Despite popular belief, you can relax and rejuvenate in fast-paced Hong Kong. Between the high rises, dense population and often frenetic energy, Hong Kong offers moments of peace and we've found our favorites.
Tai Chi in Hong Kong Park. Embodying the duality of modern city life and the richness of an ancient society, Tai Chi is very popular in Hong Kong among young and old alike. Developed centuries ago, the gracefully choreographed movements of Tai Chi help balance the body’s internal yin and yang, doing as much for the mind and soul as for the body. In the early morning hours head to Hong Kong Park, Victoria Park or the Botanical Gardens participate in the timeless movement of this martial art and enjoy the benefits of stress relief like a local.
Hiking Dragon’s Back Ridge. With so much beautiful open space and scenic trails, Hong Kong is a wonderful place to hike. For us, Dragon’s Back Ridge in Shek O Country Park tops the list as it is easily accessible from Central and offers stellar views. Clocking in at 8.5km, this is a beginner’s trail that offers stairs through the cemetery for the first leg, but rewards you with woodland, lush greenery, exotic plant life and a killer view as the payoff. This 2.5-3 hour is a workout, so be sure to bring plenty of water. You’ll be happy to have escaped the urban jungle for views of the offshore island and breathtaking skyline.
Home's Cooking School. Many neighborhoods have outdoor wet markets, where locals shop daily to pick up fresh produce, meat and seafood. For this market-to-table experience, Home’s Cooking offers 10 different sessions that start with a visit to the Kam Wa Street wet market to engaging with the sellers as you purchase your ingredients for the 3-course meal. Back at Joyce’s (the chef) home, she’ll help you to prepare and cook a delicious meal. A fun and interactive way to learn about local food and culture for sure, but when you bite into your homemade soup dumpling, you will have a hard earned and tasty appreciation for Cantonese cuisine.
Man Mo Temple. Hidden among the skyscrapers and malls, there are over 600 temples in Hong Kong where faithful devotees of Buddhist, Taoist and local deities perform ancient rituals amid aromatic wafts of incense. Man Mo Temple, built in 1847, is the oldest temple in the region and while it’s not gilded or grand, it is well worth a visit. Upon entering you are immediately enveloped by the smoke from the dozens of giant incense coils suspended from the ceiling - considered food for the spirits and to purify the surrounding. Close your eyes amidst the aroma and be in the moment. This is truly unique and peaceful experience for the senses, which emanates an otherworldly charm that should be added to your must-do list.
Po Lin Monastery. Escape to one of the outlying islands to get a feel for Buddhist traditions and culture amidst spectacular scenery. Lantau Island houses the Po Lin Monastery, where the famous "Big Buddha” resides, and it should be your first stop. Sitting at an impressive 112 feet high, Buddha faces north looking over the Chinese people and delivering blessings to all with the raised right hand. As you climb it is clear why this Buddha’s unique and humbling dignity draws pilgrims from all over the world. To better understand its cultural significance visit the Po Lin Monastery just opposite of the statue. Known as ‘the Buddhist World in the South’, Po Lin is a tranquil place of worship for devout monks and truly embodies Buddhist culture, architecture, landscape and sculptural arts. - Sarah Morrow