As I sat down to pen my mini travel guide and insider’s list of the top 10 best things to do in Hong Kong, I drew on my experiences of living as an expat in this dynamic, vibrant, cosmopolitan and global city for over 13 years. Despite the recent (temporary) hit to the city’s sterling reputation, Hong Kong remains a premier top 5 world city, offering a stable and welcoming business environment, low taxes, efficient bureaucracy, world-class infrastructure, great schools, high public safety and a fantastic lifestyle with a vast array of markets, malls, festivals, entertainment, cultural and outdoor leisure activities. Last and not least, Hong Kong is an international foodie capital with one of the most varied and dynamic culinary cultures in the world. Hong Kong remains the No. 1 destination for promising and leading chefs from all over the world to set up their next cutting-edge restaurants concepts.
This insider’s “Top 10” list is not meant to be comprehensive and is more geared towards visitors who are active and adventurous and want to truly explore the destination, rather than just go shopping or visit the theme parks. But if as a visitor, you get the opportunity to do even half the items on this list, you will be smitten by this fast-paced city which seamlessly blends so many vivid contrasts: its Chinese heritage of temples, wet markets, fishing villages and mahjong parlors with an ultra-modern façade of gleaming office and residential towers; the largest collection of skyscrapers in the world with its 260 outlying islands and 100 beautiful beaches; traditional night markets where you test your bargaining skills with massive glitzy luxury shopping malls; some of the world’s most crowded and dynamic business districts with 24 accessible sprawling country and nature parks which cover 70% of the city’s territory; humble street side dim sum stalls with uber chic 3 Michelin Star restaurants; afternoon high tea in a colonial heritage hotel with trendy, neon lit nightlife districts and hidden speakeasy bars – the list of contrasts that this fascinating city offers is endless. Having travelled extensively and lived in several continents over the past 35 years, Hong Kong is without a doubt one of the very best cities in the world to visit as a tourist as well as to live in as an expat.
Here is an awesome drone video of the central business districts of Hong Kong by Drone Snap: Drone Video of Hong Kong
For booking a stay at the best luxury accommodations in Hong Kong – click here and select Hong Kong under destination: The Best Luxury Hotels in Hong Kong
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Hong Kong Night Skyline View From Peak
Our Exclusive Insider List of The Top 10 Best Things To Do in Hong Kong:
1. Night cruise in Victoria Harbour on a Chinese Junk Boat / Ride the Star Ferry
Star Ferry: Hong Kong’s beloved Star Ferry is practically an emblem of the city. Originally introduced in the late 1800s, these white and green boats ply the harbor all day long. Hong Kong is one of the best spots for a sense of the city’s living history. Founded in 1880, it’s also a symbol of the city and often featured in local films and TV shows. While it may not be the fastest way to cross Victoria Harbour (that award goes to the incredibly convenient MTR), the famous Star Ferry wins the award for most scenic. The Star Ferry has been making the 10-minute crossing since 1880 and offers incredible views of the famous skyline. To make it extra special, take a ferry into Central at sunset or 8pm for A Symphony of Lights, a light and sound show.
Aqua Luna: There are few skylines in the world that rival Hong Kong’s. For the best views of the imposing towers, which light up during the nightly Symphony of Lights show, book a harbor tour on a traditional junk boat. These iconic boats—with their curved sails and graceful teak-wood hulls—were once ubiquitous in China and primarily used for fishing, trade and ocean exploration. Today, there is only a handful left, but travelers can experience a bit of history aboard the Aqua Luna or Aqua Luna II. The handcrafted ships provide 45-minute loops around the harbor all day long. Better yet, there’s a bar onboard with the first alcoholic drink free.
Head to the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour around 8pm every evening to catch A Symphony of Lights, a dazzling show. Recognised by Guinness World Records as the largest permanent light and sound show, it’s one of the most popular attractions in Hong Kong. Grab a drink at Eyebar in Tsim Sha Tsui for an unparalleled vantage point and cocktail, or book a cruise for front-row views from the water of Victoria Harbour.
The Symphony of Lights has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest permanent light and sound show. This spectacular display takes place nightly and starts at 8pm. Synchronizing the lights of key buildings on both sides of the Victoria Harbor waterfront, the showcase comprises five themes to celebrate the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong, along with musical effects to add to the vibrancy of the incredible night vista. The best viewing locations are along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront between the Avenue of Stars and Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai, or from your own private cruise around Victoria Harbor.
