Hong Kong Travel Guide

 
Hong Kong & Macau

Historic Sites, Neighborhoods & Towns

Museums

Parks, Gardens & Areas of Natural Beauty

Temples & Monasteries

Other Attractions

Shops & Markets

Islands

Getting around
The best way to get around Hong Kong’s central areas is on foot. The efficient MTR (Mass Transit Railway), which is the city’s subway system, serves the central districts, and has a fast airport line, while the KCR (Kowloon-Canton Railway) links the center with the New Territories and China (see Hong Kong’s MTR & KCR). Buses, trams, and taxis operate from all major nodes and are cheap by international standards. The Star Ferry, shuttles between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, while regular inter-island ferries link Hong Kong with the main islands (see www.td.gov.hk for timetables of public transport). The fast, sleek Macau-bound ferries leave from their own terminal just west of the inter-island ferry terminal.

The Two IFC Tower near the Star Ferry Terminal
The Two IFC Tower near the Star Ferry
Terminal

Central

  • Hong Kong Island
  • 2 C3
  • Central
  • Star Ferry from Kowloon

    HSBC building on Statue Square and Bank of China
    HSBC building on Statue Square
    and Bank of China

    The sleek, corporate cathedrals of local banks and businesses tower over the ever-teeming streets of Hong Kong’s financial and administrative epicenter. Apart from Statue Square, which is at the heart of the area, there are few cultural sights in Central, as many colonial buildings have long since disappeared, making way for high-rise development. The desire for real estate has always been strong, and land reclamation started almost as soon as the British took over in 1841. This continuous reclamation has made Hong Kong Island and Kowloon creep even closer. Central is easily explored on foot, allowing visitors a close view of some of the most interesting buildings, especially in Statue Square.

    The elegant Neo-Classical Legislative Building, surmounted by the blindfolded figure of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, is the sole surviving colonial structure in the square. Completed in 1911, it originally served as Hong Kong’s Supreme Court and today houses the Legislative Council (Legco), the legislative arm of the region's government.

    Beyond the Legislative Building, the municipal-style architecture of the square’s center is rather disappointing. However, not all the structures lack imagination. The modernistic, but feng shui-friendly girders of the HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) Headquarters loom over the square. Designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster and completed in 1985, it was at that time one of the most expensive buildings, costing more than HK$5 billion. Be sure to take the escalators up to its impressive lobby, and rub the paws of the regal-looking lions outside for luck. The stark spike of the Bank of China headquarters rises behind the HSBC Headquarters. Designed by the renowned Chinese-born architect I.M. Pei, its harsh, angular lines go against all feng shui guidelines, and it is seen as an aggressive statement that offsets the benign energies of the HSBC Headquarters.

    Northwest of Statue Square near the Star Ferry Terminal is Hong Kong's tallest building and currently the world's seventh tallest high-rise, the 88-story, 1,362-ft (415-m) Two International Finance Centre (IFC), built in 2003. Two more hotels and residential towers have also been erected here. The IFC Mall at the tower’s base is one of Hong Kong's largest malls, adding to Central's several upmarket shopping malls, such as The Landmark. The International Commerce Centre across the water in Kowloon is even taller than the IFC, at 1587 ft (484 m).

    Hong Kong's history is now showcased during the winter holiday season in a sound and light show, where the Victoria Harbour skyline is lit with festive lights that create giant pictures on the buildings.

    The roof of the Convention & Exhibition Centre
    The roof of the Convention &
    Exhibition Centre

    Wan Chai

  • Hong Kong Island
  • 3 F3
  • Wan Chai
  • Star Ferry from Kowloon

    Made famous in Richard Mason’s 1957 novel The World of Suzy Wong, Wan Chai’s colorful 1950s and 60s red light district has given way to new development, fancy bars, restaurants, and hotels. The Wan Chai MTR is a good starting point for a walking tour. A trip down Lockhart Road, just around the corner from the MTR, reveals the area’s few remaining ties with its past in the form of a handful of go-go bars.

    A five-minute walk north of the MTR across Gloucester Road is Central Plaza, at one time the tallest, and still one of Hong Kong’s grandest skyscrapers. There are splendid views from the 46th floor. Facing Central Plaza across Harbour Road is the HK$4.8 billion Convention & Exhibition Centre. The sweeping lines of the extension at its northern end are intended to create the impression of a bird taking flight. This was the venue for the 1997 ceremony during which Britain handed Hong Kong back to China. The glass walls offer fine harbor views, and outside are a large promenade and a pleasant sitting area.

