Best of Hong Kong: Hiking the Dragon’s Back
The view from the Dragon's Back hiking trail, Hong Kong
Where to Hike in Hong Kong? Enter the Dragon. Well, actually, Dragon’s Back. It’s one of Hong Kong’s hiking trails, and was recently voted as one in “10 of the World’s Best City Hikes” by Lonely Planet. You may think of Hong Kong as an urban jungle, but the city is also surrounded by green hills and mountains. Locals looking to get away from the pounding the pavement of this vertical city are blessed with a variety of hiking trails. We decided to ride – well, hike – the Dragon’s Back to get a taste of Hong Kong’s great outdoors.
The tour starts at the meeting point at Middle Road, in the Kowloon neighbourhood of Tsim Sha Tsui, near the Tsim Sha Tsui Post Office, behind the Sheraton Hotel. The group is checked in, English-speaking guides are introduced, basic safety instructions are given, and the group leader takes a minute to introduce the group to each other as well, making this a great excursion for solo travellers interested in meeting others from all over the world. In our group, we had hikers from Australia, the U.S., Spain, Taiwan and China, among others.
Click through for highlights of Hiking the Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong.
The group is divided into two, as to spread out the hikers, as the trail can get crowded if it’s a good-weather day. Then, it’s on to a bus that shuttles to the foot of the trail on the island side of Hong Kong at Shek O Road – consider it a mini city tour en route. And, once there, even before the hiking starts, we’re captivated by the views of Tai Tam Bay and Stanley, across the Bay.
On the way, we discovered fresh mountain air, doused with a shot of salt from the surrounding sea, as well as flora and fauna that’s a rare sight in the island city below. We caught a glimpse of the South China Sea, spotted villages and the beaches of Shek O and Tai Tam, and fell for the drop-dead gorgeous view of Stanley, where weekenders often head to the beach, the beachside cafés and the street-style markets.
We are on the ridge between Wan Cham Shan and Shek O peak, so there’s plenty of peaks and valleys to traverse. When we reach the highest point of the trail, at about the half way mark, we take a break and reward ourselves with selfies and group shots, a sip of water and long look at the views below.
We also encounter kite flyers and paragliders (but today is not a breezy day)…
and share the trail with butterflies as we hike up and down the undulating “back” of the dragon.
At the end, we are rewarded again: a 15-minute break before boarding the bus back to Kowloon, at Big Wave Bay Beach, where bohemians and surfers alike share a stretch of sand and a little town filled with surfing shacks, snack bars and people of all nations. Surf’s up!
Tip: The hike itself is about 4 hours, depending on your fitness level, and it is a challenging 8.5 kilometres. The guide keeps a steady pace, which doesn’t always leave enough time to appreciate the forest flora and its streams and pretty pools. So be prepared with good hiking shoes and do take care as there are plenty of roots and rocks to negotiate, as this is nature in its untouched form, aside from the trail itself.