Best Hong Kong day trips

If you’ve ever found yourself in need of a break from the bustling city, check out these day-trip destinations, which are peaceful, fun and surprisingly accessible
Lamma Island
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While Hong Kong may be internationally renowned as a financial hub and glitzy metropolis, long-time residents know that there’s a lot more to the city than just beautiful buildings and rooftop bars. One of the biggest benefits of living in an archipelago – most of which is undeveloped land – is that a serene beach, scenic hike or fishing village is never more than a hop, skip and a ferry ride away. Whether you fancy sipping beers on the sand, exploring ancient rock formations, or simply walking without fear of errant elbows and eye-level umbrella spokes, there are a myriad of options for easy, breezy getaways that only take a day. Annette Chan

Sai Kung seafood street. Image: Alanmak / CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

Sai Kung Town

Smack dab in the centre of the idyllic Sai Kung Peninsula, Sai Kung Town is a laidback neighbourhood with scores of interesting shops, restaurants and bars, and a cool floating seafood market to boot. Its pier and transport links also make it the perfect jumping-off point for boat trips to volcanic rock-studded islets in the Hong Kong Geopark, pristine sandy beaches like Sharp Island and Tai Long Wan, or surrounding country parks and hiking trails. While not directly accessible via MTR, Sai Kung is around a 45-minute minibus ride away from Hang Hau or Choi Hung stations, and around one hour away from Mong Kok by minibus.

EAT

Loaf On

Sai Kung’s first Michelin-starred restaurant remains popular among locals for its elevated Cantonese food. Specialties include salt and pepper abalone, spicy crispy-skinned chicken, and clams in XO sauce.

DRINK

Tikitiki Bowling Bar

For a memorable group activity, head to Tikitiki Bowling Bar to sip on tropical cocktails while (very mildly) exerting yourself on the neon-lit bowling alleys.

DO

Hoi Ha Wan

Less than 45 minutes on the number 7 minibus will get you to Hoi Ha Wan, a protected marine park where you can marvel at more than 60 types of hard coral and 120 species of coral fish. Top off the experience by renting a kayak and snorkelling gear from local stores to explore the beautifully clear waters (but remember to be careful with the marine life!).

STAY

Astropark

Camp at Astropark, a 1,200sq m star-gazing facility in the Chong Hing Water Sports Centre at High Island Reservoir. While it is relatively remote, the centre provides a shuttle bus from Sai Kung Tang Shiu Kin Sports Ground for campers who book in advance.

If you do just one thing... 

Eat a pineapple bun – or better yet, a buttered pineapple bun – from the famous Sai Kung Cafe and Bakery. Hong Kong screen legend Chow Yun-fat is said to be a fan, which is a glowing endorsement if we’ve ever heard one.

Image: Alanmak / CC BY-SA 2.5

Hotels, B&Bs

Cheung Chau

icon-location-pin Cheung Chau

Famed for its annual bun-climbing festival, giant fishballs, and being the hometown of windsurfing Olympian Lee Lai-shan, it’s no wonder that this former fishing village is one of Hong Kong’s most popular outlying islands. Just a short ferry ride away from Central (30-55 minutes, depending on which boat you catch), this vehicle-free island is highly walkable and teeming with Taoist temples, dried seafood shops and snack stands. Artsy types are sure to enjoy the surprisingly high concentration of indie lifestyle stores, while families can amble or cycle along easy walking trails like the Mini Great Wall (we’d avoid the Cheung Po Tsai pirate cave though, which is a lot less interesting than the name suggests).

EAT

So Bor Kee

True to its roots as a fishing community, Cheung Chau has no shortage of options when it comes to seafood. An old favourite among locals and tourists alike is So Bor Kee, which serves fresh seafood cooked in the style of Cantonese and Hunan cuisine.

DRINK

Hing Kee Beach Store

Hing Kee Beach Store might look like your regular beachside café-store hybrid, but there’s more to this modest shack than meets the eye. Besides serving tasty home-cooked food, Hing Kee also boasts a decent craft beer selection from local breweries such as Gweilo, Heroes, and Kowloon Bay.

DO

Go shopping

Check out the lovely design-led lifestyle stores tucked away in Cheung Chau’s alleys for everything from vintage clothing to handmade silver jewellery. We particularly like Myarts for its carefully sourced knickknacks from local and international artists.

STAY

B&B Cheung Chau

Split across three buildings – two of which are a stone’s throw from the main pier – B&B Cheung Chau has rooms catering to couples, families, and backpackers. If you fancy commemorating the trip, the B&B even has a creative workshop where you can design a trinket to hang on the nearby Love Lock Wall.

If you do just one thing... 

Eat a skewer of giant Cheung Chau fishballs from a local snack stall (Gan Yong Tai is the most famous one, but any will do).

Image: Hiroki Ogawa / CC BY 3.0

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Hotels

Lamma Island

icon-location-pin Lamma Island

As Hong Kong’s third largest island and one of the most popular weekend destinations for daytrippers, there was no way we’d forget to mention Lamma. Over the years, Lamma’s reputation for picturesque views, slow-paced island living, safety, and friendly residents (yes, we’re counting the dogs) has attracted many a city slicker to settle down on its sandy shores. Who can blame them, when all that is just 25 minutes away from Central by ferry? For those of us who prefer to have the best of both worlds however, we’re comforted by the fact that we can fit a brunch, leisurely hike along the island, afternoon pint and one of those famous Lamma seafood dinners into one compact trip.