    Causeway Bay

    • Hong Kong Island
    • Causeway Bay
    • Eastbound (to Shau Kei Wan) trams
    The historic Noonday Gun, fired daily at noon, Causeway Bay
    The historic Noonday Gun,
    fired daily at noon, Causeway Bay

    A neon-lit crush of giant department stores, such as Sogo and Times Square, and the ever-present crowds of shoppers is the first view of Causeway Bay when emerging from the MTR. East of the MTR sprawls Victoria Park, Hong Kong’s largest public park and a serene place to swim, play tennis, or practice tai ji quan. Close to the harbor, also known as the typhoon shelter, is the Noonday Gun, fired daily since the 1840s and retained as a charity fund-raising event. The enclosure housing the gun opens for half an hour after noon, where a small plaque explains the origins of the tradition, celebrated in Noel Coward’s song “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.”

    Most of the land that Causeway Bay stands on is reclaimed. The old shoreline used to skirt the temple to Tin Hau (Guanyin) near Tin Hau MTR and was edged with British-owned warehouses.

    Happy Valley Racecourse

    • Hong Kong Island
    • Happy Valley

    The racecourse at Happy Valley crackles with nervous energy during the Wednesday race nights, as tens of thousands of eager gamblers shout their way through the evening. Horse racing is a passion in Hong Kong; it’s one of the few legal gambling opportunities available to local people. The industry is carefully controlled, with only the Hong Kong Jockey Club allowed to run the betting.

    Formerly a malaria-ridden marsh, Happy Valley was turned into a racecourse as it was the widest stretch of flat land on Hong Kong Island. The first race was held here in 1845. Today, the huge stand holds up to 54,000 spectators. Racing is open all year except in July and August. Happy Valley’s small Racing Museum details Hong Kong’s racing history.

    A thrilling finish at Happy Valley Race Course
    A thrilling finish at Happy Valley Race Course

    Happy Valley Races

    Hong Kong’s punters are crazy about horse racing. A single race at Happy Valley or at Sha Tin in the New Territories, often attracts more bets than an entire week of racing in Britain, and in 2006/7, the turnover surpassed HK$100 billion for the first time. The government collects significant tax revenues from the races, and although revenue has always been lost to illegal betting syndicates, the advent of internet gambling increased losses by almost 10 percent.

    Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Gardens

    • Albany Road
    • 2 B4
    • 0852 2530 0154
    • Central
    • 3B, 12, 12A, 12M
    • Zoo: 6am–7pm daily
    • Gardens: 6am–10pm daily

    Opposite Hong Kong Park, just across Cotton Tree Drive, lie the Zoological and Botanical Gardens established in 1864. The gardens house dozens of exotic animals such as lemurs, orangutans, and the world’s largest collection of red-cheeked gibbons, while its aviaries have a colorful collection of birds. Hundreds of plants, including some ancient trees, provide welcome shade in this oasis of quiet. There is also a playground, some sculptures and fountains.

    Victoria Peak

    Cooling sea breezes, shaded woodland walks and spectacular views of the city, harbor and outlying islands make the Peak an unmissable Hong Kong experience. Ever since colonial days, the Peak has been the place to live in the city. Governors and rich merchants built houses here in the mid-1800s to escape the worst of the summer heat and humidity. The Peak’s inhabitants were hauled up the sheer slopes in sedan chairs and numerous Chinese had to be employed to lug supplies to the mansions. When the Peak Tram (actually a funicular railway) was built in 1888, the trip was slashed from an hour’s slog to a pleasant, if alarmingly steep, 10-minute ride. Despite the new accessibility, Chinese were excluded from buying real estate on the Peak well into modern times. Today, anyone with the means can acquire these properties – among the world’s most expensive.

    Please click here to read more about the Victoria Peak.

    Hong Kong & Macau

    Visitors' checklist

    • The Peak Tower, 128 Peak Road
    • 2 A5
    • 0852 2849 0668
    • Lower Peak Tram Terminal, Garden Road
    • 15c at Central Bus Terminal (Pier 7); minibus 1 at Central (Two IFC)
    • www.thepeak.com.hk

    Star sights

    The Peak Tower
    The Peak Tower
    The Peak Tram
    The Peak Tram

    Lan Kwai Fong

    • Central
    • 2 B3
    • Central

    It is only at night that Lan Kwai Fong (“Orchid Square”) really starts to buzz, attracting office workers, including plenty of city suits, to its many bars, clubs, and restaurants. It houses some of the trendiest pubs and entertainment hangouts in Hong Kong, and the street is especially packed with revelers on Fridays and Saturdays, although most places remain open until late throughout the week. The partying spills across D’Aguilar Street to tiny Wing Wah Lane's bars and good-value Thai, Malay, and Indian restaurants, most of which have outdoor dining spaces.

