What images come to your mind when you hear the words ‘Hong Kong’? For many people, the first thing that comes to mind is the cosmopolitan atmosphere; the cold and dark images seen in ‘Hong Kong Noir’ movies, or the brilliant lights from the skyscrapers often called the ‘Symphony of Lights’.
However, this is only confined to the heart of the city and if you venture out of Hong Kong’s ‘forest of buildings’ – which is nearly twice the area of Seoul – you can find a real forest full of blessed natural life. And the best way to enjoy the beautiful harmony of the sea and the mountains is simply by walking. Without any grand preparations, you can easily plan a walking trip along a hiking course in Hong Kong.
Built between 1979 and 1996 as a government initiative, Hong Kong’s hiking trails connect the Country Parks (located across Hong Kong Island), the Kowloon Peninsula and the best landmarks for viewing natural wonders. These places are easy to access, and since each course is divided into several sections, you can select a course that suits your physical ability and your schedule.
Experience Hong Kong, where natural simplicity co-exists with the luxuries of the city, with the top hiking trails and recommended courses presented here in PATH. Now, tighten your shoelaces – and start your journey!
Courses recommended by PATH
The Hong Kong Trail
Victoria Peak – Pok Fu Lam Reservoir
Sha Tin Pass – Kowloon Reservoir
Sai Kung Peninsula
Ngong Ping – Sham Wat Road
Getting Ready for Hiking
Suitable shoes and clothing
Get yourself some hiking boots or walking boots that won’t place strain on your feet during extended walking trips. It would be a good idea to wear long sleeves and long trousers, so as to prevent any potential cuts from walking through grassy paths or possible mosquito bites. It is also beneficial to wear functional clothes that release sweat and maintain your body temperature. It may rain while you are walking, so bring an umbrella or a raincoat.
Snacks and Beverages
Bringing your own food is necessary to boost your energy during the walk. This is because it is difficult to find a shop in the middle of a hiking trail. Bring snacks that contain carbohydrates, such as chocolate or bananas, and water or energy drinks to quench your thirst while walking.
Don’t Overdo It!
Make sure that you check the weather beforehand, as the weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains. It will be difficult to complete the whole circuit in one go, as even the shortest hiking trail is 31 miles (50 kilometres) long. If you are not accustomed to walking for longer durations, it is better to plan walks that cover only short parts of the hiking trail. Also remember that the goal of hiking is to enjoy the walk, not to reach the end of the trail!
The Hong Kong Trail, 31 miles (50 kilometres)
Hong Kong Island is the largest of the islands that make up Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Trail, which starts from the west to the southwest of Hong Kong Island, was created in 1985 and is divided into 8 sections.
The Hong Kong Trail is especially popular among photographers because there a perfect spots at every twist and turn to capture the colourful face of Hong Kong, like the panoramic view of the city centre skyscrapers from the observatory, the World War II ruins, and the wide coastal scenery which seems to naturally just open out in front of your eyes. By the time you climb up the winding mountain path and arrive at the end of the course, you will feel the breeze of the South China Sea, drying the sweat off your forehead.
While the view of the Hong Kong Trail is extraordinary, there are fewer shady spots or places to rest compared to the other trails. Before setting off for the walk, it is best to bring enough snacks, a hat and a raincoat for the weather. Since there are no camp sites along the course, to finish the whole course you would have to finish the day’s walk and leave the course before sunset, and then resume the walk on the following day(s).
Recommended Course for the Hong Kong Trail 1
Section 1. Victoria Peak – Pok Fu Lam Reservoir
Length: 4.34 miles (7 kilometres)/Duration: 3 hours/Difficulty: medium
Known as the course to discover ‘Nature in the City Centre’, the journey starts at the summit of Victoria Peak, famous for its Peak Tram. After passing along Lugard Road, where you can look down with a bird’s eye view at the Hong Kong skyscrapers below, the lush forests of Harlech Road come into view. Following the trail downhill, you will find the very first reservoir ever constructed in Hong Kong – the Pok Fu Lam Reservoir.
Getting to the trail entry point: climb to the top of the Victoria Peak by riding the Peak Tram near MTR Central Station; or take the No. 15 bus from the Exchange Square bus stop near Exit D of MTR Hong Kong station, and then get off at Peak Galleria.
