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  1. Sai Kung
    Photograph: TA Sai Kung
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  3. Sai Kung
    Photograph: TA

Sai Kung: Ultimate Guide

Gorgeous beaches, laidback cafes, and amazing restaurants – find out the best things to see, do, and eat in Sai Kung.

Tatum Ancheta
Edited by
Tatum Ancheta
Written by
Time Out editors
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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. It also offers a lot of al fresco drinking and dining that makes it well worth the travel up to the peninsula. 

For 2021, Time Out has named the coolest neighbourhoods around the world, and Sai Kung nabs the 9th spot on the list. Explore Sai Kung today and find out for yourself why it is the coolest district to visit now in 852. Below is a guide to the best places to see, things to do, and where to eat and drink in the Sai Kung. 

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EAT DRINK SHOP THINGS TO DO STAY

What's Sai Kung known for?
Sai Kung is known as the 'back garden of Hong Kong' because of its verdant surroundings, beaches, and islands that offer unparalleled views of the city. 

Why do the locals love it?
Sai Kung may not be the most convenient neighbourhood to get to, but its gorgeous beaches and picturesque hikes make it well worth the effort. Sai Kung also offers some excellent outdoor water sports, including see-through kayaking and snorkelling. And that’s not all. The peninsula is home to some amazing al fresco seafood restaurants and authentic local desserts too. And with HKwalls annual street art festival giving the area a colourful makeover with 18 new murals this year, the creative spirit and street art culture is well and truly alive here.  

How do I get to Sai Kung? 
There are no MTR stations that will get you directly to Sai Kung, but you can take a minibus, bus, or taxi. Take a minibus to Sai Kung from Hang Hau MTR Station (minibus 101M), Mong Kok MTR Station (red minibus – it will say Sai Kung on the front), or Choi Hung MTR Station (minibus 1A or bus 92). The endpoint for all buses is the Sai Kung bus terminus right by the seafront near the pier. For minibuses, the stop is across the main road from the main bus terminus, and for those who arrive from Mong Kok the terminal stop is at the sports centre. 

Map of Sai Kung

If you only do one thing 
If you only have a day to visit, explore the town centre. You can walk along the pier, dine at the seafood restaurants, drink at the cafes, and shop at the local boutique shops. 

Where to eat
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Where to eat

Sai Kung is a seaside neighbourhood, so it should come as no surprise that there are some top quality seafood restaurants here. Restaurants with fish tanks and water-filled displays of freshly caught seafood line this street, allowing hungry diners to pick and choose what they want to eat before settling down inside. Many of the restaurants here also have a killer harbour view, so you can enjoy the sea breeze while you dig into scrumptious, made-to-order seafood dishes. From local eateries to Michelin-starred restaurants offering the freshest catch of the day, the promenade provides a lot of options for seafood dining. One of our top picks is the family-run Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant overlooking Sai Kung harbour. This Michelin-recommended restaurant will cook up the catch that you bought from the junks floating in the harbour, or you can take your pick from the tanks filled with a wide array of live seafood like fish, molluscs, crabs, lobsters, and other sea creatures.  

Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant I Photograph: TA

Another must-try is Loaf On which holds the distinction of being a Michelin starred local Cantonese seafood restaurant in the area. Order the mantis shrimp, crispy fried squid, razor clams and scallops with garlic, and their popular fried tofu with salt and pepper. You can also buy your own seafood from the local fish dealers, and the restaurant will take care of the cooking.

Bakso I Photograph: Calvin Sit

For Indonesian flavours, head to Bakso eatery, named after the bakso meatball, which is a street food popular in Indonesia. The restaurant is inspired by the owner's memories in Bali where warm meatball soup would be their go-to after surfing all day under the sun. The restaurant has an al fresco lounge with scenic views of the waterfront. 

Miss Hui Homemade Steamed Bun I Photograph: Calvin Sit

Miss Hui Homemade Steamed Bun is one of the oldest shops in Sai Kung, selling traditional steamed buns and desserts. The shop offers chewy buns made with red beans, sesame, peanuts, and green tea. Drop by early to avoid the long queues, especially during weekends.

Sawaddee Thailand I Photograph: Calvin Sit

For mouthwatering Thai dishes, head to Sawaddee Thailand. The eatery offers authentic Thai fare at wallet-friendly prices. The must-try dishes on the menu include green curry, curried fish with rice, chicken or pork chop with rice, pomelo salad, and satay. And for those looking for Western dishes, Padstow Restaurant & Bar near Hebe Haven is one of the best options. Its location near the pier makes this venue a popular joint for sailing enthusiasts. Indulge in modern British fares, including steaks, sausages, black pudding, and signature pies made with IPA or stout beer barley pastry. Drop by here on weekends to enjoy hearty traditional prime rib-eye roast that pairs perfectly well with pints of St Mungo Lager served exclusively in Padstow. 

