Hong Kong Staycations
Stay right where you are—the perfect weekend getaway might be closer than you think.
So you’ve done all of Thailand, exhausted the rest of Southeast Asia and are tired of having to go through customs every time you want to make a quick escape. Here’s a thought: why not stay IN the city? From beach retreats to outdoor adventures to cultural journeys, Hong Kong’s got staycations of all stripes.
Mellow Out in Mui Wo
Chill and rest in a quaint little inn by the water.
Where to stay: Mui Wo Inn
What to do: Start the day late—just because you can— at neighboring Silvermine Beach Resort (30 Tung Wan Tau Rd., 2984-8295, www.silvermineresort.com), with an al fresco lunch at its spacious outdoor terrace café.
Afterwards, hike uphill on a footpath at the back of the resort for about 20 minutes to get to Man Mo Temple (Pak Ngan Heung) and Silvermine Bay Waterfall Garden. Here, you can admire the green waterfall and peep into Silvermine Cave (where in ancient times people actually mined silver). Trek downhill to wander among old villages in the vicinity, like the Ngau Kwu Long Village.
Head back down to the Mui Wo Cooked Food Market right by the pier for a nice seafood dinner of clams, squid, shrimp or pretty much anything that swims. Unlike other cooked food markets in Hong Kong which are indoor and crowded, this one is spacious and comes with a breathtaking sea view. Head back to the hotel and take advantage of the indoor pool before retiring for the night.
Beach Retreat at the Gold Coast
Take a swim and soak in the sun during a relaxing weekend on a picture-perfect beach.
Where to stay: The Gold Coast Hotel
What to do: First, have a lavish breakfast buffet at the hotel’s Cafe Lagoon, then submerge yourself in the shimmering blue pool outside, or take a walk along the artificial Golden Beach to round off your leisurely morning.
When you’re done chillin’, hop in a taxi to Tuen Mun’s Sam Shing Estate for a seafood feast. Take your pick of any of the fresh seafood stalls along the waterfront, then head to one of the restaurants lining the streets to cook up your purchase. If you’re looking to burn off some calories after all that food, grab your backpack and make a beeline for the scenic MacLehose trail in Tai Lam Country Park, accessible via a another taxi ride. Tai Lam is the second-largest country park in Hong Kong, and is also where you can see the impressive Tai Lam Chung Reservoir. Then it's time to head to nearby Yuen Long via shuttle bus or taxi. First stop: Hong Kong Organic Country (Ho Pui Reservoir, Ho Pui Tsuen, Pat Heung, 2488-9016) to enjoy some fresh-ground soybean milk and hand-made noodles. Afterwards, take the Light Rail to Tsang Heung Egg Roll (124E Yuen Long Main Rd., 2476-1334 ) for some crispy egg rolls and other traditional snacks. Stroll along the Yuen Long Main Road for a local shopping experience, then head to Kam Kee (G/F, 56 Fuk Tak St., 2478-1996) for their savory roast suckling pig and roasted goose.
Spend the remainder of your night back at the hotel—take a late-night stroll next door to the Gold Coast Piazza and the Golden Beach (1 Castle Peak Rd., Castle Peak Bay), then sit back and relax for drinks at the hotel's The Atrium Lobby Lounge while enjoying some live music.
Charmed by Cheung Chau
Visit a pirate's cave and enjoy some old- fashioned hospitality at a B&B.
