7 Unconventional Day Trips to Take from Hong Kong

7 Unconventional Day Trips to Take from Hong Kong

Bored of the usual things to do in Hong Kong? These day trips will take you on an enthralling adventure that’ll make your Hong Kong vacation a memorable one.

Have a day or two to spare when in Hong Kong? Don’t fancy hanging around Kowloon or Hong Kong Island anymore? We’ve got you covered. Here are seven day trips, be it within the country or out of it, that will substantiate your stay in Hong Kong!

Within Hong Kong:

1. Mai Po Marshes

Image credit: Ryan Fung

Take a break from your shopping and head out on a day trip to this hidden gem! The absence of crowds and the abundance of wildlife is sure to rejuvenate your spirits with a full day of breathtaking scenery.

Image credit: 柳雩

Discover the flipside of Hong Kong and visit a nature reserve managed by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The Mai Po Marshes play home to hundreds of mammals, reptiles, insects and 55,000 migrating birds annually! There’s no reason not to visit this attraction that’s home to an amazing diversity of wildlife.

Prior to visiting, travellers will need to apply for a Mai Po Entry Permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department of the Hong Kong Government. This complimentary permit takes about four weeks to be processed, so be sure to apply before your trip to catch a glimpse of this extraordinary side of Hong Kong!

Getting there: Take KMB Bus no. 76K from Choi Yuen Road opposite Sheung Shui MTR station or KMB Bus no. 76K from “Sun Yuen Long Centre” bus stop near Long Yat Road (Yuen Long MTR Station). Alight at “Mai Po” near Mai Po Village . Walk 20 minutes walk along Tam Kon Chau Road to reach the Mai Po Visitor Centre.

2. Shui Hau Beach

Tired of seeing endless rows of Hong Kong skyscrapers and malls? Tired of trekking through crowded pedestrian walkways and squeezing on public transportation? Give yourself a break from the city life and head to Shui Hau Beach for a day of outdoor fun! Shui Hau Beach is located in a relatively rural area with no facilities around – a perfect respite for those just looking forward to white, silky, sandy beaches.

Shui Hau Beach is known mainly for two activities: clamming and kite-boarding. On a typical day, catch kite-boarders test their skills against the strong winds. The remaining visitors are usually at Fung Wong Bungalow Centre renting tools for a day of clamming. You can join in too – just trudge in the sand and start digging!

Getting there: Get onboard bus 11 or 23 from Tung Chung MTR and drop off at Lower Wan Lung.

Outside of Hong Kong:

These unique destinations may have you eager to get going but don’t forget to bring your passports! Do also take note of the distinct visa requirements the respective cities have, some of which will be covered below.

3. Zhuhai

Image credit: Neal Wang

Seventy minutes away from Hong Kong by ferry, Zhuhai is a city that you will not want to miss out on. Located in the Pearl River Delta, Zhuhai is known for its scenic coastlines, palm trees and nightlife. The city comprises a whopping 146 islands, with a number of them easily accessible by ferries!

Image credit: Billy1125

Visitors can go island hopping to various places such as Dong’ao Island for diving in its clear waters, Hebao Island for its vastly untouched natural charm and Guishan Island for its exceptional seafood, to name a few. The wide plethora of beaches makes Zhuhai an ideal destination for sunbathing and swimming.

Image credit: Tim Wang

Try your hand at formula car racing at the Zhuhai International Circuit, host to many racing events such as the FIA GT Championship. Let the experts show you how it’s done before going a few rounds on the circuit yourself! Otherwise, you can also rent go-karts and motorcycles for your own leisure.

Image credit: Jase Lam

Last but not least, for those night owls around, Zhuhai is also infamous for its bustling nightlife! Hit Lotus Road for stretches of stores selling drinks and catch live performances till late or visit the many discos in Gongbei or Bar Street for a taste of Chinese nightlife.

Whatever it is that you’re looking for in a day trip, Zhuhai definitely can deliver. Zhuhai border controls provide three-day visas upon arrival, if necessary. 

Getting there: Head to either the HK-Macau Ferry Terminal or the China Ferry Terminal and board the ferry that heads for Jiuzhou Port in Zhuhai.

4. Guangzhou

The third biggest city in China – after Beijing and Shanghai – Guangzhou is another destination that’s sure to keep your day filled with activities! From shopping and sightseeing to theme parks and mountains, the third biggest city in China is sure to have something for everyone, and more.

Image credit: Eduardo M.C.

For a taste of colonial history, check out Shamian Island which was previously occupied by the French and the British. The territory’s rich European architecture and landmarks have been preserved and gazetted as a historical site, consisting of The West Bridge and Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, to name a few. It’s like having mini-Europe in the midst of Asia!

Image credit: Beryl_snw

For art enthusiasts, the Xiaozhou Village has become an art haven in recent years. Filled with historical buildings and canals, the village plays home to local students that paint the town red (literally) with their artistic creativity. Getting tired of visiting old monuments and historical sites? Take a break by the riverside and grab a cup of coffee from one of the many cafes lining Huang Pu Gu Gang!

Image credit: momo

For nature lovers and fitness buffs, take a moderate trek up Lotus Mountain to see a 2,000-year-old quarry, a pagoda dating back to 1612 and a statue of a Buddhist Goddess along the way! Embark on the Pearl River Night Cruise and marvel at the spectacularly lit Guangzhou skyline. Then, finish off your visit with a Tsing Tao or Zhu Jiang beer at one of the many pubs surrounding the Garden Hotel!

