Hong Kong Asia's World City

Southern District

Southern District

Reservoir deep, mountain high

“I love the community feel, it's the kind of place where everyone knows each other and waves. Maybe it's all the fresh air down here, there is always a very happy vibe,” says Hughie Doherty of Print House.

When you first arrive on Hong Kong Island, chances are you’ll be immediately surrounded by the city’s gleaming skyscrapers, luxury malls and bustling markets. But just minutes away from this urban jungle, in Hong Kong’s beautiful Southern District, lie kilometer upon kilometer of steep mountain trails, country parks and beaches that can provide you with a tranquil escape for a day or two—if you ever want to leave, that is.

Dragon Back

The only way to really experience the Southern District’s rural tranquility is on your own two feet: the south side of Hong Kong Island is devoted to several country parks and reservoirs for easy rambling routes or more adventurous trails. Forming part of stage 8 of the Wilson Trail, the Dragon’s Back is a hike of medium difficulty that takes you along a spine of mountains in Shek O Country Park. The ridge top path is paved and stepped, riding high from Shek O Peak, north along the peninsula to Wan Cham Shan. The trail’s spectacular popularity will become clear as soon as you have climbed high enough for views over the picturesque Tai Tam Bay on one side and the South China Sea on the other.

Tai Tam

For a gentler morning walk, Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir is a turquoise gem of water in Tai Tam Country Park built in the early 1900s. An easy walking trail skirts the reservoir’s perimeter and passes four English-style stone bridges, a dam, valve house and commemorative plaque all classified as Grade 1 historic buildings. This green pocket provides show-stopping views of the surrounding mountains and also boasts picnic points if you fancy lingering at the water’s edge.

Still too energetic? For a truly laid-back afternoon in the sun, head to the secluded Turtle Cove Beach. Sandwiched between the busy Shek O and Stanley Peninsulas, Turtle Cove avoids most of the traffic that nearby beaches attract. Once you’ve found the signs from the main road, you make your way down steps to the quiet beachfront that is nothing more than a small bay surrounded by steep woodland, a tranquil stretch of sand and a few barbeque pits for a private summer cookout.

Mr. Doherty

The best of the southside’s amenities are all waterside, as you might expect. In Stanley the covered street market dominates the shopping scene, but there are also small boutiques with young designers that are opening up. Hughie Doherty grew up in Stanley and has recently set up his Print House design store, offering custom designed T-shirts. “I grew up here and the market is a very special place to me,” Mr. Doherty says. “I love the community feel, it's the kind of place where everyone knows each other and waves. There is an awesome range of people—from local Chinese who were born and raised here, to the expats who could have been here for 20-plus years, or maybe just moved over. Even though there is such a wide range, everyone is friendly and gets along well. Maybe it's all the fresh air down here, there is always a very happy vibe.” The market is a big draw for visitors, with lots of cheap souvenirs. “Stanley is a seaside town with a great market and plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you busy,” explains Mr. Doherty. “The market still sells products very much targeted at tourists. It’s always fun to have a look through, as there are often good products at very reasonable prices to be had!”

As well as shops that have been around for decades, there are lots of new stores and restaurants opening up on the waterfront. Around the coast in Repulse Bay, The Pulse is a seaside mall new to the scene, with many individual and well-known brands.

Restaurants in particular are all making the most of the incredible seaside atmosphere on their doorstep. At Pinot Duck in Stanley, duck in all its guises is the name of the game, served with an ample wine list of fine pinot. The food is a contemporary take on the classic Asian favorite so look out for crispy duck wings in Sichuan pepper, Jasmine tea-smoked duck breast and crispy duck leg in sweet soy sauce. For classic Cantonese staples with an edgy spin, check out Meen & Rice in Repulse Bay. Restaurateur Yenn Wong has updated Cantonese comfort foods such as fresh shrimp wonton noodle soup and glossy barbecued pork with rice, and the restaurant boasts effortlessly cool surroundings. If it’s a more rustic beachside ambience you’re after, spare a thought for Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant. This semi open-air canteen is always packed out and it’s hard not to over-order here as you try to choose from deep-fried seafood dishes such as crispy prawn cakes, and Thai staples such as baked vermicelli noodles with prawns, pineapple fried rice and garlicky morning glory.

