Once remote and untouched, the island of Tsing Yi is anything but nowadays. Located to the northwest of Hong Kong Island and south of Tsuen Wan, the island has become a major transport hub and commuter base. Many of us pass through on a regular basis, but most overlook the island as a destination due to its urban appearance. A hotspot for infrastructure, the creations that mankind has erected around these parts is the stuff of civil engineering dreams! Nevertheless, for all the construction of recent decades, Tsing Yi still possesses some surprisingly secluded areas, peppered with nature walks and stunning viewpoints to accompany them.
Tsing Yi's name literally means "green clothes", but the island actually got its name from a type of fish once abundant in nearby waters. Before the Tsing Yi South Bridge was built in 1974, the old Tsing Yi pier was the only link between the island and the outside world. Fast-forward to today, the island is now home to about 200,000 people and is connected by eight bridges all around the island. This includes the Tsing Yi and Stonecutters Bridges, respectively the largest and third largest of their kinds in the world!
Option 1, Tsing Yi Nature Trail (Easier)
Covering the western hills of the island, the Tsing Yi Nature Trail offers an easy going, family friendly option. The network of paved paths is well mapped and signposted throughout. Peppered with exercise areas, pavilions and viewpoints, it suits those who desire an accessible and flexible route. From end to end, the trail is approximately 3km in length and is done within an hour if you stay on the move. I recommend taking your time to follow some of the detours along the way and admire the stunning views over the Tsing Ma Bridge and out to Lantau. The most convenient way to reach the trailhead via public transport is to hop off the MTR at Tsing Yi Station and ride the 248M bus to the last stop, from there 10 minute stroll up Liu To Road will get you to the start of the trail network. Alternatively, you can walk straight to the trails from the MTR; this will take around half an hour.
For the more adventurous folk out there, climbing up Sam Chi Heung is an awesome option. The route is direct and prominent, gaining a few hundred meters of elevation above all the surrounding areas. The three summits of Sam Chi Heung are not as heavily forested as the Tsing Yi Nature Trail, thus providing uninhibited panoramas over Tseun Wan, Kowloon and HK Island. But undoubtedly, the main attraction of climbing Sam Chi Heung is the unique vantage point it provides to look over the Stonecutters Bridge and Hong Kong Port. Find the trailhead located beside Cheung Ching Bus Terminus and follow it past some football/soccer pitches. You will start to ascend and not before long, reach a large burial area scattered across the hillsides. Once atop the first peak, it’s worth continuing along the trail until you reach the third peak, as this is where the best views are to be had. The simplest way down is a return to Cheung Ching Bus Terminus. However, for the really adventurous folk out there, keep an eye out for ribbon marked alternate routes down.
If you’re really enthusiastic, both walks can be done together as a day hike. What is great about all of these itineraries on offer is the ease of return to public transport and other amenities. That is the beauty of venturing out in a place such as Tsing Yi (and Hong Kong in general for that matter); after working up a sweat out and about, you can soon find respite. This accessibility is certainly one of Tsing Yi’s main draw cards, a tremendous place to visit on a whim without premeditation. But once you have arrived and got under the skin of this dramatic isle, the rugged hillsides and ‘bridgetastic’ vistas will sell themselves. A trip through Tsing Yi will never feel the same, after coming to truly appreciate this underrated area of Hong Kong.