2. Tram ride to Victoria Peak & circle walk around The Peak
Peak Tram: Rising above Hong Kong’s financial centre at 552 meters, Victoria Peak is without a doubt the city’s most popular tourist attraction, offering superlative views of Hong Kong Island and the archipelago beyond. Just eight minutes from Central, “The Peak” is yours with a ride on the 125-year-old Peak Tram, which manages an impressive near-vertical ascent. You can take a bus or a taxi to the top of the mountain, but the Peak Tram is far more fun. Buy a fast-track combo package to skip the ever-present queue, and you’ll be enjoying stunning views in no time. For the more adventurous, the Morning Trail offers a lovely, though strenuous, hike to the top. The Peak Tram Historical Gallery, located in the Peak Tram Lower Terminus, is where you can learn about life in Hong Kong back in the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum displays more than 200 artefacts related to the tram, which are spread out across 15 exhibition halls.
Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Peak is the quintessential postcard image of Hong Kong—and on a clear day, you’ll find excellent views of Kowloon and the outlying islands. Opened in 1888, The Peak Tram is the most popular way to reach the mountaintop, but just because it’s popular doesn’t mean you have to do it. Persistent crowds and queues tend to put a damper on the experience. For a more scenic ascent, follow the Morning Trail along Hatton Road, which will take you to the top of the mountain in about 45 minutes. Once there, follow the Circle Walk to savor panoramic views of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the South China Sea in the distance. Afterward, take the tram back down the hill—a much more enjoyable ride
Victoria Peak Circle Walk: Hiking trails and the architectural marvels along Lugard Road await you at the top.
Victoria Peak Scenic View Points: The views from Victoria Peak are legendary for good reason.
3. Ride the longest escalator in the world & party in Lan Kwai Fong & Soho
The best spot for people-watching is actually a moving one: the Central-Mid-Levels walkway connects Hong Kong’s main business district with the hilly Mid-Levels neighborhood. At over half a mile, it’s the world’s longest covered (read: air-conditioned) escalator, built to ease congestion up one of the city’s steepest inclines. Immortalized in Wong Kar-wai’s film “Chungking Express,” the reversible escalator is a smart way to see the city, not to mention a lifeline to the legendary eateries you’ll find in its path. Standing still, a one-way ride takes about 20 minutes.
Lan Kwai Fong and Soho: The Hong Kong nightlife scene is fun, friendly and incredibly diverse. The city is at its most spectacular when the sun goes down when skyscrapers begin to illuminate the harbour, while pubs and nightclubs draw in partygoers with lively music. This city-state is already known to be compact, and you’ll find options for nightlife in Hong Kong to be even more concentrated. You can’t come to Hong Kong without experiencing the pulsating energy of the city’s nightlife. In top entertainment hotspots like Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo, Hong Kong offers a diverse mix of clubs, from the exclusive to the cheap and cheerful.
Lan Kwai Fong and Soho are usually buzzing with fashionable locals and trendy tourists seeking a cool place to hang out and enjoy a few drinks once the sun goes down. These areas are arguably Hong Kong’s busiest nightlife districts. Lan Kwai Fong is a cobble-stoned maze of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the middle of Central in Hong Kong. SoHo caters mostly Hong Kong’s elites, thanks to its extensive range of high-end multicultural restaurants and chic bars.
Lan Kwai Fong is a small area conveniently located in Central within 5 minutes on foot from Central MTR station. Many local residents as well as corporate workers go to this area after work to enjoy drinks and catch up with friends. It’s the most famous entertainment area in Hong Kong. Around 100 different restaurants and bars are found in the area, giving visitors a variety of places to choose from. There is always something fun going on here. The various choices appeal to a variety of tastes and interests. One of the main reasons why Lan Kwai Fong is so popular is that there are plenty of bars and clubs to visit that always have entertainment available.
Visitors can enjoy strolling along lanes surrounded by a cluster of skyscrapers. The lanes are full of life due to the buzzing presence of pubs and bars which make LKF the trendiest place for Hong Kong nightlife. Many of the restaurants feature full bar areas that host live bands. You might hear anything from Irish folk music to funk, depending on the bar. Several nightclubs are in the area that feature well-known DJs and offer large dance floors. The nightclubs tend to stay open very late and offer a very exciting experience. LKF is full of people on Friday and Saturday nights.
SoHo is another popular area in Central and perhaps the best area for dining. The restaurants found in SoHo offer something for every taste. Fine Chinese cuisine is served in many restaurants that require reservations due to their popularity. Many of these restaurants specialize in dim sum. Others offer seafood that you can select live and have cooked according to your preferences.
Some other types of popular cuisine include Lebanese, Portuguese, Italian, Irish and Russian. Many restaurants are European bistro-style, and offer sidewalk dining. You can also eat at one of several restaurants from popular Western chains. Many visitors like to eat at these sidewalk bistros to take advantage of people-watching opportunities. An extra-long escalator is used by visitors to effortlessly travel from place to place.
