Header image courtesy of @willcho (via Instagram)
Hong Kong is a beautiful city with photo opportunities waiting around every corner—from looming skyscrapers that seem to puncture the very sky to verdant mountains sporting coats of differently coloured grass, there is something to admire that will appeal to every pro photographer or casual bystander with a well-equipped smartphone. We venture slightly off the beaten path to give you a selection of gorgeous scenic spots in Hong Kong, some well-known and some which you may not yet have visited. Bringing your camera along is a must, of course!
Yes, the view from the Peak is phenomenal and world-famous, but instead of jostling with the inevitable tourist crowds, we’d recommend going a little ways further up to Victoria Peak Garden. A hidden gem sitting near the summit of Hong Kong’s most famous mountain, this garden used to be part of the Mountain Lodge grounds, a secondary residence for the governor of the city.
Landscaped in a mix of both British and Chinese styles, the garden features a spacious lawn and a picturesque circular pavilion, and is one of Hong Kong’s few public parks open to pets. Aside from the pretty garden itself, there is also a vantage point that boasts views of Victoria Harbour from over 300 metres up. Its European vibes make Victoria Peak Garden a nice romantic spot for a date as well.
Famous for being pictured in an award-winning entry for a National Geographic photography competition, Suicide Cliff is a dramatic outcrop of rock that juts out of the trail leading up Fei Ngo Shan, from which there are stunning views of Kowloon stretching out to the waters and beyond to be enjoyed. The rock platform is worth heading out onto for a great Instagram photoset, but you’ll likely encounter a bit of a wait among other snap-happy hikers. Do also note that the outcrop is slightly slanted so exercise caution, and maybe give it a miss if you have a fear of heights—the view is equally as stunning from the safety of the trail itself.
We may have plenty of rolling green hills, but sometimes the only thing that fully satisfies the frolicky, whimsical nature in us is a full-on field of flowers. This is when you need to head out to Shun Sum Yuen Farm, one of the few places in the territories which cultivates large swatches of seasonal flowers. For a $50 entrance fee, you get to experience a “main character moment” swooning amongst beautiful blossoms; lilies and gladioli are grown during the cooler months, and you’ll fittingly find sunflowers over summer. Elsewhere on the farm, there is also a flower tunnel, a lily pond, and even a miniature windmill. This is definitely not your regular Hong Kong scenic spot, but one that benefits from being both beautiful and slightly unusual.
Lovers of Japan, rejoice! Here’s a scenic spot on Hong Kong island that is a great little slice of the Japanese aesthetic. For some reason, this rest spot nestled in the trees along Tin Hau Temple Road has been built in a style reminiscent of a traditional chashitsu (茶室; “tea room”). Complete with bamboo screens, stone lanterns, and decorative boulders, you might for a second feel like you’re in Kyoto. Though tiny, this garden is usually only frequented by joggers, and is a nice spot to relax among some unexpectedly pretty surroundings. From Exit A of Fortress Hill MTR station, simply make your way uphill via Comfort Terrace and then Tin Hau Temple Road.
This is undoubtedly one for the fitness fanatics out there. The Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail largely comprises wooden stairs that wind their way across the mountains of Lantau, almost following exactly the route of the Ngong Ping 360 cable car above. With over 10,000 steps in question, we would recommend this journey to someone who is in a good enough physical condition to handle the exertion!
Should you be up for it, however, this trail offers some fantastic scenic opportunities: the lush slopes of seemingly endless mountains, views of Hong Kong International Airport and Tung Chung Bay, as well as the chance to ascend the famous “stairway to heaven” and the eventual appearance of the Big Buddha, signalling the approach into Ngong Ping village. Another way to experience some of the magnificence of the Ngong Ping Trail (albeit from a detached distance) would be to hop onto the cable car ride, from which you can enjoy the view from an even more elevated viewpoint. The ride lasts almost half an hour, but you’ll be kept busy gaping in awe and turning in circles taking photos—don’t forget to look out for a long waterfall tucked into the mountains!
