If you fancy veering off the beaten track and discovering the untouched parts of Hong Kong that boast natural beauty and overgrown charm, then look no further. Whether he’s climbing, kayaking, or cliff jumping, Rory Mackay of adventure and eco tour company Wild Hong Kong has got our city sussed. So, will you join him for a walk on the wild side?
Step out of the bustling city and you will discover a bountiful array of wild places to explore in Hong Kong – some remote, and some more accessible. So unleash your inner explorer, dig out your hiking boots, and get out of the city. When you’re feasting your eyes on the wildest and most beautiful views around, you’ll be wondering what took you so long.
1. East Dam, East Sai Kung Country Park
Venturing into the wild of Sai Kung, the plethora of options open to adventure is astounding! The East Dam is a great launch pad from which to mount an expedition. Coming in, the drive around the azure waters of High Island Reservoir makes for a scenic introduction. Upon arrival at the East Dam, you can venture in a couple of directions; either head down the slope to the dam wall and Geopark beyond, or follow the Maclehose trail northwards. The Geopark is rugged and truly wild. Littered with islands, caves, and hexagonal rock formations, there are many opportunities for the more intrepid of folk to enjoy some fishing, climbing, and cliff jumping. Following the Maclehose Trail in the opposite direction, you can explore Long Ke Wan, arguably the most idyllic beach Hong Kong has to offer, as well as some extraordinary hiking routes over to Sai Wan and beyond.
Good for: Beaches, Cliff Jumping, Hiking, Kayaking, Rock Climbing
How to get there: Having reached Sai Kung, hop in a cab out to the East Dam of the High Island Reservoir for around $100. If you ask the driver to head towards Long Ke, you will know you are at the dam because you’ll reach the end of the road! Returning from the East Dam, a taxi is, again, the best option instead of walking. From Sai Wan, one can hike up to the road or take a boat back to Sai Kung. If hiking back, remember to call for a taxi in advance, as mobile reception in that area can be a bit hit or miss.
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2. Fan Lau, Lantau South Country Park
There are many spots in Hong Kong that feel far removed from the city, but are in fact just around the corner or over the hill from town. Then there are those rare confines that are genuinely far removed from civilization. The Southern tip of Lantau Island is such a place. Take the time to venture to this enclave and you will be rewarded with a journey back in time! An untarnished landscape bursting with deserted beaches, fertile valleys, and lush jungles is lying in wait.
Wild Factor: ★★★★☆
Good for: Beaches, Hiking, History
How to get there: To reach the start of the trail, catch either Bus 11 from Tung Chung, or Bus 1 from Mui Wo to Tai O. Keep an eye out for Shek Pik Reservoir and disembark at the first bus stop immediately after crossing the dam wall. Take in the beautiful sight of Shek Pik Reservoir and Lantau Peak behind before turning away and following the Lantau Trail south. If hiking 15 to 17 kilometers sounds like biting off more than you can chew, there is the option to hike either end of the trail as a shorter return from Shek Pik or Tai O, to Fan Lau or Man Cheung Po/Yi O respectively.
Read more! Keep moving with 5 Steps to Happy Hiking.
3. Ping Nam Stream, Pat Sin Leng Country Park
If you fancy exploring a natural world that most folk don’t know about within Hong Kong, then a day trip to Luk Keng could be in order. Located within the innermost depths of Pat Sin Leng Country Park, it is a region that is as much unknown as it is remote. However, the area is easily accessible via public transport and totally worth the effort to reach. Nestled among rolling hills and the gateway to the northern parts of Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Luk Keng is as rural as it gets. Life moves at a different pace here, with perhaps the most relaxed locals in the city. It rubs off quickly and once there, you certainly won’t be in a rush to leave. From there one can venture into the higher peaks of Pat Sin Leng and discover hidden gems that lie within, namely, the Ping Nam Stream. You’ll encounter a challenging route upstream with many dramatic cascades and pools along the way to take in. With the danger of slippery rocks in the wet, we recommend the use of a guide.
Good for: Cliff Jumping, River Walks, Waterfalls
How to get there: Make your way to Fanling MTR Station Exit A, and hop on Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) 78K. After around 20 to 25 minutes, get off at the Nam Chung stop and cross the main road looking for Luk Keng Road. A further 20 minutes walk and you will reach a small village – turn right here onto South Bay Road and keep going until you meet a small reservoir dam wall. Find the goat track on the right hand side, bypass the dam, and you’ll arrive at Ping Nam Stream. On the way back, keep an eye out for Minibus 56K. You can ride this all the way back to the MTR if you manage to find it.
Read more! Explore the city with 6 Alternative City Tours.
4. Sharp Peak, East Sai Kung Country Park
I think this could be regarded as Hong Kong’s most remote mountain, and the areas surrounding the mount are simply stunning! Although Sharp Peak isn’t massively tall, standing at 468m, it is a very prominent hill and easy on the eye. The unspoilt views from the summit are among the finest in the land. It is a steep and dramatic final ascent to the summit, but well worth the effort on a fine day. It is a top draw route deserved of top draw conditions, so save this one for the best weather available (clear skies, high visibility). Take my word for it and get up there for sunrise or sunset if you can. However, be warned that this wild route is a tough one in the warmer summer months!
Good for: Beaches, Hiking, Mountain Climbing
How to get there: From Sai Kung town, take Bus 29R or pay around $100 for a taxi to Sai Wan Pavilion. Walk for an hour to reach Sai Wan and then a further hour in a northerly direction along the beaches of eastern Sai Kung Country Park. Dominating the landscape, Sharp Peak will often be in view. The simplest way to ascend is to take the direct route up the mountain ridge from the northern end of Tai Long Beach. Heading down there are a few options route wise, either returning via Sai Wan or following the Maclehose Trail section 2 towards Wong Shek Pier and catching a bus from Pak Tam Road.
5. Yellow Dragon Gorge, Lantau North Country Park
Hidden away within the depths of Lantau Island is Yellow Dragon Gorge, a secluded oasis away from all the hustle and bustle. Boulder by boulder, one ventures upstream into a vertical landscape. Surrounded by cliffs and waterfalls, you will not believe you are in Hong Kong. The adventure culminates at the end of the gorge where three massive cascades fall down onto you from high above! Be aware that this route is of a technical nature, requiring jumping between stones on the river and bouldering in places to reach the upper waterfalls. The use of a guide is recommended.
Wild Factor: ★★★★☆
Good for: River Walks, Waterfalls
How to get there: Make your way to Tung Chung MTR station and from there walk through the estates of Tung Chung Town to Wong Lung Hang Road. Follow the paved road all the way to the end and find the river on your left. Venture as far upstream as you dare.
If you want to explore these wild areas with a trained professional by your side, check out Wild Hong Kong which offer guided tours to all of the above locations.
Read more! Check out our Guide to Hiking and Running Races in Hong Kong.