The Southern side of Hong Kong Island was for many years on the wrong side of the hills. In the early colonial period, when modern air-conditioning was no more than a dream, the south-facing slopes on the island were too sunny for many, and had the added disadvantage of bearing the brunt of torrential rain and the typhoons that sweep in off the South China sea. Today, the southern shore of Hong Kong island is a strong rival to The Peak as one of Hong Kong's most exclusive residential areas. Here you will find extravagant homes with spectacular views over the largest sea in the world. Visitors to Hong Kong should come south for the excellent beach resorts, theme park and some very good dinning opportunities. On a sunny day, the south-side is a welcome escape from city life and ought to be a compulsory part of your agenda when travelling in Hong Kong.
Shek O from the Dragon's Back
Aberdeen is a town of approximately 60,000 people on the south side of Hong Kong Island. The town's most famous feature is Aberdeen Harbour, which lies between Aberdeen and the island Ap Lei Chau. The original Chinese settlement on this harbour was named Hong Kong, and when British seafarers landed here in the 19th century they mistook the name of the village for the name of the entire island. The settlement was subsequently renamed Aberdeen after George Hamilton Gordon, the 4th Earl of Aberdeen (Scotland) and the then-current British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. Keen videogamers may recognise Aberdeen as the setting for the Sega Dreamcast game Shenmue II. Scenes from the Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon were shot in Aberdeen Harbour.
Finding your way to Repulse Bay (淺水灣) and Stanley (赤柱) is relatively easy despite the absence of the MTR. From Central, you can take one of a number of frequent buses (6, 6A or 6X) from the bus station at Exchange Square (next to Central MTR station). You will have a choice of buses, most end in either Stanley or Stanley Market. Try to take the cheaper, slower, bus that goes over the top of the mountains. Alternatively, take the express bus 260 through the Aberdeen Tunnel and pay a little more for a quicker journey. If you are heading for the beach at Repulse Bay, relax and enjoy the ride because the beach is an obvious and popular dropping off point. If you are travelling in a group, a taxi is not an unreasonable proposition and will cost around $120 from Central.
If you are going to Ocean Park (香港海洋公園), you can take bus 629 from the bus station next to Admiralty MTR station. If you are going to the Jumbo Kingdom (珍寶王國) floating seafood restaurant, in Aberdeen, you can take bus 70 or 75 to Aberdeen from Exchange Square, and then take a short taxi ride to the ferry pier (take something to show the taxi driver incase he does not speak English). You should know that there is almost nothing in Aberdeen itself that will engage most tourists.
Finding your way to Shek O (石澳) and Big Wave Bay (大浪灣) takes a little bit of effort, but is well worth it. On a Sunday there is a bus service from Exchange Square bus station in Central, but if travelling at other times you will need to take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan and use either bus number 9 or find the red-top minibus service that goes to both beaches. The red-top minibus is what most local people use and can be found immediately above the MTR station at Shai Kei Wan, but be prepared to have to do some hunting around to find it. Remember that red-top minibuses do not take Octopus cards, but will give change for small amounts of cash.
The south east coast of Hong Kong island offers visitors some attractive coastal and mountain scenery. It is simply interesting to travel around the two peninsulas found either side of Tai Tam Bay that dangle into the South China sea. This part of Hong Kong does have its own unique charm that is hard to describe; for some visitors it has a Mediterranean feel, whilst others will be reminded of parts of the Californian coast. In reality, it is affluent Hong Kong - drenched in money and bathed in sunshine.
Murray House is one of Hong Kong's oldest colonial buildings. It was originally constructed as officer's barracks in Central before being dismantled brick-by-brick in 1982. After a protracted dispute over the building's final location, it was eventually reconstructed beside the Stanley promenade in 2001. During the building's two decades in storage markings made to the bricks to aid in the reconstruction leached off, leading to a complex reconstruction effort that resulted in several large stone pillars being left over once the reconstruction was complete. The leftover pillars are now installed beside the building as an art installation.
The Hong Kong Maritime Museum can be found on the ground floor of Murray House. It is a small but deceptively intriguing museum, split into two halves. The first half demonstrates the development and evolution of ship design in China through exquisitely constructed wooden models. The second half also uses models to demonstrate the development of Hong Kong as a maritime port. It does not take long to get around the entire museum, but if you find yourself in Stanley it is absolutely worth a look. 
The Hong Kong Correctional Services Museum is located on Tung Tau Wan Road. The museum has recently been extensively renovated with 10 galleries including a mock gallows, two replicas of prison cells and more than 600 separate exhibits including historical documents, photographs and artifacts from the history of Hong Kong's prison system. An annex also displays examples of products made by prisoners at the nearby Stanley Prison. The museum is open from 10:00am to 5:00pm except on Mondays and public holidays. Admission is free.
