by Katherine Diaz Villegas
Photo of Stanley Beach by Katherine Diaz Villegas

Being in Hong Kong, you’re close to many amazing countries and cities that are well worth the visit while on this side of the world. However, if you have a small budget or just no time to explore outside of Hong Kong, there are amazing places and islands accessible to those in Hong Kong at extremely affordable rates.

Hong Kong consists of a group of islands connected by large bridges. For example, the island where the airport, Disneyland and other attractions are located is Lantau Island. The Kowloon Peninsula is where SCAD and Gold Coast Residence Hall is located. Hong Kong Island consists of the central and the downtown areas.

On the other side of Hong Kong Island is Stanley Market. It takes about an hour depending on the transportation you take. The trip is well worth it to spend the day or even an afternoon over there. The city consists of a famous market where you can find great souvenirs and trinkets for cheap prices. We arrived early in the afternoon and explored the market first. I bought a lot of my souvenirs here, mainly quirky key chains and jade charms. The market leads you to the beach and pier. Exploring more of the pier side first, there were a lot of great seafood restaurants and cafes as well as more boutiques and larger stores. On the beach, people were enjoying the weather and having picnics. The town has such a calming ambiance and was the perfect trip to relax and take the day off to just explore.

Photo of Cheung Chau Island by Katherine Diaz Villegas

Another great day trip to take is to one of the many surrounding tiny islands around Hong Kong. Transportation is simple as you can take one of the ferries that depart multiple times a day, every day. We went to Cheung Chau Island, a popular place for both tourists and locals. The ferry ride took about 45 minutes but cost only three dollars. There’s plenty to do on the island — whether you want to go to the beach, eat, shop or see some of the local heritage sites.

There are no cars because locals use bikes as transportation, and the island is so small you can walk anywhere without much trouble. We got food from multiple stands and if you ever end up there, you must try the mango mochi which was one of the most memorable foods I’ve had during my time in Hong Kong. We walked around the small shops and on the beach. We explored some of the more hidden areas where we stopped and had coffee — the best-iced coffee I’ve ever had — and some more food. From there we went to the Mini Great Wall, a nice hiking trail with amazing views of the island. Making our way back was quick and easy, and the boat ride back to Central had almost everyone sound asleep.

There are many more places like this to explore in Hong Kong. If you are someone who isn’t too comfortable in the city, places like these can be a great way to escape.