5 easy day trips from Hong Kong
With its colorful markets, bustling tea houses, stratospheric skyscrapers, and multicultural cuisine, Hong Kong is one of Asia’s most exciting cities. But after a few days of crowded streets (like in picture on top) and frenetic MTR rides, you might need a break. Luckily, some 230 outlying islands and a high-speed link to the mainland provide a surplus of nearby locales ripe for exploration. Whether you are ready for a change of pace or simply keen to venture beyond the city limits, these easy day trips should do the trick.
Just a 40-minute ferry ride from Central, Cheung Chau is a world away from the hustle-bustle. Though beloved by locals for its open-air seafood restaurants, travelers will also want to explore the age-old temples, Mini Great Wall and Cheung Po Tsai Cave. Catch a glimpse of Hong Kong’s past with a ramble through the quiet, car-free streets or head to Kwun Yam Wan Beach for a day of sand and sun. You can easily cover the island on foot or rent a bike from one of the many stores peppering Praya Road, with hourly rates starting at HK$10. Leave time to devour seafood by the pier; the colorful harbor, brimming with junk boats, houseboats, and fishing trawlers, is a landmark in itself.
While at first glance Macau may seem like one big gambling den, there’s more than meets the eye in this Chinese-Portuguese enclave. Unless you’re keen to hit the slots in an over-the-top casino, skip straight to the spellbinding Ruins of St. Paul’s Church, A-Ma Temple, Guia Hill, Taipa Food Street, and the charming, cobblestoned village of Coloane in the southern tip of the Taipa peninsula. You can easily flood an itinerary with cultural sites, entertainment, and top-notch Portuguese cuisine, so consider staying overnight.
Tai Long Wan
Dubbed the “back garden of Hong Kong,” Sai Kung is a lush oasis in the northeastern New Territories that’s popular for hiking, fishermen’s villages, seafood, and four pristine beaches. One beyond the next along Tai Long Wan (meaning, Big Wave Bay), the beaches are accessible only via boat or a 20- to 90-minute hike (the longer you hike, the better the beach). Both routes offer incredible views, think sprawling coastlines hugged by rugged mountain peaks and require an early morning start. From Central, take an hour-long MTR ride to Diamond Hill, followed by a short cab to Sai Wan Pavillion. Follow signs for hiking trails or negotiate a sampan ride. Though this idyllic escape is rarely overrun thanks to the taxing trek, expect to share sand with about a dozen hikers and surfers on a sunny summer day.
The gateway to mainland China, Shenzhen is one of the most underappreciated day trips from Hong Kong. Though there’s nothing wrong with spending the day shopping for knock-offs or relaxing at an incredibly inexpensive day spa, check out Queen Spa if this is your thing, don’t miss out on Shenzhen’s quirky attractions and tasty nosh. Founded in 1989, the Dafen Oil Painting Village is famous for its startling replicas of oil paintings from the likes of Monet and Van Gogh. For lunch, make like those in the know and head to Xiangmihu Holiday Village, where you’ll want to roll up your sleeves, dig into some savory BBQ, and throw back a frosty brew. To fulfill your lifetime-kitsch quota, you need only to swing through the Windows of the World amusement park, where you’ll find pint-sized reproductions of practically every international landmark.
Tian Tan Buddha
The rolling green mountains, traditional villages, and unspoiled beaches of Hong Kong’s largest outlying island are a breath of fresh air. The basic Lantau itinerary should include the Wisdom Path, Ngong Ping Village, and Tian Tan Buddha, looming atop a mountain of 268 steps. Though crawling with tourists, the sites are worth a visit and can be reached via MTR, followed by a picturesque, 20-minute cable car. For something less predictable, re-route in favor of Tai O. This vibrant fishermen’s village on Lantau’s west coast is home to endangered pink dolphins, as well as the Tanka people, who have lived in traditional stilt houses for several generations. You’ll also find some of the area’s best seafood, with closet-sized shops hawking the local specialty: dried shrimp paste.
Where to stay
Hotel ICON is a beautiful 5-star hotel located in Tsim Sha Tsui East, just steps from the famous Hong Kong seafront promenade. Its exceptional location allows guests to be just minutes from some of Hong Kong’s most famous attractions such as the Museum of History and Science. The Hotel ICON offers a combination of comfort and modernity among its 262 rooms and suites, all furnished with taste and individual style and accuracy. All rooms are spacious and elegant and most offer incredible views of Victoria Harbor.
For business travelers, the hotel offers a conference room where it is possible to arrange a meeting or conferences for up to 500 people. Hotel ICON offers three restaurants offering oriental and western cuisine. For those who want to fill their free time, it is possible to relax at the spa, swim in the heated pool or keep fit in the gym. Thanks to its traditional Asian hospitality and modern comforts, the Hotel ICON is undoubtedly ideal for all types of travelers, both for business and leisure travelers.