4. Indulge in retail therapy in a luxe shopping district or bargain in night markets
While Hong Kong is one of the most shopping crazy and retail capitals of the world and has dozens of prominent shopping districts, below is a list of the best known luxury shopping districts, malls and night markets:
Causeway Bay: Causeway Bay is Hong Kong’s energetic retail heart. Luxury malls, department stores and boutiques pack its western end, while bargain hunters roam the Jardine’s Crescent street market. Numerous dining options, from upscale restaurants to street-food stalls, dot the area. Local meeting points include Hong Kong Central Library, with its historic collections, and tranquil Victoria Park, popular for Tai chai sessions.
Central: It should come as no surprise that the best shopping in Central Hong Kong revolves around luxury brands, exclusive malls and cutting-edge fashion. Flagship stores around Central stock exclusive collections that are hard to find elsewhere in the city, or, in some cases, the world.
Nathan Road: Nathan Road, nicknamed the Golden Mile – is the spine of Kowloon, linking the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront to Sham Shui Po in the north via 3.6 km’s of malls, temples, eateries and jostling crowds. High-end shoppers will find Hong Kong’s glitziest boutiques on nearby Canton Road.
Temple Street Night Market – Jordan: Most markets in Hong Kong close when the sun goes down, but that’s when Temple Street comes alive. The wares here are standard, but the Temple Street Night Market is about more than haggling. Grab a plastic stool at one of the dai pai dong restaurants and tuck into the freshest seafood available (the chilli crab is a must-try). Later, stop by the fortune tellers on your way out for a glimpse into your future. The Temple Street Night Market, located in Kowloon, is not only the largest evening market in Hong Kong, it is also the liveliest. It is a popular spot for shopping, housing stalls for cheap clothing, shoes, CDs and DVDs, and even household items. On top of that, there are countless of food stalls to get your tummy filled with yummy from.
Temple Street Night Market is a busy and bustling market that will boggle the mind with its diversity. It usually opens at 5pm, but really gets going past dark, when it’s a barrage of brightly lit stalls selling cheap souvenirs, fashion, and electronics. Most items are sourced directly from factories in mainland China. You’ll also find many fortune-tellers and herbalists, as well as the occasional free open-air Cantonese opera. Snacks stalls and restaurants surround Temple Street Night Market, which adds to its already colourful and noisy spectacle.
Ladies Market – Mongkok: If you want to hit one of the most popular markets in Hong Kong for bargain-priced clothing and other accessories, visiting Ladies Market is where the money’s at. As you may have guessed based on the name, it largely caters for women in what they have to sell and offer. However, it is not exclusively for the ladies only, as they also sell some clothing and other items for men as well. Located in the Mongkok district of Kowloon, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how local and authentic the atmosphere will be, despite the tourist crowds.
A shopper’s paradise, Hong Kong is bursting with markets, each offering something unique. Mong Kok’s Ladies’ Market has over 100 stalls selling almost everything, from souvenirs to knock-off watches and cheap clothing. A visit to the Jade Market in Jordan will reward you with affordable pearl and jade jewellery, though you’d be wise to do some research before going. You can’t leave Hong Kong without a wander through Cat Street; it has the best selection of curios and antiques.
Shopping Malls: Hong Kong is home to some of the world’s best luxury shopping malls including the following which are the best known: IFC, Pacific Place, The Landmark, Times Square, Sogo and Lee Gardens in Hong Kong Island and Harbour City, (by far the largest mall in the city) and ICC Elements Mall in Kowloon.
5. Take a cable car or hike to Big Buddha in Lantau Island
Tian Tan Buddha – better known as the Big Buddha – is one of Hong Kong’s biggest attractions. Standing 34 metres (112 feet) high above the Po Lin Monastery, the enormous statue brings a steady stream of visitors to this quiet corner of Lantau Island. Book a glass-bottom Ngong Ping cable car for the ride up and take in stunning 360-degree views over the mountains below. You might even meet a friendly cow or two while you’re visiting – they roam wild across the island.
6. Visit the ultra-exclusive suburbs of Repulse Bay, Deep Water Bay & Stanley
Repulse Bay: Repulse Bay, along with Stanley, forms the core of Hong Kong’s famous “Southside District” – which represents the most expensive residential real estate on the planet (along with Victoria Peak), according to Forbes & Fortune Magazines. The Southside faces the South China Sea with a backdrop of Country Park hills and reservoirs, with some of the most popular beaches in Hong Kong. The Southside comprises the contiguous 8 suburbs of Shouson Hill, Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, South Bay, Chung Hum Kok, Stanley, Tai Tam and Shek O and represents the most desirable suburb of Hong Kong because of the combination of its close proximity to Central, world-class outdoor lifestyle and international schools.
