One of the things that makes Hong Kong so unique is that we’re a city surrounded by sea! A favourite Hong Kong summer activity has got to be jumping on a junk and sailing out to one of the many islands nearby. Work on that tan (but don’t forget that SPF, girls!), frolic in the waves and enjoy the ocean breeze as you sip on summer cocktail… sounds like the perfect day to us!
As fabulous as junk trips can be, organising them can be a bit tricky with all the different things to consider. From where and when to go, to which junk company to use – the choice can be a bit overwhelming! Luckily our Sassy Junk Trip Guide is here to help, and we’ve rounded up of some of the best boat hire companies in Hong Kong plus loads of need-to-know tips. Happy sailing girls!
When should you go?
Depending on what occasion you’re celebrating or what experience you’re looking for, you can choose varying times of day to board a junk. Head out to one of Hong Kong’s many beaches (see our top beaches here) in the day to really make the most of the sun, or hire a junk out in the evening for a fun night between the stars and the sea. Both experiences are always great fun, but day junks are technically better value for money as they last longer (seven hours instead of four). It’s always great timing to have a junk on a long weekend or public holiday (some people prefer them on a Saturday so they have all of Sunday to recover *wink*) but remember, planning one the day after someone’s big event when everyone will be hungover isn’t ideal. Junks get snapped up fast so you will need to book at least 1-2 months in advance.
Where should you go from?
There are various locations that junks depart from, including Central, Causeway Bay (Noon Day Gun), Aberdeen and Sai Kung. You can usually ask for a certain destination, but it depends on the junk company and the captain (and that volatile Hong Kong weather!) as to where you end up. However, if you do get a stay in your final destination, we recommend Lamma for some scrummy seafood, Deep Water Bay for some beach action, Sai Kung, Clearwater Bay, Turtle Cove and Stanley Bay. (Above photo of Stanley from Hong Kong Junks’ Facebook Page).
Which junk company should you choose?
Not all junk packages are the same. They range from all-inclusive junks that provide food, alcohol and music, to completely bring your own everything! Some companies also offer karaoke, wakeboarding, water-skiing and banana boat rides at an extra cost. The all-inclusive ones are a little more expensive but we’d definitely recommend them. Also on the day of the junk, you can just rock up instead of organising the catering and carrying your own drinks on-board.
However, if you’re looking to enjoy a more budget-friendly junk, the bring-your-own option is perfect. Just remember to plan well ahead and get stocked up on supplies from your local supermarket (or if you’re cutting it fine, nearest 7-Elevens) in advance. Once you’re out on the junk, there are no longer any 7-Elevens just around the corner!
Here are some fantastic junk trip companies in Hong Kong:
Hello Hong Kong
If you’re looking for the ultimate day out on a boat, Hello Hong Kong’s got you covered. Step on board their catamaran, Wildkat, and jet off to Sai Kung from Central in only 25 minutes. This speedy boat will pull up right onto the beach, so no need to practice your swimming skills! With a great music system and the option to go out to the Geo Park, Tai Long Wan or any other secluded beach, this 23-seat catamaran is the perfect party boat. If you’re looking for something with a little more sophistication, Hello Hong Kong’s luxury 47ft cruising sloop, Local Hero, is ideal. Soak up the sun at the beach or sail away for a romantic evening (complete with a three-course meal!). And if that’s not enough, you can even hire the Local Hero for an overnight adventure… with two cabins that can hold four to six people, this is the ultimate sleepover destination!
And of course we’re always on the look out for budget-friendly options! That’s why Hello Hong Kong’s evening boat party packages and day junk rentals are ideal for those looking to save on the waves, as unlike other junks which only provide all-inclusive prices, you can BYOB! We do love a cheap drinking option… (see our guide to drinking on a budget here).
Lazydays boasts a stylish 32-seat yacht kitted out with all mod cons (tv, karaoke and even an Xbox!) for bespoke trips around the harbour or to outlying islands. With scrummy food and drink packages available (hello free-flow Prosecco!) plus massages on board and a new inflatable six-person lounge to relax on too, it’s no wonder Lazydays has become a total Sassy fave! They’ve recently launched a new ‘bikini friendly menu’, which includes delicious low-fat options… day of ‘junk’ food are gone and you don’t need to worry about sinking when you jump off the top of the boat! See our full review here.
Hong Kong Yachting
With a range of unique boats and cruisers at their disposal (we love the Jungle Jane, one of the best party boats in Hong Kong!), Hong Kong Yachting has loads of great itineraries – think exploring beaches in Cheung Chau, hopping around HK’s delish seafood restos, wine tasting cruises or even kayaking and hiking in Sai Kung.
Hong Kong Yachting, 2526 0151 or firstname.lastname@example.org
A true Sassy fave (it won our 2013 Sassy Award for Best Junk Company!), with packages to fit your theme and budget, including freshly-made food and drinks. It’s the small things like throwing drinks to you while you are swimming that makes this Junk trip truly memorable!
