Hong Kong is easy to visit on your own as a first-time or return visitor.

The must-visit places can be covered in one day, including a half-day walk around bustling Kowloon, on the southern tip of the China mainland (and maybe a short subway or taxi ride to Sham Shui Po).  Lunch on street food or at a Michelin Star restaurant and then jump on the famed Star Ferry for a quick ride over to Hong Kong Island and walk over for the cable car up Victoria Peak to view the skyline, Victoria Harboir, surrounding islands, and luxury residential areas.   Then check out Old Town Central and its numerous famed markets on foot and return to Kowloon by ferry or subway (reverse itinerary if your hotel is on Hong Kong Island).

Due to slow car traffic, you are better off walking or taking their easy-to-use subway system.

There is an array of stunning open-air experiences for hiking and cycling, to view and experience vintage Hong Kong, since 40% of the region’s land is designated as country parks.   Tour guide Virginia Chan recommends offbeat (and off-the-beaten-track) tips to discover unique sides to Hong Kong, away from the crowds:

Hiking to Lion Rock, is the best way to escape the city

The trail starts at Tsz Wan Kok Temple.   The 2.5-hour hike to Lion Rock offers amazing panoramic views over Kowloon, towards Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island.

Bike from Tai Po to Tai Mei Tuk

Along the way, you’ll pass by the Fung Yuen butterfly reserve as well as Tai Wong Yeh temple, built in the 18th Century. Most striking of all, however, is the huge 76m white statue of Guan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, at Tsz Shan Monastery.

For this relatively easy ride, you can rent your bike and helmet near the start of the trail at Tai Po market, then return it at their shop near Tai Mei Tuk from where you walk into the village.

See vintage Hong Kong: Lai Chi Wo

Lai Chi Wo is one of the best-preserved Hakka walled villages in Hong Kong that sits within the 150 sq km Unesco Hong Kong Geopark in the northern New Territories region. The only way to get there is a two-hour hike or on a small, slow ferry that runs on weekends and public holidays. Whichever way you choose.

Read the full article by Chris Dwyer on BBC ‘Virginia Chan’s six offbeat experiences in Hong Kong’ here.