Walking tours of central Hong Kong tend to involve elbowing one’s
way through huge crowds of shoppers. But the Hong
Kong Tourism Board, 99 Queen’s Road Central (tel: 2807
6543), does have some itineraries, with ‘Heritage
and Architectural Walks’ on Hong Kong Island and
in Kowloon. Guides and a rental audio system are offered for HK$50.
The walks last from two to four hours.
The HKTB Visitor Hotline (tel: 2508 1234) or any
tourist office can provide details. Other companies also operate
HKTB-approved tours, such as Gray
Line Tours (tel: 2368 7111) or Splendid
Tours and Travel (tel: 2316 2151). Information about these are
available on the HKTB web site, categorised by theme.
Walkers who wish to range further afield have many well-trodden
routes for exploring the rural New Territories and backwoods of
Hong Kong Island, such as the 100km (60-mile) MacLehose
Trail, the 50km (30-mile) Hong Kong Trail,
or even the 3.5km (2.2-mile) Peak Trail. Bottles
of water are a must for any traveller attempting these routes during
Plenty of themed bus tours are listed on the Hong Kong Tourism
Board web site (see above), including a ‘Heritage
Tour’, a ‘Healthy Living Tour’,
a ‘Come Horseracing Tour’, a ‘Morning
Tea and Tai Chi Tour’ and a ‘Land Between’
bus tour around the scenic and folksy areas of the New Territories.
Tours usually last around five hours and cost from HK$290 to HK$490.
Departure points differ depending on the tour – for information,
visitors can contact the HKTB’s Visitor Hotline
(tel: 2508 1234) or the Tour Reservation Hotline
(tel: 2368 7112). Gray
Line Tours (tel: 2368 7111), Splendid
Tours and Travel (tel: 2316 2151) and Sky
Bird Travel Agency (tel: 2369 9628) all offer similar coach
tours of the city.
Boat tours of Hong Kong’s waters are offered by several companies.
(tel: 2926 3868) has various harbour and island tours from HK$200
to HK$630, and Star Ferry (tel: 2118 6241) offers
ferry tours for HK$180. Harbour tours last about two to three hours.
Watertours has pick-up locations on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon,
although the tours sail out of Queen’s Pier
on Hong Kong side or the Kowloon Public Pier on Kowloon Side. The
Star Ferry tours sail from the Star Ferry terminals
on both sides of the harbour. HKFF Travel Ltd (tel:
2533 5339) operates a five-hour tour of the Outlying Islands,
starting from the Outlying Islands Ferry Pier in Central every day
at 09:15. Tours cost HK$320.
A ‘Galaxy of Lights’ tour is available
on an open-air luxury tram, operated by JTT Tours
(tel: 2139 3187), under the auspices of the Hong
Kong Tourism Board (tel: 2807 6543). This is an evening tour
on specially modified and illuminated antique trams, travelling
along the main tram route of Hong Kong Island, starting from the
Western District to Causeway Bay, passing the lit-up highrises of
central Hong Kong. A tour guide narrates on this 90-minute tour,
which costs HK$60 and leaves from the Lower Block,
City Hall, Central, every night
Half Day Excursions
The small seaside settlement of Stanley is situated on the south
side of Hong Kong Island, and has some nice beaches and waterfront
restaurants enjoyed by its well-heeled citizens. Visitors flock
to Stanley Market (open daily 1000–1900),
a covered market with many stalls offering souvenirs, clothes, art,
sporting goods,and many other items of Hong Kong and mainland sweatshops.
Additional attractions include Tin Hau Temple,
St Stephen’s Beach, Kuan Yin Temple,
the Old Stanley Fort, the military cemetery which
contains the graves of wartime internees, the Old Police Station
and nice walks along Wong Ma Kok Road. The market, is like a zoo
at the weekend, therefore weekdays are the best choice for a visit.
Stanley Market is easily reached by bus (numbers 6, 6A, 6X or 260X)
from the Exchange Square Bus Terminal, Central, by bus 973 from
Tsim Sha Tsui East terminus, by minibus number 14 from Shau Kei
Wanby, or by green minibus (number 40) from Hoi Ping Road, Causeway
Hong Kong’s 3rd-largest island, Lamma, is
a lush green oasis very popular with ex-pats. It has beautiful secenery and its beaches are wonderful.
Several great pubs, bars and restaurants complement these. And particularly
appealing is the fact that the island has no cars
(and only 1 ambulance). The main residential village, Yung
Shue Wan, is the main ferry terminus,
while Sok Kwu Wan, the 2nd-largest village, specialty
is open-air seafood restaurants. Hung Shing
Ye is the largest beach, and Lo
So Shing is arguably the best; Sek
Pai Wan and Sham Wan are best reached
by rented junk. Hikes between the 2 main villages are a good option,
as well as a climb to Mount Stenhouse. Lamma is located to the west
of Hong Kong Island and ferries to Yung Shue Wan or Sok Kwu Wan
on Lamma Island leave from Central.
