Hit The Trails: Top 10 Hong Kong Hikes
Hong Kong’s top two national sports are surely drinking and shopping. However, Hong Kongers also like to head for the hills and get a break from this most densely populated of cities. As such, a close third in terms of popular sports is hiking. Now that the autumn weather is here with its blue skies and cooler days, there’s no better time to hit the trails. Here are our picks on the top 10 best hikes in Hong Kong.
1. Most iconic hike: Hong Kong Trail Section 8 (Dragon’s Back)
Hong Kong’s most popular hike – Dragon’s back – gives incredible views of fancy mansions, amazing beaches, and weaves through quaint fishing villages. If you’re looking for a big day out, this is the hike for you.
On the Southside of the island, it’s easily combined with any number of watersports – you can hire a catamaran, go for a surf or try out paddle boarding. It’s a popular hike, with lots of families en route – though it’s not the easiest around. However beware; it’s so popular that if you go on weekends you may have to line-up to get onto the trail! Not ideal if you are trying to get away from it all, however, this is an essential hike if you want to experience the ‘real’ Hong Kong.
Getting there: Take the exit A3 from Shau Kei Wan MTR, then hop on bus 9 from the bus terminus. Get off at To Tei Wan on Shek O Road and the entrance is on the road, very close to the bus stop.
2. Best hike for getting back to nature: Shek Pik, Lantau Island
If you were overwhelmed by the circus that is Dragon’s Back, this may be the hike for you.
Hiking Lantau Island is certainly the exception to the usual over-paved, cement paths that has become the feature of so many hikes in Hong Kong. Get away from creeping urbanisation and get out into the bush.
This hike starts at Po Lin Monastery. Explore Lantau South Country Park and follow Shek Pik Country Trail to finish at Tong Fuk beach. This may be one of Hong Kong’s lesser known hikes, but it’s certainly one of the most rewarding; it encompasses one of Hong Kong’s more pristine nature reserves and boasts some of Hong Kong’s most incredible views.
Getting there: Options include bus number 23 from Tung Chung MTR, the cable car from Tung Chung, bus 2 from Mui Wo or bus 21 from Tai O.
3. Best hike for lazy people: Hong Kong Country Club to South Bay
This flat, paved walk along a waterside path takes in some of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong. It has plenty of options to stop for a swim, a snack, or a refreshing beverage if the mood takes you. And if you get fed up, you are never far from a taxi.
It’s questionable whether this could really be classified as a ‘hike’ – it’s perhaps more of a gentle stroll. But hey, we are not judging.
This hike starts at Hong Kong Country Club from where you can follow the waterside path all the way to South Bay Beach, where the little kiosk at serves amazing wraps and other great food. Reward yourself with a beer, a sandwich and a swim after your ‘exertion’.
Getting there: Taxi to the country club or bus 6, 6X, 260 or 973.
4. The ‘hike’ for road runners (and for lusting after real estate): Bowen Road – Blacks Link – the Peak
If you do not consider yourself lazy, and instead prefer to run, or if you are uncoordinated and are likely to trip and fall on uneven surfaces, this is the ‘hike’ for you. It starts on the flat along Bowen Road, but then begins to climb; up Wong Nai Chung Gap Road, further up onto Blacks Link and then all the way up to the Peak. At the Peak you have loads of options for extending (or shortening) your outing. If you continue onto Borrett Road you can take in great views of Victoria Harbor and check out some of Hong Kong’s most expensive real estate. Lust after the rooftop pools with some of the best views of Hong Kong.
Getting there: Taxi to Bowen Road or bus 15 to Stubbs Road roundabout where you can start from the other end of the trail.
5. Most hardcore hike on the island: Wilson Trail Section 1 – Violet Hill and the Twins
Got quads of steel? Want quads of steel? Then this hike is for you. This 4.8km stretch will certainly give you street cred for being hardcore. It’s got over one thousand stairs, and boasts some of the most incredible views of Hong Kong. On a clear day it’s hard to beat. Even on a cloudy day it’s not too bad. While you may miss the views, the sense of floating through the mist is pretty special. This hike may be hardcore, but take heart, when you finish at Repulse Bay, you can refresh, refuel and get a taxi home.
Getting there: Taxi to Parkview
6. Most Hardcore Hike: MacLehose Trail
Starting to think that you are a bit of a hiking rock-star after running the Peak and conquering the Twins? Think again. Get out to the MacLehose in the New Territories and get ready to be properly challenged. This trail has been named as one of the world’s best hikes by National Geographic and is part of the legendary Oxfam Trailwalker, the MacLehose – sections 1-4 -will challenge even the most seasoned of hikers. If you survive, you’ll be well rewarded with some incredible views in pristine and remote surroundings, but be prepared. This is not for the faint of heart!
