We think Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world. The pulsating concrete jungle has something for everyone, including an array of easy day trips ideal for intrepid explorers, shopping fanatics, beach junkies and hiking gurus.
One of Hong Kong’s hidden gems, Peng Chau is rarely listed on the tourist sites, so rather than hordes of crowds, you’ll find ancient temples, rustic restaurants and lovely beaches here.
Given the island only measures a square kilometer, it’s hard to wander too far on Peng Chau, but we recommend exploring the winding streets and hiking trails to work up an appetite for your lunchtime feast.
Head up to Finger Hill, the highest point on the island, which offers great views of both Hong Kong island and Disney Land – what more could you want? If hiking isn’t for you, why not wander along the Peng Chau Heritage Trail that takes you past an old lime kiln and gives an insight into Peng Chau’s industrial heritage?
As with most Hong Kong islands, there are a number of seafood restaurants worth checking out, and a must-try is the Shrimp Paste – it’s a local delicacy. The most surprising thing about this island is its French restaurant Les Copains d’abord – a lovely French-owned bistro with a sunny terrace. We have friend who heads to Peng Chau for this French restaurant alone -testament enough to how fab it is.
How to get there: Ferries leave from Central Pier 6 to Peng Chau and takes around 30 minutes. Find more info on prices and times here.
Tai Long Wan is easily one of our top beaches in Hong Kong; mainly because the hike there is pretty beautiful, fairly easy and there’s the option to camp for the more adventurous.
Found in the new territories, it’s not the easiest to get to, but we promise once you’re there it’s worth it. The trail from Sai Wan Pavilion only takes about 45 minutes and isn’t too demanding, although be warned, there is one steep hill to tackle. Once you hit the beach, it’s hard not to be blown away by the postcard-worthy long strip of white sand and turquoise waters. Don’t forget to pack sun cream, but don’t worry about food, there are one or two little restaurants along the water front – perfect for those lunchtime cravings.
At the end of the day, hop on one of the local sampan boats back to Sai Kung. Be aware that you need to book yourself onto one of these when you arrive at the beach and hold onto your gear when you’re on board – the drivers love a bumpy ride!
Tai Long Wan is also one of the best camping spots. You can rent tents from On Kee Store along the beach. Give them a call in advance to book: 2328 2262
How to get there: If you’re feeling lazy, you can hop in a cab to Sai Wan pavilion. Alternatively, you can take the MTR to Choi Hung and then jump on the 1A green minibus to Sai Kung. Once in Sai Kung take minibus 29R and alight at the Sai Wan Pavilion.
Read more: Top 5 Camping Spots in Hong Kong
Tai O should be added to everyone’s Hong Kong bucket list. A quaint fishing village with houses built on stilts, if you’re looking for an authentic Hong Kong experience, this is it. It is also very instagrammable, for those looking to up the ante on their grid. But the best thing about it? You’ll feel worlds away from Hong Kong’s bustling energy and concrete streets.
A highly recommended activity in Tai O is the boat ride out onto the ocean to spot the pink dolphins. On arrival in the village you’ll be welcomed by local fishermen and invited to give this activity a go. Keep an eye out once aboard as these dolphins are shy!
Once you’ve ticked the dolphins off your list, have a wander around the little village. Sample the delicious egg waffles and try the dried seafood and snacks. We recommend the barbecue oyster and shrimp.
Sassy Tip: If you can, try to go during the week as it can get very busy at the weekends.
How to get there: Take the MTR to Tung Chung and then hop on the number 11 bus
Read more: Your Guide to Tai O: Life by the Water
The ancient Cheung Chau fishing village might be small, but there is an abundance of things to do. Think: beaches, temples and a legendary pirate’s cave.
Jump on the ferry for the short journey from Hong Kong. Once you arrive on the island wander along the main promenade and soak in the bustling atmosphere and the beautiful views of the harbour.
We recommend renting a bicycle for a fun way to see some of the island. Motorised vehicles aren’t allowed on the island so cycling really is the main mode of transport – which we love!
If you’re a bit of a culture buff, check out Pak Tai Temple and the range of little shops jam-packed with traditional trinkets and souvenirs. If, like us, you love the beach – check out Tun Wan beach, the perfect sun trap during Hong Kong’s balmy summers. For the more adventurous head to Cheung Po Tsai Cave, a popular spot which you can hike down to, or challenge yourself to one of the other hikes on the island.
How to get there: Ferries leave from Central Pier 5 and take about 45 mins. Find more info on prices and times here.
Read more: Your Guide to Cheung Chau
We love Lamma island, because within 20 minutes of being in Hong Kong’s central metropolis we can be in the midst of gleaming white beaches, sparkling turquoise waters and rolling green hills. Yes, life in Hong Kong is that good!
We like to start our day on Lamma with the Family Trail hike from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan. Taking about an hour and a half, the hike takes you through the most stunning scenery, and is the perfect distance to work up an appetite.
Yung Shue Wan is Lamma’s main town – although it’s teeny tiny in comparison to Hong Kong with only 6,000 inhabitants. The rustic town offers an array of restaurants – Chinese, Western and Asian; bars and cute souvenir shops. It’s very easy to while away a few hours sipping on a cold beer, or escaping the hustle of Hong Kong cosied up in the Lamma Island Bookworm Cafe, and when you’re ready for lunch, try Man Fung Seafood Restaurant on the main street. If you don’t read Canto, don’t feel too daunted if there is no English menu – we just point at the fish we want from the tanks and that usually does the trick.
Sok Kwun Wan is smaller still and used to be the largest fishing farming centre in Hong Kong. We recommend heading here to discover the island’s best seafood restaurants. It’s no surprise that many expats plan a day trip to Lamma and never return – opting to live on the island.
