Header image courtesy of @thetravelinguu (Instagram)
Originally published by Inés Fung. Last updated by Annette Chan.
Sai Kung is known as “Hong Kong’s back garden,” and for good reason, too. It’s famed for its gorgeous natural scenery with wild cattle, islands, and hikes galore, fresh and delicious seafood all along the waterfront, and friendly, laid-back lifestyle. It’s only 30 minutes from the city and feels like a completely different world, so it’s no wonder that locals and tourists alike flock to this sleepy seaside neighbourhood on weekends to escape the hustle and bustle. Join us in discovering Sai Kung with our handy neighbourhood guide.
Sai Kung Town is the centre of activity in the neighbourhood, but for a true adventure through the area, you’ve got to get out to explore the verdant country parks surrounding the town, unspoiled by urban development. The UNESCO Global Geopark is home to astounding geological formations unique to Hong Kong, and Sai Kung Country Parks East and West are also home to the start of the world-famous 100-kilometre MacLehose Trail.
Sai Kung is also home to Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, one of six marine parks in Hong Kong and popular with kayakers and divers. Take a sampan or speedboat from one of the many stalls near Sai Kung Pier and do some island-hopping to get the most out of your visit: view the hexagonal rock formations in the Geopark, visit the old salt farms, camp on world-renowned beaches, and more. The hikes (like Three Fathoms Cove, for example) are also not to be missed but be prepared as they’re not short or easy.
There are many opportunities to cool off in the summer heat in Sai Kung, with water sports centres renting out equipment for kayaking, canoeing, wake surfing, snorkelling, and more. Blue Sky Sports Club and Ah Kwok Water Sports Centre are located at the end of Sai Kung promenade, easily accessible for those who don’t want to venture out further from town centre. For those on a budget, the government-run Chong Hing Water Sports Centre in High Island’s West Sea Cofferdam offers watersports at very friendly prices but requires you to complete training courses first in order to use their facilities and equipment.
You may have seen paragliders drifting in the sky above Sai Kung Town on a clear day before, and suddenly had I Believe I Can Fly playing in your head. Paragliding is an adventure sport that has a small but devoted following in Hong Kong, and Sai Kung is home to two of the eight approved paragliding locations in Hong Kong: Sai Wan and Long Ke. X-Fly Hong Kong offers a one-day taster course where a pilot will guide you through the skies, but if you want to become a qualified paragliding pilot and soar through the skies on your own, you must complete intensive training courses and pass an exam. Training courses are offered by Ascendia Sports and the Hong Kong Paragliding Federation.
Bowling at Tikitiki Bowling Bar is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. They have 10 professional lanes, as well as a live DJ, clown shows, and a bar and restaurant. Head there on a weekend and take advantage of one of their many deals; currently, it’s only $299 for non-members to enjoy an hour of bowling!
Tikitiki Bowling Bar, 4/F, Centro, 1A Chui Tong Road, Sai Kung | (+852) 2657 8488
If you’re an animal lover, nothing will brighten your day up more than spending a day with some furry friends (that is, if you don’t have one at home) at Sai Kung Stray Friends. Whether you’d just like to take the dogs out for a walk or help run stalls to raise money for the foundation, your help is always appreciated. Who knows? You may even fall in love with one of these adorable pups and find yourself with a new fur-ever friend.
Sai Kung Stray Friends, 151 Tai Lam Wu Road, Sai Kung | (+852) 2335 1126
If you’re all about the “reduce, reuse, recycle” life, then House of Salvage in Sai Kung old town is a must. This quirky shop is a treasure trove (or “objects orphanage,” as they put it) of pre-loved goods which have not just been repaired, but improved or re-imagined by the shop’s affable owner, KK. Because KK sources his materials from a number of sources—donations, dumpsters, and more—no two items are the same, but you can count on there being some interesting handmade terrariums, upcycled furniture, and other cool bits and bobs to check out.
House of Salvage, 10 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung
Want to take steps into adopting a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle? Seed and LiveZero are two eco-conscious stores in Sai Kung looking to make a change, and they’re just a stone’s throw away from each other. Both offer bulk foods and household products, as well as zero waste accessories, package-free toiletries, and more.
The Bottle Shop is a friendly one-stop-bottle-shop showcasing a wide range of local and international craft beers in addition to spirits from all over the world. The Bottle Shop also supports businesses around town, making Hong Kong-made (and non-alcoholic) beverages, speciality ice cream, and candy available to their customers. If you’re an aspiring bartender, you can pick up cocktail-making utensils at The Bottle Shop, too.
