10 Hong Kong microadventures to help you make the most of the city
You don’t need lots of time, money or gear to go on an adventure – there are plenty of options for cheap, accessible fun in Hong Kong, so grab a friend, find a map and start planning
Many of us yearn for adventure, but feel we don’t have the time, the money or the gear. Fortunately there’s a solution to our quandary: “microadventures”.
It’s a term coined by National Geographic adventurer Alastair Humphreys (alastairhumphreys.com), who defines them as “simple expeditions and challenges which are close to home, affordable and easy to organise”. They use the time you already have – the 5-to-9 in between your 9-to-5 or the three full nights you can squeeze into a normal weekend – to get out and explore, and enjoy all of the rewards an adventure brings.
And when it comes to having a microadventure, there’s no better place than Hong Kong says Rob Lilwall, an adventurer, travel writer and popular corporate motivational speaker based in the city.
“There are hundreds of miles of well-maintained hiking trails through the mountains and forest you can get to in less than an hour of brisk walking from the city,” says Lilwall, fresh from finishing a tandem bike-ride across America with his wife. “I don’t think there can be many big cities in the world with such cheap and easy access to safe, beautiful ‘microadventure’ opportunities.”
Lilwall’s pick for a midweek microadventure? “Camp on The Peak – a lot of fun and great views.” For more microadventure madness, read on.
1. Walk the MacLehose Trail
The Mac, as it’s affectionately known, stretches 100 kilometres from the east to the west of Hong Kong, snaking along picturesque beaches and up and over the hilly innards of the city, providing remarkable cityscapes from lofty heights. Last year 4,404 brave souls did the whole route in less than 48 hours for the Oxfam Trailwalker, but why not create your own Mac microadventure? One hundred kilometres in a day is a bit of a stretch, but imagine the fun you could have over three days – or even five? There are nine long weekends over the next year, including five days at Lunar New Year, so why not put that time to good use? Camp under the stars, or rent camping gear along the way.
2. Hire a stand-up paddle board from Stanley Beach and paddle as far as the eye can see
Stand-up paddling, where you stand up on a large surfboard and “paddle”, is a cinch to learn, and thankfully it’s even easier to hire a SUP board at Stanley back beach. Most dabble in the waters beyond the beach break, but why not cast your eye farther afield to To Tei Wan across the bay, where Hong Kong Trail section 7 ends? For all the hallmarks of a microadventure, pack running shoes and hit the trails up towards Dragon’s Back. You’ll likely be too exhausted for the return SUP journey, and spend the night sleeping on your boards on a beach.
3. Catch a sampan from Sai Kung town ferry pier and camp on a beach
Arrive at Sai Kung town ferry pier and hustle for a sampan to take you to Ham Tin beach, around 40 minutes away. Both restaurants in the northern corner rent all the supplies you need for the weekend, from a tent to sleeping bags, and food can be purchased for every meal. Wake up and enjoy the beach before hiking through Sai Kung Country Park.
4. Check out the bones of Miss Willy
This impressive whale skeleton lies next to the Swire Institute of Marine Science, standing guard over Hong Kong’s first marine park at Cape D’Aguilar. From Shek O beach you can hike straight up and over D’Aguilar Peak (there is an unofficial trail marked by ribbon and chalk) or walk in via Cape D’Aguilar Road. Discover the incredible rock formations, watch waves crash over Kau Pei Chau and check out the Cape D’Aguilar Lighthouse (or the Hok Tsui Beacon). From old Miss Willy, walk back up Cape D’Aguilar Road to discover a hidden sea cave.
5. Pack a dinner box and watch the sunset from the top of High West
Hong Kong Island’s “other Peak”, High West stands to the southwest of Victoria Peak, the path to the entrance modestly tucked away at the edge of the park where Hatton and Lugard roads meet along the Morning Trail. At 494 metres, it may be 60 metres shorter than The Peak but it offers 360 degree views of the city; the views at night are especially glorious. Leave two hours for the hike up, watch the sunset and return by head torch.
7. Explore the uninhabited Soko Islands
Four and a half kilometres off the south coast of Lantau Island are a cluster of small uninhabited islands known as the Soko Islands. Tai A Chau, the largest of the collection at 1.2 sq km, was a small fishing island until a detention camp for Vietnamese refugees was set up in the 1980s. All that remains today is a small temple, two helipads and a jetty. With no public transport to the island, you either need to convince a sampan captain to take you from Cheung Chau or charter your own boat. There’s no running water, no food and no facilities – just you and a couple of mini islands to explore.
8. Hire a bike in Mui Wo and cycle to Silvermine waterfall
Get yourself a bicycle from the Friendly Bicycle Shop in Mui Wo to explore this unique enclave on Lantau Island. It’s about 3km from Silvermine Beach to the waterfall. Make time to explore cute little Pui O beach before making your way to the beachfront restaurants at Cheung Sha for an afternoon sunset cocktail. Perhaps wiser to taxi home
9. Embark on an urban adventure
While the city’s outdoors are captivating, its urban innards hold as many promises. Did you know Hong Kong is home to a brick tomb dating back to some time between AD25 and 220? How about a fort dating back to the 12th century, or a pagoda from the 15th century? Spend a weekend ticking off Hong Kong’s top 10 historical sites.
10. Catch the sunrise from the top of Tai Mo Shan.
Is there a better way to start the day than by watching a sunrise? Wake up early, hail a cab from Tsuen Wan to Tai Mo Shan’s barrier and watch the city wake up from Hong Kong’s highest peak.
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