The 10 best experiences in Hong Kong's STUNNING Sai Kung district

From a floating seafood market to incredible beaches: The 10 best experiences in Hong Kong’s STUNNING Sai Kung district

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It’s known as the ‘back garden of Hong Kong’ – and it’s not hard to see why.

Hong Kong’s Sai Kung district is a natural wonderland of ancient rock formations, sugared beaches, leafy hiking routes and historic fishing villages.

In stark contrast to the glossy skyscrapers and cosmopolitan bustle that Hong Kong is renowned for, here you’ll find an oasis of calm.

The Sai Kung Peninsula is blanketed in breathtaking nature parks, from the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark to Sai Kung Country Park, with ferries and junks whisking travellers from the charming Sai Kung Town Centre to a scattering of tranquil islands.

A haven for lovers of the great outdoors, the landscape is built for days spent hiking, kayaking and swimming in secluded bays. 

Hong Kong’s Sai Kung district is a natural wonderland of ancient rock formations, sugared beaches, leafy hiking routes and historic fishing villages. Above is the beautiful Long Ke Wan beach

It’s equally a cultural hotspot, with everything from fascinating heritage sites to contemporary art installations to experience. And it’s a foodie paradise too, with mouthwatering fish plated up fresh from the water in Michelin-recommended waterfront eateries.

So why not see a whole new side to the city – here we round up 10 of the best experiences to have in stunning Sai Kung…


Sai Kung’s floating seafood market supplies many of the finest restaurants in Hong Kong

A must-visit, the floating seafood market is an experience that’s unique to Sai Kung.

Walk along the waterfront in Sai Kung Town and you’ll spy rows of colourful fishing boats filled with bounties of fresh and dried fish.

Fishermen sell their wares directly from these boats, often using pole nets to pass customers their purchases from the vessel. Top chefs from some of the finest restaurants in Hong Kong, a city renowned for its gastronomy, are known to shop here for ingredients. It’s a veritable feast of fresh fish – you’ll spot mantis shrimp, sea cucumbers, eels, lobster, crabs and more. 

Get chatting with these local traders and snap up a bargain fresh catch. Certain Sai Kung restaurants – such as Sing Kee Seafood Restaurant – will even cook the fish you’ve purchased for an added fee.


The towering hexagonal rock formations of the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

With spectacular volcanic rock formations dating back 140million years, the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark is a sight to behold – make sure your camera is at the ready.

Boat tours offer a front-row view of this natural wonder, which is spread over two regions, the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region and the Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region.

From the water, marvel over the uninhabited Ninepin Group archipelago, where towering hexagonal rock formations rise out of the water. A highlight is the wind-whipped Big Cannon Rock and South Ninepin Island’s Rock Chamber, a striking rectangular cave.

Next, keep an eye out for the Po Pin Chau sea stack, a 63m-high behemoth composed of hundreds of interconnected hexagonal rock columns.

More magical views await when you sail around the isles of the Ung Kong Group – a highlight is the Lam Wan Kok Cave of Basalt Island, which is shaped like the blade of an enormous sword. Then there’s Jin Island, a hotspot for kayakers that’s known for its distinctive bell-shaped rock arch.

When you’re back on dry land, learn more about the fascinating evolution of this landscape at the Volcano Discovery Centre.


The Sai Kung district is beloved by locals for its pristine white-sand beaches 

The pristine, peaceful beaches of Sai Kung have to be seen to be believed – and what better way to explore them than by chartering a junk and hopping from bay to bay at your leisure?

Lay down your towel on Long Ke Wan in the Sai Kung East Country Park, which is often described as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, courtesy of its white sand and the tree-lined hilltops that surround it. And with its powder-soft sands and clear waters, Sai Wan Beach is also a favourite for locals.

Elsewhere in Sai Kung Country Park, Nam Fung Wan Beach – nicknamed ‘Millionaire’s Beach’ – is another breathtaking sight, framed by volcanic rock formations and lapped by clear waters.

