Guide to Hong Kong: Tranquil Escapes
A series of stories, recommendations and tips on Hong Kong from people in the know. Explore our city based on the travel experiences that interest you and get itineraries for off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods.
For a region famed for its high-rises, Hong Kong surprises visitors with its untold natural beauty. If you venture beyond the entertainment hub of downtown, you’ll discover that almost three quarters of Hong Kong is made up of countryside—rugged mountains, bijou islands and kilometer upon kilometer of indented coastline.
You don’t need to leave Hong Kong Island to find idyllic beach retreats and Shek O Beach is one of the best picks for a fun day trip. Meaning “rocky bay”, Shek O peninsula juts out into the South China Sea, providing a perfectly sheltered enclave and ample scenery for shutterbugs. Rent yourself a barbecue on the beach, head to one of the shack restaurants for a skewer or two, or even grab a quick Thai bite on the shorefront.
Venture further off the beaten track to the northerly Golden Beach on the Gold Coast. As one of the longest beaches in Hong Kong, the golden stretch of sand glistens as far as the eye can see. A boardwalk lined with tropical trees runs the length of the shore and volleyball players are frequently leaping around, California-style. It’s also right by the seafront arcade, the Gold Coast Piazza.
Rock the Boat
For a whole-day adventure, travel further into the northeasterly New Territories to Sai Kung, a volcanic region of Hong Kong. Here you’ll find the gorgeous Hap Mun Wan (Half Moon Bay), a real Hong Kong treasure on Sharp Island. This long, narrow isle is two kilometers off the coast and accessible only by sampan. The waters are warm and crystal clear, resembling a tropical Asian destination.
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Spotlight on: Southern District
When you first arrive on Hong Kong Island, chances are you’ll be immediately surrounded by the city’s gleaming skyscrapers, luxury malls and bustling markets. But just minutes away from this urban jungle, in Hong Kong’s beautiful Southern District, lie kilometer upon kilometer of steep mountain trails, country parks and beaches that can provide you with a tranquil escape for a day or two—if you ever want to leave, that is.
Hit the Trail
The best way to really experience the Southern District’s rural tranquility is on your own two feet: the south side of Hong Kong Island is devoted to several country parks and reservoirs for easy rambling routes or more adventurous trails. Forming part of stage 8 of the Wilson Trail, the Dragon’s Back offers spectacular views over the picturesque Tai Tam Bay on one side and the South China Sea on the other, while Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir is a turquoise gem of water in Tai Tam Country Park.
Restaurants are all making the most of the incredible seaside atmosphere on their doorstep. At Pinot Duck in Stanley, duck in all its guises is the name of the game, served with an ample wine list of fine pinot. The food is a contemporary take on the classic Asian favorite so look out for crispy duck wings in Sichuan pepper, Jasmine tea-smoked duck breast and crispy duck leg in sweet soy sauce. For classic Cantonese staples with an edgy spin, check out Meen & Rice in Repulse Bay, while at Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant is always busy.
On the Waterfront
In Stanley the covered street market dominates the shopping scene, but there are also small boutiques opening up. As well as shops that have been around for decades, there are lots of new stores and restaurants opening up on the waterfront. Around the coast in Repulse Bay, The Pulse is a seaside mall new to the scene, with many independent and well-known brands. The Repulse Bay Visual Art Museum is worth a stop if you have the kids (or even big kids!) in tow: it’s home to Hong Kong’s largest 3D museum and contains over 80 3D art pieces.
Head online to www.DiscoverHongKong.com/InsidersGuide to create your personalized itinerary for Southern District.
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