Off The Tourist Trail – Hong Kong’s Top 5 Hidden Gems
Typically a stopover destination, there is much more to discover in Hong Kong than the well trodden paths of Victoria Peak, Lantau Island, Nathan Road and Causeway Bay.
When someone mentions Hong Kong undoubtedly you think of a crowded high rise city. It may surprise you to hear that 90% of Hong Kong is rural and there are great rewards to be had by exploring beyond the usual tourist attractions.
My advice is not to ignore the obvious attractions but extend your stopover and delve deeper in Hong Kong life away from the shopping malls and city centre.
Below are my Top Picks of things to do to help you see the other side of Hong Kong life along with my favourite places to stay.
My Top Places To Stay in Hong Kong
Metro Park Hotel Causeway Bay – 148 Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay (www.metroparkhotel.com)
The Metro Park hotel is my top choice each time I’m in Hong Kong. It is excellent value, with special offers available from £65 per room per night, and in a great location near Victoria Park and the shopping opportunities of Causeway Bay. This area also doesn’t feel quite as busy as other parts of the city due to the open area of Victoria Park and the food street near the MTR(underground station) has a bit of breathing space and is nowhere near as crowded as other parts of the city.
Island Shangri-La – Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Central (http://www.shangri-la.com/hongkong/islandshangrila/)
Whilst the Peninsula is Hong Kong’s most famous hotel for luxury I actually prefer the Island Shangri-La. Hong Kong Island seems less touristy to me than the Kowloon Peninsula and this is a strong draw but the central location and the views from either the peak side or harbour side rooms really are magnificent. The Shangri-La offers fantastic service and facilities and this is reflected in the price with rooms starting from around £220 a night.
The Salisbury, YMCA of Hong Kong – 41 Salisbury Rd Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (http://www.ymcahk.org.hk/main_e.html)
Dont be put off by Hong Kong’s YMCA. The Salisbury is right next door to the Peninsula, only 2 minutes walk from the star ferry, and offers the same incredible view of the harbour at a fraction of the price. The hotel is in a good busy location and is very clean and offers good service. Standard Rooms are from around £60 a night and the magnificently priced harbour view rooms start from just £80!
Whilst famous for cheap accommodation I would always advise to steer well clear of ChungKing Mansions unless you really cant afford that extra £3 a night!
Hong Kong’s YHA sits atop Mount Davis and has great views over the harbour, it’s a really peaceful and rather remote location which can be troublesome getting to and from central with shuttle buses only operating certain hours. Dorm bed’s here are only £5-£6 a night. (http://www.yhachina.com/topic.php?channelID=13&topicID=72)
To be more central then opt for the Yes Inn. For me the Yes Inn is absolutely Hong Kong’s best hostel and guesthouse. It offers dorm beds from around £8 a night and private rooms from just £30 a night. The original hostels location is at Fortress Hill which is just 2 stops from Causeway Bay although they now offer options in Kowloon too. (www.yesinn.com)
My Top 5 Hidden Gems in Hong Kong
Fed up of the hustle and bustle of HK island and Kowloon, then escape to Cheung Chau. Just 30 minutes from Central via ferry, it’s a beautiful island which is not as busy as Lantau. There are some excellent seafood restaurants, wonderful beaches and great walks. You can also visit one of Hong Kong’s oldest temples, Pak Tai and if you’re lucky enough to be in Hong Kong during the Cheung Chau bun festival then the island should be top of your visits list. http://www.cheungchau.org/
Yes ok I know it’s not a hidden gem pretty much every single visitor goes on the Peak Tram, visits the Peak Tower and stands on the Sky Terrace. But how many actually take the time to leave this area. Forget the mass tourism of the Peak
Tower and depart the Tram and head right for an hour’s walk around the peak on Lugard Rd. It offers incredible views, tropical forests, birdlife and passes some of Hong Kong’s most expensive homes. There are three of four other walks you can do up on Victoria Peak and these are much more enjoyable than just looking at the view from the Sky Terrace or Tower so make sure you don’t miss them. http://www.thepeak.com.hk/en/1_3.asp
Duk Ling Ride
The Duk Ling is an authentic Chinese Junk restored to its original design. The Junk is owned by the Hong Kong Tourism
Board and they offer an hour’s sailing trip around the harbour for just $100HKD. It’s an incredible experience at an incredible price. You must have your passport and book your trip at the HKTB visitor centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. The HKTB offer this and many other free or inexpensive experiences in Hong Kong more details can be found here
Dai Pai Dongs
Dai Pai Dongs are the street food restaurants you can find around Hong Kong. They are practically an institution and offer fantastic food at dirt cheap prices. Many people are put off from street food for many reasons however Hong Kong’s street food is some of the best in the world so I urge you to try it. The biggest problem here is language barriers. The restaurants or stalls very rarely have menus so you are going to struggle with ordering. The best place to ease yourself into street food is around the Causeway Bay area or Graham St in Central where you will find smatterings of English spoken. If you’re brave and want some truly amazing food eat at those on Temple St, Hau Fook St or Haiphong St. The latter being popular with all the office workers at lunchtime. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai_pai_dong
In the new territories there are many walled villages that look like fortresses. These were original settlements from centuries ago made by the Hakka or Punti people some of the walls are even up to 18 feet thick. They are worth a visit to get an insight into what China was like centuries ago.
Kam Tin is one of the best areas to visit for these walled settlements and is easily reached on the MTR. Kat Hing Wai is the most famous settlement in this area and it is was built by the Punti people. They are the original settlers of Hong Kong and still live here today.
You can also visit the Sam Tung Uk Museum which is a walled village that has been declared a historical monument. It has been completely restored and you can find details on visiting here http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/culture-heritage/museums/history/sam-tung-uk-museum.jsp