Five Hong Kong hikes to walk off some of the Christmas excess
- Feeling a bit heavy? Forget the gym and head for the hills
- From the New Territories to Po Toi Island, these hikes offer a good day out with great views
The presents are unwrapped, the extended family has gone home and it’s time to get moving again to work off that post-Christmas bulge. Instead of slogging away at the gym, make the most of Hong Kong’s glorious winter and hit some of the city’s hiking trails.
Here are some suggestions for places to go this weekend, or any day.
1. Tiger’s Head (Lo Fu Tau), Lantau
This is a solid half-day hike for those who want to head for the hills and aren’t afraid of a climb. Starting in Mui Wo, the hike offers stunning views and ends in Discovery Bay.
Once you get off the ferry follow signs to the Olympic Trail. After climbing up above Mui Wo past a waterfall and the entrance to the old mine from which Silvermine Bay gets its name, you can enjoy lunch atop of one of the many big boulders that dot the landscape.
With Hong Kong Airport clearly in view, continue heading uphill for stunning views of Lantau – and, on a clear day, the skyscrapers of Central. The shape of a tiger’s head can be seen in a rock formation from the summit of the path. From there descend to Discovery Bay.
Getting there: Take a ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Mo.
2. Ng Tung Chai waterfalls, New Territories
The waterfalls are sometimes called one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets, but the secret is out these days. Still, this is a great hike for those who like to get away from the crowds.
The hike to Ng Tung Chai falls will take you up the north slope of Tai Mo Shan in the New Territories. The bellowing waterfall at the top is 30 metres high and is the tallest in Hong Kong. In summer, this is the perfect place to take a dip. Before heading up to the main fall (yes, there are many steps), stop for a drink and to take in the serenity of your wooded surroundings.
In winter, bring along a picnic and dip your toes in the cool stream that cuts its way down the mountain (be sure to take all your rubbish with you).
Getting there: From Tai Wo MTR station take the 64K double decker bus or the 25K minibus to the Chai Kek stop. A taxi is easier, though.
3. Dragon’s Back, Hong Kong Island
This is one of Hong Kong’s best short hikes. After a short climb up to the ridge of Dragon’s Back to enjoy spectacular views of land and sea. This is the perfect hike for children and visitors to Hong Kong. Go early, because the walk is popular and the trail can get busy.
After first heading north, the trail curves around to the south and ends in Big Wave Bay, a favourite spot for surfers. There’s food to be had there, or at Shek O, a short walk along the road.
Getting there: Exit A at Shau Kei Wan MTR station. Walk to the Shau Kei Wan bus terminus and take bus 9 or the red minibus with the sign Shek O to the To Tei Wan stop on Shek O Road.
4. Po Toi Island
To visit Po Toi is to leave the city and arrive in a small world with villages, hills, rocky headlands, and some of Hong Kong’s best coastal scenery. From Tai Wan, where the ferry from Aberdeen docks, head uphill past a long disused school, take a side trail to a ruined pirate’s house, retrace your steps and continue up the hillside.
You then have a choice: follow the Rugged Trail back to Tai Wan, scrambling up and down granite outcrops until you reach rolling hills with views of Beaufort Island, or stay on the easier main trail. Choose the latter and you soon reach the highest point on the island, and a pavilion, then continue south past Monk Rock and Turtle Rock to a lighthouse, from where you can scramble to the island’s southernmost point, a truly wild place.
A path back to Tai Wan with its restaurants, and to the ferry pier, mostly hugs the coastline, passing some rock carvings on the way.
Getting there: take a ferry from Aberdeen ferry pier. On Sundays and public holidays, ferries operate from Stanley pier.
5. Lamma Island
Sok Kwu Wan is a good starting place for an easy hike to explore the relatively little visited, wild south of Lamma – which resembles a corner of the far-flung New Territories.
From the Sok Kwu Wan ferry pier, turn right along the narrow street lined with restaurants. A signpost indicates a concrete path uphill, along the Lamma Island Family Walk towards Tung O. In less than half an hour you will emerge to hillsides with grass, scrub and boulders.
You can visit Sham Wan, a bay whose beach is the only regular nesting site for green turtles in Hong Kong, continue to Tung O and the beach at Shek Pai Wan, then past a row of ruined houses to Mo Tat. From Mo Tat Wan you can catch a ferry to Aberdeen, or follow the Lamma Island Family Walk back to Sok Kwu Wan.
Getting there: Take a ferry from Central Pier 4. The journey takes around half an hour