Or pad along the soft sand of Trio Beach, a hidden gem on Pak Sha Wan Peninsula surrounded by lush greenery. Pack a picnic and make your way to the sandy beaches strung along Clear Water Bay on the northeastern coast of Sai Kung. After a morning of swimming and sun-lounging, take a stroll to the nearby Lung Ha Wan Rock Carving, an ancient etching discovered at a scenic lookout point by the sea.

Sporty types, meanwhile, will be in their element on the sprawling quartet of beaches that make up Tai Long Wan on the east coast of the Sai Kung Peninsula, known as a surfing hotspot for locals.

It’ll make for a beach holiday like no other.


The oldest trail in Hong Kong, the MacLehose Trail meanders over 100km across the New Territories, taking in some of the city’s most mesmerising landscapes along the way. It’s broken up into bitesize sections, so you can tackle each part at your own pace.

Lace up your hiking boots and trek the parts of the trail that weave through the Sai Kung district – you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping scenery from start to finish.

The beginning of the trail will take you past the High Island Reservoir East Dam, leading you to the epic High Island Geo Trail, where ancient rock formations embellish the landscape. Another stop is the unspoilt bay of Long Ke Wan, which offers peace and quiet in abundance.

For a real challenge, take on stage four of the trail, which leads you on a rugged path through Ma On Shan Country Park. It’s steep at times, but the views are sensational, with sights like the glorious Three Fathoms Cove to take in as you hike. Make sure to stop at the Ngong Ping Viewing Point for a show-stopping panorama over Sai Kung Town.


Sharp Island is fringed by a stunning, unbroken coral reef that houses a beautiful array of tropical fish

Spanning 2,500 metres from north to south, Sharp Island is just a stone’s throw from Sai Kung Town – it takes a quick ferry ride to reach its golden shores.

The island is fringed by a stunning, unbroken coral reef that houses a beautiful array of tropical fish, making it a haven for snorkelling.

One of the most distinctive features is the rocky tidal tombolo that leads to the islet of Kiu Tau. Some of the island’s best snorkelling spots lie south of the tombolo – you might spy brain coral, schools of Chinese demoiselles, butterfly fish and striped sergeant fish below the water’s surface. Be careful not to step on the coral – it’s important to protect this spellbinding marine habitat.

Next, check out the crescent-shaped Hap Mun Bay, another hotspot for snorkelling and swimming. If you’re very experienced in coasteering – or have a kayak – there’s a natural swimming pool waiting to be discovered further along the coast.


While Sai Kung is famous for its sensational scenery and standout seafood scene, its fantastic cafe and bar culture is something of a local secret.

First, throw a book in your bag and head to Cozy Coffee. The snug library-themed space on this cafe’s second floor is the ideal spot for reading and sipping on pour-over coffee. Or wander into the chic No Nationality and order a locally-sourced coffee from its hand-drip coffee menu, pairing your brew with sweet treats such as French toast or creme brulée.

Need a pick-me-up? Make for the fruit and veg stall on the corner of Sai Kung Main Street and Sai Kung Tai Street for a refreshing fresh juice, prepared by the mother and daughter team that runs the stall.

Later, venture to the bustling Tikitiki Bowling Bar for a game in the bar’s neon-lit bowling alley. To fuel your game, it serves signature cocktails, draught beer and a host of delicious dishes. 

Or order an aperitif in the laid-back and friendly bar-restaurant Bacco, which has been welcoming locals since the 1980s. 


Tiny Yim Tin Tsai island – with a name that translates to ‘little salt pan’ in Cantonese – has a rich history of salt harvesting 

This beautiful little island is worth its weight in salt.

Tiny Yim Tin Tsai island – with a name that translates to ‘little salt pan’ in Cantonese – is the only place in Hong Kong where salt is harvested today, keeping alive a rich heritage that can be traced back hundreds of years.

People of the Hakka clan settled on the island centuries ago and discovered that it offered ideal conditions for producing salt – a lucrative commodity at the time.

Sadly, this culture began to dwindle in the early 20th century with the increase of competition from salt producers further afield. Yim Tin Tsai’s population declined to the point where there was just a handful of people living on the isle, but thankfully, new arrivals came after the millennium and worked to preserve its rich history of salt production, breathing new life back into the salt pans and conserving the heritage of the Hakka clan.