    Crowds outside Lan Kwai Fong’s many bars and clubs
    Crowds outside Lan Kwai Fong’s
    many bars and clubs

    The Escalator

    • Central
    • 2 B3
    • Central
    • 6am–midnight
    Entrance to The Escalator – an easy way to commute from Central
    Entrance to The Escalator –
    an easy way to commute from Central

    All the roads between Queen’s Road and Conduit Road are linked by a 2,598-ft (792-m) long string of escalators. This is the longest covered outdoor escalator system in the world, and took two-and-a-half years and more than HK$205 million to build. It is the best way to commute between Central, the Mid-Levels, and SoHo (South of Hollywood Road). Several bars, cafés, restaurants, and market stalls cluster round the Escalator. Good Spring Company, just beneath the Escalator on Cochrane Street, sells foul-tasting health tonics from a brass urn. Inside, its herbalist consultants, some of whom speak English, can tailor-make a brew for those who are curious.

    In the last few years, partly following the completion of the Escalator, SoHo has been transformed from a sleepy district into a thriving entertainment area. Elgin, Shelley, and Staunton Streets are excellent places to find food and drink. A plaque on Staunton Street marks the site of the house in which Dr. Sun Yat-sen, seen by many as China’s revolutionary forefather, met with fellow members of his society in the late 1890s. It also marks a historical trail of 13 sites connected with him.

    Hollywood Road

    • Central
    • 2 B3
    • Central, then Escalator

    The many antique shops here no longer offer the bargains they once did, but Hollywood Road still has shops selling ancient ceramics, mammoth ivory carvings, and delicate snuff bottles. The stalls on Upper Lascar Row are a good hunting ground for antiques, old coins, and kitsch. Haggling is acceptable here. Some home furnishings shops, located at the eastern end, sell traditional items such as teardrop-shaped silk lampshades.

    Lighting a joss stick at Man Mo Temple
    Lighting a joss stick at Man Mo Temple

    Man Mo Temple

    • 126 Hollywood Rd
    • 2 A2
    • 0852 2540 0350
    • Central, then Escalator
    • 8am–6pm daily

    Atmospheric Man Mo Temple stands at the corner of Ladder Street. Inside its red and gold interior, smoke curls from giant incense spirals hanging from the ceiling, and flames in large brass urns devour paper offerings to the dead, such as the ubiquitous Hell bank notes. Built in 1847, the temple was dedicated to two deities, Man and Mo (the Gods of Literature and War), believed to be real men – the 3rd-century administrator Cheung Ah Tse and the 2nd-century soldier Kwan Wan Chung – who were deified by the emperors. Their statues can be seen at the back of the main chamber. The temple served as a courthouse and community center to the Chinese in the 19th century, as an alternative to adopting the alien policies followed by the British.

    Sheung Wan’s Markets

    • Hong Kong Island
    • 2 A1
    • Sheung Wan

    The short stroll from Central’s slick modernity into the western district of Sheung Wan feels like entering a different city. Beneath the scruffy 1950s tenement blocks, the area around Queen’s Road West and Wing Lok Street teems with Chinese medicine and dried seafood wholesalers. This is probably the world’s largest center for the shark’s fin trade, an exorbitantly priced delicacy, usually used in soups. The piles of fins on view explain why the world shark population is fast declining.

    Fresh fruit piled high at a market in Sheung Wan
    Fresh fruit piled high at a market
    in Sheung Wan

    Apart from dried goods, fresh produce is available in the many fruit, vegetable, and “wet” markets dotted along the area between the Escalator and Morrison Street. Live produce, of the feathered, finned or webbed kind, is usually sold in the wet markets, while the fruit and vegetable markets sell a wonderful selection of fruit and typical Chinese fare, including fresh, still-steaming bean curd and tangy “1,000 year eggs,” which are not, in fact, that old, but given an aged look by the mineral earth they are stored in. These places are not to be missed, although the squeamish may want to avoid the “wet” markets.

    Star Ferry

    • Star Ferry Terminals: Central, Wan Chai & Kowloon
    • 2 C2, 3 F3, 3 E1
    • 0852 2367 7065
    The city’s Star Ferry service – an unmistakable sight in Hong Kong
    The city’s Star Ferry service -
    an unmistakable sight in Hong Kong

    Few activities in Hong Kong can compete with the sheer excitement and romance of jumping on these portly old 1960s ferries that chug ponderously between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. They are by far the best and cheapest way to view the city skyline by day or night. The main route links the Kowloon peninsula (just near the Clock Tower) with the Star Ferry Terminal at Central, but it is also possible to reach the Convention Centre and Wan Chai from Kowloon aboard these jolly green boats. Touted as Hong Kong Island’s most dependable sight, the Star Ferry service was started by Mr. Dorabjee Nowrojee, a Parsi gentleman, way back in 1898. At that time, the only people allowed on first-class decks were Europeans, and a collar and tie were obligatory. Please click here to read more about the Star Ferry.

    Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront

    • Kowloon
    • 1 B5
    • Tsim Sha Tsui
    • Star Ferry
    • Star Ferry Concourse

    Hong Kong Cultural Centre

    • 10 Salisbury Rd
    • 0852 2734 2009
    • 9am–11pm
    Forecourt of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre
    Forecourt of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre

    The Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront is a popular tourist destination with some of the ritziest arcades, museums, and hotels in the city. The Star Ferry docks are also located here. East of the pier is the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, which houses halls, theaters, and galleries. Adjacent to the Centre is the Space Museum, ideal for children with its interactive exhibits beneath a golf-ball dome. There are new attractions – the Avenue of Stars honoring the city’s film greats and an Observation Wheel for views of its skyline.

    Please click here to read more about Hong Kong Culture Center.

    Hong Kong Museum of Art

    • 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
    • 1 B5
    • 0852 2721 0116
    • Tsim Sha Tsui
    • Star Ferry
    • 10am–6pm Fri–Wed (8pm Sat)
    • free Wed
    • www.lcsd.gov.hk

    The Museum of art is renowned for its exhibitions of traditional Chinese watercolors and calligraphy. Exquisite craftware from Southern China and Asia fills the second floor. Also on display are more than 3,000 objects in ceramics, jade, bronze, lacquer, enamel, glass, ivory, as well as furniture and fine porcelain.

    Nathan Road

    • Kowloon
    • 1 B4
    • Tsim Sha Tsui

    Also known as the Golden Mile on its lower reaches, Nathan Road is Kowloon’s main transport artery. Running north through the center of the peninsula, it is bright, busy, and packed with hotels and shops. The term Golden Mile, however, flatters the area – far more glitzier enclaves can be found in Central. Nonetheless, a stroll along Nathan Road is one of the essential Hong Kong experiences for its crowds of shoppers and workers, the tangle of neon signage, the ever-present tailoring shops, and the mixture of smart hotels, Cantonese canteens, and grim guest-house tenement blocks, such as the notorious Chungking Mansions, nightmare of many a backpacker. The road’s far northern end offers glimpses of the past. Here, the ramrod straight Boundary Street still marks the line of the 1860 border, the year Britain forced China to cede Kowloon to accommodate the burgeoning island colony.

    Model of a DNA molecule at the Hong Kong Museum of Science
    Model of a DNA molecule at
    the Hong Kong Museum of Science

    Hong Kong Science Museum

    • 2 Science Museum Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui East
    • 1 C3
    • 0852 2732 3232
    • Tsim Sha Tsui
    • 1pm–9pm Mon–Wed & Fri, 10am–9pm Sat, Sun & public hols
    • free Wed
    • www.lcsd.gov.hk

    A great destination for children, the Science Museum is packed with fun interactive displays on its four floors that detail basic scientific principles, including electricity and gravity, and how weather systems such as tornados are formed. There are also good displays on technology, which demonstrate the workings of various types of machinery ranging from the combustion engine to computer chips, as well as robotics and virtual reality.

    Hong Kong Museum of History

    • 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui East
    • 1 C3
    • 0852 2724 9042
    • Tsim Sha Tsui
    • 10am–6pm Mon & Wed–Sat, 10pm–7pm Sun & most public hols
    • free Wed
    • www.lcsd.gov.hk

    The Pursuit of profit and the resulting change of pace in much of Hong Kong has eroded most of its historical and cultural heritage. The excellent Museum of History shows what the region looked like before the skyscrapers arrived. Walk around replicas of traditional villages, street blocks, and shops or linger over fascinating displays of old photographs. There is also a display of Bronze Age daggers, pottery, and arrowheads found on Lamma and Lantau Islands, and a fun exhibit on toys made in Hong Kong.

    Temple Street & Jade Markets

    • Yau Ma Tei
    • 1 B2
    • Jordan or Yau Ma Tei

    Haggling is an essential skill at the Temple Street night market, which only livens up after 8pm. Although cheaper bargains are available elsewhere, the atmosphere and range of items, including fake designer labels, shoes, Mao memorabilia, and pirated DVDs, are unbeatable. Adding to the experience are fortune tellers, Cantonese operas, and food vendors. The market snakes north from Ning Po Street to Man Ming Lane. The day-time Jade Market is a good place to pick up inexpensive trinkets, although cheaper jade can be found in Guangzhou, and elsewhere in China.

    Caged song birds for sale at the Bird Market in Mong Kok
    Caged song birds for sale at
    the Bird Market in Mong Kok

    Bird & Flower Markets

    • Flower Market Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon
    • Prince Edward

    The Bird and Flower markets are less frenetic and more convenient than Temple Street, and are well worth a visit. Colorful blooms and clever bamboo creations line Flower Market Road, just north of Prince Edward Road West. Located at the end of Flower Market Road is the small Bird Market with a few stalls selling elegant cages, food, and song birds. Some bird lovers can be seen feeding their birds grasshoppers through the cage with chopsticks.