How to get there: Ferries leave from Central Pier 4 to both Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. Make sure you check the schedule if travelling on a public holiday. Find more info on prices and times here.
Read more: Your Neighbourhood Guide to Lamma Island
Not for the faint hearted, this is a unique day trip for the more adventurous out there. Venture out of the city and you’ll find whole villages long abandoned and scattered in the outlying islands; the most well-known is Ma Wan Ghost Town. Legend has it that residents were forced out of this little fishing village due to planned construction of a new luxury apartment complex which never happened. Now, the village – and its stories – are slowly crumbling away.
It’s a unique experience wandering through the abandoned houses, crumbling restaurants and shops that are slowly falling into the ocean, giving a glimpse into the eerie past.
Similarly haunting are Yim Tin Tsai, an abandoned village with a UNESCO heritage cathedral lying at the top; So Lo Pun in Plover Cove Country Park and Mau Wu Shan in Devil’s Peak. Make a day of it!
How to get there: For Ma Wan, get the direct ferry to Park Island from Central Pier 2 or get the bus from Tsing Ma MTR station. Find more info on ferry prices and times here.
Some may not have heard of this little city, but it’s not to be missed! Only 70-minutes by boat from Hong Kong, Zhuai is located in the Pearl River Delta and is known for its mixture of both delicious food and buzzing nightlife and its island life and stunning coastlines.
There is heaps to do in Zhuhai, but we’d recommend the following:
- Spend the day on the deserted (and beautiful!) Hebao island. All you need are your swimmers and a good book. There are a few little restaurants to lunch at, but we recommend saving yourself for when you’re back on the mainland.
- Waizai Seafood Street is the place to go for seafood lovers. You’ll find a huge array of seafood, including oysters, prawns and a wide variety of fish. Choose your fish and head to one of the hectic restaurants opposite – they’ll cook it there and then for you.
- If you’re in Zhuhai for a night out, don’t miss Bar Street, the 300-metre long bar street where you can enjoy a drink (or three) in one of the upscale clubs or open air bars (it’s pretty similar to Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong).
Sassy tip: the city actually consists of over 100 island, many of which are accessible and border controls provide three-day visas on arrival which makes life easier!
How to get there: Ferries leave from both the HK-Macau ferry terminal in Sheung Wan and the China ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. You can find more info on prices and times here.
Shenzhen is less than an hour from Hong Kong and is a goldmine for shopaholic’s. We like to head to Shenzhen just before Christmas because you can literally find anything in this super-sized mall and it’s the best spot to blitz all of your shopping in one day. Although we won’t lie – it can be a little stressful!
Most shoppers head to Luohu Commercial City when on a day trip from Hong Kong – think 700 stores where you can buy just about anything. But if you have a little more time, keep an eye out for the flagship Sun Plaza mall for international brand stores, the Dongmen maze of streets for clothes and furniture and Da Fen Village for art.
- Change your cash before you get there. Make sure you have plenty of RMB and a back-up of HKD
- If you have a bag in mind that you’d like to buy, take a picture of it with you and show the shop staff – this makes the whole process much easier
- Take a friend who has no shame in negotiating (we all have that one!)
- Actually, just take a friend for the ride to keep you company – it can be a long day!
What you need to know: You will need a visa for Shenzhen. Head to the visa office in Wan Chai, or sort it through an agent. This can be the more expensive option but it simplifies the whole process.
How to go there: The easiest and cheapest way to reach Shenzhen is via the MTR. From Hung Hom MTR station, take the East Rail Line to either Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau stations – both are connected to the Shenzhen metro, but Lu Wo is a closer to the shopping centre. The journey takes around 30-40 minutes, but make sure to factor in time at the border.
Read more: A 24-Hour Guide to Shenzhen
Known for its wild parties, nightclubs and gambling, Macau is the ideal spot for hen and stag do’s – the Pacha pool party is renowned and a firm favourite of many.
However, away from the casinos and gambling, Macau has heritage-soaked corners, featuring beautiful architecture, popular restaurants and some of the best egg tarts in Asia. We kid you not.
Head to Senado Square where you’ll see the best of the old part of the city, and be awed by the beautiful pastel-coloured neoclassical buildings. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, indulge in the Macanese cuisine, with its unique blend of Portugese and Chinese ingredients. Our faves include Fernando Restaurant and the fab wine lounge Macau Soul. If, like us, you’ve got a sweet tooth, finish the afternoon with a piping hot Portugese egg tart from Lord Stow’s Bakery. These flaky cups of creamy goodness will leave you wanting more.
How to get there: Take the ferry from Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal in the Shun Tak Centre. Turbo Jet and Cotai Water Jet are the two main ferry services, so check the websites for times and prices.
Okay, not technically a day trip, bu we think that a day out in Hong Kong is not complete without a trip on the Aqua Luna to Stanley. We think this is one of the ultimate experiences to show parents or friends visiting town: step aboard the Aqua Luna to enjoy the intoxicating Hong Kong skylines as the ship sails to Stanley. Take it up a notch and indulge in the delicious cocktails and snacks on offer.
Once in Stanley, shop in the villages’ colourful market and indulge in a yummy lunch at one of our top Hong Kong restaurants, The Boathouse. The beautiful three-storey restaurant features an international menu with views out across the water. We highly recommend sitting on the roof terrace, ordering a glass of Whispering Angel Rose and trying the bucket of fresh seafood. We can easily while away the day here…
What you need to know: Aqua Luna departs for Stanley from Central Pier 9 and TST pier 1. The journey takes 90-minutes and only goes on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Price: $280 one-way; $400 round trip. Find more info here!