Are you over sightseeing and visiting skyscrapers? Below you’ll find tips on historical walled villages and forgotten far-flung islands but also lesser known city attractions as well as the lowdown on the Hong Kong’s dolphins.
Not the Bank of China
IM Pei is one of the world’s best-known architects and responsible for such as iconic structures as the Louvre Pyramid and the JFK Library in Boston. In Hong Kong he built the Bank of China tower—everyone knows that. What few people know is that before he hit the big time he also built Sunning Court, a modest, but classically Pei residential building in Causeway Bay. From the angular design and the expansive windows, it’s not hard to identify the building as the handiwork of Pei.
While Lamma Island grabs most of the headlines it also grabs most of the tourists. Life on Peng Chau remains untouched by tourism and is a great place to both unwind and see life at a more local pace. The island may only have 6,000 residents but at less than a kilometer in size, it has an enjoyable buzz. The waterfront has enjoys the bustle of dishing ships as well as some great seafood while the Peng Chau heritage trail takes you through the traditional islands’ ancestral hall and community school. You can reach Peng Chau by regular ferry (it takes around 30 mins from Hong Kong Island) and while you don’t need to stay overnight to fully explore the island there is one hotel.
This fantastically innovative attraction gives visitors the chance to experience the world in complete darkness. The idea is to raise awareness of visual impairment by trying to help people understand how other senses are heightened. We don’t want to give too much away but you’ll be guided through five different environments in complete darkness, environments that are designed to heighten your sense of smell, touch, and taste. There is also the opportunity to try dinner in the dark, where you’ll be served a three-course meal in complete darkness.
The city’s favorite wildlife mascot, the Pearl River pink dolphin call the waters around Lantau Island home and there are a number of tours that let you see these rare animals. There are a couple of tours per week from Lantau Island. Dolphinwatch is generally considered the most eco-friendly group and boast a 96% success rate on tours.
The best way to get introduced to the local wildlife, Kadoorie Farm was originally a social project by local boys made good—The Kadoories—today it’s a working farm but also a wildlife refuge. Up along the slopes of the New Territories, you’ll find hundreds of birds and everything from snakes to butterflies amidst dramatic scenery. The farm can be reached on the 64K bus from the Tai Po train station.
The best way to see beyond the skyscrapers and into the city’s past, Hong Kong’s walled villages have been around for hundreds of years. They are literally the oldest thing standing in the territory. Hidden off the beaten track in the New Territories, you’ll find ramshackle huts, grand ancestral halls embroidered with golden dragons and lions and crumbling defensive walls.