    Wong Tai Sin Temple

    • Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
    • 0852 2328 0270
    • Wong Tai Sin
    • 7am–5:30pm daily

    The Temple at Wong Tai Sin is one of Hong Kong’s largest, busiest, and most interesting places of worship. The complex contains altars and shrines to Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist deities. It is primarily dedicated to the god Wong Tai Sin, a shepherd reputed to have performed healing miracles. Beside the main temple are fortune tellers, some of whom can reveal your fortune for a hefty fee in English, mostly through palm and face reading. Some worshipers try to divine what lies in store for them by shaking small canisters of bamboo sticks, until one emerges from the stack. Each is marked with a numeral and a corresponding meaning. Also used are bui or “Buddha’s lips,” two pieces of wood shaped like orange-segments. A question is asked, the bui are thrown, and the “lips” answer yes or no, depending on which way they land.

    Wong Tai Sin Temple, one of Hong Kong’s busiest places of worship
    Wong Tai Sin Temple, one of
    Hong Kong’s busiest places of worship

    Heritage Museum

  • 1 Man Lam Rd, Sha Tin, New Territories
  • Sha Tin KCR, then free shuttle bus or bus 68A
  • 0852 2180 8188
  • 10am–6pm Tue–Sat (7pm Sun & public hols)
  • www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk

    This excellent, modern museum tells the story of Hong Kong’s 6,000 year-old human history. The largest of the city’s museums, it has six permanent exhibitions and plenty of space for temporary shows. The New Territories Heritage Hall illustrates prehistoric human life, the rise of village society, colonial rule and the large-scale development of the New Territories towns. There is also a display on Cantonese opera, which explains the elaborate ritual and color symbolism involved and contains exquisitely-crafted costumes. Beautiful calligraphy scrolls hang from the second floor. The Children’s Discovery Gallery on the ground floor is a fun look at Hong Kong’s natural habitat.

    Life-size Buddhas, 10,000 Buddhas Monastery
    Life-size Buddhas, 10,000 Buddhas Monastery
    Pagoda, 10,000 Buddhas
    Pagoda, 10,000 Buddhas

    10,000 Buddhas Monastery

  • 21 Pai Tau Village, Sha Tin, New Territories
  • Sha Tin KCR
  • 0852 2691 1067
  • 9am–5pm daily
  • www.10kbuddhas.org.en

    Ruby-lipped, life-size golden Buddhas in the steep path up to the Temple of the 10,000 Buddhas, a 15-minute walk from the northern exit of the Sha Tin KCR station. Cross the road and follow the clear signposts to the temple, which is at the top of the wooded hill. The main temple houses hundreds of tiny golden Buddhas which line shelves reaching up to the ceiling. There are more Buddha images outside, including one astride a giant white elephant and another on top of a huge dog. Still more statues peep from the monastery’s bright-red, nine-story pagoda. The small annex above the main temple contains the embalmed body of the temple’s founding monk, covered in gold leaf and placed in a glass case.

    Sai Kung Town & Peninsula Beaches

    • New Territories
    • to Choi Hung station then taxi or bus 92 to Sai Kung Town

    It may seem incredible, but just a few miles from Kowloon’s bustling streets, it is possible to find empty beaches, clear surf, and seclusion on the shores of the rugged Sai Kung Peninsula.

    The emerald waters and beaches of the Sai Kung Peninsula
    The emerald waters and beaches of
    the Sai Kung Peninsula

    The area is best accessed via Sai Kung Town, a pleasant place to wander among the stalls selling fish near the sea-front, and to eat at the profusion of seafood restaurants.

    Some of the most pristine beaches on the peninsula can be found at Tai Long Wan, where there is a small village and a couple of cafés and shops. The best way to reach this secluded spot is to take bus 94 from Sai Kung Town to Pak Tam Au, part of the Maclehose Trail, and then hike to Tai Long Wan. A reasonable level of fitness is required and remember to take along a good map and plenty of fluids.

    Much shorter and flatter woodland walks start at Pak Tam Chung Visitor Centre. Maps are available here for numerous walks, including a worthwhile nature trail. Take a taxi or bus 94.

    Alternatively, hire a kaido, a small ferry, from Sai Kung Town for a tour of the many small islands. It is easy to find eager operators near the jetty, although without speaking Cantonese, travelers will need a map to point out where they would like to go, as most of the operators don’t speak English.

