3 alternative things to do in Hong Kong

In a city that is only 1,000 square kilometres, how much can there realistically be to do? Most visitors to Hong Kong scour the city from the Peak, shop till their hearts drop and eat well (click here to read our Top 10 European Restaurants in Hong Kong), but after your stomachs are full and your wallets are empty, what’s left?

Here are three alternative itineraries you can enjoy on your next trip to Hong Kong:

1. Go hiking

Despite its relatively small physical size, Hong Kong’s unique topography provides ample opportunities for nature lovers to explore the wilderness. Approximately only 30% of the land area is actually developed, and a large part of the remainder is specifically reserved as protected country parks and geo parks. The range of topography varies from open grasslands and dense woodlands that encase reservoirs, mountain peak ranges (including the “nine dragons” of Kowloon – a transliteral definition of Kowloon) that rise nearly 1,000 metres from sea level, to sparse, untouched white-sandy beaches that culminate in crystal clear waters that make you feel as if you’ve entered paradise.

Hiking and beaches

As such, hiking (and camping, although not quite as rustic as you imagine it) is a popular activity among enthusiasts, hosting some of the most scenic vistas you would never expect from a trip to one of the world’s most dense cities. The trails range from simple walks upon paved roads, such as the family-friendly walk up Mount Butler/Mount Parker or up to The Peak, to scenic but easy walks along dirt roads such as Dragon’s Back that ends in Shek O, to difficult yet worthy and lengthy expeditions such as sections along the MacLehose Trail in northeastern Sai Kung.

2. Explore the colonial past

The British Empire governed Hong Kong for over 150 years, so it’s no surprise they left a lasting legacy in this small colony, the crown in the jewel of the Empire at its peak. Arguably, the quintessential British experience is to enjoy afternoon tea at The Peninsula. Afternoon tea is now as much a Hong Kong institution as it is British, with every eatery from small restaurants and cake cafes to cha-chaan-tengs (local restaurants) respectively serving their own twist of the classic.

Colonial past

Alternatively, explore the past in further detail with visits to museums, or key destinations where Victorian-era buildings and neoclassical-inspired structures have stood still, albeit currently used in an entirely more commercial form than previously intended, including the pictured Fringe Club, built in 1892. While many of the city’s glorious buildings were decimated to make room for ‘urban development’ in the past, the recent trend is towards conservation, and more heritage buildings are now appropriately repurposed and their interiors redesigned, while maintaining most of their previous facade.

3. Take a harbour cruise

The coastline and surrounding waters of Hong Kong is one of the busiest harbours in the world, and therefore one of the city’s greatest assets. It is no surprise that boat trips are popular, particularly in summer with a group of friends or to celebrate special occasions.

Aqua Luna offers high-end catered harbour cruises to celebrate such special occasions. The pictured Aqua Luna, with its bright red sails, is distinguishable from a distance. Modelled after an old Chinese junk boat, the handcrafted boat was was built specifically for the Aqua Restaurant Group, employing only traditional shipbuilding methods.

Aqua Luna

For a more cost-efficient option, there’s always the Star Ferry, an iconic institution that still traverses from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon. While the ride is much shorter now than it used to be thanks to heavy reclamation and the resulting inevitable narrowing of the harbour, it is still one of the city’s most incredible attractions, used as much as a mode of transport as a tourist hotspot.

For more incredible sights and sounds that make up Hong Kong, from the commonly visited sites to the more obscure, check out the official Hong Kong Tourism Board Facebook fan page, Discover Hong Kong.

Chinmoy Lad is the CEO and Founder of The Suite Life.

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Comments (7)

  1. julianaloh says:

    Or going out to the farms in New Territories for a farm lunch with hand picked vegetables and a spot of fishing!

  2. John says:

    There is no other place in the world like Hong Kong. You are working in one of the busiest financial center with skyscrapers everywhere and at the same time you are 10 minutes cab away from a beautiful sandy beach… We love Hong Kong !

  3. Adam Parsons says:

    Thanks for the ideas! I have never been in Hong Kong so far, but hiking in such place was always one of the things I wanted to try. Since watching The Dark Knight, I wish to visit one day and I will be walking around the hills all days long!

  4. Joshua Smalling says:

    Thanks for the article – very helpful! Going to Hong Kong in spring. Could you advise some budget hotels in Hong Kong?

  5. Chinmoy Lad says:

    Hello Joshua – what’s your budget? I’d be happy to help out – shoot me an email at chinmoy.lad@gmail.com.

    Juliana, John and Adam – I completely agree!

  6. Simon Osborne says:

    Nice article, went to Hong Kong in the summer last year, the national history museum was so interesting, spent almost a whole day in there! Hiking sounds great though, you wouldn’t think you could go hiking when you’re in the middle of the city part!

  7. Nate Fleming says:

    I’m moving to Shenzhen in a week, and I’m most looking forward to having the close proximity to Hong Kong. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the place, and want to get to know her better! Thanks for the article to help see how that can be done!

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