Words: Doris Lam ; Image: Shutterstock (Hong Kong Unesco Global Geopark, Fish and Chips)
About an hour from Central in the northeastern New Territories, Sai Kung is spread along a scenic coastline. The area is home to the Hong Kong Unesco Global Geopark and surrounded by lush country parks, spectacular nature and wildlife, clean beaches and volcanic formations. It’s also been an anchor point for the city’s fishing community and salt farming industries since the Ming dynasty. A land reclamation project in the ’70s brought new houses, wet markets and a popular promenade. And with many parts retaining an old charm, Sai Kung has evolved into a cool little destination of its own.
Dine by the sea
Sai Kung is best known for its stalwart seafood restaurants. Walk by the waterfront promenade and you’ll see old-school venues showing off their fish tanks and alfresco tables. Among them, the most notable are Sing Kee and Chuen Kee – both listed in the 2019 Michelin Guide. But if you’re seeking out a more modern option, try newcomer Momentai (meaning “no problems” in Cantonese). Run by Sai Kung locals, and set right on the waterfront, it has a beachy vibe, a pool table and a great contemporary menu to boot. Highlights include smoked salmon poke and fish and chips, as well as local craft beers like Lion Rock, Gweilo and Young Master on tap.
Embrace island life
Long Ke Wan is a strip of white sand that seems more likely to be found in a tropical destination than by a busy urban centre. The beach is accessible by boat or a hike through verdant hills – the length and difficulty depend on which section of the 100km MacLehose Trail the walk begins at. Other sandy options include Kiu Tsui Beach, hidden away on Sharp Island, within the Hong Kong Unesco Global Geopark. It’s easily reachable by kaito (a small ferry) and proves an idyllic escape for those looking to kayak, scuba dive, swim or simply lounge in the sun. Also nearby on the island is Hap Mun Bay Beach, which is an easy 20-minute hike from Kiu Tsui.
Buy unique souvenirs
Many colourful village houses have been transformed into chic boutiques. Swing by BeCandle to explore a collection of candles, from quirky dumpling-shaped novelties to travel-friendly options in elegant tin cans. You can also join a workshop to create your own personal scent. Continue on to Goods of Desire for quintessentially Hong Kong products that capture the city’s character. Afterwards, make your way to zero-waste boutique Seed to stock up on spices, beauty products and metal straws.
Snorkel among the corals
On the northeastern tip of Sai Kung is Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, home to dense mangrove forests, nearly 60 species of colourful hard corals and more than 120 types of coral reef fish. You can reach the park (the name of which means “bay beneath the sea”) by taking a taxi or bus to Hoi Ha Village – where you can rent kayaks, canoes and snorkel or scuba gear for the day – then following a footpath north towards the park entrance. Corals are extremely fragile, so watch where you swim and keep in mind that it’s frowned upon to try to take one home. Group and private tours are also available with local outfits like Adventure Tours – be sure to book a few weeks in advance to secure a spot.
Check out local art
The neighbourhood’s art scene is vibrant and diverse. To get a feel of it, hunt down Roberta Boffo’s art gallery, RAH Studio Gallery, on Man Nin Street. The Italian artist specialises in modern black-and-white ink paintings, using calligraphy brushes to produce abstract art. AfricArt Gallery Hong Kong, the only gallery in the city specialising in African contemporary art, is nearby and hosts eclectic shows. Another great place to check out is H Studio Gallery, a creative hub run by three female artists that hosts workshops and exhibitions.