When it comes to capturing pretty pictures, the background can help sell the story behind the photograph. I find a lot of inspiration for new destinations on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram through photos with undeniably gorgeous backgrounds. As with any novel or play or film, the environment helps to share more than just the characters in it. Prior to my visit to Hong Kong, I already knew it would be a very photogenic city (my Apple TV screensavers kept reminding me of that daily), but there were 2 spots I deemed my favorite spots to capture Instagram worthy content. Keep reading to find out more about them.
Braemar Hill Peak
One of the easiest hikes in the entire city provides one of the best views of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Not far from popular Causeway Bay and just south of North Point, Braemar Hill is a heavily residential area with hiking trails through the hills and mountains. Most first-time visitors flock to Victoria Peak for the best overall view of the city, but since it is so overrun with tourists, I was eager to seek out a different, quieter vantage point. I found Braemar Hill via Instagram, and fell in love with the view from the Braemer Hill Peak. I knew from the moment I first laid eyes on the backdrop that this was the first place I wanted to shoot during my visit to Hong Kong. Once I reached this spot, I didn’t want to leave. This was my very first time viewing Hong Kong with my own two eyes and in person, and I couldn’t have picked a better peak to take my breath away.
We took a taxi to the St. Joan of Arc Secondary School (we needed to show our driver our destination via Google Maps), but there’s also a bus from Causeway Bay that will take you across the street to the Braemar Hill Bus Terminus. Next to the school is a walkway that takes you to what looks like a never-ending set of stairs up the hill. Don’t worry, it’s not that bad. This section of the trail and the very end are the only arduous parts of the hike to Braemar Hill Peak. At the junction, follow the path to the right and keep following along path. You’ll pass streams and wind through trees and rocks, but the path is completely flat. After about 5-10 minutes depending on how fast of a walker you are (I’m from NYC… I only know how to power walk), you’ll come across trees on your right with red ribbons. Follow that skinny trail up the rocks. Hold on to the trees along the side for part of the climb, as it gets steep in some parts. Near the top, you’ll come across two rocks that look daunting but there’s a gap in between them to climb through. For the very end of the journey up to the peak, you will literally have to climb the rocks. They’re extremely sturdy, and once you reach the top it’s all completely worth it. We went at sunrise (which I highly recommend), but you could also visit at sunset, although the humidity can be a bit more difficult to endure later in the day than earlier in the day. I would not visit this spot in the middle of the day, especially in the summer, since the heat and harsh overhead lighting from the sun could potentially be troublesome for photo taking. (Don’t worry – when we captured our pics, we hiked up in workout gear before I slipped the gown on at the top.)
Sai Wan Swimming Shed
Another hidden gem for the best photo on Hong Kong Island is the Sai Wan Swimming Shed in Sai Wan. Unlike Braemer Hill, this spot doesn’t provide a view of the city, but it is a tranquil escape from the city that almost looks too fake to be real. Just like Braemar Hill, I found Sai Wan Swimming Shed on Instagram. There was something about the view of the water, as well as the fact that it’s been declared as the cleanest and safest water in Hong Kong to swim in. Upon our arrival, a group of elderly locals were taking full advantage of a good early morning swim and they were quite excited to see we had discovered their little haven. Most visitors come to Sai Wan Swimming Shed in the evening because this a prime viewing spot during sunset, but we went at 7 am when we knew there would be no one else fighting for a spot to take a picture. In fact, once the locals got out of the water, we were the only ones there.
For this spot, we took a taxi by showing our driver on Google Maps our destination of Sai Wan Swimming Shed. Our driver seemed to know where to go and drove us through the bustling streets of Hong Kong Island before we found ourselves winding up the hill through the trees. While it’s legal for a taxi to stop on the road outside the swimming shed gate, be prepared that it can be a busy road and drivers behind your car may not be too thrilled (as was the case with us). The entrance to Sai Wan Swimming Shed is a bit hidden, with a sign written in Cantonese as the gateway to the steep flight of stairs down the cliff. Keep following all the stairs you see all the way down until you come to a literal shed by the water. You’ll hear waves crashing and you may hear some locals chatting as they get ready to dip in the water for their daily swim. Be careful on the dock itself, as it is wet and can get slippery. But the picturesque spot is worth it.
Do you have any favorite Instagram spots in Hong Kong?