Hong Kong's backyard

Hong Kong's backyard

12 September, 2016
Sai Kung just steps away
The allure of fresh air, green vistas and a day in the country make Sai Kung a perfect weekend destination
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Sai Kung is often known as Hong Kong’s ‘back yard’, but we don’t think this does it justice. The area is peppered with beautiful vistas, hiking trails, campsites, parks and beaches - perfect for exploring now, during the dry, sunny but comfortably cool days of early winter.
 
Sai Kung is located in the eastern New Territories and is dominated by country parks.  The actual town of Sai Kung is a 20-minute minibus ride from Choi Hung or Hang Hau MTR stations, making it easily accessible but just far enough to feel like you’re getting “away” from the city. The town itself is best known for its waterside restaurants, and as a hub for heading out into the countryside or into the surrounding waters by boat.  On any weekend almost year-round, it is teeming with people out to eat, explore, hike, have a barbeque or take a junk trip.
 
Head out of Sai Kung town on the #94 bus to Wong Shek Pier, and it's only 15 minutes to the entry point to the Sai Kung Country Park, which boasts an impressive selection of hiking trails and protected natural scenery, including well-documented walks on which many books and guides are available. The hikes range widely, from short scenic circuits suitable for families, to the challenging Lady MacLehose Trail, which consists of a series of sections that can take several days to cover.
 
The park is only accessible by bus, taxi and car for residents and their guests. This is great for keeping the traffic down, benefitting hikers, and local wildlife such as porcupine, wild boar, barking deer, macaque monkeys and feral cattle.
 
At the end of the 94 bus route lies Wong Shek Pier, where ferries run out to Tap Mun Island, and boats can be hired on weekends out to the beautiful surrounding beaches as well as fishing and diving spots. Tap Mun Island, known for its regular record of having the cleanest air in Hong Kong, can be leisurely hiked in a few hours, and is a fantastic retreat from the bustle of Hong Kong proper.
 
Also at Wong Shek Pier is Wong Shek Water Sports Centre, which offers courses in wind surfing, kayaking and sailing. The courses are run regularly throughout the year, and are very affordable to Hong Kong residents through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department website.
 
Taking the green #7 minibus from Sai Kung town follows the same route as the 94 bus, but ends instead within one of Hong Kong’s only marine parks, in Hoi Ha Wan. This marine park is off-limits to commercial fisherman, and is teeming with corals viewable by diving or glass bottomed boats. WWF Hong Kong also runs an educational centre here, unfortunately, the centre is only open to group bookings at present. Currently, the park is under threat of development - learn more here, and make your voice heard in support of its protection.
 
Sai Kung is also popular for groups hiring junk boats in the summer and fall for short jaunts up the coast, with many majestic beaches and hidden coves perfect for basking in the sun as well as diving, swimming and kite surfing. As well, Hong Kong’s only public golf course, Kau Sai Chau, is just a short ferry ride away from Sai Kung Town.
 
Visitors will be surprised at what awaits in Sai Kung. It is an integral part of Hong Kong’s topography and culture, and yet a far cry from the stereotypical image of Hong Kong as a frenetic shopping and business hub. Hong Kong residents enjoy Sai Kung as a soothing and accessible escape from the sometimes hectic pace of city life.

By: Carley Lauder
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