Hong Kong Asia's World City

Sai Kung

Sai Kung

On land and under water

“In summer, people flock here to try watersports like windsurfing, kayaking, wakeboarding and diving,” said Stephen Au from Diving Adventure.

Sai Kung is historically one of Hong Kong’s remotest rural reaches, but its rare geological and environmental treasures ensure this district is highly revered far and wide. A close-knit community was first settled here in the Song Dynasty (960-1279AD), and this has expanded to some 50-plus villages today. But these are just a speck on the map up here; for most of Hong Kong’s protected parks and waters can be found in this northerly New Territories outpost, including the world-famous Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark. It’s for these remote islands (more than 70), the volcanic rock formations dating back 140 million years, and an abundance of marine life that adventurers travel here from all around the globe.

What has kept Sai Kung so untouched is its remote location; much of the area can only be reached by boat. This fact, combined with the unusual geology you’ll find once you arrive, is what attracts all manner of visitors: from archeologists to divers, to hikers to kayakers. “Sai Kung is the backyard of Hong Kong,” said Stephen Au, course director of Diving Adventure. “In summer, people flock here to try watersports like windsurfing, kayaking, wakeboarding and diving. But when winter comes, it’s the perfect place for hiking through the Geoparks and Marine Parks.” So what makes Sai Kung such a special diving destination? Mr Au, who is also a diving instructor, explained: “Hong Kong is such an amazing place that you only need to go about 10 minutes from Sai Kung and you will find an exciting place for diving. Hong Kong’s coastline and the diverse marine life are under protection. So when you’re diving in the sea, you’ll find hundreds of types of tropical fish and coral around you. I am quite sure you cannot find another place in the world with such a short distance between the city and countryside.”

Perfect for outdoor adventurers is the far-flung island of Tung Lung Chau, a now rarely-inhabited idyll east of Hong Kong Island. The walking trail around the island is worth it for the geological features alone, but the spot is a destination in its own right for unrestricted rock climbing and wild camping if you think you’re brave enough! Here you’ll also find Tung Lung Fort, which was constructed in the early 1700s to fend off pirates. It was in use until the beginning of the 19th century, and it has since been partially restored for visitors.

For a moodier and somewhat spookier adventure, you can take a boat from Sai Kung town center to Yim Tin Tsai, a tiny abandoned island, which was claimed by the Chan Hakka family some 300 years ago. For centuries, villagers lived off farming and salt drying (Yim Tin means “salt pan”) but after the decline of their industry, the locals slowly drifted away, leaving behind ruined farmhouses, empty farmland and a moody, photogenic atmosphere today, perfect for adventure photography.

Sai Kung’s big claim to fame among hiking enthusiasts is the MacLehose Trail. This 100km, ten-stage route is not for the faint-hearted as it climbs some of Hong Kong’s highest peaks and descends its deepest valleys; but it’s entirely worth the effort, and you can do it in parts. Sections 1 and 2 of the trail, which pass along the peninsula and deep into Sai Kung East Country Park, are manageable for day trips—and the best part is that you’ll find crystal clear waters along the way in which to cool down.

After you’ve burned all that energy, it’s time to eat, drink and shop! Unsurprisingly, Sai Kung is famous for its seafood—Hoi Pong Street along the waterfront is more commonly referred to as “Seafood Street”. Peer over the edge of the harbor and you’ll find myriad junk boats hawking fresh-caught fish and seafood: simply pick what you fancy, take it to one of the many restaurants and they’ll cook it the way you like it. Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant is a waterfront stalwart—here your fish will come steamed, sautéed, fried or raw: take your pick. For a fancier dining experience, ditch the hiking boots and head to One-ThirtyOne. This village house with lawns leading down to pretty Three Fathoms Cove seats just 20 people. The set menu uses organic produce from its neighboring farm and changes daily.

Finish your journey in Sai Kung with a stop at the Green Earth Society. The famous Sai Kung stalwart stocks a range of organic and green beauty and healthcare products, as well as trendy cotton apparel. For such a green district, it makes sense to bring home a green-friendly souvenir that you can only get in Sai Kung.

