With travel mostly off the agenda, it’s a great time to explore more of our own backyard. And Hong Kong has so many hidden gems, we can count ourselves lucky. Here, we list five of our favourite waterfalls in Hong Kong to visit. (Most involve a hike of some kind, so be prepared for terrain, and also keep in mind factors such as weather and water levels.)
Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls
Where: Tai Mo Shan
How: 64K bus from Tai Wo MTR. Get off at Ng Tung Chai. Follow Ng Tung Chai Road for half a kilometre to the village, then follow the waterfall path (signposted) uphill.
Why: It’s not just the falls that are beautiful here – arguably Hong Kong’s best – but you’ll also pass through some super dense jungle to get to them. After a steep walk (set aside a couple of hours), the reward is four separate falls to admire – and the chance for a cooling dip. The most impressive is Main Falls, which is over 30 metres high. Adventure-heads can continue onward to the summit of Tai Mo Shan, or, if you’re done for the day, just head back down the path to the bus stop.
Also: Ng Tung Chai means “Chinese parasol tree” – if you know what to look for, you’ll see plenty of them around!
Where: Pok Fu Lam
How: Take Bus 4 from Central, get off at Wah Fu Commercial Complex, and walk 10 minutes down Waterfall Bay Road to the stairs down to the bay. You could walk here from Cyberport Waterfront Park, too.
Why: Unlike the other waterfalls in our list, this one drops almost directly into the sea. And since it’s much more visible from sea than from land, it’s been a well-known spot for centuries; passing sailors would replenish their water supplies here.
Getting down to the sandy cove for the best view of the waterfall requires hopping over a fence or two, and you’ll need to keep in mind any signage you come across. It’s also best to come here when there’s been some rain and the waterfall is more impressive.
Also: Near Waterfall Bay is an interesting unofficial religious site of “abandoned gods” staring out to sea
Where: Plover Cove Country Park
How: 20C minibus from Tai Po Market MTR. Get off at Tai Mei Tuk and take a taxi (4km). Sunday is easier: the frequent 275R bus goes straight from the MTR to Bride’s Pool bus stop.
Why: With its 15-metre falls, this is the best known of Hong Kong’s waterholes. That doesn’t mean getting to it is a breeze, though. If you’re using public transport, we suggest a Sunday morning visit to take advantage of the more direct bus route.
Why “Bride’s Pool”? The story goes that a bride was being delivered to her wedding by four porters carrying her in a sedan, when one man slipped. The wife-to-be plunged into the pool and drowned.
Also: In view of this backstory, it’s perhaps no surprise that supernatural sightings are a “thing” here. One report tells of a woman appearing in a red cheongsam, presumably the bride, brushing her hair nearby the pool.
Sheung Luk Stream
Where: Sai Kung
How: From Sai Kung Town, take the 29R minibus to Sai Wan Pavilion and hike to Sai Wan Village (45 minutes – or sampan from Sai Kung is another option). Follow the stream from the end of the beach up to falls.
Why: This is arguably Hong Kong’s most picturesque region, with beautiful beaches and dramatic headlands. And the pools and cliffs of Sheung Luk Stream – known as the Sai Kung Rock Pools, or “Four Pools” – are a highlight. There are several waterfalls to admire, plus you can swim, and jumping from the cliffs is also popular among more daring day-trippers.
Also: You’ll also pass by close to the falls and pools of Sheung Luk Stream while walking Stage 2 of the Maclehose Trail, so stop off to cool down.
Tai Tam Mound
Where: Tai Tam
How: Take bus 14 from Sai Wan Ho MTR, getting off at Tai Tam Reservoir (North). Walk back along the road for 150 metres to reach the entrance of the Tai Tam Country Park. The falls are an easy 1km hike from this point, with a scramble down from a small wooden bridge at the end (take care in wet conditions).
Why: This whole area is a joy to walk in, with jungle trails, reservoirs, granite aqueducts and dams to view, photograph and explore. And, tucked away along Section 6 of the Hong Kong Trail, is a pretty waterfall with a cooling pool. As inviting as it looks, there are rules against swimming in reservoir waters, so this may be one place where you’re better off admiring from the shore. It’s still a serene spot that’s well worth a visit.
Also: In 2009, 22 waterworks structures surrounding Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir – from masonry bridges (pictured) to pumping stations and the dam itself – were declared as monuments; most are over a century old.
5 other waterfalls in Hong Kong that are worth a look…
• Ma Dai Stream (Ma On Shan Country Park)
• Lotus Stream (Tai Lam Country Park)
• Tai O Infinity Pool / Man Cheung Po (Tai O)
• Lugard Falls (Victoria Peak)
• Silvermine Waterfall (Mui Wo)
See more things to do in Hong Kong
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.