Recommended Course for the Hong Kong Trail 2
Section 8. Dragon’s Back
Length: 5.28 miles (8.5 kilometres)/Duration: 6 hours/Difficulty: hard
This course, named from the nuance that walking along the mountain ridge path is like walking on a ‘Dragon’s Back’, was selected by TIME magazine (Asia Edition) as the ‘Best City Hiking Trail in Asia’. Enjoy the beautiful open scenery of the South China Sea coastline while walking along the winding mountain path. The thrillingly harmonious views of the mountain and the sea will be a grand reward for your difficult journey.
Getting to the trail entry point: take the No. 9 bus from the Shau Kei Wan bus stop, near Exit A3 of MTR Shau Kei Wan Station, and then get off at To Tei Wan. The entrance to the hiking trail is at Shek O Road.
The Hong Kong Trail, 31 miles (50 kilometres)
Recommended Sights for the Hong Kong Trail
Victoria Peak is the starting point of the Hong Kong trail and the last stop of the Peak Tram. It is also famous for its views overlooking the buildings below. The tram stops at the Peak Tower, where you can find popular tourist attractions, such as an observatory and Madame Tussaud’s, where wax models of world famous stars are exhibited.
If you are accompanying a family member who cannot walk for long periods of time, the Peak Circle Walk is a good circuit course on Victoria Peak. This is a favourite jogging path for the locals, and from here you can really enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Wilson Trail, 48.46 miles (78 kilometres)
One of the top Hong Kong hiking trails, Wilson Trail, which starts from the south of Hong Kong Island and then crosses the sea to reach the Kowloon Peninsula New Territory, was only built in 1996. Since most of the sections of Wilson Trail are inside the mountains, it is necessary to be fully prepared.
Recommended Course for the Wilson Trail
Section 5. Sha Tin Pass – Kowloon Reservoir
Length: 4.59 miles (7.4 kilometres)/Duration: 2 hours and 30 minutes/Difficulty: easy
Getting to the trail entry point: get off at MTR Wong Tai Sin Station or MTR Diamond Hill Station, then take a taxi and stop at the Lion Pavilion of Sha Tin Pass Tsuen.
You can either choose the MacLehose Trail or the Wilson Trail. The Wilson Trail is the easier course of the two for beginners. On this path, you can take in the view of the new town of Sha Tin area, Needle Hill, and Tai Mo Shan – the highest place in Hong Kong. If you want to see the whole view of the Kowloon Peninsula, or venture down to Lion’s Rock – one of Hong Kong’s iconic places – then you should go down the MacLehose Trail, Section 5. However, this course is more difficult than the Wilson Trail.
Recommended Sights for the Wilson Trail
The Country Parks were created to protect nature and on top of that, to offer citizens nearby access to natural environments. The parks have good facilities, making them suitable for camping and for exercising. Also, as most of the hiking trails pass through one of the country parks, you can find the parks easily if you are hiking on one of the trails.
There are a total of 24 country parks in the Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island. The Wilson Trail courses through eight of these Country Parks, including the Tai Mo Country Park, located on the highest mountain of Hong Kong, Tai Mo Shan. Spending a night at one of the camping sites in the Country Parks is nice way to make special memories in the lush mountains of Hong Kong.
The MacLehose Trail, 62.13 miles (100 kilometres)
The MacLehose Trail, which was named after the 25th Governor of Hong Kong, Sir Murray MacLehose, is the longest hiking trail in Hong Kong, and allows you to experience diverse natural habitats throughout the course. The journey starts from the east of the New Territories and heads to the west, with the advantage of being mostly flat, making it a fairly easy walk.
Recommended Course for the MacLehose Trail
Section 1 & 2. Sai Kung Peninsula
Length: 14.97 miles (24.1 kilometres)/Duration: 8 hours/Difficulty: medium
Getting to the trail entry point: from the C2 Exit of the MTR Diamond Hill Station, take the No. 92 bus leading to Sai Kung Peninsula. Stop at the Sai Kung Town, change to the No. 94 bus which leads to Wong Shek Pier, then stop the at Pak Tam Chung bus stop. Walk along the Tai Mong Tsai Road for approximately five minutes to reach the starting point of Section 1. On Sundays, take the Direct Connection Bus 96R that goes to Pak Tam Chung from the MTR Diamond Hill Station.
