It's easy to think of Hong Kong as a concrete jungle, to picture high rise tower blocks and booming skyscrapers stretching up above the famous Victoria Harbour, and grey concrete blocks piled one on top of another, only interrupted by neon lights. But in actual fact, Hong Kong has more green space than many other comparable cities, and while nobody has a garden, over three quarters of the landmass is countryside, 40% of which is classed as protected parks. Various hiking trails cut through these parks, but it is the Dragon's Back that stands out from the crowd. Once named Asia's best urban hiking trail by TIME magazine, it takes in every kind of terrain that nature has to offer, all within a stone's throw of the centre.
Short enough to do in an afternoon, and taking in beaches, mountains and woodland, the Dragon's Back hiking trail offers a welcome respite from life in the metropolis. An 8.5km hiking trail, its path traverses along a mountain ridge that's said to look like a dragon's back (shocker), stoops through woodlands, crosses over peaks and eventually leads down to Big Wave Bay, a white sandy beach with a bar to the side.
While you're walking, you will come across the Shek O Peak, which (on a clear day) offers sweeping panoramic views across Shek O, Tai Long Wan and Tung Lung Island. Next, you move on to a mountain pass that's a popular spot for paragliding launches - stick around a while and see if you can spot any. Later, you'll be able to enjoy some shade in the Pottinger Gap, before finally reaching the water in time for a quick dip.
Fair enough, it's not the most challenging hike in the world - anyone expecting something Kilimanjaro-esque is going to be sadly disappointed - but for somewhere so close to the city, and a city kind of city at that, it's not all that bad. Take plenty of water and snacks, especially if hiking during a hot and humid Hong Kong summer, as there are no vendors along the way. More than anything, it's just a very pleasant change of scenery.
One of the big selling points of the Dragon's Back trail is that it's gloriously accessible from the city. To get to the starting point of the trail at Shek O Road, hop on the subway in the centre of Hong Kong and ride to MTR Shau Kei Wan. From there, take Exit A at the station, head for the bus terminal and jump aboard the number 9 bus, or the minibus signed 'Shek O' next to the terminal. Either way, you need to get off at To Tei Wan, Shek O Road.
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