Getting there: Bus 94 from Sai Kung Town and get off at the Pak Tam Chung Terminus. The hike starts at the junction of Pak Tam Road and Man Yee Road.
7. Best hike for families: Hong Pak Country Trail – Quarry Bay Tree Walk – St Cecil’s Ride
Of course, not everyone wants to kill themselves on a Saturday morning hike. This is a relatively easy hike that is suitable for kids and can be modified depending on your energy levels and your propensity to tolerate whining. Kids will be kept interested because there are streams, boulders, views, and you can give them a bit of history with the signage along the way. Bonus is that there are only a few stairs and most of the path is relatively flat.
Depending on where you start and finish, you’ve got the option of bribing the kids to quit their whining with pizza and gelato by ending in Stanley.
Getting there: MTR exit A at Quarry Bay, then walk east along Kings Road to the Quarry Bay Municipal Services Building.
8. Most convenient hike: Discovery Bay to Mui Wo
When you think of Hong Kong, you think convenience. Anyone who lives further than a 5 minute walk from the escalator? Seriously, what are you doing?
In keeping with this notion, we’ve included a most convenient hike that packs the most bang for your $40-ferry-ride buck.
This hike starts in what is arguably Hong Kong’s most convenient residential area (so long as you never leave) – Discovery Bay.
Start with a meal at DB plaza, then head through the seaside village of Nim Shue Wan. This path is fairly easy to follow all the way (perhaps designed for DB residents?) to Mui Wo.
Conveniently, it includes tons of interesting sights in a relatively short space. You pass a Trappist Monastery, pass by several great viewing platforms, and have options for bailing early if you get fed up with hiking,
Finishing in the laid back Mui Wo, pack your swimmers and cool off at one of Hong Kong’s nicer beaches. Then finish up with a meal at one of Mui Wo’s fab restaurants. The Turkish is a popular local favourite.
Getting there: Ferry to Discovery Bay and follow the signs through Nim Sheu Wan village
9. The hike that will most impress out-of-town guests: Cheung Chau Island
Cheung Chau boasts temples, sampans, colonial buildings and some of Hong Kong’s oldest residents. It’s a short day trip that will impress visitors with ‘old Hong Kong’. It’s a ferry ride from Central, but this sleepy island feels worlds away. The hike is relatively easy and you can finish with a feast near the ferry pier. Get your visitors out of LKF and show them that it’s not all just bars and tall buildings.
Getting there: Ferry from Central Pier 5
10. Best hike for lovers: Morning trail to Mid Levels
If you are trying to impress a date with your sporting prowess and general physique, this is the hike for you. It’s none to challenging, so you won’t get grossly hot and sweaty, it provides a chance for romance, and you can finish with drinks at the end. Start at the Peak and take either Harlech Road or Luggard Road (depending how energetic you are feeling and how much you want to show off) for some of the best views in Hong Kong. Then follow Hatton Road fitness trail down the hill. If you’ve timed it right, you can get one of the best views of Hong Kong’s sunset; a perfect spot for a smooch should the mood take you.
Hitting Conduit Road you can impress your date with your knowledge of all things romantic; number 41 was used as a movie location for ‘Love is a Many Splendid Thing’.
Once you hit the Mid Levels escalator, continue down through Soho and treat your date to a glass of something sparkling (or at least something alcoholic.) Hopefully your date will be sufficiently impressed by your physical prowess and your romantic side so that after a few glasses of something alcoholic you can do more than just gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes.
Getting there: Taxi to the Peak Galleria or bus 15 or minibus 1
TOP TIP: TrailWatch is a recently launched app for trail lovers, to enable you to plan and track your hikes. Find new routes, share your hikes and connect with fellow walkers. Download the free app here.
(This post was originally written in 2015)
About Jane Richards
Marathoner, ironman, former corporate lawyer and mum of one, Jane moved to Hong Kong after spending 2 years in Shanghai. She hails from the small surfy town of Woolgoolga in Australia, and so is a long way from home.
When she’s not out running laps on the track, or running after her cheeky toddler, she writes about all things health and fitness related in Hong Kong. In her spare time, Jane blogs at Dim Sum and Long Runs. In addition to being passionate about sport and running, Jane also loves to hit the streets in Hong Kong and refuel at one of it’s many eating establishments. She is addicted to caffeine, energy gels and macaroons.