Hiking isn’t usually the first thing people associate with the city even though it boasts some of the best hiking trails in the world. Accessible year-round although more pleasant in the winter, Hong Kong’s trails cater to all hikers from beginner to experienced. In this article, I list my favorite hikes.
Lantau Island is the first sight most visitors to Hong Kong get when they land at the airport. That is because the airport is located on reclaimed land on a nearby island and Lantau’s high peaks are visible from every terminals. As far as I’m concerned, it is the most beautiful part of Hong Kong and definitely worth a visit. It’s main attractions are the Tian Tan Giant Buddha, Ngong Ping monastery, Lantau peak, Cheung Sha and Silvermine Bay Beaches, Tai O and the Shek Pik reservoir.
How to get there
You can reach Lantau Island using the Tung Chung metro line. There are two metro stations on the island although Tung Chung is definitely your best option. From Tung Chung, I recommend taking either the bus (23) or the cable car (Ngong Ping 360) to the Ngong Ping monastery. From there you can visit the giant Bhudda and also access the Lantau Trail. There are buses running from Ngong Ping to various other parts of the island, including the fishing village of Tai O.
The Lantau Trail is the longest and most scenic trail on the island. It is 75km long and loops around it’s southern part. My favorite segments are the Ngong Ping and Lantau Peak hike and the Ngong Ping and Tai O hike. The trail is easy to find from the Ngong Ping monastery, simply follow the “Lantau Trail” signs. I recommend these two hikes only to people who are reasonably fit. Bring plenty of water as there is no way to buy any once you leave the monastery.
Plover Cove Country park
Undoubtedly one of the most scenic park in Hong Kong, the Plover Cove Country park has a wide variety of trails that will appeal to all levels of hikers. The park’s main attractions are the Bride’s Pool, Pat Sin Leng mountain range, Ma Shi Chau island and the remote Ping Chau island. My favorite hike is the Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail.
How to get there
Take the metro to Tai Po Market station and transfer to the bus going to the Wu Kau Tang car park (20C / 20R). From there follow the signs for the Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail.
The Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail is 15km long and takes about 6-7 hours to complete. It’s a pretty challenging trail, I only recommend it to experienced hikers. Make sure to visit Bride’s pool at the start of the trail. If for some reason you can’t complete the trail, there is a path back to the start at Ha Miu Tin village. Please note that you will have to walk across a 2km long bridge at the end of the trail in order to get back to civilization. It goes without saying that you should carry plenty of water.
Victoria Peak is the most popular and accessible hike in Hong Kong. It offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline and can be combined with a visit of the Mid-Levels and the Zoo (free). While there is a tram that goes to the summit, in this article I will only cover the hiking trail.
How to get there, the trail
Take the metro to the Central metro station. Use Exit D2 and turn right then turn left on Theater Ln and follow that direction until you see the signs for the Mid-Levels escalators. Get on the escalators and follow them all the way to Conduit Rd. Turn left on Conduit Rd and walk all the way to the Old Peak Rd. From there you simply have to follow the Old Peak Rd to the summit. The trail is paved but can still be challenging as it is quite steep. Bring plenty of water and your camera as well. On the way down from the summit I recommend visiting the zoo, it is free and pleasant. Simply walk down Old Peak Rd until you see the “Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens” signs and follow them.
Sai Kung East and Sai Kung West country parks
The two parks occupy a vast portion of the Sai Kung peninsula and offer some of the best hiking in the city. Some of Hong Kong’s best beaches are also located in those two parks (Sai Wan, Ham Tin, Tai Long, Tung Wan). The main attractions are Sharp Peak, Po Pin Chau and the High Island Reservoir.
How to get there
Take the metro to Diamond Hill station. Use exit C2 then take bus 92 to Sai Kung Peninsula. From Sai Kung town catch bus 94 towards Wong Shek pier and alight at Pak Tam Chung station. From Pak Tam Chung station, walk along Tai Mong Tsai Road for about five minutes until you reach the start of the MacLehose Trail (section 1).
The section 1 and 2 of the MacLehose Trail is 24.1km long and it loops around the southern part of the peninsula. It offers spectacular views of the High Island Reservoir, Po Pin Chau and Sharp Peak. It’s an easy hike but due to it’s long distance I only recommend it to experienced hikers. Get there early, bring plenty of water and your bathing suit.