Where to stay: B&B Cheung Chau
What to do: Unload your bags and head to Kam Wing Tai Fish Ball (106 San Hing St., 2981-3050) for its chewy fish balls, which are made fresh every day. Grab a sugarcane juice to cool down, then whet your appetite further at Hometown Teahouse (17 Cheung Chau Church Rd., 2981-5038). Don’t be misled by the name, because Hometown serves not only tea but also sushi and red bean cakes. A light dessert like white sugar pudding or black glutinous rice pudding at Sun Chiu Kei Snack Shop (18 Tung Wan Rd., 2986-9006) can’t hurt either. With the food out of the way, it’s time for some adventure. Take a 20-minute walk along the shore to reach the West Bay and walk for another 10 minutes to reach the renowned Cheung Po Tsai Cave, once the hideout of a famous local pirate. If you are too lazy to walk, take a sampan ride from the public pier (where you can see the typhoon shelter) next to the Cheung Chau Market. Be sure to bring a flashlight! Then take a swim and do some sunbathing at Tung Wan Beach. After that, head back to San Hing Praya Street, the stretch that runs along the pier, for a seafood dinner at one of the restaurants. Take a small break before heading back out at 11pm, when hawkers start flooding in to set up temporary stands that sell everything from steamed rice rolls to sweet soups. Remember to enjoy the complimentary B&B breakfast the next morning before you check out.
Home Away From Home in Tai Po
Enjoy small-town life and fresh produce at a tucked-away village house.
Where to stay: Yuen Country Hideaway
What to do: From the house, take a 15-minute stroll to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees (Lam Kam Rd., Fong Mo Po Village), where locals and tourists alike write down their secret wishes on joss papers to hang on the branches. When you’re done, take minibus 64K to enjoy breakfast at Chan Hon Kee (G/F, 91B Wan Tau St., 2658-2277) and order their mouth-watering steamed rice rolls with shrimp, char siu and pork liver fillings. If you still have room, turn the corner to Ah Por Soya Bean Custard (Shop 2A, Tai Kwong Lane) for a bowl of aromatic and richly flavored soybean custard. Then observe the buzzing morning scene at Tai Po Hui Market (8 Heung Sze Wui St.). Hear the street market vendors and grocery store owners shout out the day’s best deals—you won’t want to miss out on quality locally grown produce. Hop on minibus 20A to the Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve (50 Fung Yuen Village, Ting Kok Rd., 3111-7344), which is home to more than 200 butterfly species, including 30 rare breeds. If you’re a fan of the famous Kau Kee in Sheung Wan, then lunch at Kwan Kee Beef Brisket (G/F, 26 Dai Ming Lane, Tai Po Market, 2638-3071) should be your next stop. They serve flavorful broths that complement the tender beef brisket and the fresh homemade noodles. It gets really beefy here: a large variety of beef parts are available, from beef cheeks to cow penis (if you're brave). After, take minibus 64K to the Ng Tung Chai Waterfall (Ng Tung Chai Village, Lam Tsuen). It’s a bit of a hike to get to, but you won’t be disappointed when you see this natural wonder. Find fragrant flora and fauna at the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden (Lam Kam Rd., Lam Tsuen, 2483-7200) and enjoy the spectacular views and beautiful scenery on their tranquil trails. In the evening, head back to Sik Yum Sik Sik, where Amen will have dinner made with fresh, in-season local produce. Finally, retire to your room for a peaceful sleep in the countryside.
Go Snap Happy in Tung Ping Chau
Be one with nature—and sharpen your photography skills while you're at it—on this rocky island.
Where to stay: Sun Cheung Store (Tai Tong, Tung Ping Chau, 2656-0056); Tai Cheung Store (Tai Tong, 2656-3406); Ping Chou Store (Tai Tong, 2661-2680). Although technically not accommodations, these humble shops are more than happy to host you and your bags for short stints at all hours of the night while you embark on your photography expedition around the isolated island. $280 for the ferry ride to Tung Ping Chau, a place to rest and three meals.
