Top 6 Side Trips from Hong Kong
From stratospheric skyscrapers and swanky shopping malls to bustling markets and world-class cuisines, Hong Kong is an amazing travel paradise that could keep visitors entertained and addicted for weeks. However, after a few days of adrenaline-fueled excitement, you may want to have a breath of fresh air and take a break away from the urban sprawl.
Thankfully, there are plenty choices for a cross-border adventure if you get a couple of extra days during your visit to Hong Kong. You can easily have a slice of mainland China by a high-speed rail link to coastal cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou, while visiting the neighbor Macau is a also a breeze by a speedboat or helicopter. Looking for somewhere more off the beaten track, you can check out the nearby stunners and hidden gems like Guilin, Zhuhai and Shunde. Here are six top side trips that will substantiate your stay in Hong Kong!
Just one hour voyage from Hong Kong, Macau is the most popular option for a day trip. The frequent turbojets between two islands make it a super easy transfer to make. Reputed as the casino heaven, Macau boasts the biggest and most gambling centers like Grand Lisboa and Venetian in the world, and that is also a reason why so many tourists pay a homage to the city.
However, Macau is a culturally and historically rich city on account of the Portuguese and Macanese colonial influence. A big part of Macau's peninsula has been designated a UNESCO Heritage Site, which is especially friendly for tourists to take a leisurely walk to check out the most iconic spots, such as the Ruins of St Paul's Church, Senado Square, A-Ma Temple, Guia Hill and Taipa Food Street as well as the charming village of Coloane.
If you want to have a break from the cultural sites, you could embark on a food trail to get a taste of Macau's Portuguese and Macanese cuisine, especially the famous egg tarts. Hunting for thrills, you may ascend the soaring Macau Tower and go wild with a bungee jump, while leisure lovers could hit the rural villages of Taipa on two wheels.
As the third biggest city in China, Guangzhou is a travel destination out of the consideration for firs timers, but the thriving metropolis could fulfill your days with amazing ancient Chinese architecture, mind-boggling dim sum and colorful modern history as well as wonderful theme parks hidden deep in the sleek skyscrapers and fast-paced life.
The side trip to Guangzhou would make you a novel and fascinating experience enriched by some of the key city highlights, such as the Ancestral Temple of Chen Family for brilliant courtyard architecture and sophisticated craftwork, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall for a peek into Chinese modern history, the Chimelong Safari Park for a contact to the nature world and Shamian Island with European villas for a taste of colonial culture as well as a cruise on the Pearl River for the view of the iconic Canton Tower.
This list of attractions and activities in Guangzhou are merely the tip of the iceberg and one day trip cannot do it justice! However, Guangzhou definitely will be an unrivaled escape from Hong Kong, and the transfer between two cities is really a breeze of no more than two hours since you get ferries, high-speed trains and even cross-border buses at hand.
Shenzhen is the gateway to mainland China from Hong Kong, which is also the nearest neighbor for an ideal day trip. As one of the most thriving metropolises in China, Shenzhen offers a great number of inexpensive delights that could be easily accessed from Hong Kong no matter by MTR, ferry or cross-border bus.
If leisure is your thing, you never should skip a day spa as you are offered various choices and most of them are affordable. In search of more in-depth Chinese cultural discovery, you should not miss the Splendid China Folk Village to admire the exquisite miniatures of more than 80 Chinese landmarks, such as Forbidden City and Terracotta Army. Or venture into the Window of the World to have a glimpse of 130 tiny replicas of the world’s most iconic sights, including the Eiffel Tower, Angkor Wat, Mount Fuji, the Statue of Liberty, and the Egyptian Pyramids. Another reason many tourists make a side trip to Shenzhen is that one could enjoy more authentic but cheaper Chinese food than that in Hong Kong.
Located about 500 km (300 mi) northwest from Hong Kong, Guilin is an excellent destination for a couple days’ escape from the concrete forests of metropolis. Guilin is now conveniently linked with Hong Kong by a direct high-speed train between these two cities every day, and the ride only takes about 3 hours. If making a transfer at Shenzhen or Guangzhou first, you could connect more train departures and even run to Yangshuo directly.
Guilin is popularly noted for its breathtaking Li River and the karst mountains clustered along it. The best way to gain a stunning view of Guilin landscape is to take a cruise on the Li River down to Yangshuo County. If you are looking for a smaller city and more laid back vibe, Yangshuo would be the most superb getaway from Hong Kong offering idyllic rural villages, rustic cycling routes, thrilling bamboo raft and bustling West Street. Guilin could be an ideal base to visit some mind-blowing karst caves like Silver Cave and Reed Flute Cave as well as one of China’s most spectacular rice terrace of Zhuang and Miao minorities in Long Sheng. Moreover, with influences from both Vietnamese and Cantonese cuisine, Guilin food can be an adventure in itself.
Unlike Guangzhou and Shenzhen with skyscrapers and glitzy malls, Shunde is lesser-known city in Guangdong Province, while it is really a hidden gem worth a short visit from Hong Kong by easy ferry service. Rich in delightful natural landscape and cultural heritages, Shunde is an enjoyable and peaceful respite to explore.
One of the city's most captivating stunner is the Qinghuiyuan, one of the top ten classic gardens in China. It was originally the mansion of the Huang Shijun who won out as the NO.1 scholar in late Ming-Dynasty imperial examination. There you will savor the most authentic traditional Chinese architecture style and garden art. Nature lovers could venture into the Shunfengshan Park endowed with lush greenery, picturesque canals and ornate bridges by a leisurely stroll or a slow-paced biking ride. The Baoling Temple inside the park is a place hard to miss, from which you could catch amazing bird’s eye views of the city. Now Shunde is still a newly-developed travel destination not thronged by massive tourists, so you could check out this unconventional place before the arrival of crowds.
About one hour from Hong Kong by ferry, Zhuhai would promise you a pleasant day trip with its picturesque landscape and leisurely lifestyle. Perched in the Pearl River Delta, Zhuhai is a minnow of a city by Chinese standards, but it is blessed with a stretch of picturesque coastline and over 100 lovely islands.
Among them, the Dong'ao Island, Hebao Island and Guishan Island are the most stunning ones, where you could go diving into the world of sea creatures, take a nap under the palm trees, enjoy a soothing sun bath or gobble the fresh seafood. Last but not least, for those night owls and late sleepers, Zhuhai’s another big charm is its exciting nightlife. You could linger around the Lotus Road to grab a drink, enjoy a live jazz performance or hit the dancing floor of a trendy club.