what to do in hong kong

Find your center at the the Chi Lin Nunnery. (Photo: Getty Images)

Health + Fitness

In Search of (Busy) Hong Kong’s Inner Calm

Long working hours and a packed social calendar can easily take their toll on one’s health and body. Finding a balance between ‘stop’ and ‘go’ is a necessity for us in order to continue striving in a world that demands so much of our time. Vivienne Tang lets us in on her top six wellness oases in the bustling city of Hong Kong.

All Zenned Out—Chi Lin Nunnery

I live in the city center, so from time to time I really have to make it a must to escape the concrete jungle. Hong Kong has a number of hiking trails that are easily accessible via taxi or bus, or a quick hike up to The Peak will do it.

But if I’m yearning for some space (most people’s homes in Hong Kong are a lot smaller than elsewhere in the world) and a serene place where I can slow my day down, then I’ll head to the Chi Lin Nunnery, which is a large Buddhist temple complex located in Diamond Hill.

The beautiful, ancient architecture of the temple is set against the backdrop of towering modern skyscrapers, which obviously calls for some dramatic Instagram shots, but also gives you the feeling of being in a safe and otherworldly cocoon. It’s extremely easy to get to. It’s just a few stops away by MTR (underground).

#FITSPO—Barre 2 Barre

what to do in hong kong
Tone up with a Barre 2 Barre class. (Photo: Courtesy of Barre 2 Barre)

I came across barre a little bit more than a year ago, and it changed my life. Before that, I spent my life burning calories doing cardio on a treadmill and stretching my already overly flexible body with more yoga, but never quite got the results I was looking for. Then I tried barre, and I was blown away.

I couldn’t believe that these small, targeted strengthening exercises could tone my thighs, butt and tummy the way they did. I was really impressed with the results I could witness with my bare eyes after only three classes. I was sold.

I have since tried a number of barre places and really enjoy the community and laid-back vibe at Barre 2 Barre in Central. It’s a great way to take your mind off your to-do list, as you’re so focused on the exercises that you don’t have time think about emails and other chores.

Chasing Waterfalls—Sheung Luk Stream, Sai Kung

what to do in hong kong
Trek out to a waterfall for respite. (Photo: Getty Images)

If I have time for a longer hike on the weekend I do try to get out of the city, and one of my favorite spots is the Sheung Luk Stream waterfall. You can swim in the natural pools, which are hidden in the hills right behind Tai Long Wan, a popular beach where people often camp overnight and enjoy the surf during the day.

Getting to the waterfall is no easy task though. It involves taking the MTR, mini bus and hiking, or possibly a sampan (small boat), which will shorten the hike. But the trek is well worth it. The fresh water is a welcome reward at the end of the hike, especially during the humid summer months.

Even though it’s a bit of a hidden gem, thanks to social media every nature lover now knows about the not-so-secret-anymore spot. So if you have the choice to go during the week, I’d highly recommend it, as it can get quite packed on a weekend. And if you can muster up your courage, you can even enjoy cliff jumping there.

Street Cred—Tai Ping Shan

On weekends, I like to have brunch on Tai Ping Shan street. One of the most laid-back and probably hippest areas, this low-rise neighborhood has become a magnet for cafes, independent shops and art galleries.

I tend to start at Nosh and work my way back up past the little outdoor market, which is a treasure trove of handmade knick-knacks. Last time I picked up a great organic body scrub. If I stroll around long enough, I might stay for tea and scrumptious matcha cake at Teakha, or indulge in coffee number-two at Oldish.

Tai Ping Shan really feels like one of the very few places in Hong Kong where time seems to slow down.

City With a View—The Peak

what to do in hong kong
Reach new heights at The Peak. (Photo: Getty Images)

If the sky is clear on the weekend, I make it a priority to go for a quick hike up to The Peak. I always feel like a few hours being close to nature are well invested, and the view from the top is always rewarding on a beautiful, sunny day.

The hike up there only takes about an hour, followed by a quick walk around The Peak. If I go with friends who have dogs, it’s a great way for me to spend time with them while they simply go about their daily chores.

I also like to take breaks when I’m writing indoors, so I often head up to The Peak for some fresh air and that feeling of freedom and a sense of space.

On Top of the World—Bliss Spa at W Hong Kong

If you’re in need of some pampering in Hong Kong, rest assured you’ll be spoiled for choice. From the cheap and cheerful foot reflexology parlors on almost every corner to the more luxe hotel spas, this city has it all. One of my favorites is the Bliss Spa over on Kowloon side.

Located on the 72nd and 73rd floors in the swanky W Hong Kong hotel, the spa offers sweeping views of the city. I normally go at the end of the day so I can enjoy the breathtaking skyline when all the lights are on.

Opt for a facial, such as the Triple Oxygen Treatment, a Bliss Spa classic, which includes a peel, an energizing enzyme pack and three forms of skin-brightening oxygen.