Where in Hong Kong would you find sandy white beaches against a backdrop of lush green mountains? Sai Kung, our city’s very own “back garden” has nature’s bounties on offer and some cool neighbourhood shops and eateries to visit whilst you are there.
What to know about Sai Kung
What is Sai Kung known for?
Sai Kung is located in the North Eastern part of the New Territories and is the second-largest area of Hong Kong by landmass. Sai Kung is only partly urbanised and most of Sai Kung consists of Country Parks and a UNESCO Global Geopark. A mecca for the adventurous, hiking trails and waters sports await visitors who come to explore.
What you have to do
Most of the day-to-day activity bustles around the town centre. Once a sleepy fisherman’s village, the streets fuse old Hong Kong charm with local shops dotting its alleyways and squares alongside more contemporary establishments. On weekends, expect to jostle with out-of-town crowds in this otherwise laid-back community.
How to get there
It takes a bit of planning to get to Sai Kung, but the effort is worth the reward. Sai Kung is not on the MTR network and the best way to get there is by taxi, bus, or minibus. The good news is that there are several MTR stations (Hang Hau, Mong Kok, Choi Hung) with minibuses that go directly to Sai Kung.
For those who drive, there are several public car parks in the town centre. For ease and convenience, try the Wilson multi-storey carpark in Sai Kung Town Centre (22-40 Fuk Man Road, Sai Kung) and the Kau Sai Chau Public Car Park (Wai Man Road, Sai Kung).
Where to do water activities in Sai Kung?
Watersports aficionados are in for a treat in Sai Kung. The calm waters that surround the bay, sheltered by some bigger islands nearby, make it a great spot for various water-based activities.
Take a short walk down the Sai Kung promenade to Ah Kwok Watersports (Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung) on Sha Ha beach where you will find kayaks, SUPs, windsurfs and wind foils available for rental. On busy weekends and public holidays, it is advisable to make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment. Set off from the beach to explore the surrounding bay but be careful when navigating the sampans and speedboats that whizz along the way.
Sai Kung is surrounded by a collection of islands that boast rare geographical formations that have formed over the years due to wave and wind erosion. For the adventurous, try exploring some of Sai Kung’s UNESCO Geopark and admire the hexagonal rock formations by Kayak or SUP. Blue Sky Sports Club (Sha Ha Road, Sai Kung) provides organised excursions to these sites.
For adrenaline junkies, Sai Kung is also a popular spot for wakeboarding and wake-surfing. A number of operators such as Wake Plus offer this activity and rates are charged by the hour. The rate would include the rental of the boards, life jackets, and coaching tips for first-timers.
Sai Kung Scuba and Splash
Below the surface of Sai Kung’s crystal waters are some interesting diving spots teeming with marine life such as clownfish, starfish, and moray eels. In addition to the coral reefs around Hoi Ha Wan, Sharp Island, and Ninepin Islands, divers can go slightly further afield to explore sunken artefacts such as a cargo ship, shipwreck and even a car! Sai Kung Scuba and Splash are PADI-recognised dive centres that offer beginner courses and various diving options based on ability and intention.
If you are in search of the chill factor, Sai Kung has many pristine beaches to choose from for some R+R. The most accessible is Trio beach, a relatively flat and well-signposted 30-minute walk from Hebe Haven. There is also an option to get a sampan to this beach from the Hebe Haven pier. If you are in the mood to explore, take a boat to one of the beaches further afield. Ham Tin Speedboat provides a return service for $360 per person to Ham Tin, Sai Wan and Long Ke.
Where to hike in Sai Kung?
The majority of Sai Kung is made up of two nature parks covering 7500 hectares of land. With miles and miles of hiking trails, you will be spoilt for choice whether it is serious adventure you are looking for, a laid-back family hike, or simply looking to tick off stages of the famous 100km Maclehose Trail.
A popular hike to do is the hike into Ham Tin. This a relatively easy 1.5-hour hike with stunning views along the way that ends at a pristine beach which makes the hard work worthwhile! The easiest route starts at Sai Wan pavilion within the Sai Kung East Country Park. It is downhill for the first part of this hike as you get into Sai Wan Tsuen beach. Stop here for a snack at one of the beachside cafés before pushing on uphill for the next section. Breathtaking views will await you as you descend into Ham Tin. If a day relaxing at the beach is not enough, camp overnight at this popular camping spot. The restaurant on the beach serves simple food and drinks and has restroom facilities and tents to rent for ease and convenience.
Not far off the Maclehose 2 trail is a more challenging hike for the brave-hearted. Sharp Peak, as the name suggests is a hike that involves steep gradient and some rocky scrambling. Hikers who take on this challenge will be rewarded with the most spectacular, unspoilt panoramic views of Tai Long Wan but make sure to check for good weather and have the proper equipment before tackling this hike! A slightly easier version of this would be High Junk Peak in Clearwater Bay country park also within Sai Kung.
Three Fathoms Cove (Kei Ling Ha Hoi)
There are also various hikes of every level to do over at Sai Kung West Country Park. If you are a beginner, try the Three Fathoms Cove hike. Although fairly long in distance, this scenic flat coastal trail brings you back in time as you wander through a restored Hakka Village and old Catholic Chapels whilst also admiring the flora and fauna of the mangroves and wetlands along the way. Seasoned hikers can put their endurance to the limit on Maclehose Section 3, a 10-kilometre hike with 3 peaks each approximately 400m high.
