Destinations Cities

Travel to... Hong Kong

Style director Leigh Matheson dons her walking shoes in Hong Kong.

By Leigh Matheson
Tour Hong Kong harbour on a traditional junk boat.
Tour Hong Kong harbour on a traditional junk boat.

To switch things up, I discovered this hustling and bustling city from the streets up by doing a variety of walking tours.

I started on Hong Kong Island with an Old Town Central walking tour, discovering many historical sites from British colonial times and the changing architecture that reflected the different reigns of power, as well as Man Mo Temple for a unique look into the Tao religion.

Step away from the bustle of the city and visit Nan Lian Garden.
Step away from the bustle of the city and visit Nan Lian Garden.

While in the central district, I had a traditional experience at the must-visit Tai Cheong –their melt-in-your-mouth egg tarts, fresh out of the oven.

For a quick refresh, my daily go-to while walking the streets in the heat was Kun Lee for some fresh sugar cane juice. It was super-sweet but definitely hit the reset button.

Next I moved to Kowloon Walled City Park, which sits on the site of the former Kowloon Walled City. The stunning and serene park features some remaining installations commemorating its past – it is remembered today as mainly a haven for crime and debauchery, but it was also the seat of an independence rebellion started by the locals.

The stunning Long Ke beach is one of the tantalising views from the Sai Kung trail.
The stunning Long Ke beach is one of the tantalising views from the Sai Kung trail.

Nearby in Diamond Hill is the Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden, a tranquil spot in the urban landscape that features scenic gardens and historical architecture.

After all these urban adventures, it was time to escape the city and head to the MacLehose Trail, which has been voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s best hikes. Hiking isn’t really my thing but the two-hour Sai Kung section was beautiful and not too hard for a novice like me.

Hong Kong’s central district is full of history.
Hong Kong’s central district is full of history.

It was hard to resist jumping into the clear water for an impromptu swim as the walk included vistas of the South China Sea, the High Island Reservoir East Dam’s awesome hexagonal rock columns and sea caves, right through to the picturesque white-sand Long Ke beach.

Back in the city, I escaped the late-afternoon heat by taking a harbour cruise on board the Aqua Luna, a traditional Chinese junk boat.

Water bottles filled and walking shoes on? We’re ready to ramble.
Water bottles filled and walking shoes on? We’re ready to ramble.

The fresh air was a welcome respite as I lounged on the open deck with a cold drink in my hand, taking in the sights. The boat circles the harbour so you are able to board from both Hong Kong and Kowloon, depending on where your adventures have taken you.

Even better, schedule your cruise for after 7pm to enjoy the Symphony of Lights show – the world’s largest daily light and sound show, according to Guinness World Records.

Leigh tries a delicous egg tart.
Leigh tries a delicous egg tart.

An insider's guide to Hong Kong

Best Time To Go
Hong Kong is an all-year-round destination, but if you want to avoid winter, travel between March and November.

Getting There
Hong Kong Airlines launched daily direct flights between Auckland and Hong Kong at the end of last year.

Where To Stay
Kowloon tends to be cheaper than HK island. The Attitude on Granville is a newly opened boutique hotel with unique rooms and interiors that give a nod to the history of the city, with very competitive prices.

Getting About
Opt for the MTR, the quick and efficient railway system. A Tourist Day Pass will give you unlimited travel for less than $12.

Stay Connected
A prepaid Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM card has bundles of mobile data and is available from most convenience stores and visitor centres.

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