EAT

Candela

For some of the best tapas in Hong Kong – at super reasonable prices, no less – check out Candela (formerly Carlos Tapas). Originally a semi-regular takeaway, the eponymous Carlos’ food proved so popular among Lamma locals that he’s now opened a sit-down restaurant at a prime location on Main Street.

DRINK

Blue Goose Tavern

You can’t go wrong with a good local pub. With its ice-cold beers, perennially friendly staff, and spacious terrace overlooking the water, Blue Goose Tavern always hits the spot.

DO

Hang out at Bookworm Cafe

Sink your teeth into a good book – and an even better veggie burger – at one of Hong Kong’s O.G. organic restaurants, Bookworm Cafe. This cosy secondhand bookshop-and-restaurant specialises in casual vegetarian and vegan Western fare.

STAY

Concerto Inn

For a no-frills but dependable stay, Concerto Inn offers clean rooms with large balconies overlooking Hung Shing Yeh Beach. While it isn’t a five-star resort, the service is welcoming and the location is unbeatable.

If you do just one thing... 

Eat at one of Lamma Island’s famous waterfront seafood restaurants in Sok Kwu Wan. We love Rainbow Seafood, which will sate your appetite and provide free ferry trips to and from Lamma.

Attractions

Tai O

icon-location-pin Tai O

Often called the 'Venice of Hong Kong', Tai O is a fishing village and the only major stilt settlement left in Hong Kong. Located on the northern tip of Lantau Island, it’s famous for its dried seafood, locally made shrimp paste, salt pans, proximity to the critically endangered pink dolphins, as well as being one of the most picturesque places in Hong Kong. This tiny village has been inhabited by the Tanka 'boat-people' for more than 200 years. While walking past pans of fish drying on the pavement, you can picture the Hong Kong of yesteryear – a humble fishing port which gave our modern city its name. Easily reached by bus from Tung Chung, Tai O’s famed stilt houses are best seen from motor boats that tour the area for about HK$25 (although don’t hold out hope for pink dolphins – you’re much more likely to spot them with Dolphinwatch).

EAT

Tai O Bakery

One of the village’s most famous snacks is its sugar-dusted Chinese-style donuts, which are served fresh from the deep-fryer at the beloved Tai O Bakery.

DRINK

Solo

Tai O’s best café is Solo, where you can wash down some delicate homemade cakes with a cup of smooth, smooth coffee (which you can opt to have spiked with liquor). The best part, however, is Solo’s cute little terrace, where you can sit and watch people and boats go by. Bliss.

DO

Visit the beautiful Man Cheung Po

Take the easy 30-minute hike to see Man Cheung Po, aka the stunning waterfall and manmade 'infinity pool' that everyone and their mum visited in the summer of 2014. We don’t recommend swimming in it though, no matter how tempting it looks – it’s a source of fresh water.

STAY

Tai O Heritage Hotel

This is a no-brainer – take the opportunity to stay at the former police station-turned Tai O Heritage Hotel, a Grade II protected historical building equipped with luxury hotel suites, a glass-roofed restaurant and five-star amenities.

If you do just one thing... 

Track down Mr Lei, the awesome, sunglasses-wearing egg waffle uncle, and buy one of his crisp charcoal-grilled gai dan zai. Don’t be put off by the queue, it’s totally worth it (Mr Lei works quickly anyway).

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Things to do

Ngong Ping

icon-location-pin Lantau Island

Whether you’re religious or not, visiting Ngong Ping is a great one-day excursion for both visitors and tourists alike. This highland on the western part of Lantau Island is best known for the iconic Tian Tan Buddha statue which is 34m tall and can be seen a mile away, as well as the neighbouring Po Lin Monastery and its lush green surroundings. Though these popular tourist attractions can now be reached by cable car (including a glass-bottomed one for the brave or extravagant among us) from Tung Chung, a cheaper and still very scenic method of transport is the good old bus.

EAT

Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Kitchen

How often can you say you’ve eaten at a monastery? (Monks need not answer.) Fill up on cheap and cheerful vegetarian food at Po Lin Monastery’s onsite restaurant where prices are low but portions are large, just the way we like it.

DRINK

Linong Tea House

Given that it’s a site of worship, alcohol isn’t exactly readily available around these parts. Instead, slake your thirst with a cup of blooming flower tea at the touristy but charming Linong Tea House.

DO

Go on a spiritual stroll

Walk down the Wisdom Path, where 38 wooden monuments engraved with the sacred Heart Sutra prayer have been installed in an infinity pattern.

STAY

YHA Ngong Ping SG Davis Youth Hostel 

If climbing all the stairs up to the Big Buddha made you want to flop down on a comfortable bed and nap immediately, then you’re in luck. Located just 10 minutes away, the YHA Ngong Ping SG Davis Youth Hostel offers a 'hassle-free camping package', which includes a boho-chic bell tent for up to six campers, bedding, lighting, Bluetooth speakers, and WiFi. 

If you do just one thing... 

Visit the Big Buddha, of course. Do be careful going up the 200-odd steps to the top though, especially in the summer heat.

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