If you fancy exploring a peaceful area that many folks don’t know about or overlook within Hong Kong, then a day trip out to Shing Mun Reservoir could be in order.
The simplest way in (other than driving) is to head over to Tsuen Wan MTR station and take exit B1. From the station it’s a five minute walk to the 82 green minibus, which will take you to Shing Mun Country Park terminating immediately below the grassy banks of Pineapple Dam. It is recommended you enjoy a meal or prepare food to bring with you before embarking on a visit, as there are no food vendors at the park other than a small kiosk at Pineapple Dam.
Arriving at the Pineapple Dam bus stop, keep an eye out for some of the delightful wildlife on offer in HK, especially on the quieter weekdays. You could well be confronted by many monkeys, invariably a troop of Rhesus Macaques. Although the Rhesus species is native to Hong Kong, the macaques found today are believed to be re-introduced. During the construction of the Kowloon Reservoirs, the apes were deployed to the surrounding areas in order to combat the spread of a plant that tainted the water supply. They can roam in large numbers and enjoy the area around entrance areas, as the rubbish bins and increased human presence provides the chance of finding a meal. There are signs at the park entrance spelling out the dos and don’ts in regards to the monkeys. From experience, simply be relaxed. Don’t approach the monkeys with food and they will mind their own monkey business. Direct eye contact and sudden movements won’t endear you to them either. With those unpleasantries out of the way, the monkeys are great fun to observe and can be extremely photogenic!
There are a couple of ways to negotiate Shing Mun; the simple way and the adventurous way.
Every now and then, a gap in the foliage may reveal framed views of Tuen Wan, Kowloon and enjoy the iconic backdrop of HK Island behind on a clear day. Back at the reservoir, this final leg of any route you take is particularly pleasant, walking along a flat paved surface under large shady trees that cloak the water’s edge. It is most definitely worth it to have a breather down here, soak up the tranquil atmosphere and capture relaxing views across the water.
Heading back to Tuen Wan from the country park is equally simple as finding your way in.
This discreetly tucked away corner of rural HK has an incredible amount on offer for those who enjoy venturing into the wild, escaping to Shing Mun provides a peaceful retreat at the doorstep of those wishing to find space for reflection or satisfy a burning urge of wanderlust.
There is a bountiful array of wild places to explore in Hong Kong, some more remote and some more accessible than others. Our list combines the best of both on offer in HK, with all offering respite along the way from the summertime heat. All the places below we offer customised tours to.
East Dam & Long Ke (East Sai Kung Country Park)
–Beaches, Cliff Jumping, Hiking, Kayaking, Rock Climbing
WILD FACTOR- ★★★★☆
Venturing into the wilds of Sai Kung, the plethora of options open to adventures 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 one 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 & cliff jumping. Following the Maclehose Trail in the opposite direction, one can explore arguably the most Idyllic beach HK has to offer in Long Ke Wan and some extraordinary hiking routes over to Sai Wan and beyond.
Getting there: Having reached Sai Kung, grab a cab out to the East Dam of High Island Reservoir for around $120. 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 check the 29r bus timetable or call for a taxi in advance, as mobile reception in that area can be fickle.
An untarnished landscape bursting with deserted beaches, fertile valleys and lush jungles lying in wait.
Getting there: To reach the start of the trail, catch either the ‘number 11’ bus from Tung Chung, or ‘number 1’ bus 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. Additionally, if hiking 15-17 kilometers sounds like biting off more than you can chew, there is always the option to hike either end of the trail as a shorter return from Shek Pik or Tai O, to Fan Lau and Man Cheung Po/Yi O respectively.
Ping Nam Stream (Pat Sin Leng Country Park)
–Cliff Jumping, River Walk, Waterfalls
WILD FACTOR- ★★★★★
If you fancy exploring a natural world that most folk don’t know about within Hong Kong, then a day trip out 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 assessable via public transport and totally worth the effort to reach. Nestled amongst rolling hills and the gateway to the northern parts of Pat Sin Leng Country Park, Luk Keng is truly rural. Life moves at a different pace here, the locals are as relaxed as they come in HK. It rubs off quickly and once there, you certainly won’t be in a rush to leave. From there one can venture into higher peaks of Pat Sin Leng and discover hidden gems that lie within, namely the Ping Nam Stream. A challenging route upstream with many dramatic cascades and pools along the way to take in. However, beware of slippery rocks in the wet, the use of a guide would be strongly recommended.
Getting there: Make your way to Fanling MTR Station, exit A and hop on the KMB 78K Bus. After 20-25 minutes or so, hop off at Nam Chung stop and cross the main road looking for Luk Keng Road. A further 20 minutes walk and one will reach a small village, turn right here onto South Bay Road and keep going till you meet a small reservoir dam wall. Find the goat track on the right hand side, this will bypass the dam and lead you to the Ping Nam Stream. On the way back, keep an eye out for a 56K minibus. Catch this back to the MTR if the opportunity arises.
