50/HK$46 for 30 minutes). Park at Invalides and hop on the metro (€1.90/HK$16) to Bouillon Julien , where classic bistro fare is served in a splendid Art Nouveau dining room (€15/HK$130). Finish the night at La Bellevilloise , a boho hangout that often hosts free jazz concerts beneath its Insta-worthy olive trees.

    Total spend: €47.50/HK$412


    An efficient, economical tour of the Swiss capital – Adam Graham


    Credit: Courtesy of Löwenbräu-Areal & Magnus Winter

    Zürich’s quintessential breakfast is the butterbrezel – a pretzel stuffed with butter. One of the best can be found at Bäckerei A Stadelmann for CHF3.50 (HK$28). A ten-minute walk away is Brockiland , a second-hand shop stuffed with unusual souvenirs from caquelon fondue pots to oil paintings. 

    Armed with a 24-hour transport pass – just CHF9 (HK$70) – head over the river to grab a spicy beef pepito from Brasserie Louis on Niederdorfstrasse 10 (CHF9/HK$70). Nab a picnic spot overlooking the Limmat river to enjoy your mittagspause (midday pause). After watching locals float by – well, it’s your turn: the Flussbad Oberer Letten is a central bathing facility right on the river.

    As the sun weakens, head to the Löwenbräu-Areal , an art complex housing free contemporary exhibitions, or the Kunsthalle Zürich  – one of the city’s best museums, with free entry every Thursday.

    For dinner, settle into a terrace table at Rheinfelder Bierhalle in the Old Town with a plate of cordon bleu (CHF25/HK$214). Finish off with a nightcap at Xenix Bar in scruffy Helvetiaplatz, a subterranean art cinema and pétanque courtyard with unfiltered Paul Dunkel beer and rosé wine for just CHF7/HK$55.

    Total spend: CHF53.50/HK$423


    How to get more bang for your… er, pound in the UK capital – Marisa Cannon


    Credit: Courtesy of C&R Café & Wallace Collection

    With their meandering routes, London’s public buses are a brilliant way to get to know this urban powerhouse. Hop on the old-school Route 15 heritage bus at the Tower of London, and take in the sights of the city all the way to Trafalgar Square (£1.50/HK$15) before diving into the gleaming lights of the West End. Stroll through Soho to C&R Café in buzzing Chinatown for the best laksa outside of Singapore (£9.50/HK$95). After lunch, head north to Marylebone and the Wallace Collection, a resplendent 17th century townhouse filled with artwork from the likes of Rembrandt and Canaletto – like most London museums, it’s free to enter. As you’re nearby, it would be rude not to visit Sherlock Holmes’ statue just off Baker Street, for a mandatory selfie with the great consulting detective – followed by a short walk to leafy Regent’s Park, where free open-air exhibitions fill the gardens in warmer months. 

    If the weather is particularly obliging, rent a pedalo on the lake (£10.50/HK$105 per hour). Replenish your caffeine stores at The Boathouse Café (£2.10/HK$21), then head eastward towards Goodge Street: a popular stomping ground among students and home to Icco’s family-run pizza house. Here, a 12-inch mushroom and mozzarella pizza will set you back a paltry £5.50/HK$56. Buon appetito!

    Total spend: £29.10/HK$295

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