Hong Kong Feature
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Get Out of Town
Whether it's the sights of Central or the whirring sounds of Tsim Sha Tsui, spending a few days in Hong Kong's city center can be a sensory overload. If you want to escape the bustle for a little while, peace and quiet is usually just a train or a ferry ride away.
Hong Kong comprises 260 outlying islands, some of which make great escapes from the city. You'll find waterfront views, some seafood, and a little peace and quiet. Hong Kong ferries travel out from the Central pier outside Two IFC.
Lantau is the largest of Hong Kong's islands and has a wealth of attractions, including Hong Kong Disneyland, the Giant Buddha, and the magnificent Po Lin Monastery. The island's mountains and parks also make it a hit with hikers.
For beaches and water sports, head to Cheung Chau. On weekends Tung Wan, its main beach, is so crowded that its sweep of golden sand is barely visible. Plenty of nearby restaurants offer refreshments, seafood, and shade. There are no cars allowed on the island, so the air is noticeably cleaner.
Lamma Island is also popular. It's about as close to a 1960s bohemian scene as Hong Kong gets—full of laid-back expats who've spawned a subculture of vegetarian restaurants, health-food shops, and craft stores. "Beach" overstates the sandy strip known as Hung Shing Yeh, also called Power Station Beach because of the massive power plant visible from it. Stay on shore if you see plastic bags or other refuse on the water. Or just head to Yung Shue Wan, the former farming and fishing village that's been an expat enclave since the early 1980s.
North of the Kowloon Peninsula, the New Territories is made up mostly of rural landscapes and well-preserved heritage sites, though new town centers and residential complexes have grown over the past few decades.
Sha Tin is one of the most developed and densely populated districts in the New Territories. It's home to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, as well as the perpetually packed New Town Plaza shopping mall and the Sha Tin racecourse. There are interesting cultural and historical sites out here, too, including the Hakka walled villages and the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. At night, there are open-air food markets serving Sha Tin's famous chicken congee and roast pigeon.
The former fishing village of Sai Kung is known for its seafood restaurants. The tourist-friendly town center is easily accessible by public transportation, but the district also boasts unsoiled beaches, lush country parks, and rural villages that are only accessible by foot, taxi, or boat.
Billed as the Las Vegas of Asia, this tiny city glitters with the lights from its larger-than-life hotels and casinos. Gambling is a favorite pastime here, but the island is also a fascinating cultural destination, having retained so much of its colonial Portuguese past. The cuisine here is unique—a blend of Chinese and Portuguese cooking with an emphasis on spices. Ferries depart every day from Hong Kong–Macau and Hong Kong–China ferry terminals. Single trips take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.Updated: 06-2013
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