Day trips to take in Hong Kong
Hong Kong = Disneyland + mind-blowingly good dim sum + small living spaces.
That’s what stereotypically comes to mind when we think of this densely populated metropolis. But with over a whopping number of 200 islands, there’s more to it than just towering buildings and good food - think traditional festivals, magnificent green scenery and stunning beaches perfect for sports and leisure activities.
If you’re done checking off most of your existing Hong Kong to-do list and are looking to make your holiday a tad bit less typical, here are 4 day trip ideas for you to explore Hong Kong like never before:
1. Sai Kung - soak in the gorgeous sights and Jurassic forest vibes of Sharp Island
There are tons of vantage points for you to get a good general view of the island
For those who live for adventure and can’t get enough of stunning views, a day trip to Sharp Island in Sai Kung is right down your alley.
From its lush foliage that gives off Jurassic forest vibes to the clear turquoise waters that lap gently at the shore, you’ll forget that you’re in bustling Hong Kong as you step foot on the island and discover all that it has to offer.
Fun fact: During low tide, a tombolo a.k.a little path leading to a mini island appears - a great photo op for you to pretend you’re in The Bahamas. Just speak to the operators to find out when you can expect it.
Take a relaxing stroll along the beach on Sharp island
Stick your head out and feel the wind caress your face gently as you ride the shuttle boat
There are a few ways to explore Sharp Island, but we recommend taking a boat to Sharp Island pier. From there, you can hike to the other end of the island and then take the same path back in about an hour. It’s not too much of a challenge, but do wear proper footwear and bring along insect repellent if you don’t want to be attacked by blood-thirsty mozzies.
Getting there: Take the MTR to Hang Hau station on the purple line, then board the 101M minibus and alight at the last stop. Walk for roughly 3 minutes to Sai Kung Pier before taking a shuttle boat to Sharp Island.
Ticket prices for a simple shuttle back and forth Sharp Island from Sai Kung are only 30HKD (~S$5.26). If you wish to explore more and prefer to leave no stone unturned, go for the boat tour which will bring you around the whole of Sharp Island for 60HKD (~S$10.53).
Note: Shuttle boats are available every 20 to 30 minutes at both the Sai Kung and Sharp Island pier from 8AM to around 3PM depending on the weather.
2. Cheung Chau - watch people scale a 14-metre tower of bao at the annual bun festival
If you’re intending to visit Hong Kong during the month of May, the annual Cheung Chau Bun Festival is something you should definitely check out.
Every year, on the eighth day of the fourth month according to the Chinese calendar, the bun festival is held to ward off evil spirits and pray for safety - the star of the show being the bun-snatching competition.
The idea of people racing up a 14-metre-tall pillar with buns stuck on it might sound super bizarre, but witnessing it was a real thrilling experience. From heart-thumping anticipation to loud cheering and spectacular pyrotechnics, the bun competition had everything you’d expect of a major festival that receives national TV coverage.
Before you attend the late night competition though, pick up a bun or catch the parade that happens in the afternoon. The latter is a little like a smaller-scaled Chingay, with adorable kids dressed up as deities and loud lion dance performances adding to the festive spirit.
60,000 buns are made every year, and they all have the Chinese characters that mean “peace” stamped on them.
Native American teepees for a true glamping experience
Understandably, not everyone will be able to visit Cheung Chau during the bun festival season, but that aside, you can still expect to fill your day's itinerary up with a whole lot of other activities such as a high elements course, bubble soccer, and even glamping at Sai Yuen Farm. A perfect way to spend some quality bonding time with the friends and family you’re travelling with.
You can even rent your own equipment and tools for a BBQ party.
Getting there: Take a 1-hour ferry ride from Central Pier 5 to Cheung Chau. The ordinary ferry only costs 13.20HKD (~S$2.31) and they depart every hour or so. Do hunt down the ferry arrival timings on the boards at the entrance to avoid missing your ferry. Alternatively, you can always speak to a friendly ticketing officer if you have any doubts and enquiries.
3. Lantau Island - Tai O Fishing Village and spotting white dolphones from Fushan Viewing Point
The view of the fishing village from Tai O Drawbridge
A quick google search will tell you that Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong, featuring:
- Lantau Peak which is famous amongst hikers for its gorgeous sunset views
- A gigantic 34-m tall Buddha statue at the Po Lin Monastery in Ngong Ping.
