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9 places in Hong Kong that don’t feel like Hong Kong

By Catharina Cheung 6 March 2020

We know the travel lovers among you are in agony right now because there’s no travel on the cards until the recent health crisis calms down. The travel bug bites us hard too, so we’ve found some places in Hong Kong that don’t look or seem like Hong Kong for you to visit instead! Self-deception, yes, but we’re sure there’ll be somewhere on this list that will tickle your fancy, so hit the streets!

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Buddha's Palm Rock. Photo credit: canon.com.hk
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Po Toi

Considered the South Pole of Hong Kong, the island of Po Toi is possibly the last inhabited place in Hong Kong that isn’t supplied with electricity or running water. Composed almost entirely of granite, it is also home to some unusual rock formations. Keep an eye out for Tortoise Climbing Up a Mountain and Buddha’s Palm—all natural features created by the elements, then given life by some very fertile imaginations. There are also rock carvings which reportedly date back to the Bronze Age 3,000 years ago, and are now a declared monument.

There are also ruined houses and a disused school for those who like exploring abandoned settlements. Don’t miss Mo’s Old House—a once-grand villa built by a pirate called Mo Shui-tong—which is supposed to be haunted or a victim of bad feng shui due to the coffin-shaped rock directly behind it. It’s hard to believe that such a secluded little village, which seems to have been forgotten by time, is part of the sprawling metropolis of Hong Kong.

How to get there

To reach Po Toi, board a kaito ferry from either Aberdeen Pier or Stanley Blake Pier. Be sure to check the ferry schedules: the service from Aberdeen runs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, weekends, and public holidays, while the Stanley service runs only on weekends and public holidays.

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Shing Mun Reservoir

Lush verdant greenery surrounds the azure blue water of Shing Mun Reservoir, and strolling here will take your mind far away from the city. We promise you it looks nothing like the Hong Kong that is so familiar to us.

Walk among the trees, encounter the resident monkeys, and walk out onto the old bridge for peaceful vistas that will look great on your Instagram feeds. There are also swampy mudflats and paperbark forests to explore, where you can gaze out across to the banks opposite and remind yourself that you’re not in the middle of a rainforest on the other side of the world.

How to get there

To reach Shing Mun Reservoir, take the Tsuen Wan line to Tsuen Wan Station. Take Exit B1 and board green minibus 82 on Shiu Wo Street for Shing Mun Reservoir. From there, all you have to do is explore the surrounding area.

Image credit: hkoutdooradventures
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Basalt Island

It’s not easy to get to Basalt Island, but the trip is worth it, especially if you enjoy coasteering and challenging hikes. Basalt Island is best explored half in the water, as there are lots of sea caves to explore, such as the twin caves and the Sea Palace cavern in the northeast of the island. Some swimming along the coastline will be required every now and then to access the caves, which are inhabited by various types of marine life.

Along the eastern side of Basalt Island are several caves and tunnels, as well as the Lam Wan Kok Cave, one of Hong Kong’s ‘Four Sea Arches.’ 16-metres-tall and shaped like a reclining moon blade, this arch is dramatic with a gorgeous backdrop to boot. Between clambering up and down rocks and jumping in and out of the sea, you might just feel like you’re in Koh Phi Phi instead.

How to get there

You can reach Basalt Island by charting a private boat or kaito from Sai Kung, which will allow you to access the island directly for the purposes of a day trip. Alternatively, you could join a local boat tour from Sai Kung that will sail around Jin Island (Tiu Chung Chau), Bluff Island, Basalt Island, Wang Chau, and other islets, but you’ll be bound to an itinerary.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

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Nature’s Harvest

Turns out you don’t need to journey all the way to Holland to see pretty windmills! Nature’s Harvest has red and blue windmills set against a backdrop of lush green mountains and lawns, and also overlooks part of Clear Water Bay’s seaview. The folks behind this cute getaway found the pollution and stress of city life debilitating, and created a rural retreat and holistic getaway where Hongkongers can practice sustainable organic farming and reconnect with nature. Additionally, the farm is located near Pak Shui Wun, a tourist attraction with rocky shores that’s worth exploring as well.

Visitors can engage in activities such as leisure farming, yoga, art sessions, fishing, and cooking lessons at Nature’s Harvest. The farm also has goats roaming around, and it’s a joy to see kids wobbling and prancing around the premises. Children will no doubt find a wide range of activities to entertain themselves with as well. But really, have we mentioned the baby goats?

How to get there

Take the Tseung Kwan O line to Hang Hau Station. From there, you can either hop on a 10-minute taxi ride to Nature’s Harvest or board green minibus 11M to Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. From the bus stop, you’ll have to walk for 15 minutes before you’ll reach Nature’s Harvest.

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Tung Lung Chau

Similar to Po Toi, Tung Lung Chau is an outlying island without a significant residential community. It is easily accessible, but feels like worlds away once you get there, and there’ll be no shortage of outdoorsy things to do.

