Pearl Of The Orient.
There's so much more to holidaying in Hong Kong than skylines, trams and Mickey Mouse. If you don't mind leaving the crowds (and the guidebooks) behind, you can enjoy an alternative weekend break that doesn't look like everyone else's Facebook photos.
Hong Kong might be famous for its street food, but if you really want to experience the local cuisine, you need to get into the kitchen. The Mixing Bowl offers baking classes for beginners - teaching you how to make traditional fare like pineapple buns, sausage rolls and egg tarts. Classes last around three hours, and there's even a café to buy the pastries ready-made if your own aren't pretty enough for Instagram!
Everyone takes a trip up the Dragon's Back - it's easy to get to, quick to climb and the views are great - but not everyone will throw themselves off. Hong Kong's Shek O ridge is actually one of the best places to learn paragliding - and there are plenty of local schools willing to teach you how. If you haven't got the time for a full course (you need a certification to fly on your own), you can book a ride on a two-seater with an experienced instructor and still enjoy the best, most exhilarating view in town.
300 years ago, the village of Lai Chi Woo was one of the most affluent hamlets in the area. Long story short: bad times came, a feng shui expert decided to build a wall around the whole place to ward off evil spirits, and most of the townsfolk left. Today, you can visit the mostly deserted settlement and see an extraordinary living museum to Hong Kong's past. Now almost swallowed up by mangroves, Lai Chi Woo is a sad, beautiful reminder of recent history that you won't find anywhere else.
Cheng Po Tsai was one of the most fearsome pirates of the South China coast - rising through the swashbuckler ranks until he commanded 600 ships and 50,000 men in the 1800s. Legend has it Cheng Po buried his treasure in a cave on Cheung Chau island, although it's still never been discovered. Bedtime story or not, the network of caves on the island (a 30-minute ferry ride from Central Pier 5) make a great excursion - unspoiled, unlit and wonderfully off the beaten track.
If you want a nice change of pace from Hong Kong's hectic city centre, there's no better spot than Lantau Island at twilight. Spend the day riding the cable car, admiring the temples and strolling through the fishing villages - but make sure you hit the beach before the sun goes down to catch the sight of the wild buffalo who wander down to spend the night. With the ocean in front of you, Disneyland behind and a 2000lbs buffalo by your side, there's no better way to end a weekend in Hong Kong.
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