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Hong Kong’s best country parks

By Tara Prakash 17 April 2021

Header images courtesy of @cozyta (via Shutterstock) and @kruger.corrie (via Instagram)

At long last, the sun has set on sweaty days, the guzzling appetite of Hong Kong’s many mosquitoes has subsided, and that means one thing—it’s finally time to put on your Dora hat and head to the many country parks we are lucky to have in our backyard. Whether you’re in the mood for a hike or a chance to revel in Hong Kong’s scenic pleasures, we have put together a comprehensive guide to some of Hong Kong’s best country parks.

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Shek O Country Park

In the southeast corner of Hong Kong Island lies one of Hong Kong’s most visited country parks. Shek O is known for its rural “beach town” vibes and the famously stunning Dragon’s Back hike, which wends through the rocky concaves of the D’Aguilar Peninsula, making it a rigorous yet rewarding trek. But that’s not all—you can also get your toes wet at Shek O Beach, or take a leisurely walk to Cape D’Aguilar, where you can explore some of Hong Kong’s most striking geological marvels and take in the sea breeze as waves crash ashore.

The accessibility of the Shek O Country Park has also made it a hotspot for rock climbers. Across Cape Collinson, there are three distinct crags that offer a range of ascents, suitable for beginners and seasoned climbers alike. If you’re more of a history buff, you can hike to Cape Collinson Battery, a notable relic of the Second World War, and feast your eyes on the stunning ocean vistas. Head to Big Wave Bay to cool off in the water or at the beachside restaurants with a beer—or both!

Sai Kung East Country Park

Home to yet another Hong Kong hotspot—the clear jade waters of Tai Long Wan—Sai Kung East is packed with spectacular trails, white sand beaches, and eerie rock formations.

For panoramic views, calm ocean waves, and a lack of crowds, we recommend you start at Pak Tam Au and head over to the tucked-away treasures in Long Ke Wan. The hidden nature of this beach also makes it a quaint spot for camping or picnicking. Just a short walk from Long Ke Wan is the East Dam of High Island Reservoir, where you can get up close and personal with some pretty impressive hexagonal rock columns.

With a range of hilly terrain, Sai Kung East Country Park is suitable for hikers of all levels. If undulating ridges don’t phase you, the hike to Sharp Peak will reveal a breath-taking view of the peninsula’s many turquoise beaches. For gentler inclines, endless sea views, and a friendly cow or two, we recommend you traverse the rolling hills of Grass Island. As if that’s not reason enough to visit, don’t forget the gorgeous rock pools at Sheung Luk Stream, where you can awe at one of the tallest waterfalls in Hong Kong!

Shing Mun Country Park

Nestled in the New Territories and one of the oldest designated country parks in the city, Shing Mun Country Park boasts a diverse range of flora and fauna, and holds war-time significance for Hong Kong as well. Experience a sense of history at Shing Mun Redoubt, the remains of an extensive tunnel and defence line, and take an immersive nature walk around Shing Mun Reservoir to discover an array of butterflies, monkeys, and groves.

A flat trail loops around the watershed, home to Pineapple Dam and a paperbark forest. Here, you can watch as the surrounding peaks reflect almost perfectly across the emerald waters of the reservoir and marvel at mighty tall treetops—a rare sight in Hong Kong! Past this, if you’re an avid hiker and own a pair of water shoes, you can trek up Tai Shing Stream and swim in some of Hong Kong’s most pristine pools. Needle Hill is a great alternative to this if you’re looking for something physically demanding but don’t fancy getting your feet wet.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Lion Rock Country Park

A Hong Kong favourite, the ascent to Lion Rock awaits in this area of topographical wonder. Venture out to Sha Tin to start this notoriously steep hike or ease your way into it from the catchwater footpath at Kowloon Reservoir. Going through the latter will take you through Eagle’s Nest, a popular roosting lair for black kites, and views that unveil Kowloon’s swarming city life. At nearly 500 metres tall, the three peaks of Lion Rock are iconic rock climbing sites and they offer unparalleled scenes of the whole city, leaving you with a sweet taste of victory over the merciless hike up.

Another geological formation perched above some stunning cityscapes is Amah Rock. Shaped like a woman piggybacking her baby, legend has it that a late fisherman’s wife trudged up here daily, carrying her son, in hopes of her husband’s return. As a reward, the goddess of the sea petrified and re-united them both with the fisherman. Take a look at this less-crowded landmark to see the resemblance for yourself.

