Header image courtesy of @rosflautist (via Instagram)
Tung Lung Chau (or Tung Lung Island) is the ideal destination for those who enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you are just visiting to go hiking, rock climbing, swimming, or even camping, this remote island is the perfect getaway from hectic Hong Kong living.
Tung Lung Chau offers a rich and varied history, starting with its very name. Formerly penned Nam Tong Island, Tung Lung Chau is located off of the Clear Water Bay Peninsula and is a beautiful spot for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. It is also home to a seventeenth-century fort, called the Tung Lung Fort, and ancient rock carvings.
Both Tung Lung Fort and the ancient rock carvings are declared monuments of Hong Kong. In fact, the rock carvings are one of the largest prehistoric carvings in all of Hong Kong! Not to be outdone, the equally impressive Tung Lung Fort was built 300 years ago, around 1719 to 1724, and is believed to be part of a maritime defence system to ward off pirates. Its strategic location on the northeastern part of the island overlooks Joss House Bay, making it impossible for vessels to come or go without being seen.
It is also home to Hung Shing Temple, which was built more recently in 1931, as well as two small restaurants, South Garden Store and Tung Lung Chau Holiday Store, where visitors may make a pit stop for some light refreshments, such as noodles and drinks.
Spanning 242 square kilometres, Tung Lung Chau offers a wide range of terrains and stunning views, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to camp or climb the crags, such as the Technical Wall and the Sea Gully Wall. Near the campsite, there are barbecue pits, tables, and benches, as well as some dry pit toilets.
Distance: 8.5 kilometres
Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced
Total ascent: 232 metres
Total time: 4 hours approx.
There are two different ferries that will take you to Tung Lung Island. From Sai Wan Ho, it is a 40-minute journey to Tung Lung Chau Public Pier (the first stop) but you could also alight at Tung Lung Chau North Pier (the second stop) if you wish to do the hike in reverse. It costs $55 per round-trip for adults ($40 for seniors or children aged five to 12 years old. Animals can come along, too, at $10 per head). Check the timetable here.
Alternatively, you could make the trip from Lei Yue Mun. A round-trip for adults costs $45, whilst animals are charged at $20 per head. Check the timetable here.
While there are many different ways to hike Tung Lung Chau, we have mapped out this particular route so you can end up at South Garden Store for well-earned refreshments and a convenient way to catch the ferry home at Tung Lung Chau North Pier.
To start the hike, hop off the ferry at the Tung Lung Chau Public Pier and do the route counter-clockwise, turning right at the cabin. Gradually, the path will open up and bring you to a junction, to which you will want to take the right path, which leads you to a lookout spot, overlooking Lei Yuen Mun in the distance.
Beyond this point, follow the stairs down about 200 metres to see the ancient rock carving (and retrace your steps to rejoin the junctions) or continue on to the left path and begin your gradual ascent to Luk Keng Wan.
Just before you reach the peninsula of Tathong Point, the path will begin to descend and you have the option to take a little detour to visit the remnants of the coastal defence in Tathong Point. However, we advise heading down to the cove—with Luk Keng Wan overlooking Shek O on one side and Kai Yue Tam on the other—which offers stunning views over the Pacific Ocean (pictured above). After this, retrace your steps to join back up with the path and begin your ascent up to Tung Lung Chau’s heliport.
En route to Tung Lung Chau’s only heliport, the path is well-paved as you climb the steepest part of the route along the hillside to the centre of the island. Although this climb can seem daunting, the scenery of the craggy cliffside overlooking the ocean behind you is truly breath-taking. Stopping once in a while to look back and take in the views makes for a good excuse to pause, catch your breath, and rehydrate.
Once near the top of the hill, the path towards the heliport will appear immediately to your right—simply carry on a little further towards the navaid station. Once at this station, it will appear as if the path ends here, but you will want to skirt along to the left of the navaid station and follow the fencing until this joins with a rugged dirt path. (This can be seen as points C and D on the map.) Follow this dirt path until it takes you out to a downhill path. At this point, you will have a clear view overlooking the Tung Lung Chau Reservoir and Clear Water Bay Golf & Country Club on the neighbouring island.
Clamber down the hillside and the path will lead you through some woods before descending into the valley and eventually taking you to the Tung Lung Chau Campsite. As you make your way down, from the Tung Lung Chau Reservoir, you can see the Tung Lung Fort to your right on the headland, with the Technical Wall below it.
The cove, immediately before this, is often a popular spot for adrenaline enthusiasts to go abseiling and zip-lining. If you take the path to the right, this will lead you out to the cape, where you can get a better look at the rock climbers scaling the cliffside.
You will need to cut through the open grassland, which serves as the official campsite, to get to Tung Lung Fort. Here, you will be able to access the fort via a special pathway made to preserve this terrain, created during its refurbishment between 1979 and 1982. Although now heavily protected, this fort once stood at three metres high, with 15 guardhouses and eight cannons to cope with the increase in piracy.
Just beyond Tung Lung Fort lies another stunning vantage point of the cliffside and oceans surrounding Tung Lung Chau—it is enough to make you forget you are in Hong Kong altogether! Retrace your steps back to the main path, through the campsite, and to the Tung Lung Chau Holiday Store, where you may may stock up on refreshments, and even relax on the beach besides the Tung Lung Chau North Pier.
If you are catching the ferry back to Sai Wan Ho, you will want to catch it from the Tung Lung Chau North Pier. However, if you are heading back to Lei Yue Mun, you will need to head back towards the Tung Lung Chau Holiday Store and follow the concrete path to the Tung Lung Chau Pier (where you came from) to catch your ferry back.
If you are planning a day trip to hike, you will need the following items:
Plenty of water: Depending on the season and the time of day that you attempt this hike, two litres per person should be an adequate amount.
Sunscreen & hat: This hike offers absolutely no shade at all. You have been warned!
Wind-cheater: Depending on the season, this hike is rather exposed to the winds.
A good pair of walking shoes: Do not wear your old gym shoes from high school with little to no tread. The path from point C to D on the map follows a rugged dirt path, and may require some clambering at parts. Wear decent hiking or climbing shoes!