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Hiking Honkers - Exploring Hong Kong's Countryside On Foot

Joanna Hall

Just say the name, “Hong Kong”, to most people and their thoughts will be of cheek-by-jowl skyscrapers, neon lights, and streets teeming with people and traffic as one of the most dynamic holiday destinations in the world. It’s a remarkable city for many reasons, and famous for many things, but it leads a double life as an Asian metropolis and a hiker’s paradise; as a visitor, you can step out of its chaotic environment and into serene countryside in less than an hour. 

Hiking Victoria Peak

Hong Kong nestles in a picturesque region of mountains, islands, forests and waterways, which is home to a number of fascinating hikes, all of which are easy to reach thanks to a top notch public transport system. One of my favourites involves a visit to the top of imposing Victoria Peak, which dominates the Hong Kong skyline, and rises 373 metres steeply into the sky. Even getting there is fun. You get to take a unique ride on the Peak Tram funicular railway, a historic mode of transport which ascends the mountain revealing dramatic views of Victoria Harbour along the way. From the top you have two options depending on how much time, and stamina, you have. One is following the Peak Circle Walk around the summit, a three-and-a-half kilometre-long easy meander which takes only an hour-and-a-half, maybe two if you stop frequently to people watch or take photographs. It starts from Lugard Road, near The Peak Tower, built between 1913 and 1914, and named for Hong Kong’s fourteenth governor, Sir Frederick Lugard. The trail continues on to Harlech Road, and ends back at the funicular station. 

The Peak Descent

The other, slightly more challenging option, however, is to make the seven kilometre descent from the top of The Peak. This trail takes you beneath the famous summit, also called Tai Ping Shan, and along the back side of the mountain to a quiet and more serene space; it’s far from the hustle and bustle of the city, also offering views at almost every turn. Along the way you’ll see a very different side of Hong Kong. It begins with old banyan trees and distant views to the north taking in Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. Then, as you walk around the peninsula to the south, the view changes to the outer islands of Lantau, Lamma and Cheung Chau nestling in the South China Sea. Passing along shaded paths, the trail winds into Pok Fu Lam Country Park, a vibrant open space of lush emerald green forest and climbing plants, and the home of one of Hong Kong's reservoirs dating back to 1863. From there, as you continue to descend, you will be met with frequent glimpses of the distant skyscrapers of Aberdeen. 

At The Foot

After passing a Tin Hau Temple, you walk down to Pok Fu Lam Road to where you have two options. One is to catch a number seven bus back to Central Station, but if you’re feeling energetic and have enough time, however,  the other is to continue for another hour-and-a-half through the valley to the colourful quayside district of Aberdeen, for a sampan boat ride around the harbour, or to refuel at the famous Jumbo Restaurant. If you decide on the ascent, go prepared for the weather which in Hong Kong can be diverse. During the winter between November and March, temperatures can drop on the mountain so you may need to dress warm, while during the wet season, between April and September, a waterproof jacket is a good idea. Although there are toilets en-route, always carry sunscreen and plenty of water as there are no shops, and don’t forget a camera to the capture the many diverse views this fascinating hike has to offer. 

Hong Kong’s Other Popular Hikes 

Dragon’s Back Hike: Dubbed Asia’s best hiking trail by Time Magazine, it covers the southern part of Hong Kong Island. It starts at Shek O Road near Cape Collinson Road, ends on Shek O Road near Wan Village, is four-and-a-half kilometres long and takes around two-and-a-half hours. 

Cheung Chau: This scenic trail covers the small island of Cheung Chau, which is 10 kilometres from Hong Kong Island. It starts at the ferry pier, ends in Sai Wan, is seven-and-a-half kilometres long and takes around three hours. 

Lamma Island: Another of Hong Kong’s outer islands, this where the movie star Chow Yun Fat hails from. The trail starts at the Yung Shue ferry pier, ends at Sok Kwu Wan ferry pier, is six kilometres long and takes around two hours. 

MacLehose Trail Sections 1 & 2: This challenging trail loops around the entire Sai Kung Peninsula. It starts at Pak Tam Chung, ends at Pak Tam Au near Long Ke Beach, is just over 24 kilometres and takes around eight hours.


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  1. Posted by on 4th Dec 2018 Verified Customer

    Never Knew You Could Do This 5 Star Review

    Firstly I want to say thanks for all your great travel have obviously lead an amazing life and seen much and I appreciate you sharing all the amazing experiences you've enjoyed with us, your audience! As for Hong Kong I have only been there once on a short stopover but do plan to return...we had much fun in a short space of time....but I never knew these hikes existed. We're both tennis players but love to walk and next time we go there we will be sure to build in enough time to do Victoria Peak and possibly one of the other hikes too. Great stuff thanks for sharing.

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