Kam Shan Country Park

Neighbouring Shing Mun Country Park is Kam Shan Country Park, also known for its thriving macaque population and, as a result, often called Monkey Hill. Although quite the sight as you wander through the relatively flat trails, keep an eye out for the monkeys, as they tend to bully park visitors into relinquishing their food. Remember not to feed them! Despite this, the area is perfect for a relaxing day out and offers a glimpse into historic military life.

Explore the two main trails available here, parts of which hug the edges of the four reservoirs in the park. Kam Shan Family Walk, a short but scenic route, is suitable for children and the elderly, while Section 6 of the MacLehose Trail is a tad more extensive. It meanders up the park and is treasured with trenches, tunnels, and pillboxes, which were used to defend Hong Kong from Japanese forces. Although partially reclaimed by nature, the stains of war can still be seen today, and it makes for a humbling taste of the city’s resilience.

Tai Mo Shan Country Park

Known to boast Hong Kong’s tallest peak, this scenic preserve has a plethora of trails and sweeping vistas. Its main attraction, Tai Mo Shan, is an inactive volcano that dates back to the Jurassic period and has reportedly seen slight snowfall in the 1970s! Hiking up the ridges of this gentle giant is not for the faint-hearted, but the picturesque views of nearly all pockets of Hong Kong are worthwhile, to say the least.

Tai Mo Shan Country Park is dotted with the glassy surface of Ho Pui Reservoir, the whiff of moist air along the area’s many waterfalls, several impressive vantage points, and dense vegetation. Along the bushwalk to the ancient Yin Ngam Village rests a tunnel-like bamboo forest, large rocks covered in moss, and a panoramic view of Tai Po. If that is not reason enough to put your adventure shoes on, to the east of the park lies Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, where the diverse forestry will knock your socks right off.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Kiu Tsui Country Park

Don’t let the small size of this island country park fool you. Kiu Tsui—which translates to Sharp Island—is a collection of eight outlying islets, where nature merges with artsy geological structures and silvery beaches.

Accessible by ferry from Sai Kung Public Pier, Hap Mun Bay is a crescent-shaped haven with crystalline water and a cosy beach, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Once you’re on Sharp Island, you can tread wooded slopes to Kiu Tau, an in-shore spectacle linked to the mainland by a tombolo. Visible at low tide, this isthmus has peculiar pineapple bun-shaped stones—one of the many visual pleasures this region has to offer.

If you want to delve into the surrounding marine life, Kiu Tsui Beach is an ideal site to scuba dive and see starfish, clownfish, and crabs. You can even rent a paddleboard or kayak and make an excursion to Pak Sha Chau, an uninhabited island across the channel with an immaculate sandbar, perfect for lounging about.

Ma On Shan Country Park

Ma On Shan Country Park neighbours Sai Kung West Country Park and Lion Rock Country Park, but what it lacks in vegetation, it more than makes up for in its extensive network of hiking trails. Truly, there are more options here than you can shake a trekking pole at, and almost all of them come with arresting views of the city and beyond.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find much to love, as the country park covers summits such as Ma On Shan, the Hunchbacks, Pyramid Hill, Tate’s Cairn, Buffalo Hill and West Buffalo Hill, and Kowloon Peak. Along the way, you’ll get to spot famous sights like the Gilwell Campsite and the grave of Dr Sun Yat-sen’s mother. Ma On Shan Country Park also boasts the Ma On Shan Country Trail, Kei Ling Ha Tree Walk, parts of the MacLehose Trail and the Wilson Trail.

Settle down at the end of your hike with a well-deserved barbecue at designated areas like Shui Long Wo, Kei Ling Ha, Ma On Shan Village, and Nai Chung. You can also set up camp in Ngong Ping and Shui Long Wo.

Pat Sin Leng Country Park

Pat Sin Leng Country Park is famously composed of eight commanding peaks, also known as the “Ridge of the Eight Immortals,” and you’ll need to come prepared if you want to conquer these frequent ascents and descents. Named after the Eight Fairies in Chinese mythology, the full length of the peaks spans across northeastern New Territories, and come together to offer exceptional views of landscape and seascape. Other challenging hikes in the area include sections of the Wilson Trail, and mountains like Ping Fung Shan, Cloudy Hill (Kau Lung Hang Shan), and Kwai Tau Leng.

