You don’t need Bear Grylls’ endurance to enjoy Hong Kong’s gorgeous outdoors, and you can still be on time for mojitos in Soho at night.
Don’t let the towering skyscrapers fool you, Hong Kong has mountains, sandy beaches, trekking trails, waterfalls and practically everything you expect to find in any other Southeast asian country that is known for its wild, unspoilt landscape. With 40% of Hong Kong reserved as parkland and 80% of its total area green, it is one of the greenest places on our planet, and home to a diverse ecosystem that offers nature lovers endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
If you are a family with kids, Hong Kong is an ideal destination to have fun in nature in one of its large and perfectly preserved country parks, or spend your day soaking up the sun at the beach, while at night you can still return to the top notch food, shopping and entertainment opportunities that the city offers. It is a city that has it all, so why not enjoy it all during your holidays?
Read on to discover the top outdoor activities in Hong Kong for families and for those who are looking for easy, enjoyable hikes through the countryside’s most scenic parts.
Take a trail or a enjoy a relaxed stroll in nature: With Dragon’s Back named as Asia’s Best Urban Hiking Trail by TIME magazine, and the MacLehose Trail declared as one of the world’s best hikes by National Geographic, hiking is one of the top activities to enjoy in Hong Kong. Even though the famous mountain peaks are often considered tough treks, there are great alternatives that do not require too much physical strain. And the best part is that you don’t need to travel far to discover emerald hills, shady trails and secret waterfalls.
The Victoria Peak Circle Trail, that runs around the Peak-Hong Kong’s number one attraction-is a gentle 3.5 km hike that allows you to enjoy jaw-dropping, panoramic views of one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. To take the trail, simply hop onto the Victoria Peak Tram to the Peak, and take the Lugard Road near the Peak Tower.
To completely escape the city, The Hong Kong Wetland Ecotourism Park in Northwest New Territories is a fantastic place to watch Hong Kong’s native flora and fauna, such as birds, butterflies and dragonflies. The park is designed as a hands-on interactive experience in the ecosystem and includes themed exhibition areas, indoor play areas and a cafe. It is ideal for families with small kids.
For a more fearless adventure, the Monkey Mountain in Sha Tin’s Kam Shan Country Park will bring you closer to 70% of Hong Kong’s Rhesus Macaques monkey population, most of which are descendants of a few pets that were released in the wild in 1920s. Pay attention to the signs and do not feed the monkeys or carry food with you, as these sweet creatures can become aggressive. The Kam Shan Country Park facilities include a morning walkers’s area, jogging trails, as well as special barbecue and picnic areas. If on that day you are feeling particularly brave and want to have an intensive hike with a historic twist, you can head to the Smugglers Pass in Kam Shan, a 6km long trail along steep hills and slopes which is found between two major hiking trails, Wilson and MacLehose. The Smugglers Pass served as an important defence position during the Second World War and thus there are some major wartime ruins such as British military bunkers and trenches still standing among the ridge.
Visit the gorgeous isles: Hong Kong Island’s dense urbanisation often makes visitors forget they are on an island, but a short ride towards the south reveals a completely different landscape. The gorgeous Big Wave Bay Beach at Shek O is a small oasis that is popular with windsurfers as well as hikers that finish the scenic Dragon’s Back trail. There are easier ways to get there via MTR and bus, and,of course, by taxi.
Less than 30 minutes away from Central, the tranquil Lamma Island is one of Hong Kong’s most laid back, picturesque destinations. Being free of cars and public transport and relatively empty, makes it ideal for family walks, bike rides and day adventures. The Lamma Island Family Trail is an easy hike in nature that traverses the island and takes you along its beautiful coast past white sand beaches, Chinese temples, breezy pavilions, and interesting historic landmarks, such as the Kamikaze Caves, a spot of strategic importance for the Japanese during the Second World War. The trail starts at the ferry pier of Yung Shue Wan village at the northwest part of the island and finishes at the quiet traditional fishing village of Sok Kwu Wan, with its quaint junk boats and array of waterfront seafood restaurants. Do not leave Lamma without tasting its famous fresh and delicious seafood in one of its well known restaurants, such as the Lamma Rainbow. If you are in Hong Kong this November do not miss the Lamma Fun Day beach music festival, a fun charity event that has run for sixteen years, and is very popular with music lovers and families.
Another great island destination for a relaxed day trip is Cheung Chau. This island may be tiny and more “modernised” than Lamma, but it offers unique attractions, such as the colourful Taoist Pak Tai Temple, which is also famous for its April Bun Festival, and the Cheung Po Tsai “Pirate” Cave. Cheung Chau is certainly the best way to slow down and allow yourself to enjoy a lazy day outdoors and away from the hustle and bustle of the Hong Kong city. With fresh seafood in every corner, make sure to go there hungry!