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Where to drink 
Photograph: Calvin Sit

Where to drink 

If you're looking for a hot cuppa, there are many coffee shops in Sai Kung to explore. 

Head to Little Cove Espresso, an Australian coffee shop serving bulletproof coffee or organic colas that is great to pair with the healthy and Instagram-worthy Mediterranean dishes on the menu. Stop by for the nourishing grub and good coffee on their comfy couches. 

Cozy Coffee I Photograph: AC

One of the recent openings in Sai Kung is the open-air, two-story cafe Cozy Coffee located by the main road leading into the town centre. The light-coloured decor on the ground floor attracts the post-beach crowd – and their pets – on the weekends, and the second floor's library theme makes for a more relaxed ambience. Speaking of pets, Sai Kung is a great place to bring your pooch as there are a lot of welcoming areas for your furry friends. A popular cafe for dog lovers is Shiba Taro Cafe. Here you'll find Taro the Shiba Inu, who welcomes his guests with a warm and friendly smile. Bring your pooch along and enjoy the range of doggy-themed goods on offer and check out the Shiba-themed products on display.

Taro the Shiba Inu I Photograph: Calvin Sit

If you love dim sum, don't miss Nowhere Man, drop by and relax here for a nice cuppa, enjoy the good vibes and dig into their unique and innovative dishes, which include Hong Kong-style pork san choi bao ($68) to deep-fried duck spring rolls ($48). 

The Bottle Shop

For craft beer enthusiasts, visit The Bottle Shop, a beer store where you can buy artisan brews, exotic craft beers, and ciders sourced from across five continents. Get something hoppy, malty, dark, fruity or barrel-aged and enjoy it by the nearby seating area or bring it with you for your beachside picnic in Sai Kung. For drinks and grub, take a seat at plant-based resto-bar 2084, get some Asian-inspired plant-based tapas and enjoy two for $55 on Italian house wines and Bavarian lager during happy hour from Monday to Friday, 3pm to 7pm. And if cheese and wine pairing is more your speed, grab one of the few seats at the cheese store The Dutch Cheese and More overlooking the harbour, sip on wine or beer while nibbling on strong-aged, smoked, or chilli and pesto goudas.

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Where to shop
Oelili I Photograph: Calvin Sit

Where to shop

Go around window shopping at the local boutique shops, handicraft stores, Japanese grocery stores, and zero-waste stores in Sai Kung centre. At Oelili, you'll find 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. Japanese-inspired store, Final Fragments offers clothes, handcrafted bags, and other items (zakka) that focus on timelessness, rather than the newest trend of the season. The clothing here is made from natural materials, such as cotton, linen, wood, rattan, and iron, with basic designs and simple cutting in a laid-back, loose style for full comfort. Another popular haunt in the area is BeCandle, one of our favourite fragrance candle stores in Hong Kong. Each product sold here is handcrafted, so make sure to visit and pick up one of their scented or decorative candles, or learn first-hand about their craft and make your own candle at one of their bespoke candle workshops. 

BeCandle I Photograph: TA

Lilidays I Photograph: TA

For other lifestyle products, you can also peruse the display of Lilidays store. They have everything from skincare, candles, essential oils, engraved whisky tumbler, bags, jewellery, houseware, and bottled beverages like umeshu, mead, and ales from local and imported brands. 

Live Zero I Photograph: Calvin Sit

For eco-conscious shoppers, don't miss Live Zero, Hong Kong’s first zero-waste grocery store offering a comprehensive range of eco-friendly, plastic-free products including stainless steel straws, beeswax food wraps, bamboo toothbrushes, water bottles, and more. The shop also allows you to buy organic food and ingredients in bulk which includes flour, nuts, dried fruit, quinoa, oats, among others.

For authentic French products, drop by at Le Magasin and get your shopping cart filled with soaps, appetizers, condiments, cold cuts, cheese, organic and biodynamic wines. If you happen to catch owner Jean Charles in the store, he'll be happy to assist you with the best wine recommendations. 

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Things to do and places to see
Tin Hau Temple Sai Kung I Photograph: Calvin Sit

Things to do and places to see

With HKwalls annual street art festival wrapping up in Sai Kung this year, you can now add a street art scavenger hunt to your itinerary and tour the 18 HKwalls murals in the neighbourhood, which will take you around one and a half hours. Use this map to locate all the murals or book a private walking tour with Wanderlust Walks' lead storyteller Alexandra Unrein so you can get a better insight into each graffiti and street art.

