Hong Kong is known as the modern city that isn’t only packed with people but also one of the busiest cities in the world. When you are going to Hong Kong, you may see the glamorous side of the city. But there is more to offer – more than the eyes can see.
Hong Kong is an example of a successful city. The city originated from a fishing village and it has evolved through decades to its current state. From a village to a successful port, and now a world-class financial district, the city with 7.4 million people has managed to grow, expand, and thrive. Visitors may know Hong Kong as the luxurious tourist destinations with its shopping malls and stores. But if you only want to open your eyes wider, you will see that this city has another side – the side that not everyone knows.
Hong Kong isn’t only about tall skyscrapers and polished luxurious malls in the Central district. If you are willing to take a look further, you will see that it still retains its own unique (and quirky) appeals, one-of-a-kind festivals and events, nature trails, and also ancient traditions. Yes, you can still explore them even when it means that you should go farther to the city walls. It’s a good thing that Hong Kong has a reliable and good ferry and MRT systems so you can go outside the city walls in no time. In less than 30 minutes, you can enjoy the greeneries. It’s exciting how to see how the view changes – from the busy and crowded streets to beautiful and natural sights.
It’s hard to not to listen to the wild calling you. If you have been so accustomed to the city’s view, exploring and enjoying the green view can be a rare and precious opportunity. You won’t believe the beauty outside the city, such as the green hills of Sai Kung, located in the northeastern area of New Territories. You will be invited to the blue bays and unlimited coastlines. Then there is Tai O, located in the southwestern area of Lantau Island. You can find unique stilt houses with their pastel colours. They are the perfect background for the process of drying the shrimp paste. And let’s not forget the sampan boats, cruising along the quiet and peaceful canals.
If you don’t really have the energy (or the time) to wander outside the city, stay inside and reveal many of its hidden places. Yes, you can learn a lot from the dynamic neighbourhood even inside the city. There is always something unique in each district. Such thing like Dragon Fire Dance Festival taking place in fall in Tai Hang or the unique murals on the alleyways of Sheung Wan are the examples of the unique things to find in Hong Kong – while retaining the traditional value. You can also find the tasty dim sum served in the traditional tea houses or the outdoor markets that are Instagramable. Basically, you will never get bored in Hong Kong as the city always offers new things and experiences.
1. Hollywood Road
Hollywood Road is one of the main appeals in Sheung Wan. Known as the oldest street in Central, you can easily find fashion boutiques, contemporary and modern art galleries, top-notch eateries, and traditional antique shops in Hollywood Road. Nowadays, the Road is associated with street arts that are edgier. If you go to the western area, you will find colourful artwork and murals by both local and international street artists.
2. Man Mo Temple
This is the biggest Man Mo temple located in Hollywood Road. It is considered Grade 1 Historical building that was designed and created to honour both God of Literature (Man) and God of War (Mo). The temple is generally swarmed and flooded by students during exam times. They would leave offerings at Man’s statue, meant for luck. The offerings usually include celery (meant for diligence) or spring onion (meant for intellect).
3. Cat Street
The market is the perfect place to find quality antiques or Chinese souvenirs. It is one of the shopping paradises for shopping lovers and bargain hunters. You can find many of them there. There is a pedestrian street known as Upper Lascar Row and it is filled with vintage memorabilia, knick-knacks, and pottery. If you explore the area patiently, you may be able to get classic mahjong set, jade jewellery, or hand-painted vase.
4. Lau Fau Shan
This is a village in the New Territories, on the northwestern side. It is located in Deep Bay banks. This is the last place in the city that still retains its oyster farms.
5. Ha Pak Nai
In this place, you can see the Shenzhen’s skyline far away while admiring the floating rafts with their molluscs. You can also eat the dishes with the fresh oysters at the simple and no-fuss restaurants.
6. Oyster Farm
Golden oysters are the main products of Lau Fau Shan. They are dried using a traditional way – under the sun. For 7 centuries, oyster farmers have cultivated special, unique, and tasty local species, which is named after the city – Crassostrea Hongkongensis. This is a paradise seafood village. The oyster harvest season takes place between May and June.
7. Oyster Specialty
In Hong Kong, oysters are viewed as the good luck symbol – making it one of the most popular ingredients in Hong Kong dish. There are countless ways to prepare them. Some of the oysters are preserved through drying them in the sun, followed by glazing or braising. In other ways, fresh oysters can also be prepared for recipes that involve deep-frying and stir-frying.
This is often called Venice of the East because of the canals surrounding the fishing village. The atmosphere in this place is slow and relaxing – and you will be pampered by the greeneries of the hills. You can use a local boat (called by sampan) to explore the place. If you prefer walking, you can also do it. There is a nice footbridge that provides an ideal background for your photos. And the cool thing is: it stretches across the area’s waterways. From this spot, you can take a picture of the village’s lifestyle and capture their unique way of life.
1. Dried Fish
Seafood is the main element in the village’s economy. Since it is vital, people are trying their best to preserve it. Moreover, Tai O is basically the oldest village (for fishing) in the area, so they still retain their old-school way in preserving the seafood. They have to remove all the organs first and then fill the produce with salt. It is meant to retain the original flavour. Then they let the product dry under the sun. Visitors can buy shrimp paste, dried oysters, squid, and fish at the village’s market. You can also try having lunch there and enjoy the seafood variants on top of a bowl of warm rice. It is super delicious.