The Bottle Shop, G/F, 114 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 2791 1600
BeCandle is an artisan candle and scented products shop and factory founded in 2012, and all of their products are handmade in small batches with high-quality vegetable wax and premium fragrances imported from Europe. They also run candle making workshops on weekends, so you can fill your home with bespoke scents!
BeCandle, 8 Wang Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 9839 1180
If you’re visiting on the weekend, be sure to pay a visit to the Sai Kung Farmer’s Market on the promenade. All along the waterfront, you’ll find stalls selling locally grown organic fruits and veggies, arts and crafts, and more. You’ll also find doggy adoption stalls and live music performances there, too! It’s the perfect place to while away a few hours of your weekend.
If you love the spicy flavours of Sichuan food, try Vilavilla Gourmet, an underrated Sai Kung gem specialising in Hunan food—one of China’s “eight great cuisines” which is known for its hot and spicy flavours. Try the fish soup with pickled mustard greens ($138) for something comforting yet zesty, or any of the dumplings and buns for a delicious little snack—we like the steamed pork dumplings ($78) and pan-fried buns ($39). For a texturally pleasing and hearty main, you can’t go wrong with the Hunan sizzling beef ($138).
Vilavilla Gourmet, 51 Yi Chun Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 2788 3080
While out-of-towners may move on past Fuk Man Street after snickering at the street sign, Sai Kung locals know it’s home to some of the best streetside eateries. One such example is Golden Chicken, a humble spot specialising in Singapore’s national dish: Hainan chicken rice. The chook here is served boneless (so you don’t have to fuss around spitting little pieces of cartilage out) and served alongside the holy trinity of sauces—sweet soy, chilli, and ginger and spring onion—just like in Singapore. You can’t go wrong with the original chicken rice (starting from $52), but the mala chicken rice (starting from $57) is great if you’re in the mood for some heat.
Golden Chicken, Shop 34, Ko Fu Building, Fuk Man Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 3488 9844
If you’re a fan of congee (粥; Chinese rice porridge), check out this neighbourhood spot in the narrow alleys of Sai Kung old town. It’s a humble, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of joint, but keeps regulars coming back with its wholesome, silky bowls of congee and made-to-order steamed rice rolls (腸粉; coeng4 fan2). For something classic, you can’t go wrong with the lean pork & century egg congee ($24) and char siu steamed rice rolls ($17), though the dried shrimp steamed rice rolls (starting from $9) are also extremely popular for their diminutive size and variety of textures.
Kam Shan Congee, 2 Sai Kung Main Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 2792 1835
Can’t decide what cuisine to go for? Check out 2084 for a meal of creative international comfort food—think rich curries, hearty burgers, plump momos, and Peking duck tacos—all of which just happens to be entirely plant-based. Weather willing, there’s nothing nicer than pulling up a chair at their alfresco tables with a jug of the masala sangria and watching the world go by. (And patting all the adorable dogs that come by for complimentary puppy treats!)
2084, 5 Sha Tsui Path, Sai Kung | (+852) 6420 8456
Seafood restaurants are a dime a dozen along the famed seafood street on Sai Kung’s waterfront, but Chuen Kee is one of the OGs, and it’s Michelin-recommended, too. Chuen Kee has two locations just down the road from each other, and are both family-run and guaranteed fresh. You can pick your meal straight from the tanks and have it cooked and delivered to your table however you want. Their dim sum is also on point and you’ll find both locations full on a busy weekend. Got your furry friend with you? The outdoor seats are dog-friendly, too!
Chuen Kee, 87–89 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 2791 1195
Loaf On may not have the towering seafood tanks, but they’ve got a Michelin star. Seafood dishes are still the name of the game here, prepared with family recipes and fresh ingredients. We love their mantis shrimp dish, and the deep-fried tofu with chilli & garlic ($98). It’s a little pricier than other seafood restaurants in Sai Kung, but the heartwarming Cantonese cuisine is worth it.
Loaf On, 49 See Cheung Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 2792 9966
Be prepared to wait if you want a taste of what Little Cove Espresso has to offer, as they are by far the most popular café in Sai Kung Town. A clear representative of the third wave coffee culture, Little Cove serves up Australian and Mediterranean all-day dining, as well as one of the best flat whites in Hong Kong.
