Hong Kong has really good urban parks that are some of the best in Asia, but many tourists might actually enjoy the natural country parks even more. There are great white sand beaches, forests, jungles, waterfalls, peaks, and good hiking trails. More than that, the parks have well designed government-run campgrounds that you can stay at for free. Here are the five best country parks and what you can do in them.
Though urbanization, private dwellings, and resorts are fast destroying the natural parkland, maybe 50 percent of Hong Kong's territory is still natural country parkland. The country and the facilities are free to enjoy. The best hiking trails of MacLehose (100 km), Lantau (70 km), Hong Kong (50 km), and Wilson (78 km) go through these country parks.
1) Sai Kung East Country Park
- Location: near Sai Kung in eastern Hong Kong.
- Features: Big, clean, and wild beaches, waterfall, unusual rock formations. The park is remote and reached by hiking on foot or riding a boat or yacht. Probably Hong Kong's best natural park. Small cafés. Places to rent camping equipment. Government campsite for 10 tents.
- Activities: hiking, surfing, relaxing, wild camping, and enjoying solitude.
Five Excellent Secluded Beaches
East Sai Kung Country Park contains the Tai Long Wan 大浪灣 or Big Wave Bay area beaches that are legendary among hikers in Hong Kong. This largely unspoiled park is drawing hiking groups and developers. It is still perhaps the most beautiful hiking area and good for tent camping. In this picturesque natural area, you'll find a public campsite, stores, waterfalls, beaches, strange rocks, and Stage 1 and 2 of the MacLehose Trail.
The beautiful scenery and the solitude are the highlights. The highlights are the beaches. Big Wave Bay has four beaches that are separated by rock outcroppings. Going south to north, they are Sai Wan (西灣 West Bay), Ham Tin Wan (咸田灣 Salt Field Bay), Tai Wan (大灣 the biggest) and Tung Wan (東灣 East Bay).
Another beautiful beach is Long Ke. It is remote and difficult to reach due to the steep rough trail, but you might get more solitude than at Tai Long Wan.
Both Long Ke and Ham Tin Wan have small campsites built by the government to enjoy. Or you could camp on the beach. Ham Tin Wan has a store where you can rent sleeping bags, mats, and tents where you can rent equipment. Many people might enjoy walking over to the waterfall near Sai Wan or going up the steep ascent of Sharp Peak.
Hiking the MacLehose Trail
Avid hikers could take the MacLehose Trail westwards towards Tai Mo Shan. In those rugged hills, you'll often find yourself alone among the bushes and trees. Periodic park bathrooms or campgrounds give you places to get water (filter it though). You'll probably appreciate the green vistas as you climb the successive hills. You could also overlook High Island Reservoir that is the biggest in the region.
Directions: To get to a drop off point for the MacLehose trail, you could first go to the Sai Wan Pavilion terminal. You could get there by taxi or our China Highlights driver. If going by taxi, show the driver: 西灣亭 for the 大浪灣遠足郊遊徑. A green taxi from Sai Kung to this stop costs about 90 or 100 HKD.
To go by public transport:
- Take the MTR Green Line to Choi Hung and take the 1A Green Minibus to Sai Kung (40 minutes).
- Take Minibus 29R outside McDonalds or a taxi and go to the Sai Wan Pavilion terminal (30 minutes).
2) Lantau South Country Park
- Location: southern Lantau Island.
- Features: 22 square miles, good public beach with facilities such as bathrooms, several campgrounds, and meandering trails.
- Activities: sunbathing, hiking, canoeing, swimming, eating, barbecuing, camping, relaxing, and surfing.
This is Hong Kong's biggest country park, and it extends across the southern half of Lantau Island that is the biggest island. There is jungle and forest in the valleys and grassland on the top of the biggest mountians. You can find good hi king on Lantau Island, and it is full of rugged amazing places: mountain peaks, huge white beaches, and secluded ravines, valleys, and brooks.
An excellent hike is up to Sunset Peak (869 meters or 2,851 feet, Lantau Trail Stage 2) to see the sun sinking into the sea. Lantau Peak offers more rugged climbing (934 meters or 3,070 feet, Lantau Trail Stage 3). People often gather to watch the sunrise on Lantau Peak. These are Hong Kong's third and second highest mountains, respectively, and hiking either might give you a really good memorable experience.
The 70 kilometer Lantau Trail traverses Lantau South Country Park and the adjacent Lantau North Country Park. It is one of the top four trails in the region. Following it along the length of the island, you'll see a great variety of scenery and interesting villages. There are well laid out campgrounds where you can eat, rest or camp.