This iconic red-sailed junk offers 45 minute harbour trips plus longer day cruises around Stanley and other parts of HK… and since it’s run by the Aqua restaurant group, you can expect a full menu of fabulous signature cocktails on-board. This is a particularly good option for visiting out-of-towners.
Aqua Luna, 2116 8821
Delicious junks live up to their name, providing high quality, deli-style food with healthy ingredients on board. The prices are pretty reasonable as not only do they include food, but they also include unlimited drinks, boat and optional speed boat, wake-boarding, and a banana boat for just $600 per person (25 people minimum)! With seriously good food, the choice of three different junks and the option to go wherever you want (see here for more details), this is one junk company you definitely don’t want to miss out on!
Their junks hold up to 50 passengers and, having teamed up Maison Eric Kayser and il Bel Paese for even more yummy food options, they offer both catering and non-catering packages. They can also provide sea-kayaks, snorkels and toys, plus waitresses, speedboats and even a Thai masseuse for your trip!
Offer a massive selection of junks and luxury boats at different price points, with food and drink packages available from catering company Shamrock.
Hong Kong Junks
Offers boats for up to 40 people (including the fabulously named Wreckless!) and a variety of packages, including an all-inclusive option with unlimited food and drink. Their destinations include Deepwater Bay, Turtle Cove and Shek O, with banana boats, wakeboarding and even a mini bus pick-up from Central available as add-on extras.
The Mes Amis Junk
Uses a 44ft Chinese pleasure junk that can accommodate parties of up to 32 people and includes a fully-equipped kitchen and fully-stocked bar.
Koh Thai Junk
Offers four types of boats for a minimum of 25 people, with Thai food and drink catering packages – so if you’re a fan of the scrummy Thai food at their restaurants, this should be a winner! With pick-ups and drop-offs from 6 different location and 7 different destinations to head to (we’re eyeing dolphin watching in Tai O), you can either go all-inclusive or mix and match your boat, food and drink selections.
Offers boats accommodating around 30 passengers (either a traditional wooden junk or more modern pleasure cruisers are available), with a speedboat that has banana boat, water ski and wakeboarding equipment all included. They also offer ten different catering menus or you can bring your own.
For total luxury, why not hit up one of Elite Charter’s magnificent Mahala Lin 86ft yacht, with on-board gourmet cuisine and cocktails courtesy of Woolly Pig Concepts (the folks behind Madame Sixty Ate and Sal Curioso). With a range of day, evening or overnight cruises available, you can even add in a helicopter flight or staycation package – one for a VERY special occasion!
This is the boat to book when you want old school luxury. The restored eighty-foot classic motor yacht can accommodate up to 59 passengers over three decks. While its not cheap, it really is a stunning option for day, evening or overnight boating. They offer catering menus for cocktails and canapés, seated dinners and buffet dining, or you can organise your own.
Michelangelo, 6621 1691
A more local company with a great range of options – you can depart from practically any pier in town, with a whole host of destinations throughout Hong Kong also available. Banana boats, wakeboarding, motor boats, karaoke and even mah-jong can all be arranged, and they can also make special concessions for pets on-board too.
Offers cruisers, teak junks, sailing yachts and speedboats with all-inclusive food and drink options.
What to take:
• Swimwear (obviously! Check out some fab swimwear here)
• SUNCREEN (and remember to reapply throughout the day!)
• A change of clothes
• Flip-flops and sunnies
• Sea sickness tablets if necessary
• A blow-up life ring/noodle/lilo
• If you’re picky, your own shampoo and toiletries for the end of the day
• If you’re bringing your own food, make sure it is actually on board before you set sail… we forgot once!
• A camera or phone to catch amazing photos like the one from Lazydays above!
• If you’ve got one, a ‘dry-bag’ can definitely come in handy, making sure your valuables don’t get splashed with sea water.
A few more junk trip tips:
• Junks are a great place to meet new friends so if you are organising one, invite a wide range of people. Get friends to bring friends to bring friends of friends… and by the end of the day, I can guarantee everyone will be best buds!
• Because there are a number of flaky and unreliable people out there (and they all seem to be friends with us!), we suggest collecting the money from people beforehand so you don’t get caught short on the day and end up having to pay for people who don’t turn up.
• If you feel seasick, the best place to sit is at the back of the boat. Alternately, try and bob about in the water for most of the day.
• Conquer your fears and jump from the top of the boat!
• Remember to keep your eyes on your friends when you’re in the water and don’t wander or swim off alone.
• Look out for the weather reports the day before and keep your fingers crossed! In the case of bad weather raining off your boat trip, the junk company generally arranges for your trip to be held on an alternative date – another reason to get money off people first so they don’t cry off later!
Now all that’s left is for you to do is hit the waves!
With Special thanks to Rach and Shelley!