Today, a heritage centre is open to visitors, and salt pan workshops and talks can be enjoyed. Bottles of salt can even be purchased as a souvenir.

Getting there is easy, too – Yim Tin Tsai lies a scenic 15-minute boat ride from the Sai Kung Town’s pier.


Sai Kung’s beautiful Tin Hau Temple dates back to the 13th century, making it the oldest temple of its kind in Hong Kong

Bound to the history of Hong Kong’s fishing villages, the region’s Tin Hau Temples – as their name suggests – were built in honour of Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea. 

First, pay a visit to the Tin Hau Temple just off Po Tung Road in Sai Kung Town, which is adorned with a beautifully ornate façade. 

Next, make your way to the beautiful Grade III-listed Leung Shuen Wan or High Island Tin Hau Temple in the Sai Kung East Country Park, constructed in 1741. Visit during the biennial Tin Hau festival and you’ll witness a Cantonese opera performance and a magnificent parade. While you’re there, stop by the local sea urchin farm, where you can dine on the delicacy with aromatic fried rice.

The Tin Hau Temple in Joss House Bay is another piece of living history – it dates back to the 13th century, making it the oldest temple of its kind in Hong Kong. Treasured by locals, it’s particularly popular with local fishermen, some of whom dry their bait for a day’s fishing in the courtyard.


The vibrant, colourful restaurants on Seafood Street often allow diners to pick the fish they want from tanks in front of them 

The food served on and around Seafood Street in Sai Kung Town is next level – so much so that it’s caught the eye of the Michelin Guide’s inspectors.

Wander along the road and you’ll see rows of colourful fish tanks in front of restaurants, filled with everything from langoustines to razor clams. Diners can pick the fish they’d like and chefs will cook them fresh.

Behind the simple façade of Loaf On lies a destination eatery with one Michelin star to its name. Order dishes like deep-fried abalone or flower crab and you’ll soon see why the Michelin Guide says it ‘stands out’ for its cooking.

Or lend an evening to feasting on sautéed clams or double-boiled fish maw at Sing Kee Seafood, a traditional three-storey spot which has been awarded Bib Gourmand status by the Michelin Guide.

If you have a special occasion in mind – say, a romantic dinner for two – ask for a table in the restaurant’s tucked-away alfresco area.

Another Michelin-recommended joint is the charming, family-run Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant. It’s hard to miss it – there’s a giant neon fish sign hanging outside. Take a seat on the balcony and watch the world go by as you feast – dishes including steamed fish and salt and pepper mantis shrimp are bound to be a hit.


Sai Kung has plenty to offer art lovers – above is the striking artwork called Moonrise in Daylight by Breakthrough Art Studio

Sai Kung Town Centre is a living art museum, its walls splashed with colour courtesy of HKWalls, the arts organisation that commissioned 18 artists to create unique murals around the neighbourhood, including Wong Ting Fung’s bold and graphic wall paintings at Man Yee Playground and the fluid lines of Julie Lai’s street art. 

An interactive map will help you to track them down.

Sai Kung’s islands are also embellished with spectacular contemporary artworks, created as part of the ‘Joy Again, Isle’ art festival.

On Sharp Island, three groups of artists drew inspiration from the scenery and crafted a series of sculptural pieces. There’s a huge geometric metal conch with a hollow interior (Ocean Says by Stickyline) – put your ear to it and you’ll hear the sounds of the waves; Moonrise in Daylight by Breakthrough Art Studio is a giant bamboo-woven sphere that looks different depending on the angle you view it from, and A Grand Pineapple Bun Tour by Maoshan Connie and St. James’ Creation, is a collection of 10 colourful ceramic pieces inspired by the area’s peculiar rocks.

More eye-catching art installations lie on Yim Tin Tsai island, including a glittering silver shell that wraps around the middle of the isle’s Jade-Girdle bridge. 

Back in Sai Kung Town, shop for artisanal souvenirs in the boutiques that line its streets – there are shops specialising in leather wares, ceramics, fragrant candles and delicate paper crafts. Round off the day in one of the district’s many cafes, snacking on warm pineapple buns or traditional rice pudding.

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