What to do: Calling all hardcore photographers! Embark on an overnight trip to capture the most breathtaking starry nights and sunrise in Tung Ping Chau, an island made up entirely of sedimentary rocks. Get off at University Station and catch the 9am ferry to Tung Ping Chau at Ma Liu Shui Public Pier. One hour and forty-five minutes later, you’ll be starting an exciting and physically challenging journey. There are two famous trees with intertwined branches—aka the “Married Tree”—at the far end of the pier that make for a great first photo op. Turn right and head to the simple but cozy Sun Cheung, Tai Cheung or Ping Chou Stores in Tai Tong to set down your weighty cameras. These one-stop resting places offer an irresistible package deal—ferry tickets, three meals and space for equipment storage and napping for under $300—but remember to call ahead. After having traditional fried noodles and porridge for lunch, it’s time to check out the island’s renowned strange rock formations. The Tung Ping Chau shale (Chau Mei Kok) is rated Hong Kong’s number-one rock by the Hong Kong Geopark folks. The formation of shale is geographically very rare, but you don’t have to know all the technical details to appreciate its beauty. Then grab a nice spot in the Cham Keng Chau area of the island to take the best shots of the sunset. With a long night of stargazing ahead, first grab some rest on the canvas beds (sorta like simple cots) in the stores. Then head back out at midnight and behold an endless stretch of starlit sky. Test your photography skills, or just lie down and admire the beauty. Walk to the Kang Lau Shek area before dusk, then wait as the light of the sun slowly tints the entire island. If you still have the energy, check out other spots like Lung Lok Shui, Hok Ngam Teng and Lung Leng Tsui before catching the 5:15pm ferry back to the city.
Live It Up in Kwun Tong
Enjoy rooftop swimming, a boardwalk stroll and a live show or two while staying in one of the hippest, newest hotels in East Kowloon.
Where to stay: L'hotel Elan
What to do: Start out with a nice dip in the hotel’s rooftop pool, then head to Forte, the Italian slash Asian restaurant located on the second floor, for a proper lunch. If you’re in the mood for a local meal, opt for Ying Fat Café (16 Fu Yan St., 2342-5020), the local cha chaan teng that’s renowned for its milk tea and butter-filled pineapple buns—you can actually smell the butter from blocks away. In the evening, take a stroll along the Kwun Tong Promenade (178 Hoi Bun Rd.), where there’s a 200-meter-long seaside boardwalk with stunning harbor views. The promenade is the first open-space project under the Kai Tak Development Plan being implemented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Have an early dinner at Corner 90 (G/F, 90 Hung To Rd., 2344-4898) for some fusion cuisine before heading on to Hidden Agenda (25 Tai Yip St., 9170-6073) for live shows performed by talented local artists. Head back to end the night in your cozy suite.
Cultural Study in Tai O
Enjoy a tour around the fishing village and a stay at a brand-new, heritage-rich boutique hotel.
Where to stay: Tai O Heritage Hotel
What to do: Start your day with a hearty breakfast at the hotel before embarking on a Culture and Experience Tour to explore the indigenous Tai O fishing village with its stilt huts and the prominent Hung Shing and Kwan Tai Temples, which are known collectively as the “Big Temples.” For lunch, enjoy a cheesecake—made with mountain begonia, a local ingredient—at the hotel, then take a leisurely stroll to the Market Street for famous local products and also to grab some charcoal-baked egg waffles (59 Kat Hing Back St.). Then walk across the Tai Chung Bridge to see some signature houses raised above the water on stilts.
Treat yourself to a cup of famous ice-cold lemon tea (but without ice) to beat the summer heat at Ki Kee (8 Kat Hing Back St.), which has been in business for over half a century. Then carry on with your cultural journey at the century-old "wooden residence" (43 Kat Hing Back St.), where people still reside. Next, you’ll find the tomb guardian beast (Kat Hing Back St.). The guardian beast is a type of sculpture that was buried with the dead to overcome evil spirits. This type of artifact was made from clay and is over 3,000 years old.
Stroll through Wing On and Tai Ping Streets—narrow roads that used to serve as embankments of a salt field. At the entrance of Wing On Street is the Earth God shrine, and further along are more stilted houses (near Wing On St.), historical huts with roofs and walls that are covered by palm leaves and pine bark.
In the evening, join the Sunset Boat Tour at the hotel for another guided jaunt through the fishing village. Finally, enjoy a sunset dinner at Tai O Lookout, the hotel’s elegant glass-roofed restaurant.