Tin Hau Temple is one of several temples in Hong Kong dedicated to Tin Hau (aka Mazu), Goddess of the Sea. The Stanley Tin Hau Temple was originally constructed in 1767.
Stanley Ma Hang Park is a recent addition to Stanley's attractions, and was opened in January 2011. This 50,000 square metre park is set into the cliffside near Murray House. It features boardwalks, a butterfly garden, a fitness deck, bird watching platforms, an educational trail and the cliffside Pak Tai Temple. Admission is free, and the park is open daily from 7:00am to 8:00pm.
Stanley Main Beach lies on the other side of the peninsula to the promenade, but is only about five minutes' walk from the Stanley Markets. It is a popular beach for wind-surfing, and hosts annual dragon boat races. Facilities include a café, changing rooms and showers, shark nets, public toilets and a barbeque area.
Further along the western side of the peninsula is St Stephens Beach, about a 10 minute walk down Wong Ma Kok Road. This is a much quieter and more secluded beach that Stanley Main Beach, but still includes a beach café, changing rooms, public toilets and showers. A barbeque area is available up the hill from the beach, and is accessible via stairs.
Dragon Boat Racing takes place in Stanley in May every year during the Tuen Ng festival (端午節).
Chill on the beach There are many good beaches to choose from and you can surely find one that suits you. Repulse Bay is the biggest and most popular beach and is suitable for families with small children. Big Wave Bay is popular with surfers. Shek O attracts a young Chinese crowd, especially older teenagers and young adults. Middle Bay is popular with gay men and is a 20 minute walk along the coast from Repulse Bay. South Bay beach is never too busy, even on weekends, but you will need to take a taxi from Repulse Bay.
Fishing at Stanley
Hiking Walk the Dragons Back. Take the number 9 bus from Shau Kei Wan MTR Stn, to just after the small roundabout at Tai Tam Gap. Walk up the steps by the "Shek-O Country Park" sign and turn right along the Hong Kong Trail.
The other side of Hong Kong island: Surfers at Big Wave bay.
Ocean Park is a huge Disney-like (in both the good and bad sense) oceanarium. Marine biodiversity in the Atoll Reef and Shark Tank, and thrill rides will satisfy children and adults alike. It is popular with locals as well as tourists from mainland China. You can find out if there are ticket available on any given day from the website linked above. It has beautiful views from the cable car over the ocean and hills. The cablecar is an icon and an essential link between the two parts of the park. The views of the South China Sea from the cable car is always terrific. It would be fair to say that many local people would choose Ocean Park if they had to pick a single theme park to attend. For many, the chance to see Hong Kong's pandas would be a deciding factor. There are also large festivals each year, including summer, Halloween and Christmas. Take a bus(629) from the bus terminus in Admiralty .09:00-19:00 on weekdays and until 21:00 on weekends. $280, Children (up to 11) $140, Under 3 Free.
Wakeboarding Hire a boat and driver by the hour at Tai Tam, Repulse Bay or Stanley.
Surfing Surfboards can be hired at Big Wave Bay for around $50 per day.
Barbecue parties are very much a Hong Kong tradition and the beaches in this area are popular with local people for this purpose. The local authorities have provided purpose built BBQ pits and local supermarkets cater for demand by selling all the paraphernalia and food needed for such a feast.
Directly across from Aberdeen Harbour, and accessible by bus and footbridge, is the residential area Ap Lei Chau. Apart from its numerous apartment buildings, the suburb also contains several major factory outlets. Space Warehouse offers brands such as Prada and Helmut Lang. (2/F Marina Sq, E Commercial Block, Ap Lei Chau. +852 2814-9576)
Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing St, Ap Lei Chau. 10:00am-7:00pm Mon-Sun. A former industrial building converted to a large 20-story factory outlet, selling fashion, home decor and antiques. Brands include Costume National, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Kookai, Jimm Choo, Armani, Vivienne Westwood and others.edit
Stanley Market, (Stanley New St and Stanley Market Rd), . 10:30-18:30. Head to Stanley Market and prepare to haggle. This is the one-stop place to buy your holiday gifts and souvenirs. Prices are competitive and there is a wide selection of ornaments, pictures, artwork and clothes to browse around. You will find a selection of both Chinese-style goods (such as ink and brushes for Chinese calligraphy) and also many western brand clothes at discount prices. Items sold in Stanley are, at times, double the price compared to the city itself. Do your shopping carefully, because items sold at tourist area are very often overpriced.edit
Stanley Plaza. The multi-story Stanley Plaza shopping centre, which links the Stanley bus stop to the main promenade, is currently undergoing re-development. It is scheduled to re-open in October 2011 with an expanded range of specialist stories and restaurants.edit
The beach-side restaurant at Big Wave Bay is a popular choice. Staff speak English and serve a range of western-style foods and drinks, including alcoholic beverages.
