In February 2012, Hong Kong natives Stephen Chung and Josie Cheng were working in advertising when they decided to organise tours of local neighbourhoods in their spare time.
They put together free, guided itineraries in English that
avoided the usual touristy sights and instead focused on lesser-known streets
and villages in and around the city. They called their fledgling, informal
venture Secret Tour Hong Kong and
their only attempt at publicity was a Facebook page.
Eighteen months later, Chung and Cheng have quit their
jobs and are running Secret
Tour full-time. They're launching new tours, recruiting additional guides
and – gasp -- even charging for their services The one thing that hasn't changed
though, is the duo's commitment to providing a window into the subtleties of a
city sometimes dismissed as tacky and over-the-top.
"Everything in Hong Kong is so stereotyped: the Peak, Central, Lan Kwai Fong, the Big
Buddha and stuff like that," said Chung. "But on this point, we
never change. We want to introduce another side of Hong Kong to more
Secret Tour's new offerings this month include an architectural walk that
highlights the city's Victorian history and a trek through five cemeteries with
different religious roots -- from Jewish to Zoroastrian -- in the Happy Valley
district. The half-day tours (which usually include a meal) rotate each week,
and cost from 500 to 900 Hong Kong dollars per person, depending on the tour. Planned
itineraries for August go even further off the beaten path, to the walled
villages of the New Territories, the remaining outposts of rural life in this
modern city, and to the no man's land at the border between Hong Kong and
Alberts is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel