After one year in Hong Kong, I have grown to love this crazy city and discovered many amazing places to see and things to do. If you’re ever in Hong Kong, here are the top things I recommend doing:
1. The best beaches
My favourite beaches on Hong Kong Island are Shek O and Deep Water Bay, both easily accessible via buses and the MTR. Shek O Village is also really nice to just wander around (and have yummy Thai food!), while Deep Water Bay is close to Repulse Bay’s many restaurants.
I’d also recommend getting a ferry to Cheung Chau island and going to Kwum Yam Wan beach. It’s more remote than the main beach on the island, less crowded and more beautiful in my opinion. There’s also a really cool little bar just before the beach with great views and great beer.
If you have a full day ahead of you, hike to Tai Long Wan beach. It’s one of the hardest beaches to access but the white sand and clear water are completely worth it.
If you can, avoid going to the beach on a Sunday as that’s most helpers’ day off so the beaches can get pretty crowded.
2. The touristy things worth doing
The Peak is definitely worth a visit – you just can’t beat that view of the Hong Kong skyline. However, you don’t have to pay the fee to go up to the viewing platform. Instead if you head for the top of the mall that’s right next to it, The Peak Galleria, or even if you head down towards Old Peak Road, you can access other great views for free. I’ve also recently taken to walking up to the Peak from HKU or Sai Ying Pun. Most of the walk up is on the ‘morning trail’ which is a really lovely walk often enjoyed by locals and expats alike, with their children and dogs.
Go for a wander around Sheung Wan: Hollywood Road, Aberdeen Street, Cat Street and Man Mo Temple are definitely worth checking out. You’ll find lots of antique shops, stalls selling souvenirs and trinkets and cool coffee shops.
I didn’t have the chance to go to Ocean Park unfortunately but all my friends who did absolutely loved it. There’s lots of good rides, and even the cable car to go from one half of the park to the other is pretty thrilling. You can also see animals in their zoo and aquarium, including Chinese pandas.
Chi Lin Nunnery turned out to be one of my favourite places in Hong Kong! The gardens are very peaceful and really nice for a wander on the weekend, and the nunnery is pretty impressive. There’s also a vegetarian restaurant behind a waterfall.
You can also take the Star Ferry from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the cheapest and nicest ways to get a great view of both sides. I’d recommend doing it at nighttime too for a cool view of the HK lights.
I really enjoyed the day trips I took to Sai Kung in the New Territories. The beaches are very pretty and the views gorgeous. You can walk along the pier and watch all the fishermen sell their fresh produce to passersby – and even buy some yourself and bring it to any of the seafood restaurants nearby so they can prepare it for you. You can also rent kayaks and paddle boards for the day on the beach at very reasonable prices.
Stanley is possibly the most European place in Hong Kong but still worth a visit. The walk along the waterfront to Blake Pier is lovely, with lots of bars and restaurants if you’re feeling hungry. Ma Hang Park is a really nice park to walk around, and actually bigger than you’d think. The beach is also a nice place to spend the afternoon.
Happy Valley will always be special to me as I lived there for half of my time in Hong Kong. Just below Causeway Bay, this peaceful little bubble is a far cry from the shopping craziness of Causeway Bay. I loved going for a walk around the racecourse during the day. Good places to grab drinks or food are Happy Alley coffee bar, The Art of Chinese Tit-Bits, Jules Bistro and of course Happy Valley Bar and Grill – where we pretty much spent every Friday evening for six months! I’d also recommend going for a walk along Bowen fitness trail – you don’t have to run but simply admire the stunning views of the city.
4. The islands to explore
My favourite island in Hong Kong is Cheung Chau. It’s on the smaller side, yet still has regular ferries going to and from it from Central piers. It has a stunning beach where you can practice many marine sports, and a general laid back vibe. You can also enjoy a mini hike along the mini great wall or visit one of its temples.
Lamma was the first island I discovered, and still my favourite place to go for a fresh seafood dinner. It also has great beaches, Lo So Shing being my favourite by far, and a nice walk going across the island from North to South.
Lantau is a big island and has many things to offer, beyond the airport of course. I really enjoyed hiking Sunset Peak, as it was a very different hike offering unusual views amongst old Buddhist monk houses. Discovery Bay is also nice to discover although you may run out of things to do after a couple of hours. And of course, Disneyland! I haven’t been but have heard it’s tiny compared to the other Disney parks.
I’m going to miss this crazy place! I am moving back to London early September 2017. I will still be working at HSBC Digital in Content Marketing, and look forward to this exciting new chapter of my life!