CIRQLE, Ovolo Southside, 4th floor, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Southside, ☎ +852 3460 8100 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 12:00 - 15:00, 18:00 - 23:00. Set on the fourth floor of Ovolo Southside, CIRQLE is a ‘modern alternative bistro’ serving up creative and healthy Mediterranean style East-Asian cuisine within relaxed canteen-inspired surroundings. Featuring an open kitchen and expansive outdoor terrace, you can enjoy your meal while watching chefs work at full speed, or relax outside to soak up the sun and artsy vibe of Southside.$101-$300. edit
Chinese and Thailand Seafood Restaurant, 303 Shek O Village, ☎ +852 2809-4426. Food here is reasonable and it offers probably the best meal in the village.edit
Jumbo Floating Restaurant, Shum Wan Pier Drive, Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, ☎ +852 2553-9111, . A bit more expensive than similar restaurants elsewhere. Part of the "Jumbo Kingdom" leisure complex built in the middle of the Aberdeen Harbour with a floating palace appearance. You can take the restaurant's sampan from the waterfront to the restaurant, have a look around and then take it back again without eating there. The "Top Deck" is a separately managed restaurant focusing on Western style seafood in a super chilled out setting. Sip champagne and chill out on their chic lounge chairs while overlooking the yachts coming in and out of the exclusive Marina Club. Weekend brunches and tea are kid friendly with a play area.edit
Stanley Main Street If you are looking for formal dinning you could try Stanley where there are a choice of restaurants along the sea front. Here you will find a wide range of styles including, Western, Indian and Asian. Although the quality of the food and service varies, you should find something that will appeal.
Spices Restaurant (香辣軒), G/F The Arcade, 109 Repulse Bay Rd, Repulse Bay, ☎ +852 2292-2821. Serves pan-Asian food with style. Excellent location, only a few minutes walk from the beach. You can choose to dine outside on the patio and enjoy superb views over Repulse Bay.$150-300. edit
The Verandah (露台餐廳), 109 Repulse Bay Road, Repulse Bay, ☎ +852 2292-2822. Posh colonial-style Western dinning recreated in a modern building overlooking Repulse Bay. $300-$500. edit
88 Stanley Main St, ☎ +852 2813-4467. The Boathouse is a reasonably inexpensive restaurant on the Stanley promenade that features dining upstairs and a more relaxed bar on the ground floor.
The only nightlife is along the waterfront on Stanley Main St.
ABOVE, Ovolo Southside's Rooftop Bar, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Southside , +852 3460 8100. Located on the hotel’s rooftop, is pure eye-candy; an open-air bar clad with painted murals of Hong Kong in revolution, overlooking the revitalized playing fields of Wong Chuk Hang and leafy Shouson Hill with the cable cars of Ocean Park beyond.Including a menu of wild and never before seen cocktails. (64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, 17:00-1:00)
The Smugglers Inn, 90A Stanley Main St, +852 2813-8852. Located on the sea front, this is a British-style pub that serves a range of beers and traditional English pub food. It is along the Stanley promenade, and offers a great view of the ocean while relaxing with a drink. (90a Stanley Main St, +852 2813-8852, 10:00-02:00, Happy Hour 18:00-21:00)
Saffron Bakery, (Stanley Plaza (below Taste), walk from stanley market to the Plaza (lvl 1)), ☎ 28130270, . 8:30AM-8PM. Serves organic coffee, bakery products and salads. Also great selection of candy from the US.$20+. edit
Bridal Tea House, 150 Aberdeen Main Rd, Aberdeen. Doubles from around $800. edit
Ovolo Aberdeen Harbour, 100 Shek Pai Wan Rd, Aberdeen, ☎ +852 2165-1000 (Reservation- email@example.com), . checkin: flexible; checkout: flexible. Opened in 2013 and with 80 rooms. Sunny suites and studios with floor to ceiling windows and full sea views, 3D SMART TV, free minibar (refilled every day), free happy hour drinks, free breakfast, free WiFi. About a three minute walk from Aberdeen.Doubles from around $800. edit
Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Southside, ☎ +852 3460 8100 (Reservation- firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: flexible; checkout: flexible. Opened in 2014 and with 162 rooms. Corner rooms and studios with floor to ceiling windows which allow a full Southside view, 3D SMART TV, free minibar (refilled every day), free happy hour drinks, free breakfast at CIRQLE, free WiFi. Above, Ovolo Southside's rooftop bar serves wild cocktails and a unique selection of drinks. CIRQLE, the hotel’s fourth floor restaurant offers an array of flavours and tastes. Corner and Deluxe rooms from around $1,100. edit
Le Meridien Cyberport (香港數碼港艾美酒店), 100 Cyberport Rd, South District (南區數碼港道100號), ☎ +852 2980-7788 (fax: +852 2980-7888), . Rooms with internet against surcharge. No breakfast. Business centre, fitness room and outdoor pool available. Western and Japanese restaurant as well as a bar.Doubles from around $2,000. edit
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