Many people fly in and out of Hong Kong without even realizing that the SAR comprises anything more than the city itself. However, the New Territories, a 30km-deep swath between Kowloon and the Guangdong border, comes complete with country parks, beautiful coastlines, farming communities and craggy mountains – as well as booming New Towns, satellite settlements built from scratch in the last forty years to absorb the overflow from Hong Kong’s burgeoning population. A whole series of designated country parks includes the unspoilt Sai Kung Peninsula to the east, offering excellent walking trails and secluded beaches. Less dedicated souls after birdlife should head northwest to the Hong Kong Wetland Park; elsewhere there’s some architectural and cultural heritage to soak up around otherwise modern towns such as Sha Tin. For serious extended hikes, the MacLehose Trail runs for 100km across the New Territories; contact the Country and Marine Parks (w www.afcd.gov.hk) for information on trails and conditions.
Sai Kung Peninsula
Sai Kung Peninsula
Hong Kong’s easternmost projection, the rugged Sai Kung Peninsula is a mass of jagged headlands, spiky peaks, vivid blue seascapes and tiny offshore islands. Most of the area is enclosed within country parks, with a range of picnic spots and walking trails around the coast and out to Hong Kong’s finest beaches.
The main access point is little SAI KUNG TOWN, reached on bus #92 from Diamond Hill MTR. While somewhat developed and with a large expat population, it’s also a Chinese fishing town, the promenade packed with seafood restaurants and fishermen offering their wares. Shops sell swimming gear, sunscreen and bright inflatable floats; and there’s a fruit market and supermarket if you’re putting your own lunch together. The harbour is full of cruisers, small fishing boats and ad hoc ferries whose owners will offer rides out to various islands, the nearest and most popular of which is Kiu Tsui Chau (or Sharp Island), boasting a beach and a short hike to its highest point.