Repulse Bay is the queen of the Southside, (only 10 minutes from Central by MTR to Ocean Park and then 5 minutes by taxi; or 25 minutes by bus from Central) adorned by its large stretch of crescent-shaped, golden sandy beach with fabulous vistas. This posh and super affluent suburb (with over a dozen billionaires, including Jack Ma of Alibaba) is one of the most popular areas in Hong Kong for family outings – think upscale seaside dining & picnics, sunbathing, and water sports. It has great public facilities, with changing rooms and lifeguards, and a beach-front mall – The Pulse, featuring upmarket restaurants, a supermarket, rooftop beach club, kids club and lifestyle boutiques. Repulse Bay attracts a chic, well-heeled crowd – expect to share the sand with bankers & lawyers, tai tais & pregnant mums, hikers at the end of one of the many trails that originate nearby, expat kids and heaps of gawking tour bus tourists from the mainland. Banyan trees along the beach provide the shade, while the colorful Tin Hau temple on the edge of the beach makes for a popular photo opp.
A secret (except for the locals) must do is the 20 minute walk (each way) along the seaside promenade that connects Repulse Bay to its sister suburb of Deep Water Bay, with jaw dropping vistas of the ocean, Royal Yacht Club on Middle Island, Aberdeen Marina, Ocean Park, and some seriously expensive real estate along the walk. Repulse Bay is a designated stop on the “Big Bus” Sightseeing Tour that originates in Central, and you can hop off and hop on the tour from this stop. This seaside community has a special place in our heart because it is the HQ of The Luxe Voyager.
Here is an awesome drone video of Repulse Bay by Alan Chan: Drone Video of Repulse Bay
Here is a great video with a bird’s eye view of Repulse Bay & Deep Water By by Onsing Property Consultant: Birds Eye View of Repulse Bay & Deep Water Bay
Here is a video of the seaside promenade walk between Repulse Bay & Deep Water Bay by Little Steps Asia: Seaside Promenade Walk Between Repulse Bay & Deep Water Bay
South Bay: South Bay is an uber-luxe community adjoining Repulse Bay, with its South Bay Road surrounded by exclusive seaview homes leading to a cloistered, serene beach that offers dramatic sweeping sea views. The beach, which feels more like a cove, is surrounded by greenery, so it’s perfect for those looking for some shade and is very popular with “in the know” locals looking for secluded beach BBQ picnics and boating enthusiasts during summer.
Deep Water Bay: According to Forbes Magazine, Deep Water Bay is reputed to be the “wealthiest neighbourhood on earth”. Out of the 100 billionaires in Hong Kong, 19 live in Deep Water Bay (including Hong Kong’s most famous billionaire – Li Ka Shing), just around a headland from Repulse Bay. This neighbourhood features a golf course and small but stunning, crescent shaped beach with views of Ocean Park, a picnic area with barbecue pits, a kayaking club, beach-side bar and an upscale Thai restaurant. Some of Hong Kong’s most prestigious private clubs (with multi-million dollar memberships) including the famous Hong Kong Golf Club and Hong Kong Country Club – which offer world-class facilities with ocean views, are set in Deep Water Bay.
Here is an awesome drone video of Deep Water Bay by Alan Chan: Drone Video of Deep Water Bay
Stanley: Stanley is Hong Kong’s most famous suburb and a top drawer tourist destination. This former fishing village has a bustling English seaside village ambience, with a popular hawker street market to pick up art, souvenirs and knick-knacks, a scenic beach, a ferry pier and plentiful al fresco waterfront cafés, bars and restaurants where visitors can dine with seafront views. The Colonial style Murray House, features upscale boutiques and seaview restaurants, while Stanley Plaza Mall offers a wide array of shops and dining options. Behind Murray House is Ma Hang Park, a 50,000 sqm park with walking trails, a butterfly garden and bird-watching platforms. During the summer months, the beachfront transforms into one of the most popular beach party places in Hong Kong to watch the Dragon Boat Festival races, with large crowds drinking and making merry for their favourite teams.
Here is an awesome drone video of Stanley by Alan Chan: Drone Video of Stanley
Chung Hum Kok: This exclusive suburb tucked away between South Bay and Stanley features hyper expensive condos and townhomes with 180 degree ocean views and a hidden beauty of a beach. It’s tucked away off the road, hidden by trees and down some stairs, making it a lot quieter than other beaches in the area. Barbecue pits make this a great place for a cookout at sunset too. .
Tai Tam & Turtle Cove Bay: Tai Tam is a super exclusive enclave (and fav of American expat executives) next to Stanley, comprising sea view residences with panoramic views and the famous American Club, overlooking ocean vistas. It includes the Turtle Cove Beach, which is hidden at the bottom of a tree-fringed stairwell. After descending some 200 steps, a small crescent-shaped beach stretches out ahead—picture soft golden sand, brilliant turquoise water, and rarely a soul in sight.
