Hong Kong is not all work and skyscrapers. There are a number of activities and experiences that have become synonymous with life in Hong Kong and help to make the city the vibrant, cosmopolitan place it is today.
Take a break from the traffic, noise and pollution in the city, and explore a very different Hong Kong on the weekends.
Rent a Junk Boat
Junks or boat trips are a way of life among the expat community in Hong Kong, especially during the hot and humid summer. Popular destinations for a sailing trip include Sai Kung and Lantau, scenic spots great for a family picnic, or Lamma and Po Toi islands for their excellent seafood restaurants. You can also arrange for catered food aboard the junk or can pack your own food and drinks.
A typical junk boat can accommodate 20-30 people and can be rented for day or nighttime cruises. Rental companies specializing in junk and yacht rentals will arrange for you to board your rental boat at any of the public piers in Central, Wan Chai, Aberdeen or Tsim Sha Tsui. Expect to pay around HK$3,000-$4,000, excluding food, for a day trip on a modern junk.
Junk Boat and Yacht Rentals:
Jaspas Party Junk
Tel: 2869 0733
Tel: 2857 1131
Tel: 2815 8235
Tel: 2165 4196
Jubilee International Tour Centre
Tel: 2530 0530
Standard Boat Agency
Tel: 2570 1792
Go for a Hike
Hiking is the best kept secret in Hong Kong. It is a great way to appreciate the beautiful landscape outside the city and explore the wilder side of Hong Kong.
There are thirty eight hiking trails throughout Hong Kong. Four major trails are the 70-km Lantau Trail, the Hong Kong Trail which crosses five country parks, the 100-km Maclehose Trail through the New Territories, and the Wilson Trail, which starts from the south of Hong Kong Island and ends on the New Territories. These major trails are all very well marked, easily accessible by public transport and provide beautiful views of the countryside. Maps of the trails are available on the Environmental Protection Department website (http://www.epd.gov.hk) and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department website. (http://www.walkers.org.hk). Alternatively, you can hire a hiking guide or join one of the many free hiking tours.
Hiking Guides and Tours:
Hong Kong Trampers
Tel: 8209 0517
Tel: 2792 4333
Head to the Beach
You are never far from the sea in Hong Kong, and good beaches are easily accessible. Here are a few of the most popular:
Repulse Bay: Located on the south of Hong Kong Island, the Repulse Bay beach is the largest and most popular, packed with hordes of sun-worshippers on weekends and public holidays. It is especially popular with families with young children, due to the presence of nearby facilities such as showers, changing rooms, lifeguards, and beachfront restaurants and shops. The beach is a popular destination of the mainland coach tours so don’t be surprised if you awake from an afternoon doze to find yourself surrounded by Chinese tourists with cameras.
Getting There: Take bus 6, 6A, 6X or 260 from Exchange Square in Central, minibuses 40 and 52 from Causeway Bay and Aberdeen respectively, or 973 from Tsim Sha Tsui.
Big Wave Bay: As its name suggests, this beach is a favorite among surfers and body-boarders. Located on the southeast of Hong Kong Island, the area is relatively undeveloped, though there are a couple of shops where you can rent boards and equipment or buy basic refreshments.
Getting there: From Shau Kei Wan MTR station, take a red minibus or bus 9 to Shek O for an hour to the beach.
Tai Wan To: Better known as Power Station Beach because of the nearby power station, this beach is a favorite with Lamma residents, joggers and dog owners.
Getting There: Take the Outlying Islands ferry service from the Central Ferry Pier to Yung Shue Wan. The beach is a 10-minute walk through the village.
Tai Long Wan: One of Sai Kung’s most scenic spots, Tai Long Wan is a series of grand, sweeping beaches, which feature imposing green mountains as the backdrop. It is a popular destination for determined surfers and hikers, most of whom spend the night in village houses or at the youth hostel at Chek Keng.
Getting There: Take bus 94 or 96R from Sai Kung town to Wong Shek Pier, then the ferry service to Chek Keng, and an hour’s hike over hilly terrain. Alternatively, take a taxi from Sai Kung town to the end of Sai Wan Road, and then walk via Sai Wan village.
Cheung Sha Beach: Stretching for three glorious kilometers along Lantau island, Cheung Sha is Hong Kong’s longest beach. With silky soft sand and the towering Sunset Peak as a backdrop, the beach is favored by surfers and families.
