Hong Kong’s Top Five – Day Walks
D J Clark in Hong Kong
Six months after relocating to Hong Kong I felt a need to escape. The green hills towering above the city skyscrapers are always visible but reaching them in the heat of summer is tough. Now winter is here, its hiking season.
Below is my pick of the five best day walks Hong Kong can offer. Get an early start and you should be back home by nightfall from just about anywhere in the city. The paths are well kept, the views stunning but the gradients can be steep. Good shoes, a sandwich or two and plenty of water are essential. It’s an effort well worth making as Hong Kong’s countryside can often surprise.
The Dragon’s Back – an easy climb with sea and city views
The Dragon’s Back trail rightly makes all the top hiking lists for it’s easy access to the city, relatively gentle slopes and spectacular views. Try and get to the start before 9 AM and enjoy a morning stroll across the ridge before descending for lunch in Big Wave bay. With most of the heavy walking done, climb over one more hill in the afternoon, taking time to look back across the bay and then down into Chai Wan with views along Victoria harbor.
Start on Shek O Road taking bus no 9, follow the trail around to Big Wave bay. Then take the path at the north side of the beach up and over the hill to Chai Wan where you can take the MTR.
Lantau Peak – a mountain with a 360 degree view
There’s an easy and a hard way to ascend Hong Kong’s second tallest peak. I opted for the cable car that gets you half way. After a quick stop in Ngong Ping to see the Big Buddha statue, it’s a steep two-hour climb up for lunch at the top of the mountain. Allow time to take in the panoramic sweeping coastal views. There are paths in every direction for the walk home. A long path through to Mui Wo, a southern route past the Shek Pik reservoir to Tung Wan or a shortcut back to Tung Chung. With the cable car not starting before 10AM you will need to be fast to take the longer routes.
Start at the cable car from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping. Walk through the village past the Big Buddha and onto the wisdom path until you see signs for the peak. From there continue along the Lantau trail until you reach Tung Chung road where you can get a bus back to Tung Chung.
Sharp Peak – an isolated, tough walk with wild sea views
Not for the faint hearted this is by far the toughest walk of the five. So tough that a sign warns you “For safety reason, you are advised not to proceed.” But with the pain comes plenty of gain. Wild desolate beaches, abandoned villages and a feeling of complete isolation from the bustling metropolis that lies just beyond view. It’s a long day with the commute both ways so you may want to rent a tent on the beach and make a weekend of it. This walk should not be missed.
Take bus no.7 to the Sai Kung Country Park Visitor’s Center, then a local taxi to the Sai Wan Pavilion. From there set off along the path to Ham Tin Wan from where you set off up to Sharp peak. From there descend down to Chek Keng where you can take a ferry out or walk over to Pak Tam road.
Lamma Island – beaches, fishing villages and jungle
Lamma is the biggest of the car free outlying islands, making it perfect for a full day of exploration on foot. My root started at the northern tip and took me through thick jungle to Hung Shing Ye beach where the walk switches to a coastal hike to the fishing village of Sok Kwu Wan. If you are lucky, or unlucky depending on your love for all things wild, you may see a wild boar or python snake. Both are common sightings in Lamma’s outback. No need for a pack lunch on this trip with plenty of restaurants offering great seafood choices. There is a loop in the southern part of the island if you want to spend time at the beach or a walk to the southern trip where a ferry returns you to Hong Kong island.
Take the ferry from Aberdeen promenade to Pak Kok and walk on the path to the north tip of the island. Take a small path to the cable road, which you can follow through the jungle to Hung Shing Ye beach. From the far end of the beach continue south to Sok Kwu Wan and then along the coast to Mo Tat Wan from where you can take a ferry back to Aberdeen.
Victoria Peak – a hidden country walk above the city
Few visitors to Hong Kong miss a trip up Victoria Peak, but few choose to walk up. There are many routes, the gentlest starts on the backside in Pok Fu Lam past the reservoir and along a narrow road. Once you reach the bustling square, find Lugard road to escape the crowds and enjoy a one hour looping road that affords spectacular views around the peak. I started after lunch, timing the walk to finish back at the galleria at sunset to watch the lights come up over the city followed by dinner with a view and a bus home.
Take a bus to Pok Fu Lam reservoir stop and follow the road up into the country park. Continue up to the Peak following the signs until you reach the Galleria. Look for Lugard road on your left and walk the loop back to the Galleria where there is transport back to the city.