Header image courtesy of @chiurics (via Instagram)
Looking for an ultra-easy hike that involves virtually no climbing and is great for the entire family? The Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path will be the perfect trail for you to tackle. Running from Wong Nai Chung Reservoir to Tai Tam Reservoir, the Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path takes hikers along some of Hong Kong’s diverse sceneries, from sea views and beaches to elaborate private residences and reservoirs with masonry bridges, all without you even breaking a sweat!
Suitable for even the most junior of hikers, Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path winds along the western side of Violet Hill, passing above Repulse Bay before turning inland and ending at the Tai Tam Reservoirs. This hill is named after the Hong Kong iris (Iris speculatrix), a violet-coloured blossom that is rare and protected, but can be found growing on its slopes.
If you’re intimidated by the famously arduous hike along the Wilson Trail into Stanley via Violet Hill and The Twins, then the Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path provides a lesser-known and much easier hiking alternative in the area. This trail is shaded about two-thirds of the way, and is either flat or gradually downward sloping pretty much the whole way, with only two small flights of stairs. It may not be a particularly short hike but because of how easy-going it is, it doesn’t feel like a long trek that leaves you weak-kneed at all. Grab your family and your pets, and head out to this scenic hike along Hong Kong Island’s southside!
Distance: 6.7 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: None to speak of
Total time: 3 hours approx.
From Central, catch the buses 6, 41A, 76, 63, or 66—really, any service going towards Stanley—to Wong Nai Chung Reservoir Park bus stop. This is a good chance to stock up on water and snacks at the petrol station kiosk before continuing on your way. Take the stairs next to the petrol station to get up to Tai Tam Reservoir Road, and follow it uphill past the sign for Celestial Garden. This initial climb is the only part in the entire hike where you will have to go uphill, and even then it’s not long at all. After you pass the turning into 5 Repulse Bay Road, you’ll reach a small path beside Wong Nai Chung Reservoir. Look out for a signpost marked Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path—this is the start of the trail.
Make your way down the path that goes right around the edge of the Wong Nai Chung Reservoir, following it around the corner and down the short flight of stairs on the right, which leads you down to a concrete path. This initial section of the hike is both paved and shaded, mostly running under a canopy of trees. Occasionally, you’ll come across vantage points that look out over Mount Nicholson, Wong Chuk Hang, and Deep Water Bay. The large houses and villas that are dotted around the landscape are interesting, offering an often-unseen view into the abodes of Hong Kong’s 0.1 percent.
Around two kilometres into the hike, the paved concrete gives way to a dirt trail. The path is just wide enough for two people to pass each other, and the rocks can sometimes make for perilous footing, but this is also the section of the hike that is the most scenic. You will make your way past two viewpoints lined with metal railings that overlook Repulse Bay and the sea further out. The mountain slopes, interestingly-shaped residential buildings, and the view of Hong Kong’s most famous beach make for a very compelling sight and some interesting photographs, but do be aware that it may be difficult for other hikers to get past if you’re taking too much time striking poses on the path!
The trail after the first viewpoint over the northern end of Repulse Bay bends back into the woody hill. This curved portion of the trail is narrow and rocky, so watch your footing! You will soon emerge back into the open, this time looking over the middle section of Repulse Bay Beach, almost directly behind the iconic The Repulse Bay building. This structure was interestingly designed with its eye-catching hole in the middle for feng shui purposes, to allow the dragon on the mountain to pass through to the sea unhindered. In the far distance, you should also be able to see the spires and metal framework of the roller coaster rides in Ocean Park.
Following this second viewpoint on the mountain ledge, Tsz Lo Lan Shan Path will turn inland, bringing you deeper into the Tai Tam Country Park. At some point, your path will intersect with stone steps leading down from Violet Hill—follow the signpost for Tze Kong Bridge and go right down the steps. Tze Kong Bridge sits in the middle of Repulse Bay Gap, and also roughly marks the mid-point of this hike. There are three possible routes to take at this point: turn right to end your hike down at Repulse Bay; go straight to head towards Stanley via The Twins (one of the most challenging hikes on the island!); or turn left towards Tai Tam Reservoir.
After crossing the bridge, signs pointing left for Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir will eventually lead you to the Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir. For about two kilometres the trail runs alongside the peaceful waters, a far cry from the city or even the touristy bustle of the popular beach that you left behind. Make your way onto the dam itself for more views over the still waters framed by the hills. Towards sunset, everything is tinted a warm shade of orange gold, which makes for a most fetching sight.
The final section of the Tsz Lo Lan Shan hike following the Tai Tam Intermediate Reservoir Dam is again completely flat and paved. This will bring you past the two well-known masonry bridges, one directly behind the dam, and the second a little further down the water. Both the views of the bridges and from on top of them are great, so take the time to soak in the gorgeous sights. After the second masonry bridge, simply continue right along Tai Tam Reservoir Road as it winds next to Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir.
Eventually, the trail will lead you out to the Tai Tam Country Park South Entrance, where you will find a public toilet, a vending machine, as well as a taxi stand. A range of buses running this route will take you back to town, but we recommend going into Stanley to end your day of hiking with a nice meal!