Getting There: Catch a ferry from Central Pier to Mui Wo on Lantau Island, then bus 4 to Tong Fuk, alighting at Cheung Sha Village.
South Bay: At the end of South Bay Road, this beautiful beach used to be a hidden gem, thanks to its relative inaccessibility (no bus service and limited parking). But on a sunny weekend, expect to find it packed with families and couples. Fortunately, South Bay still doesn’t attract the mass tourists who descend on nearby Repulse Bay.
Getting There: From Repulse Bay, take a short taxi ride to the end of South Bay Road.
Stanley: The village of Stanley, which is located on the south of Hong Kong Island, is an immensely popular weekend destination both for tourists to Hong Kong as well as locals. Stanley Village is known for its market which is populated by numerous seafood restaurants and shops that sell a wide variety of products. There are two beaches at Stanley the Main Beach and St Stephen’s beach. Stanley Main Beach hosts the famed Stanley dragon boat races in June every year to celebrate the Tuen Ng Festival. Both the beaches are popular with water sports enthusiasts and are equipped with shark nets to protect swimmers.
Getting there: The easiest way to get to Stanley is to use the 6, 6A, 6 X or 260 bus services which originate from Central.
Deep Water Bay Beach: Deep Water Bay Beach is also located on the south side of Hong Kong and is extremely popular with the locals though its water quality is very poor due its proximity to the city. Deep Water Bay beach is equipped with changing rooms, restaurants and picnic areas and is easily accessible via bus from Central.
Getting there: the buses which serve Stanley Beach all serve Deep Water Bay Beach too.
Shek O Beach: Shek O beach is a beautiful beach located on the south side of Hong Kong Island. This reasonably clean beach is equipped with changing rooms, BBQ pits, playground lifeguards and shark nets. Shek O is home to some great restaurants like Black Sheep Pizza and the Shek O Thai and Chinese Restaurant and it also hosts several company owned guest houses which are used by executives for weekend getaways. Located an hour away from Shek O is Big Wave Bay Beach which is Hong Kong’s only beach that is equipped for wind surfing and paragliding enthusiasts.
Getting There: Island line MTR to Shau Kei Wan station and then minibus 9 to Shek O. Alternatively you can also get Bus 309 from Central which plies only on Sundays.
Explore the Outlying Islands
For a breath of fresh air, hop on board a ferry and explore the many outlying islands surrounding Hong Kong. Here are a few of the most scenic spots:
Lantau: The largest of Hong Kong’s islands, Lantau is a popular day-trip destination. Here you will find open countryside, traditional fishing villages, secluded beaches, and the island’s most popular attraction, the Po Lin Monastery with its famous 85ft-high bronze Buddha statue.
Getting There: The island is easily accessible by bus or ferry from Central. Take the ferry from the Outlying Islands Pier to Silvermine Bay (Mui Wo), which offers several great restaurants for lunch or dinner. You can also use the Tung Chung MTR line and the
Lamma: Lamma is the most cosmopolitan of the outlying islands, with non-Chinese making up half of the island’s population. There are two main villages: Yung Shue Wan, the larger of the two and the most populated area. Yung Shue Wan is a popular hangout with the island’s residents, with its many Western-style cafes and pubs. The other village, Suk Kuk Wan, is famous for its row of Chinese seafood restaurants dotting the waterfront, popular with diners on a junk trip.
Getting There: There are ferry services from both Central and Aberdeen ferry terminals to each of the two villages on Lamma. Ferries run at 40-minute intervals, and fares range from HK$10-$20, depending on the time of day.
Cheung Chau: A tiny but popular island destination, Cheung Chau has a population of about 30,000, and is home to a number of fishing fleets. In recent years the island has become a tourist attraction, offering visitors sandy beaches, seafood cafes and the island’s Pak Tai Temple, which was built in 1783. The famous Cheung Chau Bun Festival is celebrated here in April or May each year.
Getting There: Ferries run every 30 minutes between Central and Cheung Chau. The high-speed ferry journey takes just 35 minutes, while the ordinary ferry service takes about 55 minutes.
Peng Chau: Peng Chau is a small, charming island located off the northeastern coast of Lantau Island. Its laid-back island lifestyle is appealing to those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The island is also known for its fresh seafood, which can be bought at the pier and taken to nearby restaurants to be cooked.
Getting There: Ferries connect Peng Chau to Central, Cheung Chau and Mui Wo. There is also a ferry service running between the island and Discovery Bay on Lantau.