7. Hike Dragon’s Back Trail & end up at spectacular Shek O Beach or Big Wave Bay
Dragon’s Bake Hike: 70% of Hong Kong’s territory is protected by country parks,and a 20-minute drive from just about anywhere in the city will take you to idyllic beaches and hiking trails through lush green mountains. In 24 hours, you can experience paragliding off a mountain, diving off the coast, trolling for pink dolphins and cruising on a speedboat, with time left to get decked out for a swank night on the town.
The most popular and well-known hiking route in Hong Kong is without a doubt the Dragon’s Back. This stunning hiking route promises incredible views of mountain, ocean and beach, and isn’t even that hard to do. With gorgeous vistas of the beaches below and the South China Sea. Nonetheless, this comely cove, sheltered between mountains and rocky outcrops, is arguably the most beautiful on the island, and a favourite among the city’s small surfing community.
Shek O Beach: The Dragon’s Back Hike takes you up to Shek O Peak, and back down the other side. Located in Shek O Country Park, the trail is popular among those looking to enjoy the outdoors on Hong Kong Island. It takes less than 1 hour to reach the start of the trail from Central Hong Kong.The 8.5-km-long trail takes between 2 and 5 hours to complete. It can get quite steep in parts, so wear a sturdy and comfortable pair of trainers or walking boots. The Dragon’s Back Trail is listed as Section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail, meaning it’s well signposted throughout.
Set at the base of lush mountains on the back side of Hong Kong Island, far from the bustle of the busy city, the oceanside village of Shek O offers a beautiful, wide stretch of soft sand, just perfect for relaxing on a warm and sunny day. On Shek O Beach, you can rent a beach chair and umbrella if you like, play in the gentle waves, and soak up the sun. Lifeguards watch over swimmers. Behind the beach, the village of Shek O is an unassuming little community with a maze of narrow streets, where you can find casual outdoor restaurants serving mainly Chinese dishes, along with a couple of western options on the menu. A few street-side vendors sell beach accessories, so you can pick up anything you might have forgotten to bring. The beach is nice at any time of day but the late afternoon sun here is irresistible..
Big Wave Bay: A 30-minute drive from Central, Big Wave Bay exudes a relaxed, boho vibe, and is less crowded than neighbouring Shek O beach. There are several surfboard- and umbrella-hire stalls and no-frills eateries on hand, and come sundown, the beach kiosk is a top spot for a post-surf pizza washed down with a fresh Thai coconut or craft ale. Just a short drive from Shek O Beach, Big Wave Bay has an authentic, laid-back beach town feel. Behind the beach, diners in flip-flops and bare feet eat in outdoor restaurants, while fish and other meats cook on barbecues lining the pedestrian streets. The atmosphere here is completely casual. Named for its surfable waves, Big Wave Bay tends to be quieter and cleaner compared to neighbouring Shek O. It’s a great spot to relax and grab a bite at the end of the Dragon’s Back hike, and there are surfboards to rent if you fancy riding the waves.
8. Savor fresh seafood at a fishing village – Lamma Island, Tai O or Sai Kung
Lamma Island: A popular weekend getaway, city slickers head out to Lamma Island on a 20 minute ferry ride to enjoy a fresh, delicious seafood lunch and visit its two main villages, Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan; the former features quirky cafes and bohemian boutiques, while the latter is home to a traditional fishing village lined with authentic seafood restaurants serving the fresh catches of the day with a relaxed atmosphere. The villages are connected by scenic hiking trails (Lamma Island Family Trail or Sok Kwu Wan Circular Hike) and quiet beaches with plenty of hidden gems making it perfect for a day of exploring. Unwind by wandering through twisting streets, and pop into the cosy cafes & cool boutiques before setting off to one of the pristine beaches. A quick hike will take you to secluded Shek Pai Wan Beach, where you can embrace idyllic island life for a few hours.
Tai O Fishing Village – Lantau Island (Also famous for its Pink Dolphin Boat Tours): Tai O is a quaint and picturesque traditional fishing village located on Lantau Island and a popular day trip destination in Hong Kong – 90 minutes from Central by ferry and minibus. Visitors come to admire the traditional stilt houses predominant of the old Southern Chinese fishing villages and soak in the idyllic life from a bygone era, (the village has been inhabited by fishermen since the Ming Dynasty) and savour local delicacies including the fresh seafood. With its charming setting on the coast framed by the mountains, the frenetic activity of the street food and seafood markets, and the traditional life in the stilt houses, it is a photographers dream. The markets are a delight for the senses (except for the nose) meandering through the myriad alleys with stalls hawking a vast array of dried seafood, salted fish, shrimp paste, vegetables, knick knacks, and souvenirs and street side restaurants presenting a mind boggling variety of fresh seafood from live seafood tanks. A must do upon arriving is to take a sampan ride for a close up look at the the Stilt Houses and a glimpse into the traditional way of life.
