5 Unexpected Adventures in Hong Kong
A business hub famed for its shopping malls and pollution may not at first appear to be much of a playground for active types but travellers looking for a new destination for adventure holidays should not write off Hong Kong.
It is hard to imagine when you picture the glossy cityscape but 70 percent of the country is in fact made up of country parks, deep forests, mountainous terrain and sandy beaches. It even boasts 234 outlying islands. These hidden gems makes it an unexpectedly good destination for adventure sport enthusiasts and the city’s unrivaled transport network makes access from the hustle and bustle very straightforward.
Here are but a handful of experiences on hand for active travellers to add to their bucket list and discover the ‘other side of Hong Kong’.
Mountain biking and cycling in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s mountain ranges contain a network of trails ideal for mountain bike riders of all abilities. Arguably the most celebrated trail is the downhill track in Tai Mo Shan that snakes down the country’s highest peak. You may need to rent a van to access the trail but the jaw-dropping twists and jumps available are well worth the effort.
It is important to note that to ride the ten ‘legal’ trails, you will need to obtain a permit. It’s free but if you do fancy a ride, make sure to plan ahead to avoid being disappointed.
You can download the permit here.
The Hong Kong Mountain Bike Association have a useful collection of detailed trail guides.
Walking and Hiking in Hong Kong
Trekking is probably Hong Kong’s most popular activity amongst locals and the country boasts hundreds of kilometers of magnificent trails that significantly vary in length and difficulty. The must-walks for visiting ramblers include the MacLehose Trail, the Wilson Trail and the Dragons back trail.
The ten-stage MacLehose trail covers 100 kilometers and passes over high peaks, quiet reservoirs, secluded beaches and waterfalls. It’s a fantastic route to explore the stunning open landscapes in the New Territories.
The 78-kilometer Wilson trail spans 8 incredible country parks including the popular Tai Tam Country Park. Just watch out for local insatiable monkeys if you’re carrying a packed lunch!
The Dragons Back trail was voted as ‘the best urban hike in Asia’ by Time Magazine. This trail explores some challenging ground in the exotic Shek O Country Park with sandy beaches and local restaurants to look forward to in Shek O.
HK Walkers offers a number of useful guides for these and many more excellent walks in Hong Kong.
Scuba diving in Hong Kong
Scuba diving is perhaps the most surprising sport to feature on this list given Hong Kong’s battle with pollution and it’s busy international port.
However, the region’s 800km coastline and outlying islands are littered with soft coral and marine life. According to recent figures, Hong Kong has more species of fish than the Caribbean.
Despite all the fish, the general visibility is limited to just 5-10 meters which according to local divers is due to silt and algae growth rather than marine pollution. Either way, it’s fair to say that Hong Kong will never be up there with the world’s best dive spots but the novelty factor and incredible junk trips could possibly help outweigh that fact.
There exists a committed diving community and plenty of local guides. They proudly take divers of all abilities to the best underwater spots in the country with East Dam, Sharp Island and Ninepins being provincial favorites.
Intruiged divers should check out the South China Dive Club for more information.
Surfing in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is home to a relatively small but committed surf community who frequently take advantage of wind swells at the few and far between surf spots in Hong Kong. These include the aptly named Big Wave Bay in Shek O, Cheung Sha Beach in Lantau, Tai Long Wan and Shelter Island in Sai Kung.
The waves in Hong Kong are generally low and are known to be at their best between November and March during the typhoon season with more consistent swells and 15ft faces to play with.
Those considering surfing in Hong Kong should check out Surf Hong Kong for further insight and guiding.
Canoeing and Kayaking in Hong Kong
The east coast of the New Territories in Hong Kong is arguably the best region for water sports such as boating, snorkeling, paddle boarding and kayaking. Kayaking in Hong Kong is do-able all year round and is a fantastic way to see the country’s wildlife and fauna up close. The Sai Kung Peninsula has a number of great local outfitters and cheap kayak rentals to explore the beautiful beaches in and around the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. Other kayaking hotspots include Cheung Sha Beach in Lantau and Tai Mei Tuk in Tai Po.
Check out this page for more information about the water sport centers and guides available.
So, there you are. Hong Kong may still be best known for it’s impressive urban jungle, but that’s only 30 percent of it.
Add your own Hong Kong adventure tips in a comment below.
Much Better Adventures has a range of great local and ethical adventures from around the world, including some incredible canoe and kayak holidays!