If you are able to spend more than just a few days in Hong Kong then there are plenty of other things that you can see and do in addition to the main attractions mentioned in my previous blog post.
Although well known for its city, the majority of Hong Kong is actually mountains and forests and therefore offers plenty of opportunities for hiking. One of my favourite trails is the Dragon's Back hiking trail in Shek O. It is very scenic and popular with both tourists and locals. It ascends up through lush green forests and leads you to various viewpoints including the Summit of Shek O peak where you can enjoy stunning panoramic views over Shek O beach and the outlying islands. The trail begins at Shek O Road near To Tei Wan Village. It is moderately difficult with some steep ascents and took us a little over two hours to complete, including time to stop for photographs and admire the views. Bear in mind that there is nowhere to purchase food or water once you start the hike so make sure you bring plenty with you. It can get very hot along the trail in the summer months and a lot of the route is quite exposed with little to no shade.
Dragon's back hiking trail (Shek O)
Of course there are plenty of other country parks and green spaces in Hong Kong where you can hike. Lion's Rock in Lion Rock Country Park for example is another fantastic hiking destination and offers stunning views across the city from this iconic natural formation resembling a lion. To get to the trailhead, get off at Wong Tai Sin MTR station and walk past the Fat Jong Temple before entering the Lion Rock Country Park. It's a relatively short hike (a couple of hours) up to the peak just below 500m high where you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views from the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. Other popular hiking trails include Po Toi Country Trail (just off the coast of Stanley, see below), Lantau Trail on Lantau Island (a great place to watch the sunset or sunrise) and Tai Mo Shan in the New Territories (a former volcano and Hong Kong's highest peak where you can observe great views over Kowloon reservoirs and Tsuen Wan).
View from the Dragon's back hiking trail (Shek O) towards Stanley
View from the Dragon's back hiking trail over Shek O
If you love to shop and grab a bargain, Mong Kok is the place to go. Here you will find one of the most famous and popular street markets in Hong Kong: Ladies Market. Located on Tung Choi Street just down the road from Mong Kok MTR station, it is a great place to shop for clothes, shoes, bags and jewellery (although much, if not all, of the items for sale here are fakes). Don’t let that put you off though as the quality is actually pretty good. Since most of the prices here are not fixed, you are welcome to haggle to bring the price down and get yourself the best deal. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, even just visiting here is an interesting experience. As well as the market, there is a large shopping centre if you prefer a less stressful shopping experience.
Another great place to visit for shopping is Stanley Market, a great place to buy souvenirs for a good price. Situated along the waterfront, Stanley Market has a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than Ladies Market and more aimed towards tourists. While it is a relatively small market taking less than an hour to explore, Stanley itself is a lovely seaside town to visit and you could easily spend an afternoon here. There are nice beaches as well as plenty of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. Take a stroll down Blake Pier past Murray House (an iconic landmark built during colonial times) and look out across great views of the beaches and offshore islands. Here you can also catch a ferry to the nearby island of Po Toi. The ferry operates on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays and it takes about 30 minutes to get across.
Since Hong Kong mostly consists of islands (263 islands in total), you shouldn’t leave until you’ve explored at least some of them. With the exception of Lantau Island that is mentioned in my previous blog post (with the Big Buddha and Po Lin monastery being the major attractions), other islands that are well worth a visit include Lamma Island and Cheng Chau. Lamma Island is particularly popular with tourists and has plenty of hiking trails, temples, restaurants and beaches to visit and you can see several caves that were dug out by the Japanese during the war and used to store munitions. Ferries to these destinations are fairly frequent and you can hop on at Pier 4 in Central, Hong Kong Island. Alternatively, if you don’t fancy wandering around any of the islands or have limited time, you can also just take a boat ride around the islands.
Hong Kong islands
Just 10km south-west of Hong Kong Island, Cheng Chau is smaller in size but becoming increasingly popular. Being a historic fishing village, the waterfront is bustling with fishing boats and market stalls and is a great place to visit if you enjoy seafood. There are a number of walking trails that you can follow that lead you to small temples, numerous rock formations, beautiful beaches and view points. The island is known for pirates and one of the main attractions here is the Cheung Po Tsai Cave where this famous Chinese pirate stored his treasure. Another of his hideouts was at Reclining Rock just south of the cave. Cheung Chau is a lovely, peaceful island and a great place to go if you want to escape the busy city.
Located in the north-east and east New Territories, make sure to visit the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark to view the fascinating natural rock formations and learn about the geology of Hong Kong and past volcanic eruptions which led to the creation of these unique landforms. Start off by visiting the Volcano Discovery Centre along the waterfront in Sai Kung where you can join boat tours that will take you to visit the various geosites in the region. The most popular area that you must see if you go is High Island where you can observe the amazing hexagonal volcanic columns along the coast as well as other unusual rock formations. Sharp Island is also worth a visit and is covered by rocks formed from magma from the volcanic eruption over 140 million years ago.
Hong Kong Wetland Park
Red-whiskered bulbul, Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius
Spotted Narrow-mouthed Frog in Hong Kong Wetland Park
If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day in the search for wildlife then Hong Kong Wetland Park is the place to go. Located in Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, it is easily accessible by public transport with a bus stop and train station located just outside the entrance. There are numerous bird hides dotted around the park where you sit, relax and observe the wetland birds. A total of 273 species of bird have been recorded here to date. It is best visited in the winter when large numbers of overwintering birds are present however there is still plenty of wildlife to see all year round. In the damp areas below the boardwalks you will see numerous small crabs, frogs and mudskippers at the water's edge while butterflies and dragonflies whizz around above. Watch out for the huge orb weaver spiders overhead; these spiders spin huge golden webs high up across the paths and the females of the species are very large and hard to miss.
Golden Orb Weaver spider
Macaque monkeys are common at Kam Sham Country Park and both Rhesus and long-tailed macaque species can be found here. These are very well-adapted to living in this habitat and numbers continue to increase with approximately 2000 individuals currently living in Hong Kong. While fun to watch them in the wild, they can sometimes be overly friendly around people. This is because people feed them which making the monkeys aggressive and unafraid of humans, frequently attempting to grab bags in the hope of snatching some food. It is now against the law to feed these monkeys and you can be fined if you are caught doing so. Therefore, when you visit, be sure not to bring any food with you or keep it well out of sight and enjoy watching the macaques natural behaviours.
Surrounded by so much water, of course Hong Kong is a great place to see dolphins, and not just any dolphins, but the resident pink dolphins! Known as the Chinese white or Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, these animals start off grey and spotty when younger and gradually become shades of pink when they grow older. Join a boat tour to witness these amazing cetaceans in the wild. We went with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch who provided us with an unforgettable experience of these beautiful animals. The guide collected us from Tsim Sha Tsui before taking us to Tung Chung to begin our boat trip. It lasted for about 3 hours, sufficient time for us to get fantastic sightings of these wonderful pink dolphins. Tours tend to run every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and you can join anytime of the year as the dolphins can be sighted all year round. Dolphins are generally seen on pretty much every trip, however, if you are unfortunate enough not to see them, you are able to book onto another trip free of charge.
Indopacific humpback dolphins
As you can see, despite the small size of Hong Kong, you can easily find something for everyone. Whether you enjoy hiking, shopping, sightseeing or wildlife watching, you will find great places to visit during your trip to Hong Kong. Have a fantastic time!
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