However, it’s not all uphill (or downhill) from here; you can also visit the Hok Tau Reservoir and peaceful Lau Shui Heung Reservoir, known as the “sky mirror” of Hong Kong for its reflective waters and picturesque flora. Set up camp and explore the surrounding countryside, making use of the barbecue and picnic areas to enjoy your meals. For families, there are gentler country trails, such as the Chung Pui Tree Walk and Hok Tau Reservoir Family Walk, where you can come across wooded valleys, weeping willows, azaleas, and native birds.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

By Annette Chan 4 December 2020
By Jen Paolini 12 December 2020

Plover Cove Country Park

Clocking in at 4,594 hectares, Plover Cove Country Park is one of the larger country parks in Hong Kong and comprises landforms of all shapes and sizes. Hugging the sea, its undulating ridges make for wonderfully challenging hikes and nature walks, with Bride’s Pool Nature Trail, Tai Mei Tuk Family Walk and Ping Chau Country Trail being the most popular. Coastal village Tai Mei Tuk is also a worthy attraction for day-trippers. Plover Cove Reservoir also calls this area home, resplendent as the longest dam in the city, as well as the first “reservoir in the ocean” in the world.

Plover Cove Country Park boasts many claims to fame, but a few notable ones include Bride’s Pool, the waterfall deep in the woods that was named after a folk legend of a bride and her tragic demise; the Double Haven islets and Yan Chau Tong Marine Park; Tung Ping Chau with its arresting geological spectacles and stromatolite rocks; and a long list of uninhabited islands that are worth exploring, such as Crooked Island, Crescent Island, and Port Island.

Lam Tsuen Country Park

Lam Tsuen Country Park lies in the northern part of the New Territories and was designated in 1979. Spanning across the towns of Tai Po, Fanling, and Yuen Long, two recognisable mountain ranges—Razor’s Ridge (Tai To Yan) and Rooster Ridge (Kai Kung Leng)—cleave the sylvan landscape of the Lam Tsuen lowlands into two. Neither trail is for the faint-hearted, as they are as strenuous as hikes come in Hong Kong. You will, however, be bountifully rewarded for your efforts, as the summit will offer up broad views of the surrounding valleys.

For those seeking a less challenging excursion, the nearby Kadoodie Farm and Pak Ngau Shek provide plenty of rich flora and fauna to admire, including the Chinese porcupine, Chinese ferret badger, Chinese leopard cat, and Chinese pangolin—if you’re lucky. Venture into the forests beyond Pak Ngau Shek to encounter a row of acacias, making up an ecological firebreak that is effective in preventing the spread of wildfires.

Lantau South Country Park

As Hong Kong’s largest island, it should come as no surprise that Lantau has a few country parks to call its own. Over 40 settlements call Lantau home, including communities like Mui Wo, Discovery Bay, Tung Chung, and the historic fishing village of Tai O. Although there are several country parks on the island, we think Lantau South Country Park is the most interesting of them all. Within its boundaries, visitors can come across towering peaks, panoramic peninsulas, rock formations, mangrove forests, and even a rice farm!

Notable trails and mountains to conquer include the famous Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak, two behemoths in Hong Kong’s hiking world that offer sweeping views like no other. If you’re looking for an even more extensive challenge, there’s the Lantau Trail, a thru-hike of epic proportions. Other captivating attractions include Shek Pik Reservoir, the granite rock formations at Chi Ma Wan, and the infinity pools at Man Cheung Po. You can even witness the remains of important production facilities from when South Lantau was first inhabited back in the Neolithic Age, leaving behind relics such as ancient limekilns in Yi Long Wan.

Lantau South Country Park is also known for its ecological and botanical wonders, providing an ideal home for native flora like the Hong Kong magnolia, camphor tree, Chinese banyan, and tree ginseng. It also offers roosting and feeding opportunities for animals like the red muntjac and white-belled sea eagle.

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Tara Prakash

Contributor

A Hong Kong-bred globetrotter, Tara is in love with every corner of the city. She always finds herself gravitating back to Hong Kong’s sparkling energy and its endless supply of steamed shrimp dumplings. A music lover and sustainability enthusiast, she lives for the great deal of arts and adventure the city has to offer.

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