Pink Dolphin Boat Tour: Besides the stilt-
Sai Kung: This scenic town of Sai Kung is an expat haven, foodie paradise and a popular weekend destination – about 50 minutes from Central. This small town boasts trendy restaurants, cafe’s and bars, including Michelin star seafood restaurants and its fishing village features a waterfront promenade lined with fishing boats and sailboats throughout the year. The Sai Kung peninsula is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering world class beaches, hiking, scuba diving, kayaking and boat tours of the surrounding islands. Junk Boat parties are a popular weekend pastime in the summer months.
Sai Kung Seafood Street & Floating Market: Across the Sai Kung Public Pier is the waterfront promenade “Seafood Street”, which features a row of street side eateries with both al fresco and indoor dining, featuring harbour views. Pick your meal directly from the huge water tanks brimming with live seafood including all kinds of fish, crabs, prawns, lobster, shellfish, squid, eels, snakes and other exotic creatures. Right next door by the Pier is the floating seafood market with fishermen hawking their catch directly from their boats, which you can purchase and have cooked by the chef any way you like at one of the restaurants.
9. Take a junk boat day trip to Sai Kung & hike in Sai Kung Country Park
Junk Boat Day Trip To Sai Kung: Sai Kung Peninsula is located in the New Territories of Hong Kong and is known as the ‘back garden of Hong Kong’, or by some as the “Thailand of Hong Kong”, for its fishing villages, beautiful scenery, hiking trails, beaches and islands, geological formations and low-key lifestyle. Its spectacular walking trails with sweeping, panoramic vistas criss-cross 2 country parks totalling 7,500 hectares, and this region is a haven and excellent weekend getaway for outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts and boaters – only about an hour away from Central. Sai Kung is one of the best scenic escapes in Hong Kong. The district attracts nature adventurers and water sport junkies alike who come for its idyllic beaches and a slice of Hong Kong that is far (but not too far) from the high rises of the central district. The area offers snorkelling, diving, kayaking, and all sorts of water sports and activities that tourists may not necessarily picture themselves doing in Hong Kong.
The junk boat concept (aka Junk Tripping) is a quintessential Hong Kong day trip and very popular here during the summer season (May to September): you rent a boat for the day with a group of friends to explore, swim, eat, drink, sunbath & party in one of the many island coves with rock pools & beaches with scenic surroundings in an unspoiled nature park. The wide range of boats available include everything from luxurious yachts with on board spa treatments and champagne & caviar catering to an old fashioned junk boat and the boats can arrange to bring along a range of water sports with them. The stunning coastline of Sai Kung wraps around dramatic ridges and headlands while the turquoise water and sandy beaches give you a flavour of the world class outdoor leisure lifestyle Hong Kong has to offer – in contrast to the perception of Hong Kong being purely a city destination. A popular hot spot junk boat party destination is Millionaire’s Beach, with its fresh water lagoons and hidden coves, which make it perfect for snorkelling.
Sai Kung’s Best Beaches – Tai Long Wan: While Sai Kung has about a dozen world class beaches, Tai Long Wan is known for being one of the most beautiful untouched beaches in the territory, and its white sandy shore and clear waters make it hard to believe you’re still in Hong Kong. The beach is a popular spot for surfers due to it having one of the most exposed coastlines with uninterrupted waves coming from the South China Sea. Located in the Sai Kung Country Park, this is just one of a row of four pristine, white-sand beaches stretching along the coast. The four beaches that make up Tai Long Wan include Sai Wan, Ham Tin, Tai Wan and Tung Wan which stretch across 3 kilometres of coast. Tai Long Wan falls within the Hong Kong UNESCO Geopark and is surrounded by unique volcanic and geological rock formations. The remote bay is home to four beaches — Sai Wan, Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan and Tung Wan — each separated by hills.
One of the most famous beaches in Hong Kong, Tai Long Wan remains little-visited thanks to the effort required to get there – namely a 40-minute-long hike. However, those who put in the sweat are amply rewarded with stunning views of the mountains and the sea, and upon arriving will find themselves on a wide beach that runs for 700m in length.
