Nearly 40% of Hong Kong’s land is made up of country parks, and it is home to some of the most beautiful hikes in the world. So it’s no wonder that hitting the trails is a favorite activity for visitors and locals alike.
Before exploring the city’s greener side, it is important to know what you’re getting yourself into and prepare so we’ve put together a comprehensive guide with everything you to know to safely enjoy your hike.
There are four major long-distance trails in Hong Kong: Maclehose Trail (100km, ~62mi), Wilson Trail (78km, ~48mi), Lantau Trail (70km, ~43mi), and Hong Kong Trail (50km, ~31mi).
The Maclehose Trail has 10 sections and sprawls east to west across the New Territories (northern part of Hong Kong), starting with Section 1 in Sai Kung Country Park and ending in Tuen Mun. The Wilson Trail is unique because it is the only one that you cannot hike continuously. It starts on the south side of Hong Kong Island and heads north to end in the northeastern New Territories so you must take transportation of some sort to cross Victoria Harbour to continue the trail. Similar to the Maclehose Trail, Wilson Trail also has 10 sections. Lantau Island is Hong Kong’s biggest outlying island and is located in the southwestern part of the city. Lantau Trail’s 12 sections make a loop around the island and start and finish in Mui Wo. Lastly, the Hong Kong Trail goes west to east on Hong Kong Island, starting in at The Peak and ending at Shek O Country Park.
Besides these four trails, there are countless other country park trails that are clearly labeled and well maintained, but these are the most well documented. Therefore, if you’re new to hiking or hiking in Hong Kong for the first time, we suggest sticking to one of these four.
All of these trails will have distance posts every 500m (0.3mi) so you know exactly where you on the trail. The Maclehose Trail’s posts start with the letter M and go from M001-M200. The Wilson Trail’s posts start with the letter W and go from W001-W137. The Lantau Trail’s posts start with the letter L and go from L001-L139. Lastly, the Hong Kong Trail’s posts start with (you guessed it!) the letter H and go from H001-H100.
Distance post at the beginning of the Wilson Trail
Take mental note as you pass these distance posts while on the trails. Knowing where you are and where you’re heading is vital in case of emergencies. This will significantly increase the speed at which help can reach you and your chance of survival. It will also give you peace of mind so you can enjoy the hike.
Summer is nearly upon us and along with it comes hot, humid weather and typhoon season. Hong Kong’s typhoon season is generally between May and November, and temperatures during these months average between high 20’s to low 30’s Celsius (mid 80’s to low 90’s Fahrenheit) with humidity around 80%.
The most comfortable months to go hiking are between November and May. During this period, rainfall is the lowest and the average temperature ranges between high 10’s to mid 20’s Celsius (mid 60’s to low 70’s) with humidity from low to mid 70%.
We highly advise that you check the weather the morning of your hike because the weather changes so quickly in Hong Kong. If it is raining at all or due to rain during your hike, even drizzling, we suggest that you either cancel or stay off of any unpaved trails that have rocks. If you insist on hiking when it’s raining (maybe because it’s your last opportunity), we suggest a flat, paved hike such as The Peak Circle Walk that goes around The Peak. This hour-long, easy stroll offers stunning views of the city if it isn’t too foggy and a waterfall if it isn’t dry season.
If the Hong Kong Observatory has issued weather warnings of any sort, such as typhoons, monsoons, rain, and hot weather; we strongly suggest you cancel or reschedule your hike.
Knowing what to wear will help ensure that you complete your hike as safely and comfortably as possible. If you are hiking on a hot and sunny day, wear loose and light-colored clothes to help you stay cool. If you’re hiking on a cooler day, wear light layers that are easy and lightweight to pack. Having a windbreaker can also help with staying warm high on the mountains. It is ideal to wear quick drying clothes and avoid cotton. Hats and sunglasses are recommended if it’s a sunny day. If you have hiking shoes, those will be great but regular sneakers will also work just fine for most of the trails. It is not advised to wear high heels or flip flops/sandals for the hike. Lastly, don’t forget the sunscreen even if it’s cloudy!
It’s always a tough choice deciding what to pack because you don’t want your backpack to be too heavy, but you also don’t want to leave out any essentials. Depending on the difficulty and duration of your hike and the weather, you’ll want to pack differently but we’ve put together a checklist with the essentials and some optional items for comfort and support.
- Bottle of water (at least 750ml)
- Light snack (granola bar, bun, or bread)
- Small pack of tissues (not all public restrooms provide toilet paper)
Optional but highly suggested
- Change of clothes (top, bottom, and socks)
- Mosquito repellent
- External battery pack to charge your phone
- Hiking stick
Most of Hong Kong’s hiking trails are well-documented so information is easily accessible. Be sure to pick a trail that is appropriate to your hiking ability and current weather conditions. Some of the things you’ll want to know are
- Starting and ending points
- Modes of transportation to the starting and ending points and their hours of operations (some buses don’t run on weekends or after a certain time)
- Where to go on the trail, what landmarks or sign posts to look out for and follow
- Total distance of the hike
- Approximate duration
- Whether or not there are wild animals on the trail (see below for our suggestions on how to handle wild animals)
You’ll be able to see wildlife on all of Hong Kong’s hikes, including birds, butterflies, and insects. These are mostly harmless and you don’t need to worry about them.
Watch out for the monkeys!
On some of the hikes, you’ll also see wild monkeys, boars, cows, dogs, snakes, and crabs. These are the ones you should be aware of. The general rule is to leave them alone and they will leave you alone. You should take extra precaution with the monkeys. The wild monkeys in Hong Kong can get quite vicious and are not particularly afraid of humans because they see them all the time. If you are going on a hike that may have monkeys, make sure you do not hold a plastic bag or food in your hands. They will try to steal it from you. If you encounter a monkey, do not try to interact with it by taunting it, waving at it, or looking it in the eyes. Just simply keep on walking and they will leave you alone.
In the case of an emergency, dial 999 for Hong Kong’s emergency call center. If you have no signal, dial 112 and it will connect you to the 999 emergency call centre from any local mobile phone network that has coverage in your location.
Now that you know everything you need to know about hiking safely in Hong Kong, what are you still waiting for? Get out there and start roaming the lush mountains!