If you’ve never been to Hong Kong, the initial impression that you would get would usually involve the Victoria Harbour, the densely populated urban jungle formed by many skyscrapers, and the local delicacies – dim sums, egg waffles (aka bubblewrap or bubble waffle), and many more. Those are indeed great things about Hong Kong, and things that I, as a local, am proud of about the motherland. But like all cities in the world, Hong Kong has so much more to offer. As a tourist you might find yourself walking in the streets of Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, or Mong Kok, but there are so many more great places beyond those to explore.
There are officially 18 administrative districts in Hong Kong, and each district has its own unique characteristics. One of the districts that I find interesting is Southern. It is one of the neighbouring districts of Central, 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 if you ever travel to Hong Kong.
#1: There’s a floating seafood restaurant
You’ll probably see this on your guidebook. Jumbo Kingdom is a seafood restaurant located in the Aberdeen Typhoon Shelters. I’ve never been (because I don’t live close by), and 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? The restaurant has hosted many famous diners, including David Bowie, Tom Cruise, and Queen Elizabeth II. It has also been featured in a number of films as well, including Love Is a Many-Splendoured Thing in the 1950s, Infernal Affairs 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 was apparently the 7th most popular amusement park in the world, and it is not hard to see why. It’s been over 30 years since its establishment, and Ocean Park is definitely the place for everyone – from animals (dolphins, penguins, pandas and more) to roller coasters (yep, there are four at Ocean Park), people of all ages can certainly find something that they enjoy here. During special occasions and festivals throughout the year, the park offers limited time events, such as summer galas and Halloween themed events. What’s not to love?
#3: There are lots 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 (i.e. Li Ka Shing and other billionaires); 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 catches your eyes here!
#4: There are loads of beaches
As I live relatively far away from Southern District, one of the (few) reasons that I am bothered to travel all the way to the district is to meet up with 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 soaking up some good ol’ vitamin D, swim in the cool water, rent a banana boat, or even have a barbecue party with your mates (like I do)!
#5: A short ride will take you to a whole different side of the city
To explore the more relaxed side of Hong Kong, Southern District is possibly the best starting point for tourists to explore. Why? Because it is so accessible! All the exciting things I’ve mentioned above are only under an hour away on public transport from city centres, and with the South Island MTR Line opening in December 2016, the district is definitely more connected and accessible from other parts of the city. Beaches, heritage, shopping, country parks, and hiking 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 born and bred local, most of the time I would still stick to Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, or Causeway Bay when meeting up with friends for dinner and whatnot, because it’s convenient. But
But I think 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, and 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!
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