If you’ve only recently arrived in Hong Kong, you might be surprised at just how many awesome spots there are for exploring; it’s a small place, but it packs a punch! From parks to pools, here are some of our favourite outdoor activities.
5 Great Trails
This is a relatively simple ridge-line hike, with only a few rough steps and some climbing at the start, so it can make a good family hike for older kids. Start at the Hong Kong Trail Section 8 and finish at Big Wave Bay. It should take around four hours.
The Lamma Island Family Trail is a great introductory hike for the family as it’s fairly flat, and you’ll knock it over in an hour or two. You can start at either Sok Kwu Wan or Yung Shue Wan and soak in the island atmosphere.
The second-highest spot in Hong Kong, Lantau Peak is on every hiker’s must-do list. It’s a popular place to watch the sunrise but you need to set off at about 4am to do this. Start from the Lantau Peak Sunrise portal near Wisdom Path, and follow the signs.
Sai Kung Peninsula Hike
This hike covers Section 1 and part of Section 2 of the MacLehose Trail, providing one of the best ways to see the volcanic columns of High Island. Most of the route consists of flat roads and concrete paths, but at 14km it’s not a short stroll!
If you haven’t done an island day trip to Po Toi, it’s worth a look – particularly if you enjoy a coastal hike taking in some quirky geological features and windswept oceanic views. Have lunch at Ming Kee Seafood before heading home.
5 Great Parks
Located in Causeway Bay, this is by far the largest – and one of the oldest – of the city’s parks. As well as hosting a range of events throughout the year (a “normal” year, that is!), it features sporting facilities galore.
Hong Kong Park
An oasis in the heart of Central, HK Park has a lot to offer; from the massive playground to the aviary, it’s a must! Across the road is the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, which has birds, reptiles and more.
Mount Austin Playground
One of the rare places in HK where you can not only walk on the grass, but actually sit and enjoy a picnic on it! It also has wide open spaces and two playgrounds within walking distance of the Peak Tram – what more can we say?
Once the site of a military barracks, this is an impressive inner-city park. There are plenty of outdoor activities, including a maze and an aviary with a famous flock of flamingos, plus sporting facilities and more. And here’s a tip: don’t miss Kowloon Walled City Park further to the north – it’s a hidden gem!
Part conservation centre, part veggie farm, Kadoorie is a great day out. Kids can learn about the many animals and plants through the interactive exhibits. There’s a café on site or bring a picked lunch and eat amongst the trees.
5 Great Beaches
Take the number 9 bus from Shau Kei Wan Station on weekends and it will be packed with local Hongkongers heading to Shek O for a day at the beach. There are plenty of street food and market stalls in Shek O village, as well as local restaurants.
Cheung Sha Beach
This is a popular day trip for Lantau locals who head down with their families to spend the day at one of the restaurants facing the sand, while the kids play on the beach under watchful eyes. Get there by car or bus from Mui Wo town centre. Keep an eye out for wandering Lantau buffaloes!
Easily HK’s most recognisable beach, once you’ve had your fill of surf and sun here, grab a meal at one of the restaurants adjacent to the beach or head into The Pulse or The Repulse Bay for shopping. Also, check out the garden at one end of the beach with its colourful statues of traditional deities.
Deep Water Bay
One of the more picturesque beaches, this Southside beach is busy on weekends, but with views out to Middle Island and the Ocean Park cable car it’s always a pleasant experience nonetheless. It connects to Repulse Bay via Seaview Promenade, a walking and jogging trail. Stanley Beach Aside from a market, highstreet shopping and some waterfront restaurants, Stanley also has two beaches: Stanley Main Beach on the eastern end and St Stephen’s Beach to the west. Both have sand for sunbathing and barbecue facilities.
5 Great Pools
Pao Yue Kong Swimming Pool
This huge public swimming pool in Wong Chuk Hang has two main pools, two teaching pools, a training pool, a diving pool, a toddler pool and more. The kids’ pools have a variety of slides and other features. It also has sun loungers and a family changing room.
Kennedy Town Swimming Pool
K-Town locals with young kids make a beeline for their state-of-the-art, heated public swimming pool, as it caters brilliantly for young families. It has great swimming areas for the kids, a family changing room and even a jacuzzi. Cool architecture, too!
Kowloon Park Swimming Pool
Spread across two levels, the three outdoor leisure pools here are linked together by waterfalls, a footbridge, a circular paddling pool and a sun bathing area. There is also a sun lounger area and four indoor heated pools.
Sai Kung Swimming Pool
This public swimming pool has a lovely leisure pool area with a fountain and water slides suitable for varying ages, which will keep the kids happy. Meanwhile, mum and dad can enjoy a few laps in the main pool area and enjoy the spectacular Sai Kung views!
Hammer Hill Road Swimming Pool
This is one of the more legendary of the city’s public swimming pools as the indoor pool area has a pirate ship with water cannons on it! The outdoor facilities are equally as appealing to kids, with a toddler pool, a number of water slides and a fountain.
5 Great Waterfalls
Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls
These falls in Tai Mo Shan are beautiful – arguably Hong Kong’s best – as is the dense jungle hike that you’ll take to get to them. (Set aside a couple of hours.) There are four separate falls to admire – and the chance for a cooling dip.
Just off the aptly named Waterfall Bay Road in Pok Fu Lam is this coastal waterfall that has been a well-known spot for centuries – passing sailors would replenish water supplies here. It’s best to come when there’s been some rain and the waterfall is more impressive.
With its 15-metre drop, this is Hong Kong’s best known waterfall. Located in Plover Cove Country Park, its named for an old story of a bride who drowned here when she fell from a sedan chair. Some say the spot is haunted, but don’t let that put you off a picnic lunch!
Sheung Luk Stream
This one requires a hike or a sampan from Sai Kung to reach, but it’s in a beautifully picturesque region, and the pools and cliffs – also known as the Sai Kung Rock Pools, or “Four Pools” – are great for swimming.
Tai Tam Mound
Located in Tai Tam Country Park, these falls are an easy 1km hike from the nearest bus stop, with a scramble down from a small wooden bridge at the end (take care in wet conditions). Swimming in reservoir waters is off-limits, so it’s one for admiring only.
To find out more about the city’s parks, gardens, pools and more, including details about where dogs are allowed, along with addresses, opening hours and transport information, head to the HK Government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department website at lcsd.gov.hk/en/facilities/ facilitieslist.html or the Hong Kong Tourism Board website at discoverhongkong.com.
See more ideas for exploring Hong Kong in our Living in Hong Kong section!
This article first appeared in the City Guide issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.