 

Do-it-Yourself

Morning
  • Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir
    Ramble on
    Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir
    Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir was built in the early 1900s and is a turquoise gem of water in Tai Tam Country Park. A gentle walking trail skirts the perimeter, passing the four English-style stone bridges, a dam, valve house and commemorative plaque all classified as Grade 1 historic buildings. This green pocket provides show-stopping views of the surrounding mountains and also boasts picnic points if you fancy lingering at the water’s edge. 
    Address:
    Tai Tam Reservoir Road, Tai Tam, Hong Kong Island
    How to Get There:
    MTR Chai Wan Station, Exit C to the minibus terminus. Take minibus 16A, 16M or 16X and alight at Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir. It’s about a 50-minute journey.
Afternoon
  • Turtle Cove Beach
    Soak up some rays
    Turtle Cove Beach
    For a truly laid-back afternoon in the sun, head to the secluded Turtle Cove Beach. Hidden between the busy Shek O and Stanley Peninsulas, Turtle Cove avoids most of the traffic that nearby beaches attract. Once you’ve found the signs from the main road, you make your way down some steps to the quiet beachfront that is nothing more than a small bay, a tranquil patch of sand and a few barbeque pits for a private summer cookout.
    Address:
    Tai Tam Road, Tai Tam, Hong Kong Island
    How to Get There:
    MTR Chai Wan Station, Exit C to the minibus terminus. Take minibus 16A, 16M or 16X and alight at The Red Hill Peninsula. Find the stairs that lead down to the beach. It’s about a 55-minute journey.
  • Print House
    Make a souvenir
    Print House
    Print House is a funky, artistic shop offering a DIY T-shirt printing service—you can either choose from the menu of in-house tee designs that vary in color, size and style, or you can bring in your own design and staff will help you with printing. The custom shirts will make a unique gift to take back home.
    Address:
    125 Stanley Main Street, Stanley, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2813 9576
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260 from Exchange Square bus terminus (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D.) It’s about a 50-minute journey. Walk down the hill along Stanley New Street to Stanley Market and turn left.
Evening
  • Pinot Duck
    Dine and wine
    Pinot Duck
    Pinot Duck in Stanley is a name that sells itself: duck in all its guises is the name of the game, served with an ample wine list of fine pinot. The food is a contemporary take on the classic Asian favorite so look out for crispy duck wings in Sichuan pepper, Jasmine tea-smoked duck breast and crispy duck leg in sweet soy sauce. Oh and don’t forget a cheeky glass of the pinot!
    Address:
    Shop G07, The Piazza, Stanley Plaza, 23 Carmel Road, Stanley, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2772 0060
    How to Get There:
    Take bus 6, 6X or 66 from Exchange Square bus station (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D). It’s about a 50-minute journey.
Morning
  • Dragon’s Back
    Take the high road
    Dragon’s Back
    Forming part of stage 8 of the Wilson Trail, the Dragon’s Back is a hike of medium difficulty that takes you along a spine of mountains in Shek O Country Park. The ridgetop path rides high from Shek O Peak, north along the peninsula to Wan Cham Sham. The trail’s spectacular popularity will become clear as soon as you have climbed high enough for views over the picturesque Tai Tam Bay and South China Sea.
    Address:
    (starting point) To Tei Wan village, Shek O Road, Shek O, Hong Kong Island
    How to Get There:
    To the starting point:
    Walk from MTR Shau Kei Wan Station Exit A to Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus. Take bus 9 or the minibus with the sign 'Shek O' next to the bus terminus. Alight at To Tei Wan, Shek O Road.

    From the end point:
    Take the minibus or a taxi to Shau Kei Wan. From here, public transport is available to other destinations.
Afternoon
  • Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant
    Quell hunger pangs
    Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant
    For a rustic beachside ambience, spare a thought for Shek O Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant. This semi open-air canteen is always packed out, thanks to its reputation for serving up authentic Thai dishes and chilled beers. It’s hard not to over-order here as you try to choose from deep fried seafood dishes such as crispy prawn cakes, and Thai staples such as baked vermicelli noodles with prawns, pineapple fried rice and garlicky morning glory.
    Address:
    303 Shek O Village Road, Shek O, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2809 4426 / +852 2809 2202
    How to Get There:
    MTR Shau Kei Wan Station, Exit A3, take bus 9 from Shau Kei Wan bus terminus to Shek O. It’s about a 50-minute journey.
Evening
  • Meen & Rice
    Comfort your appetite
    Meen & Rice
    For some classic Cantonese staples with an edgy spin, check out recently opened Meen & Rice in Repulse Bay. Restaurateur Yenn Wong has updated Cantonese comfort foods such a fresh shrimp wonton noodle soup, glossy barbecued pork with rice, and juicy roasted goose, and the restaurant boasts effortlessly cool —and right by the beach.
    Address:
    Shop 113, 1/F, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong Island
    Tel:
    +852 2566 8886
    How to Get There:
    Bus 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260 from Exchange Square bus terminus (near MTR Hong Kong Station, Exit D) and alight at Repulse Bay Beach. It’s about a 45-minute journey.

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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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