If you’re just there for a short jaunt or a leisurely day out in the sun, then take the main paved trail from the pier to the top of the hill. This will bring you past Hong Kong’s largest and oldest rock carving, which is said to be over 5,000 years old and is an ancient depiction of a dragon. The looping hike also offers gorgeous scenery that is more reminiscent of Batanes in the Philippines than the 852.

For the more adventurous, Tung Lung Chau is widely regarded as the best place in Hong Kong for rock climbing, and there are plenty of smaller trails aside from the main one that are more challenging. Scale cliff faces that are marked with chalk and rope bolts, scramble along perpendicular cliffs, take a dip in the sea, explore caves, go cliff diving, and even climb up waterfalls.

How to get there

There are ferry services to the island from Sam Ka Tsuen Public Pier in Yau Tong or the Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Shelter in Sai Wan Ho—for the latter, mind you don’t end up at Sai Wan Ho Ferry Pier!

Photo credit: Simon Hung (Flickr)
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Tsing Yi Park

Autumn is our favourite season, but here in Hong Kong, there’s not much chance to see fall foliage. One such place to do so is Tsing Yi Park, a European-style garden grounds measuring seven hectares, vastly different from the mostly Chinese-style gardens and parks we normally get in Hong Kong. The trees lining the ornamental lake with waterfalls turn beautiful shades of red and gold over autumn, resulting in views that resemble Central Park in New York City more than an urban bit of garden in residential Hong Kong. For this reason, Tsing Yi Park is a great place to enjoy a lakeside picnic among the autumn leaves.

How to get there

Take the Tung Chung line to Tsing Yi Station. Take Exit C and walk towards Tsing King Road. From there, you’ll clearly see Tsing Yi Park sprawling ahead of you; all you have to do is find a safe opportunity to cross Tsing King Road.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

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Tung Ping Chau

The eastern-most island in Hong Kong, Tung Ping Chau (not to be confused with Peng Chau) is part of the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark, and an esteemed museum of geomorphology. Its beaches are among our best and cleanest; take a dip in the clear waters, which are warm in the summer months, and see if the surroundings don’t remind you of Indonesian beach getaways.

The island is formed out of multilayered ‘new’ sedimentary rock, as opposed to volcanic igneous rock like the rest of Hong Kong, and there are interesting wave-cut formations not seen anywhere else in the territories—some have even called it the Giant’s Causeway of Hong Kong. There is also a gorge near the shoreline, a natural corridor between cliff faces caused by continuous erosion that makes for some dramatic photos.

Tung Ping Chau is also considered a good diving site, though its corals are under threat from pollution and tourism. Nevertheless, marine wildlife such as crabs, urchins, and colourful fishes can be spotted in Tung Ping Chau’s sea caves and various rock pools. Adding to the far-flung tropical island vibe are the flora dotted around—cacti, orchids, morning glories, banyan trees, mint plants, and more—as well as large butterflies.

The only way to get to Tung Ping Chau is via a ferry from Ma Liu Shui Ferry Pier. The journey itself takes an hour and a half, and the service only runs on weekends and public holidays.

How to get there

For our detailed guide on how to get to Tung Ping Chau, click here.

Photo credit: Ovolo Hotels
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Shek Kwu Chau

Who knew that Hong Kong has Roman baths? Apart from the mock Roman-style bathing pool, Shek Kwu Chau is also decked out in faux marble sculptures, as well as statues of figures from an assortment of religions—really taking the concept of East-meets-West to the next level. A classical goddess statue gazes out to sea from her perch on a rock by the water, and there’s also a Chinese imperial-style gate at the pier, not to mention a zoo of sheep, rescued dogs and cats, turtles, and many exotic birds.

No doubt there’s many who would love to visit this trippy place, but unfortunately, the island is part of the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers, who operate the rehabilitation centre there. In fact, the mish-mash of decorations is owed to stonemasonry done by residents to pass the time. The whole island, which was once known as Coffin Island, is a restricted area and can only be accessed with a special permit.

Photo credit: Wilwilwilsonsonson / Flickr
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Fung Kat Heung

Ever wanted to swoon in a field of wildflowers like you often see on social media come summer? Now you can, if you go to the little village of Fung Kat Heung in Kam Tin. While obviously not on par with the famous tulip and lavender fields of the Netherlands and Provence, fields of purple water hyacinth flowers under the blue sky and green mountains still make for an amazingly pretty sight. Look at the photo and tell us it doesn’t look like something out of Tainan!

How to get there

Take the West Rail line to either Kam Sheung Road Station or Yuen Long Station and hop on a 10-minute taxi ride to Fung Kat Heung. For other transit options, take the West Rail line to Yuen Long Station. From there, take Exit F and walk through Yoho Mall to reach Sun Yuen Long Centre bus stop. Take green minibus 603 all the way to Fung Kat Heung.

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.

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