Do-it-Yourself

Morning
  • Yim Tin Tsai
    Investigate old ruins
    Yim Tin Tsai
    Yim Tin Tsai is an abandoned island less than one square kilometer in size which was claimed by the Chan Hakka family some 300 years ago. After the salt industry (of the islands’ Chinese namesake) declined, the locals slowly drifted away, leaving behind ruined farmhouses and a moody, photogenic atmosphere today. St Joseph's Chapel is a focal point of the island. Although the community has now dispersed, its members still reunite here each year for the feast of St Joseph (1 May).
    Address:
    Yim Tin Tsai, Sai Kung, New Territories
    Tel:
    +852 2791 6226
    How to Get There:
    Take the Yim Tin Tsai Ferry from Sai Kung Pier (hourly on weekends and public holidays; for weekday ferries, book on +852 2791 6226).
Afternoon
  • Green Earth Society
    Buy eco-friendly souvenirs
    Green Earth Society
    This eco-friendly store, Green Earth Society, was opened by Lowell Lo Koon-ting, an actor, musician and composer in Hong Kong, in 2000. It aims to enhance the wellness of their customers, protect the environment and combat climate change by providing organic lifestyle and green living solutions to fellow urban dwellers.
    Address:
    5 Tak Lung Back Street, Sai Kung, New Territories
    Tel:
    +852 2792 0106
    How to Get There:
    MTR Diamond Hill Station, Exit A1. Take bus 92 to Sai Kung Po Tung Road and walk towards Tin Hau Temple. Then walk towards Sai Woo Restaurant and find Tak Lung Back Street opposite Wing Wo Seafood.
Evening
  • One-ThirtyOne
    Sample French Delights
    One-ThirtyOne
    For a fancier dining experience, ditch the hiking boots and head to One-ThirtyOne. This village house with lawns leading down to pretty Three Fathoms Cove seats just 20 people. Take your modern French food beneath a pergola in the sunshine, or in the charming dining room. The set menu uses organic produce from its farm and changes daily, so you can call ahead to discuss your tastes. Booking essential.
    Address:
    131 Tseung Tau Village, Shap Sze Heung, Sai Kung, New Territories
    Tel:
    +852 2791 2684
    How to Get There:
    • MTR Wu Kai Sha Station, Exit B. It’s a 10-minute taxi journey to the restaurant.
    • Take a taxi from Sai Kung town - it’s about a 10-minute journey.
Morning
  • High Island Reservoir East Dam to Sai Wan Pavilion
    Strap on your hiking boots
    High Island Reservoir East Dam to Sai Wan Pavilion
    Sai Kung's big claim to fame among hiking enthusiasts is the MacLehose Trail. Section 1 of the trail, which meanders along the peninsula past the four beaches of Tai Long Wan, is manageable in a morning—and the best part is that you’re bound to find clear waters to cool you down! If you start at High Island Reservoir East Dam, the hike to Sai Wan Pavilion is around 13 kilometers.
    Address:
    High Island Reservoir, Sai Kung Man Yee Road, Sai Kung, New Territories
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    Take a green taxi at Sai Kung Town to High Island Reservoir East Dam. It’s about a 30-minute journey. From the finish point of the hike, take minibus NR29 or a green taxi back to Sai Kung.
Evening
  • Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant
    Hand-pick your dinner
    Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant
    Sai Kung is famous for its freshly caught seafood that you can haul from one of the many junks floating in the harbor. Simply point to what you want, and take it to waterfront stalwart Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant to tell them how you'd like it cooked. They can crisp up your crab, steam your fish in soy sauce, or sauté your shrimp in salt and pepper. It's worth trying the specialty: lobster with cheese and noodles.
    Address:
    53 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung, New Territories
    Tel:
    +852 2791 1195
    How to Get There:
    • MTR Choi Hung Station Exit C2, then take the minibus route 1A.
    • MTR Hang Hau Station, then take the minibus route 101M to Sai Kung. Turn right and walk for about 5 minutes to the end of the waterfront.
Others
  • Tung Lung Chau
    Feel alone in the wild
    Tung Lung Chau
    Perfect for outdoor adventurers is the far-flung island of Tung Lung Chau, a now rarely-inhabited idyll. The walking trail around island is worth it for the geological features alone, but the spot is a destination in its own right for unrestricted rock climbing and wild camping if you think you’re brave enough! Here you'll also find Tung Lung Fort, which was constructed in the early 1700s to fend off pirates and has since been partially restored for visitors.
    Address:
    Tung Lung Chau, Chek Keng, New Territories
    Tel:
    +852 2560 9929
    How to Get There:
    MTR Yau Tong Station, Exit A2. Turn left and walk along Shung Shun Street for about 10 minutes. Turn left on Lei Yue Mun Praya Road and walk to Sam Ka Tsuen Public Pier. Take the ferry to Tung Lung Chau.
  • Diving Adventure
    Explore the sea bed
    Diving Adventure
    Diving Adventure is a well-established, reputable PADI school and is one of the go-to companies for diving in Sai Kung. Utilizing a training center in Causeway Bay as well, the instructors here can take you from zero to hero, depending on how much time you have, or you can just rent the equipment (with a diving license) and go. If diving is a little too intense, Diving Adventure also runs snorkeling trips, plus courses for youngsters. Book in advance.
    Address:
    5/F, iHome Centre, 369 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2572 2138
    How to Get There:
    MTR Causeway Bay Station, Exit C. Walk west along Lockhart Road for about 5 minutes.

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This guide was produced by HK Magazine Media Group from 2014-2015.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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