A Hiker's Guide to Hong Kong’s Epic Walking Trails (Plus Directions)

A step-by-step guide to Hong Kong’s network of hiking trails. From city sightseeing to country parks and coastal routes passing by tranquil rock pools and cliff-jumping coves. Lace up your walking boots; it’s time to get going.

In partnership withHong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong is well known for its neck-craning skyscrapers, buzzy rooftop bars and dim sum restaurants. But step outside and you'll stumble upon a network of trails criss-crossing the city and countryside beyond.

Dragon's Back tops many lists of Hong Kong's most popular hikes, but we say: get off the beaten track. To help you, we've pulled together some of the city's paths less trodden, including breezy coastal strolls and more challenging hikes. En route, you'll meander between temples, cool off in secluded coves and snag views of that iconic city skyline. Lace up those walking boots…

Step it up: the best day-trip hikes and walks in Hong Kong, plus directions

Tai Long Wan

Best for: Rest stops in secluded coves. Swimming and cliff diving optional.

Distance: 12km

This 12km hike traces the coastline of the Sai Kung Peninsula, past hidden rock pools and blemish-free beaches - including some of Hong Kong's finest (and most secluded) sands. Starting at the end of Sai Wan Road, the first part is pretty fuss-free, all downhill and flat surface until you reach Sai Wan beach. Take a dip to combat the heat and humidity before soldiering on.

Feeling refreshed, stroll along the coastline-hugging path that leads to the beach. Pass the staircase of waterfalls and natural rock pools - we suggest stripping off here - onwards to Ham Tin beach. Up next, Tai Wan and further on, Tung Wan. We're heading all the way to Tung Wan for some Crusoe-esque seclusion, but each of the beaches are jaw-achingly beautiful.

Set aside a full-day to hop between the quadrant of beaches or purchase camp gear and beach barbecue coals from On Kee Store on Ham Tin to sleep under the stars. If you can, hike the trail on weekdays, when you'll seldom see another soul. Weekends aren't exactly as busy as Nathan Road, but you will have to arrive earlier to snag a camping spot.

Short on time? Walk the second part of the MacLehose trail, starting in Pak Tam Au and finishing on Sai Wan beach. It'll take about 90-minutes and is a manageable 6km.

How to get there: Head to Sai Kung Town by taking bus 92 from MTR Diamond Hill Station Exit C2. Take the 94 Bus from Sai Kung Central Bus Station, alight at Pak Tam Au, hike to Ham Tin or Tai Wan Beach.

Sunset Peak

Best for: Unsurprisingly, sunset views.

Distance: 9km

We won't pussyfoot around, the start of this hike is brutal. Any Stairmaster training session looks tame by comparison. For roughly 2km you'll be clutching your water bottle, digging deep and climbing the stone stairs. Once this strenuous stretch is over, it's fairly easygoing. Follow the swaying silvergrass-lined trails - a signature of Lantau's high peaks - as you skirt around a smattering of mountain huts and a coastline decorated with bays and beaches. Pause (read: pose) to catch the sunset. Several trails snake in between the rocks at the top of the peak so have a wander and find your angles before heading back down. Although the descent is fairly straightforward, it's best to pack a torch to guide you down. Refuel at the roadside stalls that line the Mui Wo pier and bundle on the bus back.

How to get there: Take bus 3M, 11, 11A from MTR Tung Chung Station to Pak Kung Au.

Lion Rock

Best for: Dizzying views and Instagram bragging rights.

Distance: 2.5km

Hong Kongers will tell you this urban hike is a walker's right of passage. Rise early to beat the heat and the crowds, and set off in search of views that stretch from Victoria Harbour to Sai Kung (on a clear day). Named after its resemblance to a resting lion, Lion Rock is the most distinctive of the mountains around Kowloon. Watch out for the monkeys skipping in and out of the path, and continue on until you reach the so-called spine of Lion Rock. You'll know you're there when you can see the whole of the city humming in front of you.