Two Big Beach Areas
Pui O Beach is a fine white public beach with showers and lifeguards where you could surf. There is a government-run campsite area as well as a private campground at the beach. You could rent equipment for surfing, canoeing, camping, and kayaking. In the hills above Pui O, the Nam Shan Campground has good facilities for campers.
Cheung Sha Beach further west is Hong Kong's longest beach. It is three kilometers long and has two private campgrounds. Shek Pik Reservoir is on the west side of the park, and it is one of the biggest reservoirs.
Directions: It is quite easy to reach this park by public transport, taxi, or a China Highlights driver simply by starting from Tung Chung or Mui Wo. From Tung Chung, you could take a taxi and get off any place along the way to Pui O in the big park. To go to Pui O, show the driver: 大嶼山貝澳. The fare from Tung Chung is 93 HKD.
To go by public transport: From Tung Chung, first take Bus 3M to Pui O or any stop along the way.
Hiking suggestions: Many parts of the Lantau Trail are rough with uneven steps and loose dirt. It is slick when wet. Take a lot of water on sunny days. A quick way into the park from Mui O is to take the Lantau Trail Section 12 that starts from the Mui O Sewage Treatment Plant. Groups of Chinese squatters have been staying up in the hills and at some campsites, so harassment and crime is increasing. So be aware, especially after dark.
3) Tai Tam Country Park
- Location: central and eastern Hong Kong Island.
- Features: Several peaks offering beautiful vistas, four reservoirs, dense woods and jungle, several campsites, and WWII ruins.
- Activities: hiking, camping, and nature appreciation.
In the mountains behind the urban area of Hong Kong Island contain a big country park that covers about 1/5 of the whole island. There are great green vistas, four reservoirs, dams to investigate, bridges to cross, jungles, city and sea views, WWII fortifications, and even swimming turtles! The Wilson Trail and the Hong Kong Trail, two of Hong Kong's top 4 hiking trails, go through it. Hikers can go on long hikes, or you could just relax by a lake.
The Hong Kong Trail
Walking Stage 6 of the Hong Kong Trail will bring you into Tai Tam Valley where you might feel you're hiking by a lake in a remote jungle in remote mountains.
At Stage 5 of the Hong Kong Trail, you can reach Jardine's Lookout which gives a beautiful view high above Victoria Harbor. This part of the trail is a rough and requires a lot of climbing on two peaks. You can change over at Jardine's Lookout for the Wilson Trail that goes to Tai Mo Shan.
To go by public transport: Bus No. 6 and Bus No. 36 both go up there. Get off where you want in the park.
4) Tai Mo Shan Country Park
- Location: just north of Kowloon.
- Features: Hong Kong's highest mountain and waterfalls. Wet climate, often foggy. High grassland, to the horizon views, and rough trails. Small government campsite for 4 tents.
- Activities: hiking and camping.
This 957 meter or 3,200 feet mountain is Hong Kong's tallest peak. The MacLehose Trail Stage 7 goes through the big Shing Mun Country Park to the east, and Stage 8 goes on Tai Mo Shan Peak. Stage 7 is rugged hiking on uneven stone steps and dirt track along ridges. But the scenery is amazing as you follow the top of ridges across towards Tai Mo Shan. There are wide expanses of seemingly dry land.
It is a good hiking trail whether there are blue skies or misty dark fog all around. The mountain tops are not dry, but the runoff and quality of the soil allows only grass to grow. This is what allows for the excellent to the horizon scenery as you walk with sky overhead. The MacLehose trail in this area should only be attempted if you are in shape and your legs are strong.
Some residents go to the peak to keep cool during hot summers, and the temperatures drop to near freezing sometimes in winter. From the visitor's center, you could hike on a road for an hour and a half to the peak or hike around to see the 35 meter high waterfall. The Wilson Trail that is probably Hong Kong's fourth best hiking path goes by it. It is at the center of the the trails north of Kowloon in North-Central Hong Kong.
Directions: You could go there by taxi or one of our China Highlights drivers. To go to the park's visitor center, show this to the taxi driver: Show this to the driver for the campsite: 大帽山郊野公園遊客中心. The fare is about 95 HKD from the Tsuen Wan MTR.
To go by public transport: To go to the park visitor center, you can Take Bus 51 (to Kam Tin) from the Tsuen Wan West Railway Station's bus stops and get off at the Country Park stop. To go directly to the MacLehose Trail Sections 7 and 8, you could take Minibus 82 that runs from the Tsuen Wan Station. Get off at the final stop near Lead Mine Pass. There is a park bathroom and campsite there.