Sharp Peak & Ham Tin (East Sai Kung Country Park)
–Beaches, Hiking, Mountain Climbing
WILD FACTOR- ★★★★☆
I think this could regarded be Hong Kong’s most remote mountain and the areas surrounding the mount are simply stunning! Although Sharp Peak isn’t massively high 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). Get up there for sunrise/sunset if you can. Be warned, that this is a tough route in the warmer summer months!
Getting there: From Sai Kung town, take the 29R village bus or $100 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 Mclehose Trail section 2 towards Wong Shek Pier and catching a bus from Pak Tam Road. This route can be done in either direction.
Yellow Dragon Gorge (Lantau North Country Park)
–River Walk, Waterfalls
WILD FACTOR- ★★★★★
Hidden away within the depths of Lantau Island is the 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 would not believe you're 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 would be strongly recommended.
Getting 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.
Life moves at a different pace here, the locals are as relaxed as they come in HK. It rubs off quickly and once there, you certainly won’t be in a rush to leave. From there one can venture into higher peaks of Pat Sin Leng and discover hidden gems that lie within. It’s perfectly feasible to walk the lakeside loop in a clockwise direction, but the anticlockwise adventure makes for the best experience and simplest navigation.
Getting there: The simplest way in (other than driving) is to head into the northern New Territories on the MTR East Rail Line before disembarking at Fanling Station. From there, one can catch the 52B minibus that departs roughly every 20 minutes. Hop off the bus at Hok Tau Wai and make your way to the t-junction in the road. Continue along the sealed road in a southerly direction following signs for Hok Tau Reservoir. Walking in is easy going on a sealed access road. The imposing ranges of Pat Sin Leng become ever nearer and before you know it you’re in amongst the rocky peaks. After rising up, one reaches a dam wall and the impressive panorama of the lake held behind is unveiled; from this point onwards the adventure begins in earnest,
following signs for the ‘Hok Tau Family Walk’.
Getting there: The best way to reach Ng Tung Chai from central HK is by catching the MTR to Tai Wo Station, then descending below the station where one can either taxi or bus it up to Ng Tung Chai Village. The 64K bus runs every 15-20 minutes during the day, you can catch this to Ng Tung Chai stop and follow the sealed side road up the hill. However, I recommend hopping in a taxi on the way there as it enables you to whizz right up through the village and be deposited at the trailhead. A taxi ride only sets you back around $50HKD.
Lion Rock (Lion Rock Country Park)
–Hiking, Wildlife, City Views
WILD FACTOR- ★★☆☆☆
For those who thought The Peak was the most dramatic summit looming over Victoria Harbour, think again. There is a roaring lion to north. It may not be as well known, but the Lion Rock is right up there in terms of grandeur. Conquer this rugged ridge and one will witness some of Hong Kong’s finest views. Feel the intense sprawl of Kowloon and enjoy the iconic backdrop of HK Island behind. Meanwhile a gaze round the other side reveals Sha Tin Valley and the expansive hills of the New Territories. Not only is being at the top incredible, but the walking to be had either side is most enjoyable. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way, in particular monkeys! The path will undulate for an hour until arriving at the foot of the Lion Rock. Upon the reaching the summit at 495 meters above sea level, the footpath emerges from the undergrowth to reveal unrivaled panoramas of Kowloon and its surrounds.
Getting there: The route up is easily accessed from Wong Tai Sin MTR Station. Find exit E and begin climbing up Sha Tin Pass Road, stay on Sha Tin Pass Road and you shall gradually rise above the tower blocks of Kowloon. After about 45 minutes of walking, you’ll intercept the MacLehose Trail and signage for the Lion Rock Country Park on your left hand side. The return route down is fairly simple. Keep turning left at all junctions in the hiking trail and you’ll be back to civilization in an hour. The simplest way to the MTR is to turn left once reaching Lung Cheung Road and follow the highway into Wong Tai Sin. Alternatively, you can cross Lung Cheung Road and head into either Lok Fu or Kowloon Tong.
Wild Hong Kong: Plover Cove Ride and HikeFor the fathers who want a little bit of both, how about taking them cycling and hiking around the beautiful Plover Cove region? Cycle by the sea before venturing up the highlands on foot in search of lush forest landscapes and secret waterfalls. The best news? This tour is completely customisable. Feel free to add more cycling or more hiking to your personal tour and discover a whole new side of Hong Kong.
Where: Meet at the Tai Po Market MTR Station
How much: $800 person for a group of 1-3 people, $650 person for a group of 4-7 people.
