Tsim Bet Tsui Organic Farm
Did we say island living? Sorry. We meant, Mongolian living at this organic farm out in Tsim Bet Tsui, Yuen Long. Complete with authentic Mongolian yurts ($800 for a 2-5 person tent, $1,500 for a 8-10 person tent) and BBQ, this farm even has its own petting zoo (where you can pet, play or simply watch roaming goats within), and it’s very own miniature train you can ride. With fantastic views of the Mai Po Marshes and the mangrove swamps, this is truly a getaway for those looking for something different. (Yurts available only in the fall and winter)
Tsim Bet Tsui, Lau Fau Shan, Yuen Long, 2472-6962 www.yl.hk/birds/ (only in Chinese)
Ooh La La
A restaurant with a twist, the owners of this Mediterranean joint also own 200 tents and their own private campsite for those who wish to turn their visit into an overnight experience. Before you settle in for the evening with a refreshing cocktail and dinner spread of Mediterranean style dishes (including salads and BBQ), spend the day hiking from Mui Wo ferry pier straight to Pui O beach (2 routes of approx. 1-3 hours), renting a mountain bike or enjoying the simple pleasures of beach sports or water sports (water skiing/surf and boogie boarding—they also rent the boards).
Pui O Beach, Lantau, 2984-9710, www.oohlala-hk.com
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to live in a tepee…wonder no more. Palm Beach offers its visitors the option of renting uniquely painted tepees for the night, for groups as small as four or less and as big as 40 (that’s 40 standing, and 20 sleeping). Rates range from $450-$650, and $1800-$2000 for the giant tepees. With a focus on water sports, it’s an ideal getaway for those who love surfing, kayaking, wave windsurfing and all sorts of boarding (stand up paddle, skim, and body).
Cheung Sha Beach, Lantau, 2908-4822, www.palmbeach.com.hk
For those who love (and can afford) the high flyin’ life, sail away on “The Lady Isabel,” the pride and joy of Saffron Cruises. Originally built in 1953 for Standard Chartered Bank, this beaut has been lovingly restored, but it still maintains the style of its period. With a luxurious cabin, showers, air conditioning and a deck dinner table comfortably seating 12, it’s no wonder they can get away with charging $33,600 for an overnight stay.
20/F, Teda Building, 87 Wing Lok St., Sheung Wan, 2857-1311, www.saffron-cruises.com
Pak Lap Wan Holiday Village
For a serious back-to-basics getaway, try the Pak Lak Wan Holiday Village, located in the otherwise deserted, 300-year-old Hakka Village. Offering only the bare minimum, you may wish to bring your own food and drink, as it’ll be a struggle to find even that once you arrive. Getting there is a bit of a bitch, but what you can do is to take the 97 or the green minibus 7 from the Sai Kung bus terminus and get off at Pak Tam Chung. Then, follow the Stage 1 MacLehose trail until you reach Man Yee Road, which should lead you to the village. Or save the trouble and just take a cab. Call 2791-9589 for bookings if you wish to stay the night. Rates go from $300-$800 depending on the size of the room.
Pak Lap Wan, Sai Kung
Pronounced “es-pas e-las-tik,” this B&B turned art gallery, or art gallery turned B&B, offers two spacious rooms on top of their 3-storey building (the deluxe room comes with a balcony), equipped with private bathrooms. Don’t forget to meet Veronica, the friendly multi-lingual host who speaks Cantonese, Putonghua, English, French, Suomi (that’s Finnish for those who didn’t know) and of course, un poco de Español, and stop by the café for freshly brewed coffee and free internet access. We mustn’t forget the hot tub and sun loungers of the roof.
57 Kat Hing St., Tai O, Lantau, 2985-7002, www.espaceelastique.com.hk
Vipassana Meditation Center
Visapassana (“to see things as they really are”) is an ancient Indian meditation technique (focused on teaching individuals how to be happy and balanced under all circumstances), that’s been around for over 2,500 years. Sign up for a 10-day course in their secluded center out in Hang Tau Village, Sheng Shui, and learn the basics of the technique, enough for day-to-day practice upon completion of the course. Attendees are expected to observe silence for 9 out of the 10 days, with 4am starts (yikes!). Check their website for details and schedules.
Located in a remote corner of Lantau (accessible only by ferry from Cheng Chau), Island Club is a fun-filled, activity-packed private inn and campsite. And when we say activity-packed, we mean packed: wakeboarding, kayaking, wind surfing, banana boating, snorkeling, beach volleyball (ing?), hiking, rock climbing, a war games area for the strong, and if none of that tickles your fancy, you can always just lay back and sunbathe with a little something to nibble on from the beach bar or restaurant. It’s $350-$450/head for a day trip (includes lockers, loungers, umbrellas, BBQ buffet and more), plus $30-$60 for unlimited drinks, plus $200 if you choose to stay overnight.
G/F, 23 Tai Long Village, Lantau Island, 2989-2315, www.islandclub.hk
For a closer, less remote getaway, visit the Concerto Inn on Lamma (an easy 20 minute walk from the ferry pier), situated at Hung Shing Yeh Beach. Check into the many well-appointed guest rooms (sea views and garden views available), and make sure you double check that your room comes equipped with broadband Internet (most are). Once there, you can drop off your kids at the children’s playground (if you have any of course), unwind at the beach restaurant or fire up the BBQ. Or to work up an appetite, take a walk down the nearby family trail. Rates begin at $480 for the smallest room on a weekday, and shoot up to $1,200 for the executive room during the weekends. Breakfast and afternoon tea and included, and feel free to bring along your furry friend for an additional $150 charge.
28 Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lamma Island, 2982-1668, www.concertoinn.com.hk
Long Coast Sea Sports
Our final remote retreat is found at the Lower Cheung Sha Village on Lantau, and true to its name, offers a myriad of water activities, equipment rental and professional support. Pick one of the four guest rooms to pass the night in, or, for a real camping experience, rent one of their tents found in their private campground right in front of the beach. You can however, cheat, and “rough” it in one of their 3-meter-tall luxury Safari tents complete with deluxe camping mattresses, some furniture and even air conditioning. An activity voucher gives is $540-$720 for 2 people (depending on day and season), and gives you use of kayaks, bodyboards, skimboards, and the overnight camping facilties. $170-$200 just for tents and $200-$250 for the Safari tent.
29 Loswer Cheung Sha Beach, Lantau, 8104-6222, www.longcoast.hk