I noticed that my posts about Hong Kong are generally negative so it’s time to post about some of the things that I like about this city. Top of the list is the outlying islands in Hong Kong, which are pretty laid back and good for day trips to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There are over 200 islands in Hong Kong, but most of them are small and uninhabited. I’ve been to the larger islands and enjoyed all of them. The best time to go is between October and March, when the weather is cooler.
Lamma is a small island which has a rather ‘hippie’ feel to it. It is made up of two main areas – Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. The ferry from Hong Kong Island reaches piers at both areas in about half an hour. My preferred itinerary is to head out in the morning to Yung Shue Wan, where there are restaurants and cafes for lunch and shops selling knick knacks to wander about. After 2-3 hours in Yung Shue Wan, we then head onto the gentle walking trail which leads to Sok Kwu Wan. It’s called the Lamma Island Family Walk which takes about 1-1.5 hours and goes through lots of greenery, some nice views and also the beach (which, strangely enough is facing a power plant).
About 20 minutes or so into the walk, there is a stall which is run by an old lady selling ‘tofu fa’, a local dessert best described as sweetened silky smooth tofu – definitely worth a try. Sok Kwu Wan is a fishing village with a row of seafood restaurants. Once there, you can either have dinner in one of the restaurants or take the ferry back to Hong Kong Island. Be warned though – the prices of these seafood restaurants could be more expensive than some of the local restaurants in Hong Kong.
Cheung Chau is a larger island and definitely feels more developed than Lamma, as evidenced by the presence of chain supermarkets and 7 Eleven. We accidentally took the slow ferry there, which is a rather worn out ferry and takes an hour. I’d recommend the faster ferry unless it’s a very nice day and you enjoy ferry rides. Around the pier, there are a couple of streets of restaurants, cafes and shops selling local delicacies such as herbs, dried seafood, etc. We rented a tricycle and had fun going around in it with our daughter, reaching another area along the sea which is quieter and relaxing. On the way back to the rental shop, we got stopped by a policeman! Apparently, despite having at least three rental shops within 10 minutes of each other, it is illegal to ride the tricycle with passengers. Luckily, we managed to get a good hour in before that.
There are also many hiking trails in Cheung Chau but we didn’t have enough time or energy left. Cheung Chau is well known for a bun festival which usually takes place in April or May. The festival focuses on the bun grabbing contest, where a 60-foot bun-covered structure is set up and the contestants have to scramble to grab as many buns as possible within three minutes. I’ve yet to check it out due to the crowds but it definitely sounds interesting and unique.
Lantau is the most developed outlying island and houses the Hong Kong airport. While there are tourist attractions such as the Big Buddha, my visits to Lantau is usually to spend a day in Discovery Bay. Discovery Bay is a residential area which was developed years ago and feels like a European holiday resort. The ferry from Hong Kong Island to Discovery Bay takes about half an hour. There is a beach, restaurants with al fresco dining and a plaza which is great for kids and dogs. We’re usually there to visit friends or just to hang out when the weather is good. The air quality here is generally better as private cars are not allowed in the area. After spending a morning on the beach, we usually have a drawn out lunch at Zaks which offers al fresco dining and a great variety of food. There may even by live music on certain days.