If you’ve only just arrived on HK shores, you might be surprised at just how many awesome alfresco spots there are to explore. Here, we answer some newcomers’ questions on outdoor activities in Hong Kong for all the family and where to start.
If I want to get into hiking, is there one iconic trail I should try first?
The Dragon’s Back at the eastern end of HK Island is a relatively easy 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.
For one that younger ones can try too, the Lamma Island Family Trail is a great introductory hike for the family. 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.”
What about something more challenging?
Lantau Peak is on every hiker’s must-do list. It’s a popular place for watching the sunrise but you need to set off about 4am to do this. Start from the Lantau Peak Sunrise portal near Wisdom Path, and follow the signs.
The Sai Kung Peninsula Hike covers Section 1 and part of Section 2 of the MacLehose Trail, and it also provides one of the best ways to see the volcanic columns of High Island and the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark. Most of the route consists of flat roads and concrete paths, but at 14km it’s not a short stroll!
There are countless walking trails to explore across the territory. Even workers in Central are just minutes’ away from beautiful paths through dense greenery and the kind of gradients that will really get the heart pounding.”
Where are some places to take kids to see wildlife up close?
An oasis in the heart of Central, Hong Kong Park has a lot to offer, from a massive playground to an aviary! Across the road is the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, which has birds, reptiles and more. Across the harbour, Kowloon Park was once the site of a military barracks, and is now an impressive inner-city park with a famous flock of flamingos, plus sporting facilities and more.
Is there a good spot on HK Island for a picnic?
Mount Austin Playground is one of those rare places in Hong Kong where you can not only walk on the grass, but actually sit and enjoy a picnic on it! It has wide open spaces and two playgrounds, all within walking distance of the Peak Tram – what more can we say?
Another nice grassy spot is The Podium at Cyberport in Pok Fu Lam on the western side of the Island.
Victoria Park in Causeway Bay is by far Hong Kong’s largest – and one of the oldest – of the city’s parks, so it has plenty of green spaces too. It also hosts a range of events throughout the year (a “normal” year, that is!), and has sporting facilities galore, making it ideal for older kids too.
Where’s a good nature place for families that’s further afield?
Part conservation centre, part veggie farm, Kadoorie Farm 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. Kadoorie is in the middle of the New Territories, on the north slope of Hong Kong’s highest mountain, Tai Mo Shan. Opening hours are 9.30am to 5pm.
What’s Hong Kong’s best beach?
Hong Kong has loads of beaches; our tip is to try them all and discover which one is your favourite! Repulse Bay is probably HK’s most recognisable beach and a great place for enjoying sunshine, sand and sea. Follow up with a meal at one of the restaurants adjacent to the beach or head into The Pulse or The Repulse Bay Arcade for shopping.
Connected to Repulse Bay via the Seaview Promenade is another picturesque beach in Deep Water Bay. It has views out to Middle Island and across to Ocean Park. Another fun beach on HK Island is Shek O. Take the number 9 bus from Shau Kei Wan Station on weekends and it will be packed with local Hongkongers heading for a day out. There’s street food and market stalls in Shek O village, as well as local restaurants.
What about beaches on Lantau or in the New Territories?
Cheung Sha Bea is popular among Lantau locals, who head down to 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. Careful of wandering Lantau buffaloes! Meanwhile, Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung is little short of stunning.
Is there a nice pool complex for swimming?
Yes, there are loads! Pao Yue Kong Swimming Pool is a huge public swimming pool in Wong Chuk Hang with two main pools, teaching pools, a diving pool, a toddler pool and more – plus a variety of slides and other features.
K-Town locals with young kids can head straight to their state-of-the-art, heated public swimming pool – it caters brilliantly for young families. Kowloon Park Swimming Pool has three outdoor leisure pools linked together by waterfalls, a circular paddling pool and a sun bathing area. There’s also a sun lounger area and four indoor heated pools.
In the New Territories, Sai Kung’s public swimming pool has a lovely leisure pool area with a fountain and water slides for varying ages.
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.
This article first appeared in the City Guide 2021/22 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue