Hong Kong’s skyline and its urban environment gives us here at Beyond Visuals endless inspiration. You wouldn’t know it from most of our shots, but 35% of Hong Kong’s land mass is actually set aside for agricultural or semi-rural use, and 40% is preserved as wilderness within our network of 24 Country Parks! 8 million or so Hongkongers actually cram ourselves into the remaining 25% of our land mass - which explains why the vast majority of us live in very tall skyscraper apartment blocks.
Hong Kong’s countryside is beautiful - we have some great beaches, stunning mountains, lovely hikes, and some dramatic scenery on offer. And here at Beyond Visuals, we’re dedicated to showcasing some of these great views from the air as well. Here is a selection of our favourite locations outside the concrete jungle. You should check these places out for yourself if you have not already done so, and you can grab these shots as prints to take a bit of the Hong Kong countryside home with you!
Tai O is a fishing village on the western end of Lantau Island that is lovingly referred to as the “Venice of Hong Kong”. It is famous for its traditional houses built on stilts over the narrow waterways, giving a slight semblance to Venice. There’s plenty to eat, see and do in Tai O, so it is worth sparing a day to visit this remote part of Hong Kong. Tai O also has lots of interesting opportunities for aerial photography - the views over the stilted houses and the waterways is beautiful, especially around sunset, when the water takes on the hues of the sky. The nearby abandoned salt pans, which have been preserved, can also make for some interesting compositions.
Hong Kong has a volcanic past - YES that’s true! In fact, 85% of our land mass can be traced to volcanic activity. The volcanoes are long gone, but traces of their past can be seen in our unusual geography, and the best of it can be found in Sai Kung Geopark in the eastern part of our territory. The interesting rock formations are spread over several locations - most are only accessible by boat, but a few can be reached by hikes. A lot of these formations look great from above as well.
The waterways around Sai Kung are Hong Kong’s aquatic wonderland, and even if geology is not your thing, you’ll no doubt be delighted with discovering the relatively pristine beaches, secluded islands and great hiking on offer. Sai Kung is home to one of Hong Kong’s most beautiful beaches, called Long Ke. [any photos?]
High Island Reservoir
In the 1970s, Hong Kong embarked on a number of visionary projects to cater for a period of burgeoning population growth. One of the biggest challenges - learnt after a particularly painful drought in 1963 - was providing for a secure drinking water supply. High Island Reservoir was borne out of meeting this challenge. This reservoir was built by creating two dams on each end of a narrow sea channel between the mainland and High Island, which is pretty remarkable if you think about it! The dam itself makes for some very interesting compositions - you can play around the interesting textures and patterns formed by the dam structure and the water around it.
Another reservoir, Plover Cove Reservoir, was also built using similar techniques, and makes for great photos as well!
Several of Hong Kong’s outlying islands are inhabited and make for great day trips or overnight excursions. Among them, Cheung Chau is the most cosmopolitan, with a busy fishing port and a bustling town centre crammed into the narrow strip of land between the island’s hilly northern and southern regions. Cheung Chau is most famous for its bun festival that falls in April or May (the exact date is driven by the lunar calendar), when the island heaves with visitors enjoying vegetarian food, the parade of floats, and cumulating with the midnight bun snatching event, where competitors ascend tall bamboo structures lined with steamed Chinese buns and compete to grab as many of them as possible.
Cheung Chau offers lots of interesting photography perspectives - it has the ornate Pak Tai Temple, a beautiful coastline, great sunset vantage points, and you can’t go wrong with the massive fleet of fishing boats!
Chasing Cargo Ships
Not exactly a location per se, but nonetheless, something we love doing at Beyond Visuals is to chase the massive cargo ships that ply the waterways in the western part of the territory as they enter and leave our container port in Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung. They’re beautiful to behold from any angle, especially around sunset hour! You are likely to be able to catch them from the western side of Hong Kong Island (Cyberport or Ap Lei Chau are good spots) or along the shoreline between Sham Tseng and Tuen Mun in the New Territories.
This is nowhere near an exhaustive list of great countryside locations in Hong Kong! There’s plenty more, which we will save for a second helping.
The Beyond Visuals Team