2021 HKwalls mural I Photograph: TA

Take a 15-minute boat ride from Sai Kung pier to reach Yim Tin Tsai, a small island initially populated in the 1740s by a family from Guangdong. The descendants of these people developed salt farms on the island and made their living selling the salt – which explains the island’s name as it literally translates to ‘little salt field’. With competition from rapidly growing economies in the 1960s and 1970s, the industry began to decline, and villagers left the now derelict island. In honour of Yim Tin Tsai's rich heritage, a restoration project was launched in 2013 to restore the fields to their former glory. Yim Tin offers beautiful sights to see including a historic church, a beautifully restored school, old houses, and of course, salt pans.

Yim Tin Tsai I Photograph: Calvin Sit

A minute walk from Yim Tin Tsai Pier will lead you to St Joseph’s Chapel, built in 1890 in Romanesque style by visiting PIME missionaries who developed a strong relationship with the Hakka Chan clan. The chapel has since been named a UNESCO-listed heritage building as well as a Grade II historic building. Next to the chapel is Yim Tin Tsai Heritage Exhibition Centre, a visitor’s centre designed to celebrate Yim Tin Tsai’s rich heritage. The venue houses a small collection of the village's historical artefacts from ceramics and homeware to everyday items. 

St Joseph’s Chapel I Photograph: Calvin Sit

Tin Hau temples were common features in the fishing villages of Hong Kong, and Sai Kung is home to the oldest Tin Hau temples in the city. One popular attraction is the Tin Hau Temple located just off Po Tung Road, a Grade II-listed building, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. And one of the more prominent and older temples in Sai Kung is Joss House Bay Temple near Clearwater Bay which is a Grade I historic building. A rock next to the temple bears an inscription dating back to the year 1274. Meanwhile, Leung Shuen Wan in Sai Kung East Country Park houses a Grade III historic building, a Tin Hau temple that was built by fishermen in 1741.    

Sai Kung East Country Park I Photograph: Shutterstock

Sai Kung peninsula is home to gorgeous beaches and picturesque hiking trails which make it well worth the trip outside Hong Kong's concrete jungle. Here you can do a lot of outdoor water sports, including see-through kayaking and snorkelling. One of the most accessible beaches in Sai Kung is Trio Beach hidden behind the Hebe Haven harbour that can be reached via a 30-minute hike from Hebe Haven (Pak Sha Wan). The beach area has showers and lifeguard towers on-site, and also offers a few beach snack stalls so you can refuel while lingering by the beach. Another option is to head down to Tai Long Sai Wan, Cantonese for ‘Big Wave Bay’, and while away at any of its four beaches with the quieter one being Sai Wan. Located on Sharp Island is Hap Mun Bay Beach (Half Moon Bay) which is within the UNESCO Global Geopark. The beach is small but features the region’s unique rock formations that offer picturesque scenery. The beach area provides changing rooms, toilets, and barbeque pits, so you can make the most of your visit. 

Sai Kung I Photograph: Shutterstock

For an enjoyable adventure, try catching the breathtaking sunrise at Hong Kong's largest reservoir, High Island Reservoir East Dam. A 30-minute taxi from Sai Kung Town will take you to the area, or you can hike your way here before daybreak to catch the spectacular sunrise views and the picturesque clear turquoise lake. Head down the slope and walk along the High Island Geo Trail and take tons of pictures amidst the hexagonal rock columns at Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark. 

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Where to stay
Photograph: Courtesy WM Hotel

Where to stay

There are a few short-term rooms or entire house rentals in Sai Kung district which you can book via Airbnb. But for hotel amenities, The Pier is your best option. Ideally situated on Pak Sha Wan – also referred to as Hebe Haven, a harbour in Sai Kung for yachts and boats – The Pier Hotel is valued for its location and urban amenities nestled in 'the back garden' of Hong Kong. The hotel houses 40 modern rooms and suites with balconies overlooking a scenic view of the pier which always provide a perfect backdrop for the 'gram. It's the ideal place to stay when hiking through the country parks, exploring beaches around Sai Kung, or when visiting for the biggest summer regatta in Hong Kong. 

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Want to know which neighbourhood around the world made the cut on Time Out's 49 coolest neighbourhoods in the world? Visit this link.

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From Hong Kong's very own mini Venice to smack bang in the middle of the hustle and bustle, our city is a combination of different neighbourhoods of all shapes and sizes, with something for everyone. Follow our guide and start exploring the city – good luck!

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