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Sai Kung
Photograph: Shutterstock

Best Hong Kong day trips

Need a break? Check these out.

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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Hong Kong may be internationally known for its unique combination of glitz, glamour, and grittiness; but long-time residents know that there’s a lot more to the city than just beautiful buildings and neon-drenched streets. One of the biggest benefits of living in an archipelago — most of which remains undeveloped land (for now) — is that a serene beach, scenic hike, or fishing village is never more than a hop, skip, or ferry ride away. Just check out these one-day getaway options!

RECOMMENDEDCan’t be bothered to leave the main island? Spend your day exploring any of these hidden gardens and green spaces in the city.  

Best Hong Kong day trips

Cheung Chau
Photograph: Courtesy of Warwick Hotel Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau

Famed for its annual bun-climbing festival, giant fishballs, and being the hometown of windsurfing Olympian Lee Lai-shan, Cheung Chau 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.

EAT

Si Dan

Si Dan, which literally translates to 'it's egg', is a near homophone for ‘whatever’ in Cantonese and specialises in, well, eggs. Try the signature onsen egg mashed potatoes, a simple dish with a smooth mouthfeel and a rich aroma of eggs complemented by black truffle.

For something more hearty, make your way to the waterfront around Cheung Chau’s main ferry terminal, where you'll find numerous restaurants offering fresh seafood cooked in Cantonese and Hunan style.

DRINK

Cheung Chau Corner

A popular Insta-worthy spot, thanks to its MTR-inspired wall, Cheung Chau Corner offers refreshing yoghurt drinks made with fresh fruits of the season. Drink to your heart’s content and try their popular strawberry yoghurt or try their Damascus fruit tea that's equally as tasty.

SHOP

Myarts

Check out this design-led lifestyle stores for everything from quirky ceramics and stationery to dainty pieces of jewellery and handmade soaps. We particularly love Myarts for its carefully sourced items from local and international artists too.

DO

Mini Great Wall

This attraction has nothing on the real deal but its granite railings and its view overlooking the South China Sea make for a gorgeous coastal walk all the same. As part of the Cheung Chau Family Trail, you can also view a number of oddly shaped rocks like the Human Head Rock while on the same path.

If you do just one thing... 

Grab yourself one of the island’s old school snack specialities: glutinous rice cakes with fresh fruit stuffed inside. Cheung Chau Ping Kee makes them fresh daily using their own secret recipe – you can't say you've been to Cheung Chau unless you've tried them!

Sai Kung Town
Photograph: Calvin Sit

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, or surrounding country parks and hiking trails. While not directly accessible via MTR, Sai Kung is around half an hour away (if there's no traffic jam) via minibus from Hang Hau (101M) or Choi Hung (1A/ 1S) MTR station, and about a one-hour minibus ride from Mong Kok.

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

Momentai

Set right on the waterfront, this independent, al fresco bar-restaurant always draws a crowd. That stems largely from its laid-back, beachy vibe, even if the Sai Kung strip isn't exactly what you would call a beach. Settle in with a local craft beer in hand (Lion Rock, Gweilo, Yardley Brothers, Young Master and more are on draft) and chill out all night to the sound of house music and the pretend sound of waves in your head. 

SHOP

Oelili

Founded by handicraft artist Hebe Law, Oelili houses an eclectic selection of top-quality handmade goods from locally painted ceramics and bamboo steamers, to cast iron egg waffle moulds, knives, purses to handbags, various accessories, and much more. 

DO

Yim Tin Tsai

This little island is a must-visit. Aside from the Yim Tin Tsai Village Heritage Exhibition Centre and the beautiful St Joseph's Chapel, there are also various public artworks around the island. Click here for a map of the artworks' locations.

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.

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Lamma Island
Photograph: Mabel Lui

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 you who prefer to have the best of both worlds, however, rest assured that you can fit a brunch, leisure hike along the island, an afternoon pint, and one of those famous Lamma seafood dinners all into one compact trip.

EAT

Lala Mama’s

Tucked away just off the main street on Lamma Island, Lala Mama's serves up everything from all-day breakfast and vegetarian food to delicious homemade desserts. Rustic and homely complete with wooden furniture and shelves lined with bars and ceramics.

DRINK

Blue Goose Tavern

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

SHOP

Lamma Corner

This little eco-friendly concept store has everything from upcycled Hong Kong Flour Mills tote bags to soy candles in porcelain Chinese teacups. It's a great place to pick up a unique gift or souvenir.

 

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.

Tai O
Photograph: Cara Hung

Tai O

Dubbed as 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, 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 motorboats that tour the area for about $25 to $30.

EAT

Tai O Bakery

One of the village’s most famous snacks is its sugar-dusted Chinese-style doughnuts, 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.

SHOP

Earth.er

A visit to this clothing store is a must. With Southeast Asian vibes running throughout the shop, Earth.er sells products that are all eco-friendly and handmade in northern Thailand and Nepal.

 

If you do just one thing... 

Enjoy a romantic meal at Tai O Lookout. The glass-roofed colonial-era-inspired dining establishment dishes up comfort foods from around the world: think pasta, Singaporean fried rice, and the special crispy fried pork-chop bun sandwich. 

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Ngong Ping
Photo by Kokaze Production I Unsplash

Ngong Ping

Whether you’re religious or not, visiting Ngong Ping is a great one-day excursion. This highland on the western part of Lantau Island is best known for the iconic Tian Tan Buddha statue which can be seen a mile away, as well as the neighbouring Po Lin Monastery and its lush green surroundings. Though these popular 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.

SHOP

Ngong Ping Village

There are a number of souvenir shops located in the village. While we're certainly not encouraging anyone to pick up an 'I heart Ngong Ping' shirt, there are some pretty cool knick-knacks you can pick up at the Hong Kong Love souvenir store where products with nostalgic Hong Kong designs can be found.

DO

Wisdom Path

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

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 if you're visiting in the summer.

Peng Chau
Photograph: Shutterstock

Peng Chau

Well off the beaten tourist track, Peng Chau is one of Hong Kong’s most charming outer islands. With scenic treks, ancient relics, traditional temples, strong community vibes and no cars in sight, stepping ashore on this tranquil island feels like travelling back in time to old Hong Kong.

EAT

Kee Sum Café

Famous for making possibly the best shrimp toast in all of Hong Kong, Kee Sum Café uses purée made from freshly-caught shrimps and a secret sauce to make this finger-licking treat. 

 

DO

Hike up Finger Hill

Though it’s a small peak, Finger Hill takes you to the island’s main vantage point where you can take in panoramic views of Lamma Island, Discovery Bay, and the Southside. Get your timing right and you can even watch the sunset from the comfort of the pavilion.

If you do just one thing... 

Visit A Noy Bakery and try their fermented soybean sesame biscuit. Sure, you can find these elsewhere in Hong Kong, but none are quite as large, thin and flavourful as these.

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