Long Ke Wan: The sandy stretches of Sai Kung East Country Park could be straight out of the Philippines, especially the stunning soft white sands of Long Ke Wan. Secluded Long Ke Wan can only be reached by foot or boat. Visually stunning, the beach is a long way from the bustle of the city and is arguably one of Hong Kong’s best. On weekends the bay fills with junks, but its silky, icing-sugar sands tend to stay relatively quiet. but the sandy stretches of Sai Kung East Country Park could be straight out of the Philippines. One of the most stunning is Long Ke Wan, often lauded as one of the best beaches in the world, thanks to its soft, white sand, clear water and forested hillsides. Continue hiking north and you’ll reach four more beaches — Sai Wan, Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan, and Tung Wan — each more pristine than the next. Each stretch of sand is separated by rolling hills along Maclehose Trail Section 2 and can be explored easily on a day trip or over a weekend. For a night alone with the sound of the waves, there are a handful of low-key camping sites along the way.
Here is a great drone video of Long Ke Wan Beach – Credit: Michael Sorezo: Long Ke Wan, Sai Kung – Drone Video
Sharp Peak Hike in Sai Kung: Alternatively, you could hike or take a taxi to Sai Kung East Country Park, home to a plethora of ecological riches: scenic trails; some of Hong Kong’s best beaches, including Long Ke Wan and Tai Long Wan; and hexagonal columns of volcanic rock at Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, which can be found just next to the High Island Reservoir East Dam, lined with thousands of concrete man-made dolosse for a surreal sight.Hong Kong has no shortage of great hikes, and for that matter no shortage of great beaches either, so a combination of the two is not so rare. In fact many of the well known hikes in the city feature an ending at a lovely beach. Tai Long Wan is perhaps the most beautiful place in Hong Kong. Despite its remote location, it is a perennial favourite for hikers for its clear water, distinctive hills and, primarily, four lovely beaches that stretch along the east coast of Sai Kung Country Park: Sai Wan, Ham Tin Wan, Tai Wan and Tung Wan. With waves rolling in uninterrupted from the South China Sea, no wonder surfers like it so much. This hike takes several hours and involves some fairly steep climbs, but the views are unbeatable.Just as its seafood restaurants serve up a variety of dishes that’ll satisfy all seafood lovers, the hiking in the area is accessible to beginners and experts alike: stroll along the High Island Reservoir, or attempt the towering Sharp Peak. And at only 30 to 60 minutes away from the city centre via bus or taxi, spending a day or two discovering one of the region’s most striking green areas is much easier than you think. To truly know Sai Kung, however, you need to get out of its urban zone and hit its nature trails. Most of the area is covered in country parks, from the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark to Sai Kung Country Park East and West. These verdant green spaces are a large reason why Sai Kung has remained unspoiled by urbanisation — the parks are reserved for nature conservation. There’s also Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, which is protected by law, and the start of the renowned 100-kilometre MacLehose Trail is found in Sai Kung, too. Long Ke Wan is a part of Hong Kong’s MacLehose Trail. Sharp Island is known for its two distinct beaches – Hap Mun Bay and Kiu Tsui Beach. Hap Mun Bay is a popular beach for sunseekers, while Kiu Tsui beach connects to the nearby island of Kiu Tau, of which visitors can make their away over to when the tide is low. Take a walk over the tombolo as the sea recedes and you’ll feel like a veritable Moses. Just make sure you come back before the tide comes in.
Sharp Island is a two-and-half-kilometre-long island just 15 minutes away from Sai Kung town, littered with distinct pineapple bun-shaped rock formations and home to two beaches: Hap Mun Bay and Kiu Tsui Beach. A “kaito” will take you to either beach, and there is a fair amount of bushwhacking involved if you want to get through to the other side of the island. Hap Mun Bay or Half Moon Bay is a government-maintained beach that resembles a half-moon lagoon, hence the name. The water is beyond clear here, far away from human pollution, and is a popular campsite too. You’re surrounded by pristine mountains on either side. Kiu Tsui Beach is less pretty, stretching along the western side of the island, but is much longer than Hap Mun Bay. We love exploring the tombolo next to Kiu Tsui Beach, where you can walk through during low tide to an islet named Kiu Tau. Be careful to get back before the tide rises again though, or you’ll be stranded!
10. Enjoy Happy Hour on the party tram thru Central or at a trendy rooftop bar
A unique experience in Hong Kong is enjoying evening drinks on the open air upper deck of a vintage tram, (also affectionately known as the Ding Ding!) – as it meanders leisurely along the track from the nostalgic Western District through the ultra modern financial area and shopping districts of Hong Kong Island – offering you a spectacular 360 degree panoramic view of the frenetic city life, awesome skyline and twinkling lights. You can also charter the tram for a group of friends for a special occasion. The evening breeze, light music, delicate canapés with champagne while meandering thru the dynamic downtown districts and gliding past Hong Kong’s skyscrapers ensures a memorable experience.
