The financial hub and port known for its skyscrapers and bustling markets has a scenic side waiting to be explored.

Cut through the brick and mortar and Hong Kong can be quite a revelation. The land we usually perceive as a concrete jungle dotted with shopping malls and high-rise buildings has 40 percent of the area covered by national parks. One wonders why there are not many more people exploring its majestic islands, beautiful trek and nature trails, scenic beaches, caves, fishing villages and some of the most adventurous cable car rides to reach these vantage points. Just a bit of research can change the been-there-done-that mindset that people usually have while visiting Hong Kong especially the frequent business travellers.

Nature trail

Lantau Trail Section 2 - Silver grass | by ystsoi Hong Kong
Lantau Trail Section 2 – Silver grass | by ystsoi

Get up early and enjoy one of the 25 hiking trails in Hong Kong. Nicely paved and dotted with well laid steps along the way, these hikes do not require you to be a fitness enthusiast. It was heartening to see people from all ages an octogenarian to an infant along with their families enjoying these trails. You could choose one from MacLehose trail, Dragon’s back, Hong Kong trail or Lantau trail. Each one of them is a different experience and takes you to spots that offer breath-taking views. If you think these are just small artificial stretches laid out for hiking, you could not be more mistaken. MacLehose trail is the longest and stretches up to 100km-meaning if you’re game, you can walk on and on.

Surf’s up

Silvermine Bay Beach at Mui Wo, Lantau Island (1351052506)

Hong Kong has a beach for all kinds of people. If you like surfing, head to Big Wave Bay beach. If lazing and soaking in the sun is your idea, head to Cheung Sha and Pui O beaches. Enjoy barbeques at Hung Shin Yeh beach and swimmers can head to Mui Wo and Silver Mine Bay beach. Tung Wan or Kwun Yam beaches are perfect for windsurfing fans. And if you simply want to enjoy a resort-like relaxed vibe, Repulse Bay beach is your must go.

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Go Fish

For a peek into the original Cantonese culture and gorgeous coastal scenery, head to seaside towns and villages like Tai O, Sai Kung, Cheung Chau and Shek O. Narrow streets, single-storey homes with clothes drying outside, roadside seafood stalls and cafes selling traditional Cantonese seafood, quaint temples and a very laid back attitude is definitely not the Hong Kong you may have seen or experienced in your previous visits. These fishing villages are mostly visited by locals on weekends rather than the tourists.

Water sports

Particularly kayaking, standup paddle-boarding, windsurfing and sailing are big with locals. Do check the weather and schedules during your visit though.

Must try

Tim Ho Wan– Cheapest Michelin Star chain across Hong Kong and the rest of the world with 50 outlets. Their dim sums and roasted pork buns are to die for.

The Flea Market of Sham Shui Po uncannily resembles Mumbai’s Crawford Market or Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar market, selling daily household items, clothes and electronics. But mostly, it’s known for its cheap and authentic street food. Try the snacks and desserts made from soft silky tofu at Kung Wo Dou Bun Chung.

A tea tasting workshop at MingCha Tea House is a tea lover’s delight.

Modern Cantonese cuisine is the latest range with many trendy high-end outlets here.

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Nausheen Tareen’s article was published in Times Life dated November 11 2018