The best free things to do in Hong Kong

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Deep Water Bay

Repulse Bay is a popular beach on Hong Kong’s Southside – it’s the nearest one to Central so you can see all the tour buses lined up behind it – and for that reason, it’s better to opt for the adjacent Deep Water Bay. It’s smaller and quieter, with a pleasant sickle of sand and shady trees that mask the sound of passing traffic. This is where early-morning swimmers (the marine equivalent of those dawn tai-chi practitioners in the parks) dip their toes. If you’re suddenly desperate for company and the wider expanses of Repulse Bay, there’s a boardwalk connecting both beaches, which is an enjoyable – and, in Hong Kong, fairly rare – way to get some simple outdoor exercise, especially with young children.

Getting there: Central MTR station (exit A), then walk to Exchange Square bus terminus, then bus 6, 6X, 260

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Chi Lin Nunnery

That fact that Chi Lin Nunnery can be found amidst the unremarkable high-rises of Diamond Hill adds to the sense of a spiritual jewel. It was built in 1934 according to feng shui principles and, famously, no nails were used in its construction – an architectural metaphor within the city’s metallic, clanging onslaught. There’s a sweet, sparse simplicity here which it’s worth taking time to absorb. You can wander through the halls and by lotus ponds, then enjoy the adjacent Tang-dynasty-style Nan Lian Garden, and eat at the Chi Lin Vegetarian Restaurant. Hong Kong has many crowded places – this is certainly not one of them.