The cooler months are perfect for exploring easy hiking trails in Hong Kong, and these routes, chosen by a hiking expert, are the best for hillwalking rookies.
Hiking is one of Hong Kong’s most popular outdoor activities. And while hardcore hillwalkers can take on the likes of Tai Mo Shan, which at 957 metres (3,140 feet) is Hong Kong’s highest peak, and trail runners can blaze over thigh-achingly tough courses like the 100-kilometre (62-mile) Oxfam Trailwalker, there are also plenty of options for the more pain-averse. Devesh Sahai, who runs one of Hong Kong’s most popular hiking blogs, shared his opinions with Culture Trip about Hong Kong’s best hikes for beginners.
Possibly Hong Kong’s best known and most popular hike, Dragon’s Back is a ridge in the southeastern corner of Hong Kong Island, in Shek O Country Park. It can be done quickly via a five-kilometre (three-mile) loop that will take about two hours to hike, or slowly via an eight-kilometre (five-mile) up-and-over, taking about three hours. Both start at the bus stop on Shek O Road, at To Tei Wan Tsuen. Whichever route you choose, you’ll get fantastic views both sides of the ridge within 20 minutes of starting, making this one of the best things to do in Hong Kong. Sahai says, “The Dragon’s Back hike is easily one of the most memorable hikes in Hong Kong. It was the first time that I got to see a very different side of Hong Kong.”
When a Hongkonger describes their home as an ‘urban jungle’, that’s not just a metaphor. You can be swigging beers in Hong Kong’s famed red-light district one minute, and scrambling up a jungle path the next. This route is a one-and-a-half-hour, six-kilometre (four-mile) hike that starts in Wan Chai and traverses over the middle of Hong Kong Island, going past Mount Cameron and Hong Kong’s iconic landmark The Peak, ending up at Aberdeen Reservoir. Both the start and finish are close to transport options, and there are some fun features along the way, such as a self-foot-massage area (essentially round pebbles cemented into the ground). It starts with a fairly steep climb, so take it slowly at first; it soon becomes a smooth stroll downhill. Sahai says, “Hiking from Wan Chai to Aberdeen is probably one of the go-to hikes for many living on Hong Kong Island. It’s moderately easy, relatively short and easily accessible.”
Another hike easily accessible from the centre of the city, Bowen Road is a four-kilometre (two-and-a-half-mile) concrete-pathed trail. It’s popular with runners, and can easily be done in half a day or less. It starts at Magazine Gap Road above Central and ends at Tai Hang Road, giving views over Central, Wan Chai and Happy Valley. Halfway along, you can take a small detour to head up to Lovers’ Rock and snap some panoramic views over Wan Chai. The last part is flat and may spring some wildlife surprises on you, such as wild pigs. They have lost their fear of humans in recent years because of people feeding them, so they may approach you. The best advice is to snap a picture at a distance if you like, but then move on and ignore them. Sahai says, “This is a cosy walk right in Wan Chai’s backyard.”
This hike is a little more out of the way, but definitely worth it for a taste of life on Hong Kong’s most laid-back outlying island. It’s a five-kilometre (three-mile) trail on cobbled and concrete paths that goes between the two main villages on Lamma Island, so you’ll need to get a ferry from Central Piers to start. It offers great views across the sea to Lantau Island on a clear day and goes past kamikaze caves dug by the Japanese in World War II. While most people hike from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan, it pays to do it in the other direction. Yung Shue Wan is the larger of the villages, with more shops and things to do once you arrive, and ferries depart from Yung Shue Wan back to Hong Kong Island far more frequently. Sahai says, “The hike is relatively easy, suitable for all ages and involves minimal climbing. It runs along the Lamma Island Family Trail and traverses through some of the island’s nicest beaches, restaurants and attractions.”
The Pinewood Battery Hike provides exercise, nature and a little bit of Hong Kong military history. Pinewood Battery was a defensive fort in the early 20th century but was destroyed by Japanese bombers in 1941. The ruins are now a protected heritage feature in the middle of Lung Fu Shan Country Park, just two and a half kilometres (one and a half miles) from Victoria Peak. The Peak Tram is another bit of local history; it’s 130 years old and Asia’s first cable funicular, and is still functioning on a daily basis. It can take you from Central to the start of the trail. Once walking, you’ll pass by Lugard Waterfall and get on to the Lung Fu Shan Fitness trail, a picturesque path with viewing points over the city skyline. The ruins offer plenty of exploration opportunities edifying information boards. Head back down into Central for dinner after a day of physical and mental activity. Sahai says, “The hike is very easy… the next time you’re at Victoria Peak, take a quick tour down Hong Kong’s war history.”
If you’re looking for a hike that’s short, easy and gives some of the best views in the city, Lung Ha Wan Country Trail on Hong Kong Island is a good bet. It starts at Tai Au Mun Road in Clearwater Bay, and brings you back to the same spot after two to three hours. Most hikers go clockwise around the circular trail, but going anticlockwise gets you to the top more quickly. There are gorgeous coastal views and expansive countryside scenery and you pass beaches, barbecue spots and even an ancient rock carving at Lung Ha Wan. Sahai says, “The Lung Ha Wan Country Trail is one of those rare perfect hikes in Hong Kong. It’s relatively short, easy, scenic and accessible. It cuts through Clear Water Bay Country Park, and offers views of both Sai Kung and Clearwater Bay on either side.”
You’ll see much of this trail on your cable car ride (if you decide to take it) to the start at Ngong Ping village, home of Hong Kong’s Giant Buddha statue. From Ngong Ping, this five-and-a-half-kilometre (three-mile) trek follows a gentle downward slope, giving fantastic views across the reservoir. Fire up the panorama mode on your camera phone and get snapping, as you zigzag along the trail all the way to a picnic park at the end. Sahai says, “The Shek Pik Country Trail on Lantau Island is a relatively easy hike that runs between Ngong Ping and Shek Pik Reservoir. If you hike from Ngong Ping to Shek Pik, you can finish in the evening and head to one of the great restaurants on Lantau Island for dinner.”