5) Hong Kong Geo Park
- Location: far eastern and far northeastern Hong Kong.
- Features: World recognized unusual scenic rock formations. Secluded little islands and secluded hiking trails. Explore tiny islands, beaches, and caves.
- Activities: hiking, nature appreciation, geology appreciation, and boat tours.
This Geo Park deserves to be on the list of the top 5 country parks in Hong Kong even though it isn't a regular country park. It is a large protected area in eastern Hong Kong extending from small islands off Hong Kong Island to islands off the coast of far northeastern Hong Kong. The are about 12 interesting geological sites. Touring these areas by boat and by hiking on the country park paths is one of the highlights of nature in Hong Kong.
Most of the interesting sites are on islands, so you need to go by boat to see them. But some are along the coast of Sai Kung East Country Park and Plover Cove Country Park. So you can walk along the park trails directly to formations along the coast.
There are actually two adjacent geo parks that are meant to showcase unusual and large rock formations in the country park land and offshore islands. The northern one showcases sedimentary rock formations, the southern one features igneous rock formations.
Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region
The southern park is called the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region. It includes Sharp Island, the Ung Kong group of islands, and the area of Sai Kung East Country Park east of the High Island Reservoir. Igneous rocks are rocks that originated in volcanoes or lava.
In Sai Kung, you could hike the MacLehose Stage 1 at the High Island Reservoir with its columnar rock formations and follow the Geopark trail going north.
There are bigger igneous columns in the Ninepin Group of islands, and you have to go by boat to see them. Its hexagonal rocks are an emblem of Hong Kong.
The Sedimentary Rock Region
Part of the Northeast New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region is in the Plover Cove Country Park, so you can access its sites by hiking. But to see the sites on the islands, you'll need to go by boat. The Double Haven Geo Area is a small protected bay that has eroded red siltstone and red sandstone formations. The geology there is complex. You could visit a waterfall called Bride's Pool and the Ma Shi Chau sedimentary formation.
The Port Island-Bluff Head Geo-Area and the Tung Ping Chau Geo-Area are out in the eastern sea. The Port Island-Bluff Head islands contain red rock called "Danxia" that is the same kind of red sandstone rock that covers a lot of southern China.
Tung Ping Chau is the easternmost island of Hong Kong, but it can be reached via ferry. The island has a hiking trail. The island has a stromatolite rock formation. It is a kind of rock formation that has a sponge cake structure, and it is up to 200 meters thick with layers that are about 1 to 5 millimeters wide. The erosion and various colors of the rock layers has produced veins of beautiful rock bands in some places. There are many caves at the southern end of the island.
To go by public transport: To visit Plover Cove Country Park, you can take an MTR train to Tai Po. The Bride's Pool Nature Trail can be reached via Bus 75K from the Tai Po Market terminus. Go to the Tai Mei Tuk bus stop, and in Tai Mei Tuk, you can take a bus or taxi to Bride's Pool.
To go to the Tung Ping Chau Country Trail, first go to the University KCR Station, and then walk for 15 minutes to the Ma Liu Shui ferry pier. Take a ferry for Ping Chau. Ferries depart from Ma Liu Shui at 9:00 and 3:30 pm on Saturdays and at 9:00 am on Sundays. The boats return at 5:15 am on Saturdays and Sundays.
Best hiking and camping season: In the autumn and until about the middle of December, Hong Kong has a relative dry season with sunny dry weather and nice hiking and camping temperatures. It is cooler and drier than the summer, and it is best for hiking and tourism overall.
Free park and trail maps and pamphlets: The Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centers on Victoria Peak and at the Star Ferry in Tsim Sha Tsui has free pamphlets and maps that provide information about the various trails and country parks. It is a good idea to pick some up.
Plan and make trip arrangements: China Highlights can help you design a trip that includes hiking and camping in Hong Kong. We specialize in arranging transportation and getting tickets for trips to Hong Kong and cities in Chinese mainland according to our clients' interests and travel constraints. We could provide private vehicles, drivers, and guides for individual and groups. We'll try to arrange Hong Kong hotel rooms, Hong Kong and China flight tickets, and train tickets for a pleasant trip.
Recommended Hong Kong Tour Packages
2-Day Hong Kong Coach Tour: Visit the local highlights on a bus. Tell our tour experts to include camping. This tour is modifiable.
You can create your own dream trip and visit the places you want in Hong Kong and China while you enjoy camping in Hong Kong too.