You can enjoy the natural sights of Sai Kung Peninsula formed by volcanic activities on this course. The course passes near the High Island Reservoir, and the exquisite blend of sea and mountain scenery is really beautiful. You can also discover unique landscapes, such as hexagonal rock strata and rock islands that have been eroded by the waves.
Recommended Sites for the MacLehose Trail
Tai Long Wan
The four beaches located east of the East Sai Kung Country Park – Sai Wan, Tai Wan, Tung Wan and Ham Tin Wan – are collectively called ‘Tai Long Wan’.
Tai Long Wan (大浪灣) literally means Big Wave Bay. The Tai Long Wan beaches are suitable for surfing, as the name denotes, and Sai Wan beach is particularly loved by surfers.
If you would like some quiet camping by the water, then you should go to Ham Tin Wan beach. It boasts a white sandy beach with water ideal for swimming, and there are also camping grounds perfect for spending a night.
Please note that there is also a sea with the same name along the Dragon’s Back section situated east of the Hong Kong Trail.
Tips: HK 100 – Hong Kong 100K Ultra Marathon
This international hiking and marathon event, which started in 2011, is held in January every year. The course set for the event overlaps with the MacLehose Trail in many parts, and the 100 kilometre course is set along the sea and mountains. The last section, the Tai Mo Shan Climb, is the highlight of the event.
-Participation Information (Official Website): http://www.hk100-ultra.com
The Lantau Trail, 43.49 miles (70 kilometres)
This trail, which runs around Lantau Island, the island adjacent to the Hong Kong International Airport, has a variety of attractions like a cable car and Disneyland. The trail is divided into 12 sections with many facilities for visitors and signs indicating distances and locations, thus making it a relatively comfortable hiking trail.
Recommended Course for the Lantau Trail
Section 4. Ngong Ping – Sham Wat Road
Length: 2.48 miles (4 kilometres)/Duration: 1 hour 25 minutes/Difficulty: hard
Getting to the starting point: take the No. 2 bus at the Mui Wo Bus Terminal. Get on the cable car at Tung Chung or take the No. 23 bus and go to Ngong Ping.
The route passes around Ngong Ping, famous for its gigantic Buddha statue. Walk past the Wisdom Path with its 38 wooden pillars carved with the text of Vajracchedika, then take in the panoramic scenery of the huge Shek Pik Reservoir built in 1970.
The end of this section branches out into several different paths. You can swerve into Sham Wat with its ancient natural environment, continue onto No. 5 course of the Lantau Trail or go back to the cable car and return to Tung Chung.
Recommended Sites for the Lantau Trail
This is a plateau situated on the eastern part of Lantau Island with many tourist attractions. The most popular attractions are the Po Lin Monastery with its 99 years of history, and a 34-metre-high Tian Tan Buddha. You need to climb 268 steps in order to reach the statue, and due to its enormity, it can be seen from Macao on a cloudless day.
Outside of that, other popular places to relax your mind and body are the ‘Walking with Buddha’ site, where you can take a walk to experience the life of Buddha, and also the ‘Linong Tea House’ which is famous for its “flowering tea” where the flower blooms in the cup when the water is poured on.
Getting on the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car at Tung Chung is the most famous and quickest way to reach Ngong Ping. If you really want a thrilling ride, get on the cable car with the transparent floor rather than a normal cable car. You can reduce the waiting time if you book your ticket online (http://www.np360.com.hk) before leaving for the trip.
For us, living in a country which consists of mountainous region that cover 70% of the land, hiking is not an unfamiliar activity. You can see a mountain from anywhere, and mountain-walking and outdoors activities are hobbies for anyone, regardless of their age and gender.
South Korea is full of great mountains and trails. However, Hong Kong will be a great choice for travellers seeking warmer weather and more exotic scenery. There are not many grand peaks or high mountains there, but you can visit hassle-free at any time, and it is a great place to relax your mind in a natural environment.
The surprising charm of Hong Kong, packed with the phytoncide goodness from green trees together with the fresh breeze, make up Hong Kong’s hiking trails! Create lovely memories along the paths – alone or together!
Image source: 123rf.com
It is difficult to indicate an exact address since these are walking courses.
Please refer to the Google Drive folder (maps).