Despite its reputation for being intensely urban, Hong Kong is still home to an abundance of natural calm. One of the best places to find a quiet break from the city center is in Hong Kong Island’s Southern District, which boasts a number of unique neighborhoods all worth exploring during your time in Hong Kong. Whether you’re finding treasures at Stanley Market or sipping a cocktail overlooking Repulse Bay, you’re sure to discover a different side to this complex metropolis. To give you a head start, we’ve pulled together a guide to Hong Kong’s Southern District.
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If you’re looking for a laid-back vibe, head to the southeast corner of Hong Kong island and the waterside neighborhood of Shek O. The name literally means “rocky bay,” and also refers to two of the village’s beaches, Shek O and Rocky Bay. Together with the nearby Big Wave Bay Beach, the area is known for its outdoor activities and friendly community Shek O also has some fantastic urban hikes that offer beautiful views of southern Hong Kong Island and its shoreline. Try the famous Dragon’s Back for an intermediate challenge with stunning rewards: it’s a breathtaking hike that will lead you straight down into Shek O village, a relaxed surfer town that’s ripe for exploration. If you’d rather skip the hike, you can go straight to the village to wander around or grab a bite. Local restaurants like Happy Garden serve up Thai and other regional food near the beach. No matter where your journey takes you, you’re bound to find something memorable in Shek O.
Much like Shek O, Stanley is a trendy seaside town just a bus ride from Central, making it one of the most popular day trips from the city center. One afternoon in this relaxed village on the water can make one forget all about the urban chaos of Hong Kong Central. You can laze around on Stanley Main Beach for the day, or stroll along the waterfront promenade and discover the offerings at a string of restaurants and bars. During your visit, be sure to visit Stanley Market, which is the neighborhood’s most popular attraction. An open-air market spread over two streets, Stanley Market is a bustling scene worth experiencing. It’s also a great place to find trinkets and souvenirs, but be sure to go early in the day before the crowds arrive!
Repulse Bay Beach is beautifully sandy, and makes a curve around the bay as if to say, “welcome.” The beach is perfect for lying in the sun, but is also a popular spot for its restaurants, bars, and events. Be sure to visit Limewood, where you can taste the flavors of Southeast Asian barbeque (and even some from Hawaii and the Caribbean), or head to Amalfitana for an artisan pizza. After you’ve had a bite to eat, you can wander to the southern end of Repulse to see the beach’s Tin Hau Temple. One of several such temples scattered across Hong Kong, Repulse Bay is especially worth a visit because of its location and beautiful mosaic sculptures. Don’t forget to pack a camera!
Wong Chuk Hang
A former industrial district, Wong Chuk Hang has undergone a revitalization and become a haven for arts and culture in Hong Kong’s Southern District. The recently constructed MTR station provides Wong Chuk Hang with direct access to Central, making it a great destination for a day trip from the center of the city. In addition to its hip cafes and art galleries, you’ll find restaurants serving some of the best food on the Southside. Head to Young Master Brewery for a delicious craft beer made right in Hong Kong, and be sure to stop in or stay at Ovolo Southside, an industry-chic designer hotel that overlooks the lush Repulse Bay. Perfectly situated to go East or West, Ovolo Southside is the ideal place to stay for exploring the rest of the city. At their rooftop bar, Above by Komune, you can enjoy cocktails and tapas with 360° views of the surrounding area. Cheers!
Ap Lei Chau/Aberdeen
Ap Lei Chau, or Aberdeen Island, is located in the southwest of Hong Kong Island. Home to some of Hong Kong’s boat-dwelling fisherpeople, the area is known for its boat tours unbeatable seafood ― and if you want both, be sure to have a meal at Jumbo Floating Restaurant, a multistory palace on the water. Resplendent with traditional imperial Chinese decorations like dragons and pagodas, the floating restaurant is somewhat of an institution for Hong Kong residents, and a must-visit for travelers. And for a glimpse of Hong Kong’s creative culture, book a stay at Mojo Nomad Aberdeen, a space designed for co-living and co-working.
Want to know more about Hong Kong? Find out where to get the best views, discover the city through a journalist’s eyes, and book your flight!
This piece was produced in partnership with Cathay Pacific.
Words by Hope Allison.