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Stunning places you won't believe exist in Hong Kong

See it to believe it
Basalt Island
Wild Hong Kong
By Dorothy So |
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Think you know Hong Kong? Think again. While our city is instantly recognisible by its claustrophobic high-rises, neon street signs and the iconic Victoria Harbour, there are also plenty of lesser-known scenes and streetscapes that might surprise you to discover. From a Roman bath in Shek Kwu Chau to a Global Unesco Geopark, and from a man-made lake near Hong Kong Disneyland to stunning mountainscapes that look straight out of a fantasy movie, these scenic spots all exist in our SAR even if that doesn’t seem remotely possible. If you don’t believe us, then go ahead and check these places out for yourself.

Stumbled upon a gorgeous hidden gem? Tag your photos with #timeouthk to be featured

RECOMMENDED: Looking for more picturesque spots? Check out the most Instagrammable places in Hong Kong or even the most beautiful staircases that are worth a shot.

Places you won't believe are in Hong Kong

Tai Mo Shan

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Hong Kong is 70 percent green but it’s still always shocking when we see pictures like the above. With its rolling hills marked by just one single road, this aerial shot of Tai Mo Shan is a reminder of just how much more there is to our city besides skyscrapers and shopping malls.

Shek Kwu Chau

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Few know about this Roman-style bathing pool in Hong Kong, let alone the fact that it’s part of a drug rehabilitation centre that sits on a manmade island. What’s even weirder, is the fact that this classic structure – featuring colonnades and stone statues, many built by recovering addicts – is surrounded by a mishmash of temples and decorative features inspired by traditional Chinese mythology. Unfortunately, if you want to witness this (bizarre) example of east-meets-west architecture, the island is closed to the public and requires a special permit to access.

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Tuen Mun Light Rail Station

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Before you say ‘that’s a picture of Japan’, let us assure you that this snap was taken right here in Hong Kong. At the Tuen Mun Light Rail platform, to be exact. Sure, photographer Stevengraphhk’s infrared image makes it seem like we’re staring at this scene from behind sakura-tinted glasses, but with its angular, almost toy-like appearance the light rail vehicles do look like something out of a Studio Ghibli film, especially as they snake through the more foliage-heavy stations of the New Territories.

Tsing Yi Park

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Autumn here is most often associated with mooncakes and lanterns but for an increasing number of nature lovers and photo enthusiasts, this short season is also the time to go out and enjoy the fall foliage. At Tsing Yi Park, for example, towering trees go from a verdant green to a wonderful red and gold. Surrounding a tranquil lake, they make for a postcard-perfect snap that looks more like autumn in New York than Hong Kong. 

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Lantau Peak

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Aside from the obvious health benefits, hiking in Hong Kong can often lead you to some truly breathtaking views. This ethereal shot by eco-tour operator Wild Hong Kong is the perfect case in point. Taken from Lantau Peak, which is wrapped in morning mist, this captured scene almost seems like something out of a JRR Tolkien novel.

Big Wave Bay

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You don’t have to travel to Boracay for pristine, azure waters. Big Wave Bay, or Tai Long Wan, which sits on the east coast of Sai Kung is a clear-seas, white-sand paradise that doesn’t require a plane to get to. Granted, you will have to do a bit of a hike to get there, but it’s worth the trek to get to this relatively untouched oasis.

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Basalt Island

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Part of the Global Unesco Geopark, Basalt Island is one of Hong Kong’s most spectacular natural wonders. The ridged rock formations date back to the Cretaceous period, around 140 million years ago. Aside from its ridged surface, sculpted by the wind, waves and sand, the island is also home to extraordinary sea caves and marine life that will make you wonder if you really are in Hong Kong.

Shing Mun Reservoir

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Pick any spot in Shing Mun Reservoir and chances are it’ll look nothing like the Hong Kong you know. From the lush greenery that surrounds the aqua-blue body of water to the steel bridge and valve tower that stand out like ancient relics, there’s plenty of interesting things to see here, making it the perfect destination for a leisurely stroll or Instagram excursion.

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Inspiration Lake

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To be fair, every part of Disneyland looks otherworldly in Hong Kong, but the Inspiration Lake Recreation Centre, with its New England-style architecture and 12-hectare man-made lagoon, looks particularly at odds with that we imagine when we think of our metropolis. Despite being often overrun with picnickers and people taking their graduation photos, Inspiration Lake is large enough for you to still enjoy some relative peace and quiet.

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