Lounging at a trendy rooftop bar and checking out the hip scene – while soaking up the magnificent cityscape and sipping on a Prosecco in the cooling breeze is favourite nightly sport in Hong Kong. There are a plethora of amazing rooftop bars and restaurants to enjoy on both sides of Victoria Harbour, so you are never far from a privileged vantage point offering stunning vistas over Hong Kong’s legendary skyline. The list of top-flight terrace bars & lounges in Hong Kong is long, and the ones we have listed below are just some of our personal favourites.
Best Rooftop Terrace Bars in Hong Kong Island:
Sevva: A perennial favourite and fashionable rooftop restaurant, lounge & bar for the visiting and resident glitterati in Hong is Sevva, located in the penthouse of the iconic & luxe Prince’s Building in Central. This posh establishment features a cool art filled design scheme that changes according to the season, a 15 meter lush vertical garden and is known for its haute global cuisine, signature afternoon tea and its (expensive) cocktails served with a panoramic view of Victorica Harbour & Central from its terrace.
Skye: This sophisticated & vibrant restaurant & rooftop bar sits on the 27th floor of the The Park Lane Hotel in Causeway Bay, and offers jaw dropping views across Victoria Harbour towards Kowloon, and Victoria Park. Frequented by hip global nomads, this lifestyle destination serves delicious contemporary French cuisine in an elegant indoor setting that opens out to a large terrace with a sleek and futuristic, colour-changing illuminated bar with sweeping curves, bespoke cocktails and in-house DJ.
Cé La Vi: Located in the heart of LKF spanning over 3 floors at the top of the iconic California Tower, this elite restaurant, lounge and tropical garden rooftop skybar is a nighttime party hotspot in Hong Kong. The restaurant serves contemporary Asian cuisine while the rooftop skydeck offers wrap-around views of the cityscape, mountains, and harbor.
Popinjays: Set on the 25th floor terrace of the swish Murray Hotel on Cotton Tree Drive in Central, this swank, contemporary lifestyle rooftop restaurant and bar with wraparound terrace is only accessible via a private elevator. The main dining space is beautifully lit and decorated with contemporary art, encased in floor-to-ceiling windows and offers European gastronomy. Enjoy themed cocktails and innovative menu options while you gawk at 270 degree, Instagram-worthy skyline views of the Central & Mid Levels neighbourhoods & Victoria Peak.
Wooloomooloo Wan Chai: One of Hong Kong’s most popular rooftop bars to visit just before sunset is Wooloomooloo Steakhouse in Wan Chai, which not only cooks up succulent Aussie & American steaks but also offers 270 degree views of Victoria Harbour, Happy Valley Racecourse and Wan Chai’s entertainment and shopping district. This steakhouse & bar offers a romantic ambience atop the 31st floor and rooftop of The Hennessy Building and an extensive range of creative cocktails and an impressive wine list, along with nightly tunes from the DJ.
Best Rooftop Terrace Bars in Kowloon:
Ozone: The iconic and celebrated Ozone is located on the 118th floor of The Ritz-Carlton and among the highest bars in the world, with unparalleled vistas of the Hong Kong skyline & Victoria Harbour from its glass enclosed restaurant and outdoor terrace. This sleek and uber luxe bar features black marble, avant grade furnishing and a striking, blue-hued ambience with mood lighting. Savour small plates, including Asian tapas, sushi and maki, and inventive cocktails which are served to the soundtrack of a live DJ. As the evening unfolds, the outdoor terrace is the perfect space to look out over the sparkling lights of the city and when night falls, the action turns to the dance parties and live performances. The Sunday Brunch at Ozone is a top draw destination as well as a lavish meal.
Eyebar: Eyebar is one of the most dramatic locations from which to take in an unrivalled view of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong island skyline, while sipping a cocktail, specially its signature – the ‘Suzie Wrong’. Located on the 30th floor of the iSquare mall on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, the venue features a Chinese inspired maritime themed restaurant with huge floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor alfresco deck. A unique feature of the Eyebar is the large telescope that gives you a peek at Hong Kong’s best landmarks. It’s one of the best places to sit and watch the iconic Symphony of Lights, which takes place most nights at 8pm.
Red Sugar: This sophisticated urban oasis at the 5 star Kerry (Shangri-La) Hotel offers the floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island’s skyline, an al fresco dining terrace with plush sofas surrounded by lush greens and a chic speakeasy bar with an impressive cocktail list and a super chilled vibe.
Wooloomooloo Prime: Occupying the 21st floor of The One shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, this Australian steakhouse restaurant boasts stunning Victoria Harbour & TST vistas that can be enjoyed from the floor-to-ceiling windows of the indoor dining room, or from the spacious open-air terrace. Complementing the breathtaking view, expect prime cuts, fine wines, huge selection of ales and a laid back vibe. This is a specially popular venue for socialising on the weekends.