What to eat in Sai Kung?
It is hard to go hungry in Sai Kung with the number of restaurants serving a wide variety of good quality grub. From the local cha chaan teng to chic cafés and family-friendly restaurants such as Pepperoni’s (1592 Po Tung Road, Sai Kung) there is something for every palate.
An obvious dining choice when visiting this seaside town is one of the many live seafood restaurants dotted along the main pier. Sit back and enjoy the harbour view at the rooftop terrace of Michelin-recommended Chuen Kee Seafood Restaurant (87–93 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung) where they will prepare the day’s fresh catch straight off the fishing boats in the harbour or simply chose from a stunning array of fish, shellfish and molluscs from their many tanks.
Off the beaten track, Yau Ley (Lot 359, Sha Kiu Tsuen, Leung Shuen Wan, Sai Kung) on High Island is another family-run seafood restaurant worth a mention. Fresh seafood, unspoilt vistas, and a secluded beach await those who visit either by boat or by hiking from Pak Tam Au in Sai Kung East Country Park.
Saigon Pho and Bakso
Sai Kung is a melting pot for international cuisine. For good value, head to Saigon Pho (Shop 2 & Shop 16, G/F, Sai Kung Building, 42-56 Fuk Man Road, Sai Kung), where you can get a hearty bowl of their speciality pho for under $100. The broth uses a secret mix of spices and herbs and is slowly simmered for over 12 hours to ensure maximum flavour. For a Bali beach vibe, head over to Bakso (G/f, 9 Wan King Path, Sai Kung) to try the famous Indonesian meatball soup and hang out with the surf crowd.
For something different, try some innovative plant-based tapas at 2084 (5 Sha Tsui Path, Sai Kung), Sai Kung’s first vegan restaurant. This restaurant serves Asian-inspired small bites that are popular with herbivores and omnivores alike
What to drink in Sai Kung?
Nothing beats unwinding after a long day with a sundowner by the sea. Kick back and enjoy an al-fresco cocktail on the spacious deck of Turtle by the Sea (Sai Kung Waterfront, Sai Kung), located by Sai Kung Pier. This newcomer to the Sai Kung F&B scene is garnering a loyal following for its funky vibes, extensive drink menu, and delicious small bites.
A favourite amongst locals and day-trippers is Padstow (112 Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung), a gastropub opposite Hebe Haven. In addition to serving classic pub grub such as fish and chips and pies, Padstow is a watering hole for craft beer enthusiasts with a selection of local and imported pours. As the exclusive importer of WEST beers in Hong Kong, be sure to enjoy a pint of St Mungo’s on draught whilst there.
No list is complete without a caffeine-fix pit stop and luckily Sai Kung is teeming with little cafes serving honest coffee. Join the queues at Little Cove (Shop 1&2, G/F, Siu Yat Building, Sai Kung) for a coffee, and if you appetite allows, indulge in one of their breakfast offerings such as the Pulled Pork Benedict or a healthy breakfast bowl.
Also worth a mention is NN Coffee (G/F, 47 See Cheung St, Sai Kung) with its minimalist slate gray exterior that oozes chic. Apart from the usual coffee selection is also an interesting tea selection from more common Matcha and Chai Lattes to the delicate flavours of Lychee Oolong.
Where to shop in Sai Kung?
In and amongst the shops selling beach essentials typically found in a seaside town are some hidden gems to peruse. Locally produced in small batches at their Sai Kung workshop, buy Hong Kong by stocking up on handcrafted candles at BeCandle (G/F, 102 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung). Each candle is housed in an elegant glass jar and comes in a variety of fragrances ranging from the more traditional scents such as bergamot and sandalwood to the more playful ones such as Full City Roast aimed at recreating your favourite coffee shop right at home!
With so many great beaches, Sai Kung is a great place for a picnic. Make a pit stop at Raymond Deli Club (G/F 28 Man Nin St, Sai Kung) to fill your picnic hamper with high-quality imported produce at reasonable prices. For a top tip, call ahead and order one of their cheese and charcuterie boxes. The mouthwatering selection of cheese and cured meats are presented beautifully alongside fruit and nut accompaniments.
If you have time to spare, browse the wide selection of books at Kidnapped (7 Man Nin Street, Sai Kung). This independent bookshop has a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles in addition to unique coffee table books and cookbooks that make great gifts. The friendly staff is always on hand for advice and to help with your next read!
FAQ about Sai Kung
What is Sai Kung known for?
Sai Kung is known for nature at its best. Unspoilt by the wave of urbanisation that has transformed the rest of Hong Kong, Sai Kung is home to country parks and beautiful beaches. From hiking to watersports or just to escape the city’s bustle, Sai Kung is a precious gem to explore.
What’s the best restaurant to try in Sai Kung?
Where better to enjoy fresh seafood than in Sai Kung. There are a number of restaurants along the main pier that allow you to select your seafood straight from the tank. A favourite is Chuen Kee Seafood restaurant where they will prepare fresh catches straight off the fishing boats at the pier.
What’s the main thing to see in Sai Kung?
The heart of Sai Kung is its town centre where you can find restaurants, bars, boutique shops and even a bowling alley! From the town centre, you can catch a minibus or taxi to the country park. Alternatively, walk along the main pier to catch a sampan to some of the outlying islands.
Header image credits: Leung Cho Pan via Canva