Hong Kong is a city full of diversity but many travellers isolate themselves to Hong Kong Island. However, the two other regions ‘Kowloon’ and ‘New Territories’ offer up numerous surprises.
Want to be locked in a room for 45 minutes and pay for said privilege? It sounds crazy but escape rooms are extremely fun. Within a time limit solve puzzles in fiendishly themed rooms all in the hopes of escaping with your life. The escape room craze is growing exponentially and becoming more accessible. If sliding down a vampire’s coffin or unearthing body parts in a fridge is your thing then grab your friends and lock yourself in a room. One of the best places to experience this sadistic activity is in Yau Ma Tei at Lost Escape which has a large waiting area and friendly staff.
Kwai Fong Market
Cheap eats always taste the best because when you have more dollars in your pocket your taste buds cheer and a little known market in Kwai Fong (Kwai Chung Plaza) is filled with scrumptious snacks.
Indoors, in a shopping plaza a host of cheap food stalls operate. Most congregate on the upper floors but all floors have some food. Fresh juices cost around 12HKD and they have sublime favours such as dragon fruit and chocolate. Savoury crepes are warm and hearty and noodles doused in cheese will become an instant favourite. There is a wide range of snacks on offer including desserts and if your waistline can handle it, head to the ground floor where you can bag up tons of sweeties at the startling cheap price of 3HKD per 100g. A bag of the same weight purchased on The Peak would cost three times as much! After all that eating, quickly scour the second floor for the vendor selling waffle lollypops as their takoyaki (octopus ball) waffle is exquisite (Haru & P)
Hiking at High Island Reservoir
Hong Kong may be a concrete jungle with the most skyscrapers in one city but the majority of the former British colony is lush landscape. Take note and go hiking for the day to visit unspoilt beauty.
Visitors and locals alike know about Dragon’s Back; a hiking trail on Hong Kong Island. However, a hike less frequented is one situated at High Island Reservoir. The start of the hike positions you at High Island East Dam where waves crash against the stone pillars. You will feel transported to a land reminiscent of Game of Thrones. Aptly mentioned, High Island is home to hexagonal rocks just like Northern Ireland, the location for Game of Thrones. The hike is then steady, passing herds of cows whilst walking on a narrow cliff edge. Descending 100m will reward you with an isolated beach for you to sample the waves or camp. For those who have yet to feel their legs burn then continue to climb up a never ending 314m past pavilions, where you then snake around the top of dominating hills with only rocks and ocean visible. At the end of the hike take the mini-bus back to Sai Kung and indulge in deep fried Oreos – a well-deserved treat (Chip in Fish & Chips’).
Dolphins are majestic sea dwellers that have stunned audiences in captivity with their grace and athleticism. However, why watch in an auditorium at Ocean Park on Hong Kong Island when you can witness them freely in their natural habitat. The Chinese White Dolphin (a.k.a Pink Dolphin) call Hong Kong waters their home, so rally over to Tai O and join an inexpensive boat tour. The tour is short but is worth doing to see a pod of dolphins frolicking in the open water. The experienced boat men will take you close enough to the creatures so that you can view them without disturbance.
Be sure to visit sooner rather than later as sadly they are a dying breed. If you’ve left your sea legs at home don’t despair as Tai O has a path that will elevate you to a short hiking trail; leaving you next to panoramas of the ocean. It is here that you can look down and witness the dolphins whilst remaining land bound. Be careful though as Tai O has some very big spiders!
Make your way north and you will arrive at Sha Tin, home of the 10,000 Buddha’s Monastery. Supplement your trip here by making your way to the river and renting a bike. Pedal along the riverbank on the designated cycle paths and breathe in the fresh air. Follow the path all the way to Tai Po. Not to be confused with Tai O, Tai Po offers a different splendour. Head to Tai Po Waterfront Park and fly a kite alongside the local residents. If kite flying is too gentle, then venture into the Insect House and inspect the creepy crawlies on display. If enjoying a view is your only desire, ascend the Lookout Tower and gaze out onto blue waters and watch the wake boarders and water skiers.
Hong Kong Skyline
Tired of seeing the same skyline on your Instagram feed? Then abandon Central Pier in favour of seeking out different perspectives of the Hong Kong skyline.
Suggestion one is to head to West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade. The well-kept park that is also the location of the music festival Clockenflap offers effortless views. To one side you can see the mega buildings of Hong Kong Island and to the other endless ocean vistas. Come at sundown and enjoy the reflections of vibrant orange and red hues.
A second perspective can be achieved at Domain, a shopping mall in Yau Tong. This overlooked area of Hong Kong sits perfectly next to the harbour. Ride the escalators up to the rooftop garden and gaze out onto Hong Kong Island to witness a less cliché view that focuses on the eastern side of the Island.
Lastly, Kwun Tong has a newly built promenade with music installations and comfortable seating. Come at night to witness the neon city light up. The artistic light displays from the ICC Tower can also be seen from this area making this a wondrous and soothing place to absorb in the sight of Asia’s World City.
It is time to get wet and head back to Sai Kung. Sha Ha Beach has affordable rentals that make kayaking in Sai Kung convenient and with many inlets and islands waiting to be explored your day will be fulfilling. An isolated and tiny village (Yim Tin Tsai) awaits those willing to paddle far enough out where modern advances have failed to clutter this Catholic island. On the return paddle back, stop off and picnic or scavenge for shells at the numerous beaches. If kayaking isn’t for you, opt instead for a paddle board or windsurf.
High Class Drinking
In a cosmopolitan city like Hong Kong, the nightlife is a priority to the overworked citizens. Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and Wan Chai are all twilight hubs on Hong Kong Island, but for something a little special go to the top of the ICC and sip curious cocktail concoctions above the clouds in the world’s highest bar. Ozone Bar allows you to witness the city of Hong Kong from the top of the world, but don’t forget your wallet. Mile high drinking leads to premium prices.
Hong Kong Wetland Park
Twitchers can rejoice as Hong Kong has some pristine bird watching real estate. In an area far outside of the hustle and bustle of Mong Kok is the beautiful Wetland Park. Wildlife has been given a chance to thrive so expect to see mudskippers and vibrant butterflies. Hong Kong Wetland Park allows you to wander peacefully through foliage where city problems can be forgotten about. This place is great for children as well with numerous exhibits including the famed Pui Pui; a crocodile that was captured in the Shan Pui River.
Nan Lian Gardens
Sometimes a little peace and serenity is all that is needed. Nan Lian Gardens is a traditional Chinese garden that will leave your aura positively healed. The trickling of water, solitary pavilions and chirps of distant birds make this a great place to unwind from a chaotic day in Hong Kong. Juxtaposed against the elegant Tang Dynasty buildings are the colossal and towering apartment blocks of modern local residents. The focal point of the gardens is the octagonal shaped pond that gives rise to the Pavilion of Absolute Perfection which is connected to the main pathways by two dominating red bridges.
Bounce is an indoor trampoline park that will guarantee to leave a smile on your face. Throughout the 80 connected trampolines, Bounce offers something for everyone. From those wanting an alternative to a gym session, to those wanting to practise their acrobatic flare and to children who just want to jump like Tigger, Bounce is the place to go. A great activity for those wishing to escape the 100% humidity or thunderous downpours; an up and down experience will be the doctors’ orders.
Follow me on Instagram: Arik_Dane
To see a edited / published version of this article click here.