WE WENT FOR A GREAT TOUR UP TO NG TUNG CHUNG CHAI THE OTHER MONTH. CHECK OUT RANDEE'S AWESOME BLOG POST ON HER TIME IN HK WITH US!
It may seem rather cold at this time of the year for waterfall hunting. However, there is a certain amount of vitality to be found in exploring such pristine environments during the winter months. And thanks to this bizarre El Niño weather, all the rivers are flowing hard!
If you're still not convinced, then let this list warm your soul during the winter months and dream of those warmer summer days. They will be back before you know it :)
Bride’s Pool & Mirror Pool
These beautiful pools are very accessible; both can be sighted with little walking involved. Legend has it that en route to her wedding; a bride fell into the river above and was carried down the waterfall. With that said, these shallow pools do not possess any cliff jumping opportunities and are defined by a picture perfect cascade that drops into the Bride’s Pool. Combine a visit to the falls with some time spent enjoying the nearby village of Tai Mei Tuk. Grab a bite at one of the many restaurants around or dabble in some water sports to make for the perfect day out!
Getting there: Take the MTR East Rail to Tai Po Market Station and board the 20C minibus to Tai Mei Tuk. From there one will have to walk for a further hour or catch a $40 taxi to the Bride’s Pool car park. However, on Sundays and public holidays you can take the 257R KMB bus from Tai Po Market all the way to the Bride’s Pool. Be warned that the last bus departs at 6:45.
Man Cheung Po Infinity Pool
Venture out to the far southeastern bounds of HK and Lantau Island to discover a beautiful vista. Less than four kilometers from the Tai O bus stop you can find 200 meters of layered tumbling waterfalls that include an infinity pool overlooking the South China Sea. If that isn’t enough, couple the adventure with a day exploring Tai O fishing village and keep an eye out for the famous pink dolphins off the coast. Be warned that it is prohibited to swim in the infinity pool itself, although continue upstream and there are plenty of rock pools to make your own.
Getting there: Hop on the MTR to Tung Chung or the Ferry to Mui Wo. From there, grab the number 11 or number 1 bus respectively, to the Tai O. Follow the pier near the bus stop, continuing along the shorefront path. About 3km into the walk you will see a sign on your left for Man Cheung Po, don’t take it. Instead simply stay on the coastal path until a set of stairs on the left comes into view; this is the way up the valley to the rock pools. The whole route from Tai O should take around an hour each way to complete.
Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls
Containing one of Hong Kong’s biggest waterfalls, Ng Tung Chai consists of 4 waterfalls of different altitudes. Starting from below, you’ll discover the Bottom Falls (Fall under the well), Middle Falls (Horse Tail Fall), Main Falls (Long Fall) and finally the Scatter Falls. The path up is steep, but well constructed and well frequented. The bottom falls are truly idyllic, shrouded under a veil of vines and thick canopy pierced by ethereal rays. Whilst the sheer majesty of the main falls in full flow will take your breath away.
Getting there: Catch the 64K KMB bus from Tai Wo MTR station (exit A) to the Ng Tung Chai Village stop on Lam Kam Road. From there it is a 1-2 hour walk up.
Sheung Luk Stream
The Sheung Luk Stream in Sai Kung Country Park is quickly becoming one of the more popular summer spots to take a refreshing dip. Although the lower waterfall of Sheung Luk Stream is not the most picturesque waterfall going around, it is a lot of fun and serves as suitable refreshment after a day spent at the beach. This hangout spot has deep pools for swimming and cliff jumps of differing heights from little ledges to 7meter drops.
Getting there: From Sai Kung, take the 29R village bus or taxi to Sai Wan Pavilion. Walk for an hour to reach Sai Wan and then a further 10 minutes upstream from Sai Wan beach to reach the pools.
Tai Tam Mound Waterfall
Secretly tucked away above Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir, it’s easy to walk right past Tai Tam Mound Waterfall without a second thought. The natural beauty starts out as a stream over a low cliff, but then continues through a stretch of wild greenery, before dropping out of sight.
Getting there: Walk northwest along the Hong Kong Trail, north of Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir dam. Cross the bridge after 10 minutes and at the next wooden bridge, you will see a scramble down a tiny stream on the left.
Once fully intoxicated by the Bottom falls, all that remains is the simple matter of walking the 45 minute return to Lam Kam Road and grabbing a bus back to civilization. The whole walk should take 4-5 hours, bring some light snacks and plenty of water."
In the valley directly adjacent to Ng Tung Chai is ‘Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden’. The conservation centre’s paths take you wandering through vegetable gardens, greenhouses of beautiful flowers and plants, and scores of different animals. www.kfbg.org/eng/
We are one of Hong Kong's premier adventure & eco tour operators. This is our blog, documenting many of the wild places we explore and show guests.