A trip to lively and colourful Hong Kong – with its sparkling Victoria Harbour, modern metropolitan skyline and vibrant multiculturalism – promises a truly unforgettable experience. But the outskirts and outlying islands of Asia’s World City hold promise of their own. Make your Hong Kong holiday even more memorable with these four fabulous day trips:
The easiest and most scenic ways to get to Lantau Island, the largest of Hong Kong’s outlying islands, are by train (the Tung Chung MTR line) or by ferry. When you arrive, there’s no shortage of fun things to see and do. Start with a visit to the giant bronze Tian Tan Buddha statue that calls Lantau home; sightsee and get a workout by climbing the 268 steps to see the effigy up close and personal.
Back down the steps, celebrated Po Lin Monastery is home to Buddhist monks, a scripture library, an orchid garden and even a vegetarian restaurant. From here, wander over to Ngong Ping Village, where you’ll find lots of shops and places to grab a bite. There you can hop on the spectacular Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, a gravity-defying, nearly six-kilometre journey offering views of Lantau’s mountainous landscape, Hong Kong’s impressive skyline, the South China Sea and the planes taking off and landing at Hong Kong International Airport.
Hong Kong Disneyland
As it turns out, Mickey Mouse and some of his friends have also called Lantau Island home since 2005, when Hong Kong Disneyland Resort opened its doors. But don’t try to fit in Hong Kong Disney with your trip to the Big Buddha; save it for another day that you can devote to enjoying this family-friendly and fun-filled theme park.
There are a number of easy ways to get to the park, but to truly embrace the Disney experience from the start, take the MTR to the Sunny Bay station, where you’ll transfer to the Disneyland Resort Line. The train features Mickey-shaped windows and handholds as well as Disney character statuettes.
Step off the train and plan your day around the rides, tastes, shows, parades and characters of the magical lands of Grizzly Gulch, Toy Story Land, Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Main Street, U.S.A, and the new-in-2013 Mystic Point.
Another great way to spend a day is to head to Hong Kong’s Southern District, where you’ll find the charming old fishing village of Stanley, famous for its markets, outdoor dining and two sandy beaches.
Spend the morning satisfying the shopaholic in you at the Stanley Market, which sells antiques, calligraphy, clothing, linens, watches, electronics and knick-knacks galore. Enjoy lunch with a view at one of the restaurants of Murray House, a restored Victorian building that once served as barracks for the British military.
After lunch, take a walk past the amphitheatre in Stanley Plaza to Tin Hau Temple (Temple of the Queen of Heaven), one of Hong Kong’s oldest.
Be sure to leave some time to hit the beach, too. Take a swim or enjoy a barbecue at either Stanley Main Beach on the eastern side of the peninsula or St Stephen’s Beach on the western side.
Another short ferry ride from Hong Kong, Macau, a former Portuguese colony, is a festival of sacred sites and ceremonies, European and Asian-influenced World Heritage locations, unique fusion cuisine, and world-class gaming.
Of course, Macau, nicknamed ‘Las Vegas of the East’, is famous for its casinos and gaming. But history, religion and ritual are significant here too, so your Macau itinerary should embrace these elements. Visit Macau’s oldest temple, A-Ma, inspired by Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and other folk beliefs.
For panoramic city views to accompany your historical and spiritual roamings, head toward Guia Fort and visit the Chapel of Our Lady of Guia. There, you’ll also find Guia lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on the China coast. And no Macau bucket list is complete without a stop at beautiful St Joseph Seminary Church.
For some less crowded exploration, head to Macau’s Taipa and Coloane islands. Connected by the Cotai Strip (‘Cotai’ is a blend of the two islands’ names), here you’ll find traditional Chinese shops and grand colonial villas, in addition to an array of churches and temples.