Hong Kong isn’t all high-rises and concrete jungle, nor is it limited to the islands and far-reaching corners of the New Territories. A short drive (traffic permitting) through the Aberdeen Tunnel leads you to the southern district, and all that entails. From Stanley – which was once the nation’s capital and now a sleepy seaside district with a laid-back charm – to the burgeoning arts district of Wong Chuk Hang, the area offers something for thrill-seekers and culture vultures alike. Piqued your interest? We thought it might.
Where to Go
Art galleries have given the former industrial area of Wong Chuk Hang a new lease of life. Warehouses now host lofty exhibitions and offer rental options; each emitting their trademark washed concrete floors and white wall interiors. If you’re looking to take in the best of the city’s contemporary artists, the South Island Cultural District has an up-to-date list of galleries, exhibitions, and district-wide open days and fairs on its website.
When the sky is blue and the sun shines bright, you might be more inclined to venture outdoors. This is where the southside really shines. The best (okay, some of the only) beaches on Hong Kong Island are situated here. If you’re looking for a vibrant atmosphere with beach-bars galore, then Repulse Bay is the perfect spot. Elsewhere, Chung Hom Kok (above Stanley) is a quieter alternative with barbecue pits for a family-friendly day out. While we love a day at the beach as much as the next person, Hong Kong’s seas have suffered from poor water quality in the not-so-distant past. So before you venture south, visit the Government website to check the conditions on the day.
What to Do
Now in its 41st year in operation, Ocean Park has steadfastly held on to its reputation as something of a Hong Kong institution, and is still a popular spot for tourists and residents, despite the arrival of Disneyland in 2005. With a huge aquarium, a wide array of wet ’n’ wild rides, and more, there’s something to entertain everybody, whether you’re a thrill-seeker or you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground.
If you’re a nature lover, the area’s hiking trails might be a better fit. From the gruelling 1,000-step stretch of The Twins to a more leisurely stroll across Pok Fu Lam Reservoir to Peel Rise in Aberdeen, trails are suitable for a range of fitness levels. But if that doesn’t float your boat, there’s also the option of renting a pedalo at the Wong Nai Chung Reservoir Park.
Where to Eat
The added breathing room that comes with life outside of the city centre brings with it the potential for some seriously spacious and outdoor dining options. The Pulse – a shopping and dining complex on the edge of Repulse Bay Beach – is one such venue. For a laid-back, alfresco meal just a stone’s throw from the sea, opt for the Caribbean-influenced cuisine at Limewood. Upstairs, the award-winning interior of contemporary Balinese restaurant TRi reflects the venue’s coastal charm, with a fine-dining twist.
While Central Hong Kong boasts some of the most impressive rooftop bars, an altogether different experience can be had on the south side. Trade in the concrete jungle for genuine greenery and mountain views at ABOVE by Komune, which sits atop the Ovolo Southside hotel, and overlooks the new MTR line and surrounding hillside.
Where to Shop
While we won’t be knocking the outlet malls and heavy-duty sales in the busier parts of town any time soon, there’s something quite lovely about taking a stroll through Stanley Market. With a mixture of vendors selling everything from fruit and veg to pashminas, clothes, stuffed toys, and miniature drones, there’s a treat for everyone. The market ends at the waterfront, where a row of bars and restaurants provide the perfect setting for a drink or two on a sunny afternoon by the sea.