Found conquering Lion Rock's Peak a breeze? Follow the Fei Ngo Shan Road until you reach the mountain ridge, where the craggy peak of Tate's Cairn has equally spectacular views, sans the crowds.

How to get there: Take the MTR to Wong Tai Sin MTR Station.

Ping Shan Heritage Trail

Best for: Culture vultures stretching their legs.

Distance: 1.6km

Less of a hike and more of a stroll, Hong Kong's first-ever heritage trail sweeps through a cluster of historic buildings built by the Tangs, who settled in the New Territories in the 12th century, the first of the Five Great Clans. Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda is first up, an elegant, three-tiered structure not too dissimilar to a western wedding cake. Next, dip in and out of the grey-brick and sweeping tiled-roof buildings that make up the 200-year-old Sheung Cheung Wai village. Keep going until you reach Ping Shan, where the humdrum of city life rubs shoulders with the ancient monuments. Swoon over the fresh produce at Tung Yick Market before meandering to the Old Fung Tea House. Refuel on dim sum and pour-as-you-please pu'erh tea, a type of fermented brew.

How to get there: We suggest starting at the Tsui Shing Lau Pagoda. Take the MTR to Tin Shui Wai Station.

Violet Hill and The Twins

Best for: Serious walkers. We're not quite talking cramp-ons and clips, but this steep climb will certainly set pulses racing.

Distance: 4.8km

Clambered up Nevis and Snowdonia? Read on.

Be warned: the succession of two neck-titlingly steep peaks are not for the faint-hearted. Begin by firing up your quads on the ascent up Violet Hill. Covered with blooms in January and February, it makes for a scenic stop-off point should you need to catch your breath. On the descent, spot Repulse Bay Beach, cross the Tze Kong Bridge and follow signs to Stanley Gap Road. You'll know you're on the right track when, gulp, you spy the 1,200 steps leading up to the Twins. Glug some water, crank up your playlist and get climbing. Dip in and out of flower-filled fields before the pathway opens out to glorious views of Hong Kong's most pristine shores: St Stephen's Beach, Stanley Peninsula and Murray House.

How to get there: Take Bus 6 from Exchange Square Bus Terminus to Wong Nai Chung Reservoir.

Wan Chai Gap Road

Best for: Killer calves and views of Hong Kong's signature skyline.

Distance: 3km

Short but steep, this trail takes you from the metropolis' soaring skyscrapers to foliage-filled corridors and rock formations shrouded in folklore. Start at Hong Kong's oldest surviving post office, step inside to gaze at the retro post boxes and pick up a walking map. Continue on the trail uphill as it traces a steep stream until you reach a water fountain on the junction with Bowen Road. You have two options here: turn left to reach Lovers' Rock, a phallic stone which women visit to increase fertility or in hope of finding a husband, or carry on uphill to complete the trail. Get snap happy here; the city skyline views are impressive.

How to get there: Jump on board buses 6, 10 or 15 from Central and alight at Wan Chai Market.

Lamma Island Family Trail

Best for: Laid-back fishing villages, superb seafood and coastal scenery.

Distance: 5km

Less of a hike and more of an "easy like Sunday morning" meander through the lo-fi, car-free island of Lamma. Dotted with artisan workshops, independent bookstores and laid-back cafés along the way, the Lamma Island Family Trail links the pier and Hung Shing Yeh beach. After a quick soak, continue on up the hill until you can see the pinpoints of the surrounding islands. After tackling some of Hong Kong's sweat-inducing climbs, this ascent is a doddle. Trickling through Sok Kwu Wan, nip in and out of the rustic, fisherman-owned restaurants to sample juicy just-caught prawns and chow down on plates piled high with fresh squid and clams.

If you've got time, take a slight detour to the Tin Hau temple at Yung Shue Wan that's famed for its Western-style lions guarding the entrance.

How to get there: Hop on the ferry from Central Pier 4 to Yung Shue Wan.

The Lowdown

Find out more about Hong Kong's hikes and trails by visiting discoverhongkong.com

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