    Walled Villages

    • Fanling, New Territories
    • Fanling KCR, then 54K minibus

    One of the best ways to get a flavor of pre-colonial times in the New Territories area is to walk along the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail near Fanling, beginning at the Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall. One of the largest in the region, this well-maintained building has an ornate roof and dates back to 1525. Owned by the Tangs, one of the five great New Territories clans, members still worship, pay respects to ancestors, and hold celebrations at the hall.

    The Heritage Trail passes the five wais (walled villages) and six tsuens (villages) built by clan members within a mile of each other. They are in various states of repair, from dilapidated ruin to pristine walled compound. Keep in mind that some wais are still home to several clan families. One of the better-preserved wais is Lo Wai Far. Another interesting wai, Tong Kok, is just a couple of minutes’ walk north of the Ancestral Hall and has dozens of houses including modern buildings. The entire trail can be covered in an hour or two. Signposting is rather patchy, but there is a detailed map outside the ancestral hall.

    A short walk west of the Fanling KCR station is the modern Daoist temple of Fung Ying Seen Koon, dedicated to the deities representing the Chinese Zodiac signs. People make offerings of incense and fruit to their chosen deity. Another chamber contains the ashes of the dead, stored in letterbox-sized holes in the wall. Given the sombre mood, it is best to keep cameras packed away.

    Interior shrine, Fung Ying Sin Koon Temple
    Interior shrine, Fung Ying Sin Koon Temple

    Fung Ying Seen Koon

    • Fanling, New Territories
    • 0852 2669 9186
    • Fanling KCR
    • 9am–5pm daily
    • www.fysk.org

    Mai Po Marshes

    • New Territories
    • 0852 2471 6306
    • Sheung Shui KCR then 76K bus or taxi
    • Permits deposit & advanced booking required
    • on weekends
    • www.wwf.org.hk

    Wedged between Hong Kong and the urban sprawl of Shenzhen, this globally important wetland is home to a range of wildlife species. Pollution has taken its toll elsewhere along the Pearl River Delta, making this 940-acre (380-ha) park the last refuge for many species. Apart from herons and egrets, otters and the very rare black-faced spoonbills can be seen. There are numerous bird hides for keen bird-watchers. Contact HKTB for details on guided weekend tours. The Hong Kong Wetland Park, opened in mid-2006, occupies a 150-acre (61-ha) area.

    A scenic waterway in Mai Po Marshes
    A scenic waterway in Mai Po Marshes

    MacLehose Trail

    • New Territories

    Tai Mo Shan

  • taxi from Tsuen Wan MTR.

    Government Publications Centre

    • 0852 2537 1910

    Strung east–west across the middle of the New Territories, this 62-mile (100-km) route takes in huge, wild and high areas from Tuen Mun in the west to the lovely Sai Kung Peninsula in the east. Divided into 10 manageable stages, it is possible to walk for long stretches without seeing a soul. One of the most scenic sections takes in Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s highest peak with views, on a clear day, down to the distant city. The far eastern stage is also very beautiful, concluding at Tai Long Wan’s lovely beaches (see Sai Kung Town & Peninsula Beaches). Sturdy shoes, fluids, and maps (from the Government Publications Centre) are essential. The record for completing the trail is under 13 hours as part of the Annual Trailwalker Charity Race.

    A traditional fishing boat moored in Aberdeen’s bustling harbor
    A traditional fishing boat moored
    in Aberdeen’s bustling harbor
    The garish Jumbo Floating Restaurant lights up Aberdeen Harbour
    The garish Jumbo Floating
    Restaurant lights up Aberdeen Harbour

    Aberdeen

    • Hong Kong Island
    • 7 or 70 from Central

    Once a quiet fishing village, Aberdeen is today the largest separate town on Hong Kong Island with a population of more than 60,000. Named in 1845 after the British Colonial Secretary, the Earl of Aberdeen, the harbor housed Hong Kong’s first dockyard, which was built in the 1860s.

    A short bus ride from Central, the Aberdeen district has a rather unattractive town center, edged by massive, high-rise apartment blocks, commercial towers, and factories. What it lacks in aesthetic appeal, however, it makes up for in bustle and atmosphere. The boat-filled harbor is the big attraction in Aberdeen as it is the center of all activity. Many of the boats found here are actually part-time residences for Hong Kong’s fishermen and their families; so much so that the district still has the characteristics of a traditional fishing village. Tiny sampans dodge among the wooden fishing fleet and the large, palatial floating restaurants. Pushy operators on the waterfront offer tours by sampan that take visitors past the fishing boats, the houseboats, and small harbor-side shipyards.

    Alternatively, for a quicker (and free) tour, jump aboard the shuttles to the floating restaurants moored here, such as the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. The first and most famous of the floating restaurants, it is a massive, palatial hulk that is part Las Vegas-style casino and part Chinese temple. The top deck is now a sophisticated seafood restaurant with occasional live jazz.

