While bright lights, towering skyscrapers, and a glitzy skyline often comes to mind when thinking about Hong Kong, hidden among the modern marvels of steel, concrete, and glass, and over 7 million residents are more traditional and historic treasures. If you know where to look.
Also known as Pok Liu Chau, Lamma Island is the third largest island of Hong Kong. A stark contrast to Hong Kong Island, there are no cars and towering skyscrapers here, just peaceful and serene island villages and natural scenery (minus the power plant). I had the pleasure of visiting Lamma Island early September. You must take a boat to get here but the ride is pleasant as you take a trip through Victoria harbor. As soon as you get off the boat, you’ll be greeted by many local restaurants, most of them serving seafood. Most of Lamma’s population reside in Sok Kwu Won, so here you’ll find small shops, food, drink, and anything else you may need. I spent the morning hiking to the northern side of the island before returning late in the afternoon for lunch. It’s a relatively easy hike and gives a good overview of the entire island. Be sure to try out one of the restaurants, all of them serve seafood that is freshly caught and cooked to order!
Sometimes called the “Venice of Hong Kong”, Tai O is a fishing village located on Lamma Island. Consisting mostly of houses built on ‘stilts’ and huts over water, Tai O is a beautiful village. Transportation is conducted mainly by boat or by foot over the many foot bridges. I had a great time wandering the small alleys and streets throughout the village. There are a number of heritage buildings as well such as the old Tai O Police Station and the Tin Hau Temple. Tai O is also a popular place to enjoy a sunset. Check it out it you get the chance!
Sham Shui Po
Not the hardest place to find, however Sham Shui Po was one of the earliest parts of the city to be developed. Here you’ll find many old buildings that the government considers “urban decay”. The district is undergoing renewal efforts as the government attempts to update and rebuild the oldest of the buildings. It’s a delicate mixture of past and present, old and new. Next to the all-glass sprawling Dragon Shopping Centre are residential buildings that date before the 1930s! It’s a marvelous coexistent of tradition and innovation that Hong Kong residents are so accustomed to. You’ll also find the largest street market in the world for everything electronics. Vendors cover both sides of the streets with stalls, boxes, stands, and even tarps.
I loved wandering the streets while browsing all the wares that merchants were selling on the side of the streets. The street markets are known for it’s electronic goods and you can find anything from really old cameras to cheap phone accessories and the latest gadgets and toys. Many of the vendors sell used items so if you’re interested in a treasure hunt, Sham Shui Po is a bargain hunters paradise.
While Hong Kong looks quite small on the map, one could spend a lifetime and find there are secrets left to be uncovered. I’ve had to pleasure of spending 5 months and find myself not even scratching the cover. So many secrets remain!