Contrary to its image as a teeming urban metropolis, Hong Kong also boasts some lovely beaches. Middle Bay is the most popular gay beach, where oiled and muscled gay boys strut their stuff and catch the rays. Nudity is not permitted on the beach but it gets pretty cruisey, even if the action is fairly tame. Catch a bus to Repulse Bay, then walk ten minutes, to South Bay and look for the gay area in front of the 40-story Ruby Court Building.
Hung Shing Yeh Beach on Lamma Island is the most popular beach for the general public, with powdery fine sand and clear water. They have changing facilities, a barbecue area, and refreshment kiosk. Take the ferryboat from Central Pier to Yung Shue Wan, then it's a 20 minute walk to the beach - there are no buses or taxis.
On Lantau Island Cheung Sha Beach is more remote, and safer from intruders or police patrols, The best cruise area is between Upper and Lower Cheung Sha beaches, with nude sunbathers, gay couples, and busy evenings.
Hong Kong is famous for its horse races and if you visit in season, you must take in one of the races at the historic Happy Valley Racecourse. Races happen twice weekly from Sept-June. The draft beer is good and cheap and there’s an ex-pat beer garden near the finish line where lots of English-speakers congregate. If you bring your passport, you can get in at the cheaper tourist rate. Racing is taken incredibly seriously in Hong Kong, so understand that conversation is frowned upon during the actual race when everyone is focused on the race and the commentary.
Take a break from the smog and bustle of the city by hopping a ferry to nearby Lantau Island, larger than Hong Kong Island, a natural area with traditional fishing villages, quiet beaches, monasteries, hiking and biking trails, and camping areas. Here find the white sand beach at Cheung Sha, and the waters off the Lantau coast are home to the beautiful and endangered Chinese White Dolphins. If you’re lucky, you may catch the dolphins playing in the waters off Tung Chung. The famous Po Lin Monastery is also to be found here, with the world's tallest seated outdoor bronze Buddha, sitting atop 268 steps. Some tours offer vegetarian meals prepared by the monks. See tour details at Discover Hong Kong, from the HK Tourism Board. The Hong Kong outpost of Disneyland is at the other end of the island, overlooking the city.
Like Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, Macau is located across the Pearl River estuary. The city is best known as Asia's largest gambling destination, with revenues greater now than Las Vegas. Settled by the Portuguese since the 16th Century, (in exchange for clearing the area of pirates) it was a colony for 400 years, until 1999. The maze of cobbled streets in the old city looks very European, although almost all of the population is now Chinese. A large section of the old town has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site.
Macau is famous for the mix of Portuguese, Macanese (comida de Macau), and Cantonese cuisines; with many located in the Peninsula. Portuguese wine and Macau beer are widely available. Many "saunas" are barely disguised straight brothels (prostitution is legal, unlike in China or Hong Kong), found in many hotels and pensions. Steam baths without these services are known as "Spas." Gay life is generally limited to street or beach cruising.
The pataca (MOP) is the local currency, pegged to the Hong Kong Dollar. HK$ are accepted by most businesses, dollar for dollar. ATMs are available, but it's hard to exchange them beyond these borders.
Ferries from Hong Kong to Macau depart from Hong Kong International Airport, bypassing Hong Kong Immigration to transfer directly to the ferry; and from Hong Kong's Macau Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, 24 hours a day every 15-30 minutes by day, hourly at night. Trips take 50-60 minutes and cost as little as US$12 (more on weekends). Get schedules and buy tickets online from TurboJet, or Cotai Jet. Between Kowloon and Macau New First Ferries has departures every half hour.
Hong Kong’s amazing skyline is one of the most magnificent modern sights in the world, and one of the best places to catch it along the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui. The Avenue is Hong Kong’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrating icons of Hong Kong cinema. The best time to go is at night, when the city is lit up, and professional photographers along the seaside promenade will take your picture in front of the skyline. The nightly “A Symphony of Lights” laser show staged to music happens at 8pm and is worth watching, especially during festival season, when the light show is joined by spectacular fireworks.
No hotel pool and too much heat and humidity? Public swimming pools are great places to cool off - with high standards and costing little (US$2 or so for adults). With six public pools on Hong Kong Island, twelve more on the Kowloon peninsula, and even more in the New Territories there are plenty of options.
The Kowloon Park complex (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station), at the center of a gay neighborhood, has an indoor Olympic-size pool, a smaller training pool, a diving pool and one for kids. In summertime indoor pools are air-conditioned, and in winter the water is heated. Outside there are four summer pools, and lounge chairs for sunning. They open at 6:30am and close at 10pm with breaks from noon until 1pm, and again from 5- 6pm.
Men and women have separate changing areas, and there's little privacy among same-sex visitors. A $5 deposit will operate a locker, or just bring your own padlock. An Octopus card or coins are needed to pay to enter the complex.
Another great view of Hong Kong Island can be found on Victoria Peak in the giant, wok-shaped Peak Tower. The Victoria Peak neighborhood has long been the most exclusive of the territory and home to its richest residents and most exquisite homes. Although the tram is faster, the bus ride to the Peak is a great way to see get a view of these lovely residences and get aerial views of both sides of the island.