Header image courtesy of Chris Chan
Drones have recently become increasingly popular among hobbyists, photographers, videographers. With the ever-expanding range of options existing within a multitude of price ranges, professionals, as well as laypeople all over Hong Kong, are joining in the hype—and for good reason. As locals will know, Hong Kong is home to a plethora of breathtaking landscapes, both natural and urban. Most of us have been out on a fair few hikes, affording us elevated views of the concrete jungle, lush vegetation, intricate rock formations, and pristine beaches scattered throughout our beloved home. Mountain summits offer great opportunities for photo- and video-taking.
However, understandably, not all of us can muster up the strength to tackle some of these most difficult but ultimately rewarding excursions. Luckily, the advent of drones allows you to truly take in the breadth and width of these natural wonders, regardless of your tendency towards strenuous outdoor activities. Hong Kong’s “stand back” approach to drone regulations makes it legal and acceptable for hobbyists to fly their quadcopters on essentially any and all public land. So, if you or a friend own a drone and are looking to capture a side of your home rarely seen by your relatives abroad, check out our top picks for the best places to fly drones in Hong Kong.
Sai Kung East Country Park is by far the best place to go if you are looking for a wide variety of subjects to scope out with your drone. Whether you are on the hunt for sandy beaches and clear blue waters, high mountain peaks packed with beautifully dense vegetation, or spectacular geological formations, you are going to find more than enough to keep you happy out in Sai Kung. Given the size of the Sai Kung East Country Park, we have distilled it down to a few main attractions to help you on your way.
Firstly, for serene beach views, we recommend heading out to Sai Wan, Tai Long Wan, or Ham Tin Wan. Just a short hike from the Sai Kung Pavilion (or an exciting speedboat ride from Sai Kung Town), this unassuming trio of beaches constitute some of Hong Kong’s most beloved hidden gems, stretching far and wide with panoramic ocean views. Within the same region, you can find the aptly named Sharp Peak, which lies in the foreground to a forested landscape that brings to mind the terrains of Jurassic Park. For those of you brave enough to tackle the steep hike up to the summit, you will be rewarded with sweeping views to capture with your drone. Finally, the Country Park also features a set of rock pools, just a short 20-minute walk from Sai Wan. You can use your drone to film yourselves jumping into the water from the high platform or just lounging in the serenity of the pools.
If you are looking for somewhere a little closer to Hong Kong’s urban centre—but still packed with views to impress—make your way up to Mount High West. On a good day, your drone will be able to pick up the unique dichotomy of Hong Kong’s nature-city hybridity. Facing north will yield spectacular views of the Central and Tsim Sha Tsui districts, densely packed with skyscrapers. Rotating your drone by a mere 90 degrees westward will open up an expansive view of Lantau, dotted with many other outer islands. Turn around to the remaining 180 degrees and you will be met with the sights of Cyberport, the Aberdeen Reservoir, and Lamma Island. Bonus points go to those who time their excursion right and make it up there for sunset!
Famous among locals and tourists alike, Lion Rock is unrivalled in its position as a unique vantage point over both the Kowloon and Hong Kong Island skylines. Though you can fly your drone from anywhere along the hike and still get great footage, we would highly recommend making your way all the way up (it’s a walk of only about 30 to 45 minutes), so that you can revel in all of the city’s glory. You can also fly your drone behind Lion Rock, away from the city, and get equally spectacular views of the Clear Water Bay area and all of its natural beauty. This dichotomy is what makes Lion Rock such a treasure for us! If you can make it up there for sunset, you will be rewarded with a background of a beautiful red sky and the opportunity to get shots of the city coming alive as the skyscrapers turn on their luminous lights.
Scattered all along the shorelines of the many islands that populate the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark in Sai Kung are spectacularly unique rock formations. The strange shapes are by-products of ancient volcanic activity in the region. Millions of years of eruptions, lava flow, cooling, and water erosion gave birth to a wonderfully diverse shoreline. From towering hexagonal pillars to high reaches arches, and caves galore, the UNESCO Global Geopark is littered with photogenic subjects that can only be appreciated to their fullest from the bird’s-eye view of a drone.
Situated within the Tai Lam Country Park in Tuen Mun lies the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir. Aptly nicknamed “Thousand Island Lake,” this reservoir is populated with dozens of mini-islands, surrounded by an expanse of untouched greenery. These so-called “islands” actually used to be hills before the area was flooded by the reservoir’s catchwater. While simply walking around the area can yield great views, bringing your drone along opens up the opportunity to get shots of the entire archipelago.
For a truly unique aerial shot, take your drone out to Ngong Ping village on Lantau Island. After a scenic journey aboard the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, you will find yourself at the footsteps of one of Hong Kong’s most recognisable landmarks, the Tian Tan Buddha. Standing at a whopping 112 feet tall, the Big Buddha is a sight to behold, especially when viewed from the air. With a drone, you will be able to get otherwise unattainable 360-degree views of this magnificent feat of human creativity. The Big Buddha sits on top of the mountain surrounded by dense forest on all sides, symbolising the harmonious relationship between man and nature.