Hole in One in Tung Chung
Get in a round of golf and an outdoor art exhibit without booking a flight out.
Where to stay: Novotel Hong Kong Citygate
What to do: Spoil yourself with a brunch buffet at Essence on the lobby level of the hotel before venturing out to check out the Tung Chung Artwalk (Yat Tung Estate, Yat Tung St.), right next to the Tung Chung MTR station. It’s located in one of the coolest public housing estates in Hong Kong, and has a permanent exhibit of 26 site-specific, topically themed art pieces scattered throughout the walkways and staircases. Skip the Big Buddha, but hop on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car anyway and head straight to Ngong Ping Garden Restaurant (Shop 3-4, G/F, Ngong Ping Village, 2259-3918) and sample some fine vegetarian cuisine; we recommend their Fine Vegetarian Seafood Combo. While you’re at it, pay a visit to the Po Lin Monastery, which is a testimony to the rich history of Buddhism in Hong Kong and China. Then head over to the SkyCity Marriott Hotel and enjoy an anti-aging body massage from Quan Spa (1/F, SkyCity Marriott Hotel, 3969-2192). A mini-vacation wouldn't be complete without treating yourself to a fancy dinner. The wine-pairing set dinner menu at SkyCity's Velocity Bar and Grill is a perfect way to recharge your body. For a late-night adventure, take the shuttle bus to Nine Eagles Golf Course (20 Sky City Rd. East, Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok, 3760-6688) for a quick round of golf. Make sure you bring an airline mileage card with you, because it only admits “airport users.”
If you’re of more the shopping type, head to the Citygate Outlets just next to the Novotel. The up-to-30 percent discount off most items can relieve some of the guilt.
Down and Dirty in Tin Shui Wai
Rough it out in the city’s only all-terrain vehicle grounds.
Where to stay: Harbour Plaza Resort City
What to do: Be prepared for an action-packed getaway in Tin Shui Wai. Leave the hotel early and take a 15-minute walk to the Ping Shan Cultural Farm (20 Tin Tsz Rd., 3487-9795), an outdoor all-you-can-do entertainment complex. Comfort your grumbling stomach with the farm’s delicious fresh oysters, squid and prawns from Vietnam, as well as Norwegian salmon. The farm also handpicks marinated meat with no harmful preservatives. Set two hours aside for the ultimate mini All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) experience—the farm is the only place that offers four-wheeler rides in Hong Kong, so be sure to call ahead. Once the coach approves of your skills, you’ll be allowed to roam the woods nearby. How badass is that? If you’re feeling even more adventurous, try out their latest war game facilities, too. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Wetland Park (Wetland Park Rd., 3152-2666) houses unique mangroves and over 200 bird species in its 60 acres of land. But if you’re put off by insects, amphibians or reptiles, then hop on the Light Rail to Kam Sheung Road and explore the many temples and walled villages in the Pat Heung area. Head back near the hotel and discover the Tin Shui Wai Back Hill (near the drainage channel at Ting Ying Road). Locals fly kites here, and you can also catch some stunning views of the town. (Stay for the sunset if you can.) Fill your stomach with the distinctive local cuisine at Ping Shan Traditional Poon Choi (G/F, 36 Tong Fong Chuen, 2617-8000) near the historic Hung Shing Temple. Dishes at the outdoor poon choi restaurant are all prepared by one of Hong Kong's five historic clans, the Tang Clan.
Get Enchanted at Disney
Yes, there are the rides and the adorable fairy-tale cast—but you’ll be here for the soothing spa, not to mention the mouthwatering Chinese cuisine.
