When I ask my UK friends about what they think about Hong Kong, these are the answers I tend to get: Victoria Harbour, food, and shopping. I mean, they are right! The view at Victoria Harbour is undoubtedly stunning (when the sky is actually clear, of course); being gourmet paradise and shopping heaven I think we are doing pretty well, with generally cheap and mouthwatering delicacies and relatively inexpensive shopping. But…is that it? OF COURSE IT ISN’T!
There are officially 18 administrative districts in Hong Kong. Each district has its own unique characteristics. One of the district that I find interesting is Southern. It is one of the neighbouring districts of the CBD, but it is not a popular tourist destination (in fact – I just checked on Lonely Planet’s top 10 things to do in HK, none of those are in Southern District). But what makes it such a popular weekend getaway location for the locals? Here are 5 reasons why I find Southern District so attractive, and why you should visit the district.
#1: There’s a floating seafood restaurant
You’ll probably see this on your guidebook. Jumbo Kingdom is located in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters. Although it is a bit touristy, but how cool is this to be able to enjoy a seafood feast on a floating restaurant, next to the local fishermen community? In addition, Jumbo Kingdom has been featured in various films, such as Love Is a Many-Splendoured Thing in the 1950s, Internal Affairs II (無間道II), Contagion, The Thieves (도둑들), and several Jackie Chan films.
#2: An award winning amusement park
Another popular tourist attraction, but also loved by the locals. Ocean Park has won a number of awards – The World’s 7th Most Popular Amusement Park, one of the ’50 Most Visited Tourist Attractions in the world’, and being the first Asian theme park to win the Applause Award. And I feel that the park is totally worth these awards, with a number of roller coaster rides and many other thrill rides, as well as the animal aspect of the park: dolphins, penguins, pandas and various marine creatures and other species. I think the park is suitable for visitors at any age, because they have things to suit everyone. Children can learn about the wildlife and enjoy rides on one trip! During special occasions and festivals throughout the year, the park offers limited time events, such as summer galas and Halloween themed events.
#3: There are a lot of things going on
Due to the relatively extensive area and the geographical location of the district, there is a huge diversity in terms of the things that happen here. It is perhaps the only district in Hong Kong where both the poorest grassroots and wealthiest tycoons live in; typhoon shelters with traditional fishing boats; hiking trails in the country parks with breathtaking views; laid back beaches, and serene historical sites. And I’m pretty certain that you can find something that you favour!
#4: There are a lot of beaches
As I live relatively far away from Southern District, one of the (few) reasons that I would be willing to travel all the way to the district is to meet up my friends at the beach. There are plenty of choices among the 12 beaches in the district, including Repulse Bay Beach, Stanley Main Beach, and Shek O Beach. You can sit back and relax under the sun, indulge in a good book while doing some tanning, swim in the cool water, rent a banana boat, or even have a barbecue party with your mates!
#5: Within an hour on public transport from the CBD will take you to a whole different side of Hong Kong
Like all metropolises in the world, Hong Kong is not only about skyscrapers and the fast-paced city life. There is undoubtedly the relaxed side of Hong Kong, and Southern District is possibly the best starting point for tourists to explore. Why? Because it is so accessible! All of the exciting things that I’ve mentioned above is only within an hour on public transport like buses and MTR from the city centres (e.g. Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, and Mong Kok)! You get to experience one of the many other sides of Hong Kong that your guidebook probably wouldn’t tell you. And most importantly, I think travelling is about exploring the unknown, discovering any hidden gems, and looking for any new, exciting, and unique things that could be memories for life. Beaches, heritage, shopping, country parks, and walking trails; old and traditional, new and modern – there is always something exciting happening in the district! I’m sure everyone will find what they love here.
As a local, even myself would tend to stay home during weekends, or meeting up with friends in the ‘usual’ areas such as Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui for shopping or dining out. However I suggest that everyone – both locals and tourists – should visit Southern District. As I live nowhere near the district, the one time that I visited over the summer was truly an unforgettable and extraordinary experience. It is something quite different from the typical stereotype of shopping and dining. It certainly proves that Hong Kong is way more than the modern and cosmopolitan image. It is definitely the place to go if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle in the city. You get to experience a very relaxed ambience when you’re in Southern District, which is perhaps why many locals love to explore the district in the holidays.
What do you think about Hong Kong? Would you like to put Southern District on your itinerary the next time you visit Hong Kong? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Thanks for stopping by, have a wonderful day! xx