At the mention of Hong Kong, most people will immediately think of the skyscrapers, densely filling up the tiny space of the city and the busybodies, hurrying from one building to another. The hectic lifestyle can be overwhelming but thankfully, this is only one aspect of the city.
Since Hong Kong is essentially made up of many little islands, 263 in fact! There are many places where you can slow down, relax, and even experience the culture, which sometimes may seem to have been diluted by the westernised city centre. So instead of spending all your time in shopping malls, why not take a ferry to one or some of the many beautiful islands around you?
Hop on the ferry from Central Pier to get to the authentic fishing village of Tai O in just an hour. Or if like me, you get seasick easily, get the bus from Tung Chung bus station, although the drive is slightly long and windy up the hills. It is one of the very few islands where you’ll still find stilt houses built above the water. Looks pretty unsteady but there are villagers still living there. Make it a day trip: see the historical sites, stroll through the market, try some of the many local delicacies, like gigantic fish balls, glutinous balls, etc. Even take a boat down the river and maybe see some pink dolphins or two?
Whilst the island is free to visit throughout the year, I’d highly recommend you to go there around April or May, just when the annual Cheng Chau Bun Festival happens. This unique weeklong event is a traditional celebration of Buddha’s birthday. Generally speaking, you can expect lots of music, lion dances and an insane amount of buns. To explain, the buns are piled up into a mountain for competitors climb to the top and snatch as many buns as they can. This results in one of the most spectacular sights you’ll see!
Although Mui Wo is an island, it is home to some of the most well-known Chinese landmarks. Such as Man Mo Temple, which is the oldest temple in Hong Kong! Unless you don’t want to get sweaty, Mui Wo is great for hiking, as it is full of hiking trails. If you fancy a swim, you can take a dip in Silvermine Bay Beach. In essence, this is a much cleaner alternative to the overly populated Repulse Bay or Stanley Beach on Hong Kong Island. From Silvermine Bay Beach, you can walk up to Silvermine Cave and Waterfall, which only takes about 16 minutes and worth a visit.
Given that it was once known as the Abandoned Village, but now, Ma Wan is a thriving residential island, called Park Island. So why go all the way to visit it? Well, you can see the contrasting lives of modern and old-fashion lives. For amongst the many skyscrapers, you will still find some stilt houses (another one!) Make it a day trip – go see Noah’s Ark – yes, they actually re-built Noah’s Ark from the Bible. Furthermore, you can spend a day at the beach and hike around the island. You can get a good view (especially at night) of the biggest bridge in the city, Tsing Ma Bridge. From the pier, however, I’d recommend walking around the island for even prettier views along the way.
This secluded island is only a 35-minute ferry ride from Central Pier. As soon as you arrive, rent a bike and cycle around the city! Comparatively to Ma Wan, you’ll find a number of temples on Peng Chau, including the most famous Lung Mo Temple. Each temple has a different “speciality” shall we say. For example, if fertility is something that you wish to pray for, visit Seven Sisters Temple. Head to the Golden Flower Shrine and ask for a long line of descendants and your wish might come true. Also, spice up your Instagram feed with street arts of Peng Chau. For a scenic view of Kowloon, take an easy hike up the Finger Hill. Afterwards, take a stroll down the hill to Tung Wan Beach for a relaxing swim. Additionally, you might even see some Chinese white dolphins!
As can be seen, Hong Kong has a lot more to offer! Of the five little islands mentioned above, which would you visit first?
*Chantelle is one of our guest editor from Hong Kong. She has lived in three different countries and have travelled across many continents. Having been in England for the past nine years and graduated with a Law degree, she is now taking a break in Paris for the year as she figures out her next step in life. She is an expert at traveling light and on a budget, although she still enjoys the occasional indulgence in a luxurious holiday. You can follow her on Instagram.