Hong Kong is known for many things but perhaps the biggest surprise is how many green spaces there are and how easy it is to get away from the hustle and dazzle of the metropolis and clear your mind with spectacular hiking trails, eco-friendly destinations, and out-of-this-world beautiful natural landscapes.
Seeking The Outdoors
Don’t get me wrong, I love the hyper urban space that Hong Kong is. It’s a feast for your senses as waves of people fill the streets, aromas arouse your stomach, neon lights shine brightly, and towering skyscrapers will make you look up while the view from Victoria Peak will make you look down.
All of that is good for a little while but then you start yearning for a little change of scenery and a different pace. What most people don’t realize is that Hong Kong is also amazing for the outdoors. Not all of the 1,104-square-kilometer area of Hong Kong has been conquered by steel and concrete. Outside the metropolis is a wild undulating landscape of rocks, beaches, cliffs, mountains, and mangroves that are begging to be explored.
Take a deep breath and feel the space
What you have to realize is that Hong Kong is an archipelago of islands large and small and while most of the development has been concentrated on one side of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, there are a ton of outlying islands that have been incredibly well-preserved and perfect for someone wanting to do something vastly different.
This is exactly how I discovered places like Cheung Chau Island and Lamma Island on one of my recent trips there. It was incredulous to me that all I had to do was hop a short ferry ride and it felt like I was a world away from where I started the day in. Instead of criss-crossing streets you had cobbled streets twisting up and through hills. Instead of skyscrapers, you had villages easily hundreds of years old. Instead of the clanging of the tram and the honking of cars, you had the crashing of waves and chirping of birds. These day trips were the perfect respite from the urban frenzy.
Hong Kong is much greener than you think!
More Ways To Seek Adventure And Green Spaces
The beauty of it all is that these green spaces are much more accessible and easy to do than you think. Thanks to several new inexpensive guided outdoor tours that are available to any visitor to the city.
Here are 3 of them that are unique and off-the-beaten-path which makes them quite special.
Lai Chi Wo Hike
This is an easy guided hike that will take you to one of the few remaining Hakka villages in Hong Kong that has 400 years of history. Today, they’re deserted and have been slowly reclaimed by nature but you’ll be able to walk through them and your local guide will tell you stories about what they were like and you’ll learn how feng shui comes in.
With this tour, you also get to follow an impressive red landscape along the coastline and a coastal belt of mangroves. To cap things off you get to a boat ride back to the city, where you’ll get to see the beauty of Yan Chau Tong Marine Park.
Geopark Boat Tour: Sai Kung Islands
Sai Kung is a special are in Hong Kong as the area that boasts the longest stretch of coastline and is spoiled by numerous outlying islands. Most of the islands you can only see by boat so this tour is pretty special in that you get to get upclose to these islands and marvel at the magic of mother nature including sea stacks, tubular rock columns, sea caves, hexagonal volcanic rock columns, and other lava-based formations.
My favourite has to be the landing on Sharp Island where you get to see an ancient caldera filled with igneous rocks such as the “Pineapple Bun Rock”. There’s also Elephant Trunk Cave which is quite unique.
Geopark Hiking Tour
Sai Kung is somewhere I go for their fresh seafood but from there you enter the Hong Kong Geopark which follows the coast to unveil a geological gallery of rock formations shaped by volcanic activity from 140 million years ago and the battering of waves. This tour is a fascinating hike that also takes you to three old Hakka villages where a nearby fishing community still thrives. To end things off, you also get to ride a traditional junk boat.
This tour includes a seafood meal at one of the restaurants before visiting the iconic Tin Hau Temple. On your way back to Sai Kung, discover more Geopark wonders, Sharp Island, Kau Sai Chau and the inland water dam wall of High Island Reservoir.
What I love about these package tours is that it’s a chance to see that different side to Hong Kong through the lens of a local who can take you to hiking trails and areas that aren’t necessarily in the guide books. It also saves you the hassle from mapping it all out yourself and you’ll get to learn way more than you would if you passed through oblivious to the history, stories, and small details. You also get a chance to meet other people on an experience like this which always brings like-minds together.
If you’ve got an upcoming trip to Hong Kong, think beyond the bright lights and make sure you plan some time in your itinerary to discover the unexpected outdoors that will surely impress.