But dig a little further and you’ll discover Tai O, a picturesque fishing village with stilt houses that sits directly atop the sea.
Stilt houses around the fishing village
Entering the fishing village will have you feeling as if you’re transported back in time, to a place brimming with peace and serenity, a place drastically different from the Hong Kong that most of us are familiar with.
Tai O donut from Tai O Bakery
Image credit: @linaguini
As you explore the village that appears to be kinda stuck in time, munch on the delightful treat that is the signature Tai O Donut - it’s nothing like ours. It’s shaped like a puff, and it’s eggy and light and fluffy with a sugar coating - best when fresh out of the deep fryer.
The fishing village offers a breathtaking view of the horizon
After you’ve gotten your fill of the village, get started on your hike up to Fushan Viewing Point. It’s simple and rather beginner-friendly since a clearly marked pathway followed by a sturdy set of stairs leads the way up to the viewing point - non-fitspos got nothing to worry about.
Seeing the white dolphin statue at the far left end of the picture means that you’ve reached a vantage point good for sighting white dolphins
Feeling as if you’re at the top of the world once you’ve reached the peak of the viewing point is what’s expected, but if you’re extra lucky, you might spot some adorable white dolphins diving in and out of the water, waving their tails as if to say hello.
Getting there: Take a 25-minute cable car ride (315 HKD, ~S$55.28) and arrive at Ngong Ping where the bronze Buddha statue can be clearly seen, then board bus 21 which will take you all the way to the fishing village in just under half an hour.
Tickets go at HKD6.60 (~S$1.16) on weekdays and HKD14 (~S$2.46) on weekends. Buses begin operation at 7.45AM.
Alternatively, we recommend that you take bus 11 which will bring you to and fro Tai O from Tung Chung station if:
- You’re on a super tight budget
- You only want to take the cable car once
- You want to catch the sunset at Tai O village, since the very last bus 21 sets off for Ngong Ping quite early at about 4PM
4. Lamma Island - traverse the entire island within 2 hours and bask in breathtaking landscapes
Contrary to its namesake, there aren’t any cute, fluffy llamas for you to pet and feed on Lamma Island. But don’t let this stop you from paying this island a visit especially if you love taking long walks and checking out mountain scenery.
Don’t forget to take some sweeping panorama pictures.
For the best possible experience, follow the signs that mark out the Family Trail - it will bring you from one end of the island to the other in 1hr 20 minutes.
You’ll be able to spot this majestic structure that towers over its surroundings even before you’re anywhere near the power station
Along the way, you can choose to veer off the course and visit any of the island’s various beaches or even Lamma Winds - Hong Kong’s first-ever wind turbine and stands at an astounding height of 71 metres!
As for beaches on Lamma Island, there are tons for you to pick from but we happened to chance upon this particular beach house sitting along Hung Shing Yeh beach in all of its pastel pink glory.
In other words, it’s a pot full of gold you shouldn’t pass up if you’re looking for some IG opportunities.
Sunset at Sok Kwu Wan pier
At the end of the day, station yourself at either Sok Kwu Wan or Yung Shue Wan pier depending on your starting location for some prime photo ops. Just chillax and enjoy the sea breeze paired with an enchanting sunset as you stare into the multi-hued sky.
- To Yung Shue Wan: 20-minute ferry ride from Central Pier 4 will only cost you 16HKD (~S$2.81) if you take the ordinary ferry on a weekday
- To Sok Kwu Wan: 40-minute ferry ride from Central Pier 4 will only cost you 19HKD (~S$3.33) if you take the ordinary ferry on a weekday.
Note: Ferries to Yung Shue Wan set off every 30 minutes or so, while ferries to Sok Kwu Wan are less frequent and leave about every 2 hours or so. Make sure to plan well and check the ferry timings to avoid wasting time on waiting.
Experiencing Hong Kong beyond the usual
When visiting Hong Kong, people don’t usually think of travelling outside of the main central area. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to explore the heart of Hong Kong, to experience what the bustling metropolis has to offer.
But if you’re someone that enjoys exploring beyond the usual, or if you’re someone who’ve already seen what central Hong Kong is all about, why not slot some of these day trips into your itinerary to make for a levelled-up vacation.
This post was brought to you by the Hong Kong Tourism Board