Off The Tourist Trail – Hong Kong’s Top 5 Hidden Gems

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.

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My Top Places To Stay in Hong Kong

Mid Range

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.

Luxury

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.

Budget

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!

Backpacking

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

Cheung Chau

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/

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Victoria Peak

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

hong-kong-harbour-from-victoria-peak-at-night-pic-hktb

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

http://www.discoverhongkong.com/uk/see-do/tours-walks/guided-tours/victoria-harbour/dukling-harbour-cruise.jsp

duk lingDai 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

Dai Pai Dong Hong KongWalled Villages

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

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Want more on Hong Kong? You can read why it’s my favourite city here

8 thoughts on “Off The Tourist Trail – Hong Kong’s Top 5 Hidden Gems”

  1. Hi Tom,

    I’m going to HK with my wife and 9 year old daughter. THinking 3 -4 days. Would the Yes Inn be okay for the 3 of us. I guess I’m asking if it’s a family-friendly atmosphere? Also, we were at Disney in Orlando a few months ago, would Disney HK be a big letdown for our girl after that? What attractions in your opinion are particularly suitable for a family with a young girl?

    1. Hi thanks for stopping by the blog i appreciate it!
      Personally I think the Yes Inn would be ok its clean in a safe and quieter area and its not a rowdy hotel or anything. However its very cramped so the 3 of you might feel claustrophobic all in one room. Depending on your budget the YMCA Salisbury has some good rooms which will give you some more space.

      I don’t have children myself so the next questions is a little harder to answer but If you have just been to Disney in Orlando which in my opinion is the greatest park and was Walt’s masterpiece as such then I wouldn’t bother at all with Disney in HK there is no comparison!! Instead go to Ocean Park http://www.oceanpark.com.hk
      Ngong Ping http://www.np360.com.hk Hong Kong wetlands park http://www.wetlandpark.com and the Zoological & Botanical gardens http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/parks/hkzbg/en/index.php

      All of the above will be very enjoyable for a child and be much better options than Disney. As a family The Peak is very enjoyable too but of course Im sure you are heading there anyway 🙂

  2. Hi Tom,

    I’ve found your blog post really helpful, thanks! I’m going to HK next week with 5 other backpackers (all in our twenties), I was just wondering if you knew of any budget places/areas to drink?

    Cheers

    1. Hi Harriet,

      Thanks for visiting the blog I appreciate it 🙂 There are lots of budget places to eat in and around the Kowloon area you will also find cheap street food all over HK if you are prepared to eat it. In my opinion this is the best budget eating!! For drinking if you mean alcohol then the only way to get a cheap drink is get a few bottles from the 7-11 and drink them in Victoria Park or something. HK nightlife is very expensive!

  3. This is great. Hong Kong is such a confusing place if its the first time you’ve ever been so I defo think you need some insider info!
    I’m glad you recommend staying away from Chungking Mansions. I considered staying there and kind of felt like I didn’t get the true backpacker experience because I didn’t but I think I’m glad I stayed away now!

    1. Hey Monica,

      Thanks for the comments personally I hate Chungking Mansions but I do know a lot of people who stayed there and said they didnt mind it. I think they key thing is its ok perhaps if you are in a group but no good if you’re a solo traveller.

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