Where to stay: Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel
What to do: Head down to the hotel’s Enchanted Garden Restaurant for a breakfast buffet. After a big meal in the morning, you now have the whole day. What else can you possibly do at Disneyland Hotel? Visit the theme park of course! After you’ve purchased the tickets at the front desk, it’s time to enjoy your day at the park. Disneyland is not all about the cutesy; there’re also plenty of rides for thrill-seekers. The RC Racer at the new Toy Story Land or the Space Mountain roller coaster will both have your heart racing. When you’ve got all the adventure out of the way, head back to the hotel for the highlight of the stay—the Victorian Spa (1/F, 3510-6388, www.victorianspa.com.hk)—which is what you really came for in the first place. Try out some of the spa’s signature treatments in the fragrant and lavishly decorated treatment rooms. We recommend the Victorian Wrapture, which will have you pampered from head to toe for two whole hours. It starts off with a foot massage, continues with a facial, then a hand and arm massage, and finishes with a scalp treatment. Be sure to call in advance to book an appointment. Catch the 8pm fireworks show, then head to the hotel's divine Chinese restaurant, Crystal Lotus, for a decadent meal before retiring for the night.
Spa it Out in Sha Tin
Monasteries, a heritage museum and a bee farm are all legitimate attractions, but it’s the spa at the Hyatt Regency that really puts things in perspective.
Where to stay: Hyatt Regency Sha Tin (18 Chak Cheung St., Sha Tin, 3723-1234, www.hongkong.shatin.hyatt.com). There’s nothing like waking up to an amazing view, and the Hyatt Regency in Sha Tin promises just that, whether you choose to face the mountains or the Shing Mun river. $1,020 per room (if booked in advance).
What to do: Head down to the hotel's restaurant for a generous breakfast buffet. Then pay a visit to the Wing Wo Bee Farm (136 Pai Tau Village, 2691-7917, www.wingwobeefarm.com.hk), where you can see how honey is collected. To get there, go to the Sha Tin MTR station and take exit B, then walk over to Pai Tau Village. Be sure to call in advance to let them know you’ll be visiting. After all that honey, it’s time to visit the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (220 Pai Tau Village, 2691-1067) next door. Note: you’ll have to climb a set of 431 steps to get to the top. Here you’ll find many Buddha statues as well as the preserved body of Yuet Kai, who built the monastery. By now you should be famished, so head over to the Monastery Kitchen (2699-4144) and experience a traditional Chinese vegetarian meal. From stir-fry cashew nuts with diced mixed vegetables to deep-fried vegetarian chicken with sweet and sour sauce, you’ll be feasting on amazingly healthy dishes. After stuffing yourself with good food, take a visit to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum (1 Man Lam Rd., 2180-8180). To get there, make your way to New Town Plaza and hop on bus 86.
Once you’re at the museum, you’ll be able to learn more about the city's cultural heritage, from local history to folk art and Chinese antiquities. On top of that, you’ll be able to see special temporary exhibitions (for example, the biggest Picasso exhibition to ever grace Hong Kong's shores is currently on display). After your cultural intake, take the MTR to Tai Wai station, where you’ll be able to rent bicycles at one of the many bike kiosks outside exit A. Hit up the designated bike path and you’ll eventually reach Tai Mei Tuk. When you’re there, grab some dinner at Tai Mei Tuk BBQ King (17 Heung Sze Wui St., Tai Po, 2662-6222, www.taimeitukbbqking.com). Remember to call in advance if you want to try the suckling pig. After you head back to the hotel—finally!—let the staff at Hyatt Regency’s Melo Spa (3723-7684) treat you to a nice, long massage. Try out the Wellness Package, which includes an organic bath, deep tissue massage and scalp therapy, and promises to get you refreshed and detoxified.
Shop ‘til You Drop in Island South
You can literally spend a whole day at Horizon Plaza hunting down the most discounted goods—but a private kitchen on the water and a beautiful country park round out an awesome itinerary around Aberdeen.
Where to stay: Le Méridien (100 Cyberport Rd., Cyberport,
2980-7788, www.starwoodhotels.com/lemeridien). At Le Méridien, it’s all about modern touches and innovative design, but at the end of the day the rooms are simple and comfortable—which is all you need for a quick weekend getaway. $1,730 per room.
