As you join the flow of people in Causeway Bay or Kowloon, you’d probably think that Hong Kong is purely a fast paced and thrilling concrete jungle. But beyond the skyscrapers you’ll find colours every bit as bright as the neon signs and designer malls: emerald green forests, vibrant flowers, golden beaches and blue waters. Here’s where to go in search of a moment of serenity, and experience another side to Asia’s World City.
Whether you’re a first-time or regular visitor, chances are you’ll be based in Causeway Bay. This captivating district is home to designer stores and night markets, high-end restaurants and some of the best hotels in Hong Kong. In the middle of it all, you’ll also find one of the city’s biggest and oldest urban green spaces: Victoria Park. Join locals in a group tai chi class, or take to the jogging trail for your morning workout. If you’re in the mood to just relax, bring a picnic and explore pathways between lakes, neatly trimmed grass and ornamental flowerbeds.
Across the bay, take a moment away from busy Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon Park. This tranquil spot includes a Chinese rock garden and is particularly beautiful in the late afternoon sun. Stop by at the weekend and you may see a colourful dragon dance.
Hong Kong’s simple-to-navigate public transport system is the easiest way to reach the starts of many hikes on the city centre outskirts.
Take the MTR to the Peak Tower and hop aboard the historic funicular railway up the mountain to start this gentle hike along the Lugard Road.
The first part gives you a jaw-dropping view across the skyscrapers and out to the bay from cliff-side walkways.
For those that can bear an early start, it’s even more magnificent at sunrise. Carry on along a mossy trail through the forest and you’ll reach Peak Lookout – a Grade II listed stone hut. If you’re in the mood for a longer walk, the trail continues along and down to the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir, a popular haunt for Hong Kong runners.
This walk has reached almost iconic status, and is the perfect way to spend half a day or so away from the city. Jump on the MTR to Shau Kei Wan, then take the number 9 bus to Shek O Road. The start of the walk is an atmospheric tree tunnel, which soon opens out onto a sunlit hillside. Keep climbing until you reach the ridge, then pause to take in views over green hills and peaceful bays.
You’re now on the Dragon’s Back – follow it as it undulates up and down, through a mountain pass and back down into the trees. The end point is Big Wave Bay, a hangout for surfers and sun-seekers throughout the summer.
Here you can pull up a chair at a beachside cafe – you’ll certainly have earned a nice cold drink.
Away from the central hub, Hong Kong is a collection of islands with remarkably different characters. So why not swap the fast pace of the main island for a place where life runs a little more slowly, if only for a day?
The largest of the outlying islands, Lantau is known for its Buddhist landmarks and beautiful beaches.
Pay a visit to a working monastery at Po Lin. A bronze Buddha crowns the hilltop, and looks as magnificent against its mountain backdrop by day as it does lit up at night.
If you’re in the mood to laze on the sand, Cheung Sha beach is one of Hong Kong’s longest, with plenty of space to relax. Enjoy a swim, surf or hire a paddle board to explore more of the coastline.
For a piece of Parisian belle époque bliss in the heart of Hong Kong, stay at Lanson Place Hotel, Causeway Bay.