2. Stilt Houses or Pang Uks
One of the unique characteristics is the stilt houses and their pastel hues. Not many houses are built on stilts nowadays so having such houses is a nice view.
1. Tsing Ma Bridge
It connects Ma Wan and Tsing Yi, the two islands, and it is most gorgeous at dusk and dawn. The lower deck has sheltered carriageways that make this bridge unique. Since it was opened for public in 1997, it remains open whether it is sunny or rainy.
2. Cultural District
This district is basically an old site that has existed for more than 3 decades. This is an area considered as the remains of the old Ma Wan Town. In 2011, the 2,000 inhabitants were moved to a new site for a housing project development. The district still remains, though. If you come to this site, you can still see the empty stilt buildings, overgrown park, and the old pier.
3. Tin Hau Temple
In the past, Hong Kong’s economy depended so much on the sea and its produce. The fishermen would worship the Goddess of the Sea or Tin Hau. They worshipped her for protection, especially during bad weather. If you explore the city, you will find countless temples dedicated to her.
1. Freespace Happening
This area is located pretty close to Victoria Harbour’ banks and it covers an area of 40 hectares. The Cultural District of West Kowloon should consist of 17 culture and art venues by 2022. This is an HK$29 billion project has already hosted events such as Cantonese Opera (at Xiqu Center) or Freespace Happening festival music that is held on a monthly basis.
2. M+ Pavilion
M+ Museum has been planned and arranged as the centre of visual arts display with the world-class focus that should open in 2020. Meanwhile, the M+ Pavilion is the starter. The building comes with a mirrored and minimalist design for the gallery – but only in small-scale display and exhibition first.
3. Cultural District
This spot has become a premier event site in Hong Kong. Besides Freespace Happening, there are many events taking places here, such as traditional Chinese theatre, film screenings, photography exhibitions, family-friendly workshops, and also International Hong Kong Black Box Festival (that is happening for 4-weeks long) dedicated for contemporary theatre.
1. Wishing Trees Lam Tsuen
The locals believe that their wishes can come true if they write them down on the paper and then tie them down to the wishing trees. The tradition has taken back to 7 centuries. Although visitors still do it until now, they tie their wishes onto the imitation trees or the wooden racks. It is done to preserve the original trees.
2. Man Mo Yi Tai Temple
This is one of the well-known landmarks in Tai Po since the beginning of the 19th century. You can see a beautiful temple as well as a courtyard that can’t be found elsewhere.
3. Ng Tung Chai
You can hear this waterfall sound even from afar. The waterfall is located hidden inside Country Park Tai Mo Shan and you need to trek for around 3.5 hours. There are 4 remote waterfalls – Bottom, Scatter, Middle, and Main Falls.
1. Hungry Ghost Festival
Ghost Month is the calling given to the 7th month of the Chinese calendar. The locals would practice rituals and burn offerings so they can feed their ancestors’ spirits. The celebration includes comedic shows of Thanksgiving (happening on the 15th day within the month). It is believed that during the date, the ghost gate will open so spirits can move between the two worlds.
2. Choi Hung Estate
Choi Hung means rainbow in Chinese, and the estate in Wong Tai Sin district is one of the biggest (and also the oldest) public complexes for home and housing. Opened in 1962, the complex has become a home to 18,000 residents. The estate has 8 colours which are meant to boost the spirit of the residents.
3. Lok Wah South Estate
This is also another public housing in Ngau Tau Kok. The architectural design is simple and yet impressive. With the rooftop painted in sky blue for the car park and other symmetric lines and placed holes, the building looks just superb.
If you want to experience the natural beauty of Hong Kong, you should come to this coastal park with 50 square kilometres in size has cliffs, sea caves, and also marvellous hexagonal rock columns that are naturally formed and created by volcanic eruptions – most likely happening 140 million years in time ago.
2. High Island Reservoir Monument
This place is located within one spot of Sai Kung beaches and Unesco Global Geopark. The Easy Dam reservoir has a combination of artificial and natural elements. You can also see a blue giant dolos that acts as the memorial monument for workers who lost their lives for the construction.
3. Long Ke
If you hike from the East Dam reservoir within the MacLehose Trail, you will see one of the isolated beaches of Long Ke Wan. It takes 30 minutes from the reservoir. You can camp there. If you don’t plan on camping or spending the night, swimming or playing with water can be the greatest option.
Tai Mo Shan
1. The Highest Peak
This is basically the highest peak in Hong Kong, reaching 957 meters in height. It includes Country Park Tai Mo Shan which is often covered in fog. But if you are patient enough and you are willing to wait at the Weather Radar Station, you will be rewarded with a great view once the fog is gone.
2. Country Park
If you want to hike, the start will begin at the Visitor Center and it goes through MacLehose Trail. It will pass the waterfall, forgotten villages, wild tea shrubs, and an abandoned military barrack. The hike will take around 4.5 hours but you will be rewarded with the amazing view.
1. Tung Choi Street Ladies Market
If you are looking for inexpensive clothes, makeup, bags, and accessories – and you love haggling while doing so – this market will provide the best spot.
Read also: 7 Places you must visit in Hongkong
If you think that Hong Kong will be offering you an interesting travelling experience, be sure to plan ahead. Don’t forget to reserve hotels and flights. Go to Airpaz and you can reserve any flight that you want, including Air Asia that is flying to Hong Kong.