5 Reasons to Cycle to Hong Kong
As a cycle tourist I often find that the majority of my day is occupied with thinking about what type of food I can next gorge upon. It is always a pleasure then to arrive in a city where food is not only varied and abundant, but also actually sown into the very fabric of the place. The cuisine is eclectic and has something for every taste. If, like me, you are interested in getting the most food for the least price then the roadside stalls are the place to go. As with so much of South East Asia you can watch the food being cooked up right in front of you and for a very reasonable price load up on all the calories you can manage.
Surely everyone loves a bike tourist! Be this as it may I found Hong Kong, as with Mainland China, was extremely accommodating to me when I arrived looking (and probably smelling) less than respectable. Regularly locals would go out of their way to aid me with directions or knowledge about the area. Generally I sensed a real warmth from the folk who came up to ask me where I was from and where on earth I might be heading to on a bicycle. This is especially gratifying considering Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
One of the appeals of Hong Kong to the average tourist is its location; protruding southwards off the mainland into the South China Sea and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta to the north. The added bonus for those on two wheels is that even just getting there will ensure an adventure (assuming you don’t just fly!) I came east along the coast from Vietnam which was beautiful and took me through some fascinating port cities as well as examples of the ‘China of old’ such as Beihai and Kaiping. Very different but equally rewarding would be to travel via central China where you could pass by the limestone mountains in Guilin. Approaching along the west coast from Shanghai, taking a boat from the south – there are so many ways to get to this exciting city, and it is truly a destination that demands significant (but rewarding) effort on the part of the cyclist!
Hong Kong is purportedly Asia’s World City, and with 7 million people coming from all corners of the globe to live there it’s hard to argue. Most of us probably picture the iconic skyline and remarkable natural harbor, but there’s actually a lot more to be explored. Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula are the most densely populated, but the New Territories and Lantau Island offer a real chance for a remote getaway. Added to this there are over 200 offshore islands meaning that whether it’s the high-life in the world’s most vertical city or a chance to trek through forests looking for hidden bays and beaches, Hong Kong will not disappoint.
5) To cycle!
Doing any real touring in Hong Kong itself is probably not on most people’s bucket list, and certainly I wouldn’t advise spending too much time with your loaded bike in the heavily urbanized districts of places like Central and SoHo. But HK does have plenty of fantastic rides elsewhere to offer the bike enthusiast. Over 70% of the city is rural and it isn’t hard to find a good place to ride for miles and miles through rolling hills or along rugged coasts. My tip is to ride right over the top of Lantau Island from one side to the other – not for the fainthearted with its narrow, winding roads, but the views are spectacular, and it really gives you an idea of what HK is all about.
Leon McCarron is a Northern Irish born adventurer and expedition cameraman. He has shot documentary footage on five continents, with expedition experience in jungles, deserts, oceans and sub-zero temperatures. His most recent expedition saw him cycle 23,000 kms solo and unsupported from New York to Hong Kong, shooting a documentary about the people on his route and raising funds for UNICEF.
He is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, and writes regularly for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and abroad, most notably The Sunday Times and The Guardian. He is currently based in London, UK.
He is currently Walking Home from Mongolia with fellow adventurer Rob Lilwall.
Find out more about Leon at www.leonmccarron.com