One of the things that surprised me about Hong Kong was the diversity of experiences one could have while there. I think I had always envisioned Hong Kong as just a man-made metropolitan city with skyscrapers as ones playground. However, upon landing in Hong Kong, I think nature seekers and city dwellers alike would enjoy all that Hong Kong has to offer.
As covered in my previous post in Hong Kong 101, Hong Kong is comprised of a collection of islands. Depending on the type of experience you want, you can choose to stay towards the mainland peninsula, explore all that HK island has to offer or venture out into farther islands to experience even more nature.
In the week that I was there, we were able to do the following below. I would most definitely venture out to HK again to seek out more experiences with more time!
Lantau Island – When visiting Lantau, budget at least a FULL day to explore the Big Buddha & Fishing Village.
The Big Buddha @ Tian Tian on Lantau Island – While you are likely to find this recommendation on every travel or blog guide, you’ll find that this experience is worth the hike! A part of the enjoyment of visiting the Big Buddha is the journey itself. After taking a metro train to Lantau Island, you’ll embark upon an aerial journey that is incredibly rewarding on a clear day. To get to the Big Buddha, you’ll have to take the Npong Ping Cable Car which ascends to the top of the island over the course of 30 minutes. Once you get to the cable car, you can choose either a clear bottom gondola (highly recommended if you can stand the heights!) and you are treated to amazing views of ocean, forest and scenery.
Once at the park, you’ll be able venture a small village for a quick pit stop/snack break before hiking into the park and climbing up 268 steps to see the Big Buddha.
Tai O Fishing Village (Lantau Island) – Another cultural experience on Lantau Island is the Fishing Village. On the southeastern corner of Lantau island, you’ll have to take a transit bus from the Big Buddha to this little village. Things you’ll see along the way – random livestock crossing the road and a village that will take you back into time.
This village is small, weathered and at first glance can be seen as an eyesore for fancied travelers. However, what makes this village interesting is the construction of the fishing houses and the intricate maze this village is built around. Stilted houses jut out of muddied waterways and you almost feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time This village is not a quaint fancy place, just a very authentic look at fisherman life.
The main appeal of this village is to enjoy authentic seafood dishes and bring some dried seafood delicacies. As you walk through the main corridor of the village, you will see many mom and pop shops that offer local seafood stews and delicacies.
Shek O Beach – After a long hike up the mountain and wandering the maze of stilted homes, we headed for a more relaxing escape at Shek O Beach. This beach seems to be a favorite of locals, offering great scenery, a beach shack for Surf & SUP rentals and great people watching. After taking another half and hour bus ride from the fishing village, we ended up at this great beach to cool off, refresh and capture some HK sun. Bring swim gear here – there’s a pool house where you can change, shower and refresh!
Victoria’s Peak – Most people will likely take the funicular up to Victoria’s Peak, but if you fancy a good hike, I would suggest hiking to the top if weather permits. You can catch the start of the trail from HK University and you can take a very scenic 2.2 mile ascent above the city. As you hike up, you’ll be in the company of locals on their morning runs up to local park. Once you’ve seen Victoria’s Peak by foot, you can always take the tram back down.
STREET MARKETS & NIGHT MARKETS:
Here’s my POV on the markets – I wasn’t a HUGE fan. I know this is a counter statement to most of what other guides will tell you but there wasn’t one thing I wanted to purchase after visiting. The night markets here were so different than what I experienced in Taiwan. However, I will say, the local food scene at the markets seem more appealing than the wares. Be prepared for adventurous eating if you come to the market. You’ll have a variety of tropical fruits and fresh seafood at your fingertips!
Ladies Market – Located also in Kowloon in Mong Kok, there are many textiles available for sale here. However, what I found most surprising and enjoyable was the fresh fruit available in the market!
Temple Market – Located in Kowloon, this market was a journey in itself for one evening. This market is very easy to get to via metro and offers several laneways and streets filled with goods and food stands. At night, this market is a flurry of lights, people and experience. Be prepared for vendors to approach you and escorts wandering the streets. This is probably the richest cultural experience you’ll get to experience in HK.
SHOPPING & STREET WANDERS
Because Hong Kong is an international city, you’re bound to find endless options for shopping in Lan Kwai Fong and every major designer world wide. (So, I won’t cover those shopping destinations). However, if you fancy some fun finds, here are a few suggestions:
Sheung Wang/Hollywood Road – These were some of my favorite places to wander to look for old HK style antiques.Good place to stroll for galleries and shopping and HK style Antiques.This area is lined with Galleries and an assortment of art eye candy to enjoy.
SoHo – Funky boutiques & cute coffee shops make this area a fun one to enjoy on Hong Kong Island.
Graffiti Art – One of the things I REALLY enjoyed in Hong Kong was discovering all the graffiti in the laneways. As you wander through Hong Kong island, you’ll find BEAUTIFUL graffiti art in the laneways. You never know when you’ll encounter them, but when you you’re in for an artistic treat.
This is one we wish we could have done! Apparently only on Wednesday nights, locals and expats flock to witness the Horseraces @ the Happy Valley Racecourse.
I undoubtedly have not discovered all the fun things to do on the island within a week. There’s so much to see and do between the city and beaches that I can’t wait for another trip back to see and witness more. Anyone else have good recos for fun things to do in Hong Kong?
With Joy & Wanders,