Hiking in Hong Kong
GLOBE batch 16 has been eagerly exploring Hong Kong and a lot of us have been loving to spend some time in nature, after having been imprisoned in a hotel room for 3 weeks. We are looking forward to going surfing and scuba diving in the spring but have really found a passion for hiking for now.
Here is a list of hikes the GLOBErs have done so far, listed from least to most difficult.
The peak is probably the most well-known and easiest hike, leading right to a beautiful view of Hong Kong. You can either hike all the up from the Central MTR station, passing a Botanical Garden with monkeys and flamingos on the way, or alternatively take a bus or the iconic tram. On the top, there are two malls and lots of restaurants to relax. There is also a Monopoly dream amusement store and a rooftop terrace for great pictures. For those who want to hike a bit further, a small trail leads to the so-called Victoria Peak Garden.
The Dragon back hike is a very pleasant beginner hike with amazing views of Tai Tam Bay, Stanley and Red hill. Generally, this hike is about 5-6 kilometers and has a very gradual ascent and descent. It is good for anyone from recreational hikers to even runners.
In order to get to the hike, you can take the bus 9 towards Shek O and get off at To Tei Wan, Shek O Road to start the hike.
The Lions Rock hike is located rather close to CUHK compared to other hikes, since it is situated right between Kowloon Tong of Kowloon and Tai Wai, New Territories. It is nicknamed Hong Kong’s most iconic mountain in a lot of reviews, which´s shape resembles a crouching lion. From the Wong Tai Sin MTR, it takes about 7 min with the Bus 18M to get to the start of the trail. It is a 6.7 km long way with a 6.5/10 difficulty and takes about 1.5-3 hours to complete, depending on how long you spend at the 495 meter high summit with a 360- degree view. Of course, watch out for good weather to enjoy the best view possible, but also pack sunscreen and bring a hat, since part of the trail is not covered by trees, and you will otherwise be sun burnt. I would especially recommend doing this hike at sunset, because it is a very common and popular hike, so prepared with flashlights and phones, it should be one of the safer ones to finish in the dark. That is very different for the following Suicide Cliff
Lions rock (left), Suicide Cliff (right)
The Suicide Cliff, has some truth to its name. To take the Suicide cliff trail, you can take the 1A or 11 bus from the Choi Hung MTR station and get off at Good Hope school. From there, google maps directs you to a very wealthy residential area, where you literally hop into the forest in the middle of a dead-end street. The trail is unofficial, and there are multiple signs pointing out the danger of this hike. You will have to climb a bit and there is even a rope at one point, so I would rate it at a 8.5/10 difficulty. Arriving at the top, it has a very nice view of both Tsim Sha Tsui and Hong Kong Island. Of course, also this hike is very nice at sunset, since it is facing west, but it is equally as dangerous because it is very hard to find the rest of the path in the dark. It requires climbing over two rocks and walking by the helicopter landing place before you can finally take the steps down back to the residential area. When I did this hike at 6pm, I was lucky to find two local Hong Kong students who were prepared with headlights and had done the hike and knew the way. Therefore, I DO NOT recommend doing this hike at sunset or during the night, but rather sticking to Lions Rock with an almost identical view for that. For any curious hiker, who still wants to see the Suicide Cliff, I would recommend doing this hike with good gear, during the day, going in a group and turning back around if it seems unsafe at any point. The highest point of this hike is 602 meters and the whole Kowloon Peak hike is 3.8km long and takes about 2.5 hours to complete.
Bride’s pool (18km)
This hike is in New Territories and starts by the Bride’s pool. From there, follow the trail to Wu Kau
Tan. This is a small village away from any main roads. The trail makes a loop from Wu Kau Tan around the surrounding area. The trail is the old main path between the small villages and dates back centuries.
Along the way we passed many smaller villages, some even without road access. Many of the small villages have small restaurant where you can have lunch or take a rest. Finally, the loop took us up a hill from where we could see all the way to Shenzhen in China and down to the water where we could enjoy the view. All together the hike was 18 km long and brought us back to where we started at Bride’s pool. The hike was intermediate with smaller elevation gains.
The Lantau trail was a challenging 20km hike, going directly from the MTR station on Lantau Island to the Tian Tan Buddha and up to Hong Kong’s second highest peak: Lantau Peak. Reaching the mountain top involves a lot of stairs, in order to climb around 2km height in 4 kilometers of way. If you want to take it easier, you can also climb Lantau peak from the other side, where there is a more prolonged but gradual ascend.
In our experience, it is much more comfortable to have proper hiking shoes and socks and a proper bag pack on this journey. This hike will also take you almost the whole day, so be sure to pack enough water and snacks. I would recommend not going to Lantau in rainy or foggy weather, because the trail partly consists of wooden stairs that most likely will be a bit slippery under those conditions. Furthermore, going on the peak, one of the most rewarding things is the 360 degree view, which will be ruined by any clouds or fog.
Generally, there are lots of ways to make the experience easier on yourself, like planning to take an elaborate break at one of the various restaurants at the buddha statue or eliminating parts of the route by using the public transport. If you want to cut out the walk to the statue, it is a good idea to take either the bus or one of the iconic cable car gondolas. You can then start the hike from there. If you get tired after the peak, you can also opt to finishing the hike early by taking a bus on Tung Chung Road instead of walking the rest of the loop back to the MTR station.
Hong Kong Trail (45km)
The Hong Kong trail is a well-known 45km hike across Hong Kong Island. It starts at Victoria Peak and continues across the island all the way to Big Wave Bay. We managed to complete the hike in one day starting at 5.30 am from Victoria Peak. As we started it was still dark outside, so we walked with headlamps and overlooked the beautiful skyline of Hong Kong. Slowly as the sun started to raise, we could put the headlamps away. The trail is a mix of trail, pavement, and public road. We did encounter a few people on the way, but not many.
The hike was challenging in the sense that it is very long, and you are on the move for many hours. Even though it does have elevation gain, it is not what makes this hike exhausting. It took us 12 hours and 45 minutes to complete the hike, which had us arrive at Big Wave Bay at 18.15, just before sunset. At this point, our feet were sore, we were very tired yet happy to have accomplished the full trail and getting through it as a team.
On a hike like this I would recommend bringing plenty of water/electrolytes (3 liters), breakfast and lunch (4 ham and cheese sandwiches) snacks (müslibars and snickers) and fruit (bananas) This should be enough to keep you going. Definitely wear proper shoes, hiking socks (yes, they are different from other socks), dress in layers to accommodate for changing weather, proper hiking backpack.