In the past few years, walking tours have skyrocketed in popularity in cities around the world, and Hong Kong is no exception. This method of exploring a city is immersive, leisurely and flexible, allowing visitors to learn about a place from a knowledgeable local – a welcome alternative to large, fast-moving groups alighting from tour buses. From the guides’ perspective, their service offers a way to showcase their city with authenticity.
Silvana Leung started the city’s first licensed food-themed walking tour, Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tour, with her sister in 2012. ‘We focus on taking visitors to family-run restaurants all over the city,’ she says. ‘The goal was to introduce tourists to authentic local eats. For me, it’s gratifying to see visitors enjoying their food while learning something new with a local perspective.’
Walk In Hong Kong offers a variety of themed tours, including ones based on history, food and LGBT interests. Managing director Olivia Tang says the small company sees a duty towards Hong Kong heritage: ‘Some historical sites are gone now, and heritage shops are also disappearing in the face of high rents. So apart from leading tours, we are also vocal advocates for preservation. It’s a way to ensure we will be able to continue to showcase our culture.’
Nature tours offer a look at an often unexpected side of Hong Kong. Eco Travel leads tours of places such as Hong Kong Geopark, a site of volcanic formations surrounded by sea, which also attracts local customers. Tour manager Derek Tse says visits to nature sites help raise awareness about conservation. ‘Environmental protection is a top priority in many countries, and Hong Kong is just playing catch up,’ he says. ‘We do our part by organising eco tours as well as training programmes for nature guides.’