Autumn in Hong Kong is a glorious season, bringing respite from the relentless humidity that smothers the city for most of the year.
Cool enough not to sweat profusely yet still warm outside at night, the climate is ideal for camping. Add Hong Kong's accessible beaches and convenient equipment rental spots into the mix, and a night spent in the great outdoors becomes hassle-free -- even for visitors.
Near Sai Kung, a town in the far northeast reaches of the territory, clear water, soft sand and green mountains make it hard to believe you are just an hour away from Hong Kong’s bustling city centre. A subway journey followed by a short taxi ride takes you into the heart of Sai Kung East Country Park, one of Hong Kong's biggest and most beautiful green lungs. After alighting from your cab at the end of Sai Kung Sai Wan Road, start from the trailhead at the park’s Sai Wan pavilion and hike for about 5km along the MacLehose Trail. You'll pass the small village of Sai Wan where you can refuel with a snack or a drink, but continue along the clearly signposted, paved path until you reach Ham Tin Beach (find step-by-step directions here). The beachfront Hoi Fung Restaurant (852-6190-6593) rents out tents, sleeping bags and camping mats for the night at incredibly reasonable prices. On a recent night, the beach was dotted with makeshift bonfires and strains of music from portable speakers, as groups of friends and families strolled by the water. The restaurant also offers speedboat service back to the town of Sai Kung for 120 Hong Kong dollars.
On Lantau Island, west of Hong Kong Island, are two other idyllic seaside camping spots. Lantau's relatively few residents, as well as its swaths of undeveloped verdant mountains and clean beaches, mean that it's an ideal and accessible getaway. Plus, the island is home to Hong Kong's endangered population of water buffalo, who can often be seen lumbering along the beach. Along Lantau's south shore is on Pui O beach, where events space Ooh-La La (852-2984-8710) has more than 200 tents for rent and a private campsite behind their restaurant. Further west, a lovely stretch of sand called Cheung Sha Wan is home to two other camping sites. Palm Beach (852-2980-4822) has quirky accommodation in the form of teepees, as well as plush safari tents that sleep six and are kitted out with air mattresses, bedding sets and a table and chairs. Neighbouring Long Coast Seasports (852-8104-6222) rents both small and roomy tents with different degrees of furnishing -- some even have air-conditioning -- as well as an array of water sports equipment including kayaks, bodyboards and skimboards.
Hana R Alberts is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel