Header image courtesy of @ccelialee (via Instagram)
Hong Kong’s hilly relief offers a unique and dynamic mix of hiking trails, making it possible for anyone to take advantage of the city’s stunning natural wonders. If you are looking for a short and sweet trail to get your foot in the door of Hong Kong’s hiking scene, or simply crave a relaxing jaunt to take pictures and enjoy nature, Kai Shan is a superb option.
Sandwiched right between Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai, this small hill is one of the best places to admire the marshy wetlands of Tsim Bei Tsui and Nam Sang Wai, as well as the Shenzhen skyline across the bay. If this sounds like your kind of fun, then lace up your trainers and off you go with our guide to hiking Kai Shan.
The higher you go, the more you see? Not necessarily. At a height of just 121 metres, Kai Shan might not have much to boast when it comes to physical stature, but thanks to the flat wetlands and low-lying villages forming much of its surrounding landscape, it has cemented itself as a prime location for taking in Hong Kong’s awe-inspiring ecological riches and slow-paced countryside life in one single, sweeping glance.
With numerous trails weaving up and down the knoll, there are various ways to start and end your trek—all of which are beginner-friendly and will take less than an hour to complete. However, tackling the hill from south to north is your best bet for front-facing views of the wetlands and Shenzhen skyline.
Offering wide, uninterrupted views throughout much of the trail, Kai Shan is rather patchy on the vegetation front, and much of the path is rather exposed. You can expect some rocky, rugged sections to be dealt with, though nothing that would require technical skills or Herculean efforts.
Despite the ease and short distance of the trail, for the sake of precaution, we recommend that hikers lather up on sunscreen, bring a hat, and wear a pair of shoes with good traction.
Distance: Two kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 110 metres approx.
Total time: 45 minutes to 1 hour approx.
The trailhead of the point-to-point route from Ha Mei San Tsuen to Shing Uk Village can be conveniently reached by a 10-minute walk from Tin Shui Wai Station. After exiting the station, simply walk along Tin Fuk Road following the signs for Ha Mei San Tsuen Road. Shortly after the flyover junction, make a left turn into the village and continue down the road until you see the Ha Mei San Tsuen public toilet and car park. Just opposite is a narrow and inconspicuous dirt path that will take you to the start of the hike.
Despite the scraggly and unmarked trail opening, the path starts off as an easy, pleasant ramble, consisting of even terrain and gentle ascents. After going through the short tree tunnel, the trail gives way to a large, concrete clearing, where a set of stairs will bring you uphill to Kai Shan.
Moving forward, the trail winds briefly through a cemetery before opening up to reveal a stunning landscape of rolling hillocks that make up the Wang Chau area, as well as the suburban town of Tin Shui Wai to your left. As you work your way over the undulating ridges, you’ll be on narrow, dirt terrain with a couple of rocky spots along the way, adding to the sense of adventure and countryside ruggedness. That being said, the inclines are mild and the path easy to navigate, especially with the help of the panoramic and unobstructed surroundings serving as your guiding compass.
The summit of Kai Shan will soon enter your field of vision, a grassy knoll that juts out from the expanse of verdant green swells. Whether set against the azure skies of broad daylight or the magical warm hues of golden hour, the bucolic scene that unfolds is breathtaking no matter the time of day. During the autumn and winter seasons, parts of the grassland are transformed into feathery silvergrass fields that dance at the cue of the slightest breeze.
At around the halfway point, you’ll hit a forked path. Keep to the left and take the steps to continue uphill. If you need a break, there’s a shaded bench for you to pause and enjoy the views right before the final stretch to the top. Just a little further, you’ll notice that the trail splits into three paths, which all lead to the top of Kai Shan, allowing hikers to choose their own way of exploring.
While the middle trail is the most direct, it is also the steepest, whereas the trail on the left is slightly longer but easier to scale. The trail on the right is not recommended. This final ascent is the most difficult part of the hike, as the path gets quite rocky and steep, so watch your step and be mindful of loose gravel.
Once you’ve conquered this final ascent, you’ll have reached the summit, where stellar views await. You’ll find yourself overlooking the vast grid-like pattern of the fishponds across the northeastern New Territories, as well as the squat villages of Yuen Long. Cast your gaze a little further ahead and you’ll see the Shenzhen skyline, or look back and feast your eyes on the whole of Nam Sang Wai against the backdrop of the imposing Kai Kung Leng. Spend some time taking in the unmatched rugged beauty of the area before making your descent.
Continue on the path to the right of the triangulation station to head downhill. As you saunter along, the nearby villages will come closer into view, offering a different yet equally captivating vantage point of the Yuen Long countryside. Other major highlights to look out for are the striking rock paintings found along this section of the trail. Hand-painted by locals, these outdoor art pieces depict scenes of pastoral life, making full use of the textured surface of the boulders to create a three-dimensional effect.
With no side trails or intersections, the way back down is pretty straightforward. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself emerging from the rugged mountainside and greeted by a cluster of village houses at Shing Uk Tsuen.
To leave, simply follow the paved driveway to Fuk Shun Street. Once you’re on the main road, make a right turn and continue walking down the road to locate the minibus stop. Green minibus 74 will bring you to Long Ping Station, the nearest MTR station in the area.