    Please click here to read more information about Village of Aberdeen.

    Ocean Park

    • 180 Wong Chuk Road, Aberdeen
    • 0852 2552 0291
    • Ocean Park City Bus from Central’s Star Ferry Pier or 6A, 6X, 70, 75, 90, 97, or 260
    • 10am–6pm daily
    • www.oceanpark.com.hk

    With the arrival of a mega competitor in the shape of Lantau Island’s Disneyland, Ocean Park, Hong Kong’s first amusement park, has fought back with new attractions. It is much better than it ever was, although it will be hard pressed to compete with the might of Disney. There is plenty to do for adults and children alike, and it’s easy to spend a day exploring the six themed areas of this pleasant complex. The Lowland Gardens area is one of the most enjoyable sections, with a butterfly house, and the theme park's pride, four giant pandas. A scenic cable car skirts the edge of Deepwater Bay, dropping passengers in Marine Land. Here, a large and impressive aquarium captivates visitors with closeup views of schools of fish and an underwater tunnel through a tank of sharks. Bird Paradise has over 1,000 birds in its aviaries, including flocks of flamingos. Numerous thrilling rides are found throughout the grounds, with Kids World supplying tamer rides for youngsters.

    Colossal statue of goddess Guanyin, Repulse Bay
    Colossal statue of
    goddess Guanyin,
    Repulse Bay

    Deep Water & Repulse Bays

    • Hong Kong Island
    • 6, 6A, 61, 260, 262 from Exchange Square bus station

    Several good beaches line these two scenic bays located along the road from Aberdeen to Stanley. Deep Water Bay is a pretty spot favored by the wealthy, with many luxurious houses. The long stretch of beach lined by cypress-like trees is reminiscent of the French Riviera. Up-market apartment blocks, inhabited by Hong Kong’s business elite, surround the long, well-tended beach at Repulse Bay. The beach is a popular summer destination and gets very crowded in season and on weekends. The pricey Verandah Restaurant – the only surviving section of the stately Repulse Bay Hotel, which was torn down in the 1980s – is a good place for a drink or afternoon tea. Just behind the Verandah is a supermarket for picnic supplies, and a few cafés.

    Hong Kong Life Saving Society

    • Repulse Bay, Hong Kong Island
    • 7am–7pm daily

    At the far southern end of Repulse Bay is the Hong Kong Lifeguards’ Club. The building also serves as a temple, and is a great place for children to explore. Garish statues – a menagerie of gods, animals, and mythical beasts – are scattered across the grounds in amongst the lifesaving equipment. Among the gods is a large statue of Guanyin, the Boddhisattva of Mercy, to whom the temple is dedicated. Several other gods are represented, including a number of smiling bronze Buddhas. Rubbing their bald heads is said to bring good luck. Some believe that crossing the Bridge of Longevity also adds three days to a person’s life.

    The popular beach at the seaside town of Stanley
    The popular beach at the seaside
    town of Stanley

    Stanley

    • Hong Kong Island
    • 6, 6A, 6X, 260 from Exchange Square bus station
    • 9am–6pm daily

    This pre-colonial fishing village today resembles a British seaside town, complete with English-style pubs. The extensive sprawl of market stalls selling clothes, beachwear, silk, jade, trinkets, and furniture draws weekend crowds. The area also has a good selection of Thai, Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Chinese restaurants.

    Beside the square is Murray House, a large, Neo-Classical building, housing some fine restaurants with bay views. Dismantled and rebuilt here in 1998, it originally stood on the site now occupied by the Bank of China tower in Central. Next to it Tin Hau Temple, built in 1767, is one of the island’s oldest and most evocative shrines. The festival of Tin Hau (see 3rd Lunar Month) is celebrated in late April or early May with dances and boat races.

    On the other side of town is the beautifully kept Stanley Cemetery, dating to the earliest colonial days. It contains the gravestones of early residents and soldiers killed in World Wars I and II, including those who died in the Japanese concentration camp built nearby. Stanley Beach, on the other side of the peninsula, is a long stretch of sand and the venue for the local dragon boat races.

    Please click here to read more information about Stanley Market.

    Lamma Island

    • rom Central (pier 4) and from Aberdeen (via Mo Tat)
    Lamma Island, with hilltop views of the sea and Hong Kong Island
    Lamma Island, with hilltop views
    of the sea and Hong Kong Island

    Good seafood restaurants and pubs, a relaxed atmosphere, pleasant hilltop walks, and the absence of cars make leafy, low-key Lamma the perfect escape from the city bustle. Its two main villages, Yung Shue Wan on the west coast and restaurant-packed Sok Kwu Wan on the east coast, are a half-hour ferry ride from Central. Yung Shue Wan is an expat stronghold with two or three English-style pubs and some good restaurants. A steep climb leads to the hills above Yung Shue Wan, where there are fine views of the sea and Hong Kong Island. Visitors can hike on the path between the two villages, but should plan their walk around the infrequent return ferry from Sok Kwu Wan. The harbor here is also home to the Lamma Fisherfolk’s Village, a fascinating floating exhibition that looks at the life of a fisherman and the skills and traditional techniques of the trade.

