Although Hong Kong is most well known for its towering sky scrapers and glittering malls, what a lot of people don’t realise is that if you’re willing to step outside of the centre of town, you’re rewarded with the most amazing coastline, quaint villages and stunning hikes. When people come to visit I’m all about showing them this hidden side of the city, it’s such a treat! And I have to be honest, as someone living here, Hong Kong would be hard to stick with sometimes if it wasn’t for the welcome reprieve of green hills, amazing beaches, hikes and bays. With that in mind, for the final installment of my partnership with Hong Kong Tourism Board, I’m going to be giving you a run down of 5 day trips you can do in Hong Kong to experience the lesser known corners of this crazy place.
The jetty at Sai Wan Swimming Shed
Hong Kong Guide: Outdoors
Tai Long Wan
People are always surprised at the number of beaches in Hong Kong, and places like Stanley and Sheko on the Island are always a nice treat. But to experience the best Hong Kong has to offer in the beach department, head out to Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung. The half hour taxi ride and 45 minute hike is well rewarded – you’ll be floored by the crystal clear waters and soft white sand, and most likely you’ll be the only one on the beach when you get there. Have a simple bite to eat at one of the Chinese cafes and indulge in much needed respite from the crowds in Central!
How to get there: Take a taxi to Sai Wan in Sai Kung, and then walk to Tai Long Wan beach (the third and best in a row of beaches). On the weekends you can the return journey by boat from the fishing villages in Sai Wan back to Sai Kung.
Dragon’s Back & Sheko
Dragon’s Back is the most popular hike for tourists due to its easy accessibility (20 minutes from the city’s heart) and stunning views. Certain parts are wooded and boast beautiful plant life, whilst the rest is on a ridge overlooking the sea. The highest point on the trail is only 284 metres, but the views are worthy of a much more difficult hike. If it’s a cloudy day you can still enjoy the slopes, but you may not see as far into the distance. Most visitors finish this exhilarating route with a swim at Shek O beach and lunch in the village, I recommend Black Sheep for a laid back hippy vibe and not too bad pizza.
How to get there: From MTR Shau Kei Wan Station, Exit A3, take bus 9 from Shau Kei Wan bus terminus to To Tei Wan on Shek O Road. The entrance to the hike is on Shek O Road near To Tei Wan village. Be sure to look out for the sign!
Cheung Chau Island
With coastal trails, beaches, small rural valleys, and a village dotted with temples but with only one (police) car, Cheung Chau boasts plenty to see and do in a day; and plenty to eat once you’ve seen and done. Which makes it a popular getaway thanks to its beaches and its cute downtown lined with snack shops and incense-smokey temples. Come here for an afternoon of temple touring, noshing on fish balls and exploring the rocky coastline. My pick of places to hang out is a small beach to the back of the island called Kwun Yam, with a shack-style beach bar just above the tideline: a fine place to chill out on a hot afternoon.
How to get there: Ferry Services from Central leave from pier 5 of the Outlying Islands ferry terminal (regular/fast 45 minutes/one hour). Ferries can also be taken from Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan on Lantau and from Peng Chau. Additionally, regular kaido operate between Cheung Chau village (sampan pier) and Sai Wan in the south of the island.
Not for the faint hearted, this is my favourite walk on the island, and is an incredibly scenic interval workout spread across three peaks. Without any rest time along the way, this 4.8km hike takes around an hour and a half.
Violet Hill is the first peak, and a relatively tame one to scale. But then, in the distance, you can just make out the steps that dot the steep climb up the first of the Twin peaks ahead that lead down to Stanley Gap. Not to worry, it’s only 1,000 steps up the first peak. Consider this the meat of your workout. Break it up into 200 to 250-step increments for great interval training. After this, the second peak feels like a cool down. Make sure you take time to take in the amazing views along the way of Repulse Bay, Tai Tam Reservoir and eventually Chung Hom Kok and Stanley.
How to get there: Start from the marker below the entrance to Parkview Residences so that you can reward your efforts with a delicious meal in Stanley.
Sai Wan Swimming Shed
The Sai Wan Swimming Shed is an atmospheric hideaway located on the island. Located just below Victoria Road on the western edge of Kennedy Town, it was built by the government in the 1950s to provide a changing room and wooden pier for nearby residents who swam in Sulfur Channel. Today, it attracts more photographers than swimmers for its sunset views and crashing waves. As a location it feels nothing like the Hong Kong outside your hotel. Bring some refreshments and enjoy sunset.
How to get there: Take a taxi and ask for Victoria Road Kennedy Town.
Frozen fruit sticks in Cheung Chau
The bays of Sai Kung
Taking a load off in Cheung Chau
A misty day at the beach.
The churning waters at the end of Hong Kong Island.
So far from the hustle of Central (and yet actually so close).
Life in the slow lane…
Tai Long Wan Beach
Photos by Nicola Lemmon