Hong Kong can be divided into four main areas, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon across Victoria Harbour, the New Territories north of Kowloon and the Outlying Islands in the South China Sea which include Lantau, Lamma, Cheung Chau and Peng Chau. This article covers the Outlying Islands. Click here for Hong Kong Island or Kowloon and the New Territories.
On the Water
The Aqua Luna – Image courtesy of ADTeasdale @ Flickr
The cheapest way to get out on the water is to cross between Wan Chai or Central and Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) on the Star Ferry. The Star Ferry also offers 1h Victoria Harbour tours arriving and departing from Central Pier 7. The 19:55 departure takes in the Symphony of Lights, the nightly synchronised light, laser and music show involving 45 buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbour. (Nato thinks the Symphony of Lights is lacklustre, I quite enjoy it, make up your own mind.)
Another option for a Victoria Harbour cruise is the Aqua Luna, a Chinese junk. 45 minute cruises depart from Pier 1 in TST or Pier 9 in Central with drinks and snacks available on board. The 19:30/19:45 (TST/Central) departures take in the nightly Symphony of Lights.
If you are keen to sail the waters outside Victoria Harbour, you can take the Aqua Luna to Stanley or Hong Kong Yachting have sailing and other options. Spend a half day looking for the local pink dolphins with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch, their tours run every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with a bus departing from TST at 08:50 for the boat departing at 09:30 from Tung Chung Pier on Lantau. Dolphinwatch boast a 97% dolphin sighting rate and if you don’t see any they’ll take you out again for free.
Tian Tan Buddha – Image courtesy of Chris Brown @ Flickr
Lantau Island is twice the size and twice the height of Hong Kong Island, and mostly designated as parkland. It is well connected to Kowloon and Hong Kong via MTR, Airport Express Line (AEL), bus, taxi and ferry.
Catch the MTR Tung Chung line to Sunny Bay station to board the dedicated train to Hong Kong Disneyland. You’ll find the usual Disney areas, rides and merchandise on a smaller scale than other Disney theme parks.
Lantau is home to Hong Kong International Airport and travellers with a few hours to kill between flights could take a bus or cab to nearby Tung Chung MTR station for outlet shopping at Citygate, or to board the Ngong Ping 360 for spectacular views of Lantau and the airport during the 25 minute cable car ride to Ngong Ping village. Pass through the village and climb the 260 steps to the 202 tonne, 23m bronze Tian Tan Buddha, seated on a lotus blossom. Six bodhisattvas surround the Buddha and inside the base is a small museum. A ten minute walk from Ngong Ping Village is the Po Lin Monastery a sprawling complex containing an orchid garden and the Po Lin Vegetarian Restaurant.
Head to the fishing village of Tai O (MTR to Tung Chung then bus 11 or a cab or bus 1 from Mui Wo) ‘the Venice of Hong Kong’ and wander its narrow streets and wooden walkways. Catch a river boat tour from near the Tai Chung footbridge over the canal to see the waterfront stilt houses, but you’d have to be lucky to spot a pink dolphin. Stock up on Tai O speciality shrimp paste, and relax at the Balcony Café (86 Kat Hing St).
Catch Bus 1 from Mui Wo or Tai O to Cheung Sha, a 3km beach on the southern coast of Lantau. Long Coast Seasports offer water sports and accommodation (rooms and tents) at Cheung Sha. Keep an eye out for Lantau’s wild buffalo that can often be seen ambling along. Dine on the beach at lower Cheung Sha village restaurants Lantana (mediterranean), Bathers (modern British) or Long Island.
Ferries depart from the eastern side of Central Pier 6 for Mui Wo on Silvermine Bay in eastern Lantau. A short walk from the ferry is Silvermine beach home to Silvermine Beach Resort. You can buy what you need in Mui Wo to cook up a storm at one of the beach-side BBQ pits, or grab a bite at pier-side bar China Bear bar (3 Ngan Wan Road) or Wah Kee Seafood Restaurant in the waterside Mui Wo Cooked Food Centre. The Village Bakery (16 Mui Wo Ferry Pier Road) is also close by serving lovely bread, sandwiches and pastries. It’s a pleasant 3km/1h walk from Mui Wo past Man Mo temple to Silvermine Waterfall, best viewed in the rainy season as it is just a trickle during the dry season.
If a tour is more your style, these New Lantau Island Tours include Cheung Sha beach, Tai O, Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha.
Sok Kwu Wan from the Family Trail – Image courtesy of Barney Moss @ Flickr
Catch the ferry from the eastern side of Central Pier 4 to Yung Shue Wan and take the 4km Family Trail, a scenic walk across the island passing Chinese–style pavilions, beaches and Tin Hau Temples. The trail ends at Sok Kwu Wan where you can enjoy a lovely meal at one of the many seafood restaurants such as Lamma Hilton Shum Kee Restaurant or Rainbow Seafood Restaurant. Catch the ferry from Sok Kwu Wan Pier back to Central Pier 4.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival – Image courtesy of istolethetv @ Flickr
Catch the ferry from Central Pier 5 to Cheung Chau to see Pak Tai Temple and Pak She Tin Hau Temple, a 3000 year old rock carving and the windsurfers on beautiful Tung Wan Beach. The Cheung Chau Family Trail has lovely views and includes the Mini Great Wall (its a path), Loaf Rock, Human Head Rock, Reclining Rock and the Cheung Po Tsai pirate cave.
If you are visiting in April-May you may catch the 8-day Cheung Chau Bun Festival which includes a midnight climbing of the 20m bun towers to grab a bun for good luck. There is also a parade with floats, stilt walkers and ‘floating children’ who seem to be standing on long poles, and lion and dragon dances.
Peng Chau – Image courtesy of J McFarlane @ Flickr
Catch the ferry from the western side of Central Pier 6 to Peng Chau for another Tin Hau Temple (housing a 2.5m whale bone) and climb the steps up Finger Hill to take in the views from Fung Ping Pavilion. Grab a bite to eat at Tino Thai Restaurant (38 C Wing Heng Street – look for the Thai flags and beach umbrellas) before heading home.