An additional seaside destination on Hong Kong Island’s southern
side, Repulse Bay has an exquisite beach
that is great for a walk, on spring days. At the eastern end of
the beach is a slightly strange lifeboat station – strange
because it is also a temple to Kuan Yin, the Buddhist
goddess of mercy, and is decorated with garish plaster figures from
Chinese Buddhist mythology. The sea runs into this religious theme
park at high tide. At the opposite end of the beach there is a large
shopping centre with many good restaurants. Romantic visitors can
end their beach stroll with dinner at the Verandah restaurant
in the Repulse Bay Hotel. Repulse Bay can be reached by bus 6, 6A
or 6I from Exchange Square Bus Terminal, Central. Passengers should
alight upon seeing the Repulse Bay Hotel or the strange, curved
building block with a hole through the middle – put there
for good feng shui.
A small village and beach resort
situated on the southeast coast of Hong Kong Island, Shek
O is sufficiently secluded to be safe from the worst weekend
crowds, however weekdays are still the best time to go. It is also
very exclusive but enjoys some of Hong Kong’s best beach space.
The further legs of the two-hour journey out offer some scenic merits
and there are several bluffs and bays within hiking or cycling distance
of the village, with its many open-air restaurants. Shek O is at
the very end of the bus 9 route, which starts from Shau Kei Wan
Thankfully, the new Chek Lap Kok Airport has not ruined Lantau,
located 45km (28 miles) from Central Hong Kong, twice the size of
Hong Kong Island and more than half of its territory, dubbed country
parkland. Residents at Discovery Bay (also called
Disco Bay) enjoy the serenity all year round – other people
visit for a sample. Walking tours and hikes are popular here, however,
the principal attractions are the Po Lin Big Buddha
– claimed as the world’s biggest seated outdoor Buddha
effigy, at 26m (85ft) tall – and the Po Lin Buddhist
Monastery, most definitely Hong Kong’s largest. The
monastery has some nice buildings and has been used as the set for
many kung fu films. There is a tea garden nearby and the beaches
and restaurants situated on the southern shore are also idyllic.
Lantau Island can be reached by taking either the MTR Airport Railway
link to Tung Chung, followed by bus 23 to Po Lin, or the ferry to
Mui Wo from Central, followed by bus 2. The stairs up to the Big
Buddha are open daily 10:00–18:00. Lantau
Tours Ltd (tel: 2984 8255) offers tours of the island and
the monastery for HK$520.
This Hong Kong excursion is pretty much an entirely separate destination
and visitors should not forget to take their passports. The last
remaining piece of China in foreign hands, converting from Portuguese
rule in December 1999, Macau, located on the southeastern
coast of China, about one hour from Hong Kong, is an utterly different
community – chilled-out, hedonistic and even Mediterranean.
Its fine colonial architecture provides a far more
nostalgic air than its big brother territory, only an hour ride
by jetfoil, adding southern Baroque-style plasterwork
to the Latin ambience typified by its bars and restaurants.
The tiny territory boasts some beautiful
churches – St Augustine’s Church
and St Dominic’s, the 17th-century cathedral
church, as well as the most well known of all, the façade
of St Paul’s Cathedral – all survived
a fire in 1835. Its Kun Lam and A-Ma Temples
were also established in the 17th century. The Monte Fort,
still has its cannons, was constructed by the Jesuits, just after
1600. A historic site of great interest to Chinese and Sinophiles,
the Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Home is where the founder
of China’s first Republican government practised medicine
in his early days.
However newer developments, such as the Macau Tower,
typify the territory’s new ambition to be more than a backwater
– an ambition due to come to fruition with the launching of
the new leisure and casino developments opened since the end of
Stanley Ho’s gambling monopoly in 2002. Macau’s
main industry is gambling. The Triad warfare connected
with it has diminished with the return of Chinese sovereignty –
Applauding crowds welcomed the new PLA garrison as saviours from
years of lawlessness. Today Macau has a much more robust economy,
a more ambitious tourism policy than Hong Kong and anticipates its
coming transformation into the Vegas of Asia.
Macau is easily reached by jetfoil or jet boat via Macau ferry terminal,
near Shun Tak Centre, or from China Hong Kong City terminal at Tsim
Sha Tsui. Macau
Government Tourist Office, 9 Largo do Senado (tel: (853) 315
566; fax: (853) 510 104; e-mail: email@example.com),
is open every day 09:00–18:00 and can provide further details.