Little Cove Espresso, Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Siu Yat Building Block A, Sai Kung Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung | (+852) 9572 8560
How do you like dem apples? Piping hot, hopefully, because that’s how Cocolo Tokyo Cake Factory serves their signature handheld apple pie ($33). Made from flaky puff pastry and fresh apples from Japan (Aomori, to be exact), these beautiful little pies are the perfect snack to munch on as you walk around exploring the old town. If you’re craving something a little sweeter, try the dense, double-layered chocolate cake ($35).
Cocolo Tokyo Cake Factory, 9 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 5405 2275
Tucked in a quiet alleyway, Hushush does a great artisanal cuppa, but the must-try here is their handcrafted ice cream. Their boozy ice creams (Don Papa rum raisin and Japanese small-batch whiskey? Yes, please) have become so popular that they now have two locations in Sai Kung alone. Scoops and affogatos are both served with homemade pizzelle, making it extra Instagrammable. There’s no better way to cool off.
Pop by Ali Oli for a locally-made pastry treat or a hearty meat pie. With over 25 years of baking expertise, you’re bound to see all the seats at Ali Oli’s alfresco café filled up, and the cases of home-baked goods empty. We absolutely adore the bowl pies, piping hot and served in deep ceramic bowls that are perfect for sharing. They also do a mean brekky fry-up that’s perfect for a hangover.
Ali Oli Bakery & Café, G/F, 11 Sha Tsui Path, Sai Kung | (+852) 2792 2655
For a relaxed drink (and maybe a little boogie) down by the waterfront, head to Ventuno. This unpretentious hole-in-the-wall is a little hard to define... part bar, part vinyl record store, with a smattering of tennis equipment and other assorted goods for sale, it’s a charming chameleon—not unlike its owner, Gordon Cummings. Former clubgoers may remember Cummings better as DJ Yeodie, Volar’s former-resident deck-spinner, whose ability to create good vibes clearly has not waned.
Ventuno, 21 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 9383 9721
Opened by Sai Kung locals, Momentai is the definition of a friendly neighbourhood pub. The name is a cheeky nod to the Cantonese pronunciation of “No worries!” and you won’t have any as you sip on an extensive menu of local and international craft beers and ciders while watching the boats come and go from their alfresco deck. They also do hearty comfort food like burgers and snacks made for sharing, if you need to recharge after a day of hiking in Sai Kung. They have also recently opened a café next door.
Momentai, Kiosk 1, Sai Kung Waterfront, Wai Man Road, Sai Kung | (+852) 2792 8991
Saigon Phở is a cosy family-run phở joint bringing together Canadian hospitality and authentic Vietnamese dishes, like their signature speciality phở and bánh mì. Making their signature pho broth is a laborious process: Beef brisket on the bone is boiled for 10 to 12 hours, then a mix of 12 herbs and spices are added. When the broth is nearly done, beef, onions, ginger, carrots, basil, and peppers are thrown in to round out the flavours of the soup. The Chan family, who had returned from Calgary and settled in Sai Kung, run the restaurant, and as Sai Kung locals, they’ve guaranteed that you can get a good feed at very wallet-friendly prices. You might dine alongside local film legend Chow Yun-fat, too!
Saigon Pho, Shop 16, G/F, Sai Kung Building, 42–56 King Man Street, Sai Kung | (+852) 2788 2028
Chez Raymond de Paris is another one of Sai Kung’s hidden gems, tucked away on the outskirts of Sai Kung Town. You can expect authentic French food with premium ingredients, brought to you with excellent service in a chic and romantic atmosphere. Try the decadent French President onion soup, succulent Wagyu tenderloin Rossini with morels and foie gras, and the baked bone marrow. Not in the mood to splurge? Their lunch and dinner set menus are affordable with the same great dishes.
Chez Raymond de Paris, G/F, 183D Po Tung Road, Sai Kung | (+852) 6484 1400
Nestled in tranquil Three Fathoms Cove, between Sai Kung and Ma On Shan, is contemporary European restaurant One-Thirtyone. Meals at One-Thirtyone are an intimate affair, with a two-person team serving four tables for both lunch and dinner. Needless to say, you’ve got to make a reservation way ahead of time if you want to eat here. The prix-fixe menu changes monthly and can be adapted to specific dietary requirements. Ingredients are sourced from the in-house herb garden as well as a nearby organic farm. After dinner, take a stroll on their lush lawn or explore the nearby picturesque Three Fathoms Cove.
One-Thirtyone, 131 Tseng Tau Village, Sai Kung | (+852) 2791 2684