Jessica Shum shares her top travel picks for Hong Kong off the beaten track
There’s definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to Hong Kong. A global city off the southern coast of China, it’s famous for being a major economic hub, with a population of over seven million packed into a sprawling concrete jungle. Despite this, the city boasts numerous hidden treasures which tourists (as well as locals) can take advantage of during their time there:
Sleep under the stars on Hong Kong’s cleanest beach
Hong Kong isn’t all skyscrapers and shopping, it boasts its fair share of country parks, scenic coastlines and hiking trails, including the picturesque Tai Long Wan Hike. A leisurely two-hour stroll will bring you to Ham Tin Wan beach, an expanse of white sand, crystal-clear water, and relative quietness, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the city! Rent camping gear from one of the village stalls and enjoy a tasty seafood dinner in one of two restaurants. At night, the sky will light up with stars, a rare sight indeed in Hong Kong!
Directions: From Choi Hung MTR station, take the 1A green minibus to Sai Kung Town Centre. From here, take the 94 bus and get off at Pak Tam Au. For a more popular hiking trail, check out Dragon’s Back near Shek O.
Skip the Peak Tram for free panoramic views
The Tram is notoriously crowded and overpriced for what it’s worth, and the Peak Tower itself is a tourist trap full of loud, jostling sightseers vying to get the best views. Instead, take a bus ride up to the Peak, and then walk along the Peak Circle, a fuss-free trail which winds along the highest point of Hong Kong island. After a 20-minute walk you’ll be greeted by the most beautiful view of the city (pictured above), without having to pay a single dollar!
For those of you that still want to experience a tram ride, consider taking a “Ding Ding” tram instead. For a couple of dollars, you’ll be able to soak in the sights of Hong Kong Island, both unique and affordable!
Directions: From Central Pier, take bus 15C to the Peak.
Savour local food in authentic dining establishments
Skip the homogenous chain restaurants and instead grab some dim sum at Lin Heung Tea House, a bustling and authentic age-old parlour in the heart of Central. Snack on buttery French toast and Hong Kong-style milk tea at one of the city’s “Bing Sutts”- traditional coffee houses that are rapidly dwindling in number due to staggering rent costs. If you’re a seafood lover, take a short ferry ride to Lamma Island for some fresh delicacies at Rainbow Seafood Restaurant, and if you’re travelling with a group of friends, head on to Tung Po for booze and some dinner in a wet market setting.
Addresses: Lin Heung Tea House, 160-164 Wellington St, Hong Kong. Bing Sutts, various. Rainbow Seafood Restaurant, Sok Kwu Wan First St, Hong Kong. To get to the island, take a ferry from Pier 5, Central Ferry Terminal. Tung Po, 2/F Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Road North Point
Shop till you drop
Stock up on cheap cosmetics, medicines and creams at Lung Shing Pharmacy, a well-known dispensary which always attracts large crowds. For those with a taste for crafts, pay a visit to the gritty Sham Shui Po district for beads, cloth, and ribbons galore. Don’t forget to check out the newly renovated PMQ, a creative hub for unique boutique shops, or for those seeking cheap fashion, Fa Yuen Street is a must.
Addresses: Lung Shing Pharmacy- 28A Granville Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui. PMQ – No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central
Take an evening cruise overlooking Victoria Harbour
For those of you that want to soak up the sights with style, take an evening cruise complete with drinks and dinner. If you’re feeling a bit strapped for cash, take the Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui to Central or Wanchai instead. It costs about 20p and is an iconic and relaxed way to travel between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
These are just a few suggestions for those wanting to explore some of the more unique aspects of Hong Kong. The city is generally incredibly tourist-friendly and has a highly efficient public transport system (on the rare occasion that the train system in Hong Kong gets even slightly delayed, it ends up on the news!) so do find some time in your trip to try out some of these activities. Happy exploring!
Image credits: Jessica Shum