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Lin Ma Hang mine
Photograph: Courtesy cc/flickr/ystsoi

13 Beautiful places you won't believe are actually in Hong Kong

See it to believe it

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong

Our city is instantly recognisable by its claustrophobic high-rises, neon street signs, and the iconic Victoria Harbour, but there are also plenty of lesser-known scenes and streetscapes that might surprise you to discover. From Roman baths to country parks, stunning mountainscapes to a man-made lake, these scenic spots will whisk you away and make you forget about the hectic city – even if it's just a for a little while. 

RECOMMENDED: Looking to get in some exercise while experiencing Hong Kong's outdoors? Check out some of our favourite cycling routes in Hong Kong.

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

Places you won't believe are in Hong Kong

Po Pin Chau

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Po Pin Chau – located near the coast of the High Island Reservoir East Dam – bears an uncanny resemblance to the Stuðlagil Canyon in Iceland. Though our version of the columnar basalt canyon is in no way as grand, this natural wonder, formed by wave erosion over a long period of time, is very much a mesmerising sight to behold.

Lin Ma Hang caves

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The abandoned lead mine in Lin Ma Hang will easily make you forget about our bustling metropolis. Located in the Frontier Closed Area near Hong Kong's northern border, Lin Ma Hang was once a restricted area that only those with special permits were allowed to enter. Restrictions were eventually lifted in 2016 – though access to Lin Ma Hang Road, which led up to the village, is still restricted – which attracted many local hikers to explore the area and discover places such as the Lin Ma Hang mine. Mind you, it's not the easiest place to get to, but it does feel truly satisfying (cue the Indiana Jones theme song) once you're inside the magnificent structure. Some areas of Lin Ma Hang and sections of the mine are still closed off to the public, so make sure you do plenty of research beforehand.


Kam Tin Mural Village

As part of a community revitalisation project in 2017, Kam Tin Village had a total revamp where different artists and volunteers covered the village with all sorts of vibrant wall art. There are numerous murals dotted all around, with some still in the process of completion. It takes a bit of time to find all the colourful pieces of artwork in the area, but the exploration will make you feel as though you're strolling through a beautiful small town in Europe

Pineapple Hill

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is one of the world's most famous landmarks – but did you know that Hong Kong also has its own mini Grand Canyon? Located to the northwest of Tuen Mun, Pineapple Hill has been shaped by nature over many years, resulting in lots of interesting ridges and dips. The mini canyon is also a picturesque spot to catch the sunset, making it a popular place for an Insta-pic. 


Cape D’Aguilar

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Like a page out of a storybook, Cape D’Aguilar provides a picturesque escape from the intensity of the city’s urban environment. The Cape’s lighthouse isn’t just the oldest one of its kind still standing in the SAR, it’s also among the earliest colonial structures to be built here, completed in 1875. The declared monument and its magnificent ocean views make for a stunning postcard-worthy photo.

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.


Bishop Hill

Located in a 4,300sq m site at Bishop Hill in Shek Kip Mei, Sham Shui Po, the Romanesque cistern featuring underground chambers with 100 brick pillars and water pipes was discovered on December 28, 2020, while the Water Supplies Department was clearing the site in preparation to hand over to the Lands Department for other use. 

Reservoirs in Hong Kong were built after World War II, but the Bishop Hill cistern shows a water pipe with '1909' written on it, which dates the site during the pre-war period. Local historians believe that the century-old Romanesque underground reservoir could be a valuable historical relic to Kowloon’s development. 

Shek Kwu Chau

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.


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.


Basalt Island

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

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.


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 what 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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