What to do: Start your morning at Prompt (2980-7417) with some espresso steamed eggs or croque madames. This is all part of Le Méridien’s new signature breakfast, created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a three-star Michelin chef. Make your way towards Pok Fu Lam Country Park and take in the beautiful scenery, then head towards the Béthanie buildings (139 Pokfulam Rd., 2584-8721), a former French Mission sanatorium that has been restored and now houses the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts’ School of Film and Television. This elegant complex with European architecture includes a chapel, performance venues, an exhibition hall and a museum. Guided tours are available, but to avoid any disappointment, be sure to book tickets in advance. Afterwards, take bus 91 to the last stop (Ap Lei Chau Estate). From there, catch the free shuttle bus to Horizon Plaza (2 Lee Wing St., Ap Lei Chau, 2554-9089) where you can have lunch on the 28th floor at Tree Café. This super chill eatery sells a bunch of delicious goodies, from pies and sandwiches to cupcakes and cookies. Onto the good stuff: Horizon Plaza has 28 floors of shopping madness. Start at Diesel (2518-0775) on the 27th floor, then the Max Mara Group Outlet (2722-9608), before heading down to the 25th floor, where you’ll find the Lane Crawford Sale Outlet (2118-3403). On the 19th floor, there's the Bluebell Fashion Warehouse (2580-1722) and Fairton Fashion Warehouse (2873-2230). Finally, head to the I.T Outlet (2533-8356) on the 5th floor for one last splurge. When you’re just about ready to drop, take the shuttle back to Ap Lei Chau Estate and take bus 595 to Aberdeen. At the Aberdeen Centre waterfront promenade, you’ll come across scores of old women who will try to lure you onto their sampans. Bargain for your ride and take one out to Kea’s Kitchen (Row One, Mooring 5345 in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, 6077-5964, www.keaskitchen.com). Here, you’ll be able to enjoy magnificent views as dinner is served at sea. At this private kitchen, chef Kea cooks up a feast of western food. Make a reservation in advance to guarantee a special evening on the water. After dinner, head back to Le Méridien for a much-deserved rest.
Looking for a closer getaway? Check out these hot new hotels in the busiest parts of town.
Ovolo 286 QRC
This hotel, which opened its doors just a few days ago, is the brainchild of the eponymous Ovolo group that already has a handful of hotels and serviced apartments scattered throughout the city. With 60 Japanese-inspired rooms, the latest technology (like Apple TV and in-room tablets), free WiFi, minibar and even happy hour canapés, Ovolo is a neat little escape in the heart of the city.
286 Queen’s Rd. Central, 2165-1000, www.ovologroup.com
This newly opened boutique hotel in Jordan comes with 88 high-contrast, modern-style suites. No matter the style or type, the rooms all have wooden touches as a central motif, and each one comes with free WiFi and minibar as well as access to the gym and a multi-functional entertainment room complete with Xbox and Playstation 3 gaming consoles. What’s more, Hotel Madera also boasts an art gallery filled with trinkets from the past, including vintage mailboxes, phone booths and even an old-school rickshaw. You can enjoy drinks at the panoramic Sky Lounge on the 29th floor, while the colonial-style Café 1997 serves light snacks from morning to night.
1 Cheong Lok St., Jordan, 2121-9888, www.hotelmadera.com.hk
Hotel Bonaparte is part of the Rhombus conglomerate that also owns Hotel Panorama in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hotel de Edge in Sheung Wan and Hotel LKF in Central. This cozy boutique hotel offers a range of business, premium, deluxe and executive rooms that are simple and practical in style and function. While the hotel itself offers modest facilities, it makes up for this shortcoming by being an arm’s length from anything and everything. Conveniently located between Causeway Bay and Central, getting almost anywhere is just an MTR station or taxi ride away.
11 Morrison Hill Rd., Wan Chai, 3518-6688