    Colorful sampans and fishing boats in Cheung Chau harbor
    Colorful sampans and fishing boats
    in Cheung Chau harbor

    Cheung Chau Island

  • from Central (pier 5)
  • Bun Festival (May)

    This charming island, just a half-hour by ferry from Hong Kong Island, has plenty to offer, from paddling near its beaches to exploring the traditional shops and shrines along its narrow lanes and eating at the many seafood places at the harbor’s edge on Pak She Praya Road. The squid with shrimp paste is a local speciality. The southern coast offers the best walks, with fine sea views and woodland pathways threading past colonial mansions.

    The island’s earliest settlers lived here some 2,500 years ago; their only surviving relics are the geometric etchings on the rocks below Warwick Hotel. In the 19th century, the island was a haven for pirates, where the notorious Cheung Po-Tsai supposedly hid plunder. The fishing community is depleted today due to excessive fishing over the past 50 years.

    Close to the harbor, the 1783 Pak Tai Temple is dedicated to the island’s patron deity, who is credited with saving islanders from the plague in 1777. The annual Bun Festival (see Traditional festivals) is celebrated here in May, when young men scale 26-ft (8-m) towers made entirely of buns.

    Lantau Island

    • from Central (pier 6) to Mui Wo (Silvermine Bay)

    Twice the size of Hong Kong Island, Lantau was ceded to the British in 1898 along with the other islands and the New Territories. Despite the recent addition of a new bridge and the huge Chek Lap Kok airport, large tracts of the island still remain largely uninhabited, including two country parks in which are the peaks that form the island’s backbone and numerous hiking trails.

    Lantau’s seclusion has made it a popular place for religious retreats. The most striking of these is Po Lin Monastery, located on a hilltop on the Ngong Ping plateau. The monastery grounds are grand and colorful, and the over-the-top, gaudy main temple is well worth a visit. The Big Buddha, an 85-ft (26-m) statue perched at the top of a 268-step flight of stairs, is the monastery’s biggest draw. Since the Buddha’s consecration in 1993, the monastery has been overrun with tourists. There are also bauhinia and orchid gardens and basic vegetarian food in two canteens.

    The Big Buddha at Po Lin Monastery
    The Big Buddha at Po Lin Monastery

    The area around Ngong Ping is also a great place for walks and picnics. Keen hikers stay at the SG Davis Youth Hostel before making a pre-dawn hike up Lantau Peak to watch the spectacular sunrise.

    At the island’s western end, the sleepy fishing village of Tai O has narrow streets and tiny residences reminiscent of rural China. Once a major salt trading center, today the old saltpans are being used as fish-breeding ponds. Tai O has a few temples and many shops selling live seafood and dried fish, the local speciality.

    To the west of the island, Discovery Bay is the starting point for a gentle walk to a Trappist Monastery. Its chapel is open to visitors willing to observe the vow of silence taken by the monks.

    Lantau’s newest attraction, the multi-billion dollar Hong Kong Disneyland, is modeled after the original Disneyland in California, and the 311-acre (126-ha) area includes a park featuring Mickey Mouse and his friends, as well as original attractions designed especially for Hong Kong, themed-hotels, and a retail and dining center.

    Lantau Peak
    Lantau Peak
    Tai O Fishing Village
    Tai O Fishing Village

    Lantau Peak
    The only way up this 3,065-ft (934-m) high peak is via a steep path through tea gardens. It is an ideal spot for watching the sunrise.

    Tai O Fishing Village
    Traditional stilt houses cluster on the muddy banks of the small estuary at this rural fishing settlement.

    Ngong Ping & The Big Buddha

    • Bus 2. Also taxi or cable car from Tung Chung MTR

    Disneyland

    • Yam O MTR to Penny’s Bay station
    Diseyland

    Please click here to read more information about Hong Kong.

    For more details, please visit China Tours and China Travel Information.

  •  

    China Tours including trips to Hong Kong

    Special Tours: 12-Day China & Hong Kong Tour  

    Deluxe Travel: 16-Day Best of China & Hong Kong Tour  

    Trips of a lifetime: 21-Day China Panorama Tour   22-Day Imperial China, Tibet & Hong Kong Tour  

    Affordable Luxury Tours: 18-Day China's Imperial Wonders & Yangtze Tour