Newcomers might be surprised to find that this tiny city is home to some stunning spots for exploring the great outdoors. Here are some of our faves.
#1 Dragon’s Back
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.
Estimated time: about four hours.
#2 Lamma Island
The Lamma Island Family Trail is a great introductory hike for the family as it’s fairly flat. You can start at either Sok Kwu Wan or Yung Shue Wan and soak in the island atmosphere.
Estimated time: 1.5 to two hours.
#3 Lantau Peak
The second-highest spot in Hong Kong, 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 at about 4am to do this. Start from the Lantau Peak Sunrise portal near Wisdom Path, and follow the signs.
Estimated time: two hours.
#4 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 short.
Estimated time: five to seven hours
#5 Victoria Park
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, it features sporting facilities galore.
#6 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!
#7 Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Located across the road from Hong Kong Park, the “zoo” isn’t a zoo in the typical sense, but it’s worth a visit to see the orangutans, birds and meerkats.
#8 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! Wide open spaces and two playgrounds all within walking distance of the Peak Tram – what more can we say?
#9 Kowloon Park
This was once the site of a military barracks, and at over 13 hectares it’s an impressive size for an inner-city park. It also features plenty of activities, including a maze and an aviary, sporting facilities and more.
#10 Tai Po Waterfront Park
The cycling track is one of the highlights at Tai Po, but it also features several playgrounds, a pond for model boats, an insect house, lots of grass, and great views, making the 22-hectare site a gem in the great outdoors.
#11 Kadoorie Farm
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 packed lunch and eat amongst the trees.
#12 Repulse Bay
Easily HK’s most recognisable beach, once you’ve had your fill of surf and sun here, you can have a meal at one of the restaurants adjacent to the beach or head into The Repulse Bay for shopping. Also, check out the gardens at one end of the beach with colourful statues of traditional deities.
#13 Shek O
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.
#14 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!
#15 Deep Water Bay
One of the more picturesque spots, 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.
#16 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.
#17 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.
#18 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!
Places for pooches?
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 or the Hong Kong Tourism Board website at discoverhongkong.com.
See more in our Things To Do section
This article first appeared in the City Guide issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.