This list of attractions and activities on Guangzhou is merely the tip of the iceberg! Guangzhou has a great number of things to offer to visitors and even a day trip won’t do it justice. But nevertheless, this just goes to show that Guangzhou definitely will make your day’s visit worth it.

Getting there: Take the two-hour train running from the Hung Hom Railway Station in Kowloon, Hong Kong and arrive at the East Railway Station in Guangzhou. Alternatively, head to the China Ferry Terminal and board the ferry bound for Lian Hua Shan Ferry Terminal in Guangzhou.

5. Macau

It is commonly heard that people make the voyage from Hong Kong to Macau, so what gives? Why’s Macau even on this list? Well, for one, not many actually visit Macau other than for one sole reason – to gamble. Macau is notorious for its reputation as a casino haven and that has led non-gamblers to shy away from visiting this culturally and historically rich city! Years of Portuguese and Macanese influence have shaped the city’s unique landscape that you will definitely not want to miss out on.

hong kong day trips

hong kong day trips

Stroll down the streets of Macau and you’d think you were walking down the streets of a European city. That’s how much the Portuguese culture has influenced this tiny city! A large section of Macau’s peninsula has been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site and visitors can choose to trek any of the three Heritage Walks available to them.

Visit the Ruins of St Paul’s, probably Macau’s most iconic landmark, that is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check out the Dom Pedro V Theatre, St Augustine’s Church and Sir Robert Ho Tung Library, all in St Augustine’s Square, for some amazing architectural sites and to satiate the history buff in you!

hong kong day trips

Had enough of historical sites on the heritage trail? Hit the rural villages of Taipa and Coloane for some cycling! If that still isn’t to your liking, embark on a food trail to get a taste of Macau’s Portuguese and Macanese cuisine! From Portuguese egg tarts, Galinha à Portuguesa (Portuguese-style chicken) to Macanese dim sum and pork chop bun, Macau’s food choices are sure to appease your palates – go ahead and take your pick! Alternatively, the brave can go for a bungee jump at the Macau tower, the second highest in the world!

Getting there: Head to Hong Kong’s Macau or China Ferry Terminal and board the slightly past one-hour ferry bound for Macau. Alternatively, get onboard the Sky Shuttle helicopter at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier for an exorbitant price.

6. Shenzhen

hong kong day trips

Just 40 minutes away from Hong Kong by Mass Transit Railway (MTR), Shenzhen is on the list of UNESCO Creative Cities and not without reason. Besides being the model for China’s economic success, Shenzhen thrives in various design fields such as graphic design, industry design and architectural design, to name a few.

For history buffs, Shenzhen houses attractions such as the Tomb of the Young Song Emperor, Dapeng Ancient Fort and the Xin’an Ancient City. On top of that, visitors will be spoilt for choice with the city’s numerous theme parks that locals throng to, such as Window of the World, OCT East and Sea World Shekou Shenzhen.

Being one of China’s greenest cities, there is no shortage of parks like the Lianhua Mountain Park, Mangrove National Park and Wutong Mountain National Park. Or perhaps you’d just like to enjoy one, of the many, widely affordable large spa complexes that offer full-day packages throughout the city.

Shenzhen offers a good day trip from Hong Kong and is sure to keep you spoilt for choice with its wide array of activities. Five-day visas on arrival are awarded, if necessary (with the exception of the US and French passports).

Getting there: Take the MTR’s East Rail Line to Lo Wu Station and walk to the Hong Kong Immigration building

Also read: A Simple 3-Day Hong Kong Itinerary for Your Long Weekend Trip

7. Shunde

Image credit: Mario Madrona

Unlike its more prominent counterparts Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Shunde is a city that’s relatively unheard of – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Shunde is known for its natural landscape and heritage buildings. The cultural gems in this city more than make up for the scarce number of shopping malls. History buffs and nature enthusiasts, you’ve found your quiet and humble abode, at least for a day.

Image credit: Mario Madrona

Hit the massive Shunfengshan Park for a leisurely stroll amongst the greenery. Wander over bridges, with a cup of coffee in hand, as you take in the cultural landscape of this Chinese park. Short of time? Rent bicycles and check out the park on two wheels instead! Located at the foot of the Taiping Mountain in Shunde, you’ll definitely not want to miss this tranquil respite.  

Image credit: Mario Madrona

Next up, visit the Baoling Temple for a taste of Shunde’s cultural landscape. The temple is situated within the Shunfengshan Park itself and is hard to miss, given its great stature! If you’re feeling adventurous, scale the temple to catch a bird’s eye view of the city of Shunde. The best part? Both the park and the temple offers complimentary admission to visitors!

Image credit: Josué Goge

With that money saved, perhaps you may want to visit the Snoopy Fun Fun Garden theme park. Yes, the biggest Peanuts theme park in Asia is right here in Shunde! The theme park is a new addition to the city’s growing list of attractions, in hopes of making Shunde a premier tourist destination. So head on down to Shunde before the crowds start getting there!

Getting there: Head to the China Ferry Terminal in Hong Kong and board the two-hour ferry bound for Shunde.

With these seven destinations in mind, you’ll never have to worry about having uneventful days loitering around the usual places in Hong Kong. So what are you waiting for? Start checking these unconventional places out before the crowd does!

About Author

Kevin Mak
Kevin Mak

Apart from catching overly-dramatic movies, quenching his voracious appetite and just lounging in his free time, Kevin finds François Rabelais' quote "I am going to seek a grand perhaps" resonating with him at times. It is this very desire that sees him travelling to foreign lands in search of new experiences, and food. In his adventures, the only thing that can temporarily impede his journey is his soft spot for pizza.


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