When thinking of rural scenic spots, Nam Sang Wai will usually spring to mind, but Tai Sang Wai in Yuen Long is also a great contender and alternative. With its huge pond, sizable fields, and little houses, it’s all too easy to feel like you’re not even in Hong Kong anymore. Honestly, city folk need to get out and touch some grass more often, and this is a gorgeous place to do so. Do bear in mind that during the pandemic, local villagers have expressed alarm at too many strangers hanging around their homes, and have requested that visitors loop around the outskirts until they reach the pond, instead of cutting directly through their village.
Find a much less frequented and photographed—but no less beautiful—view of Victoria Harbour on the breakwater of the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter. From here, visitors will be able to get a great view of the Wan Chai Convention and Exhibition Centre, IFC, and its neighbouring buildings framed by the sky and sea, as well as vistas of Kowloon across the harbour. Seeing little vessels alongside the city’s skyscrapers truly hearkens back to Hong Kong’s beginnings. There is also a charming little light tower standing at the very edge of the breakwater, a nice spot to take photos up against.
Unless a member of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, visitors will first have to take the underpass next to the World Trade Centre’s car park to cross over to the Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter, and then hop onto a short $15 kaito ferry ride. Leaving will prove to be easier though; simply exit via the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club premises.
Endorsed by the AFCD as one of Hong Kong’s top 10 countryside sights, the Ho Pui Reservoir Family Walk is an easy stroll around its eponymous reservoir, with peaceful emerald waters and a picturesque curvy dam. While the looped walk means visitors don’t technically need to journey around the reservoir to see its dam, the walk is worth undertaking because the trail brings you past several pretty sights such as streams and waterfalls, fields of silvergrass later in the year, and even a section of bamboo tunnel reminiscent of Arashiyama’s famous bamboo forest! It does take around 40 minutes of hiking to get to the start of the reservoir walk—arguably the hardest part of the journey—but the going is easy throughout and the eventual views are well worth the effort.
Everyone makes a big deal of the waterside view along Central and Tamar, and while this is indeed our most famous stretch of harbour, it really is the Hong Kong side of the harbour that looks prettier come night-time—which means you need to be on the Kowloon side to get the best views.
This is where Ocean Terminal Deck, built on the top of Harbour City, comes in. This viewing platform offers a 270-degree view of Victoria Harbour, including some of Tsim Sha Tsui’s most pleasing landmarks like the Cultural Centre, the old Railway Clock Tower, and the ICC.
As might be expected, the deck gets crowded come sunset, but stick around to soak in the sight of the world-renowned lights on Hong Kong Island—this is also a great spot to enjoy the nightly “Symphony of Lights” light and sound show as well as New Year fireworks.
We’ve recommended Sham Shui Po’s Garden Hill before as a scenic spot for views of Kowloon, but a lesser-known alternative would be Ping Shan, sandwiched between Kowloon Bay and Choi Hung. Best visited during golden hour and the sunset period, the view from the summit of Ping Shan encompasses Lion Rock silhouetted against a dim golden sky and the cityscape of eastern Kowloon as it gradually lights up in the dark. From Exit B of Kowloon Bay MTR station, take the overpass to Choi Tak estate—the way up the hill starts at the stairs beside the Choi Wan Road Salt Water Service Reservoir.
Forget the Peak—the best night views of the city and its glittering lights are to be found here. Expect to be treated to sweeping panoramas of Admiralty, Wan Chai, Victoria Harbour, Kowloon, and the mountains beyond in one breathtaking vista. While the Peak viewpoints do offer a loftier point of view, we find that this lookout point gives a heightened sense of being immersed in the city view. Hong Kong always looks electric and vibrant with a touch of melancholy when seen here. This lookout is really just a paved and pavilioned bend along the long and winding Stubbs Road, so the best way to reach it would be by car—if you’re not cabbing it and want to drive, note that there is only a small pullover shoulder accommodating a small number of vehicles.