Hiking the Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong
After nearly spending ten days in the overcrowded city of Hong Kong, the overcrowding of subway trains during rush hour, flocks of people trying to cross streets and shops crammed with shoppers on the Nathan Road (you get the picture), it was time to leave the city life behind and check out what is outside the range of skyscrapers, highways and ding-ding trains. I really wanted to be by myself and away from people. I do love exploring cities but I am more close to nature and thankfully Hong Kong has quite a few small mountains as well as islands to explore. The hike I found was located on Hong Kong Island and called the Dragon’s Back, which is part of the Hong Kong trail which runs from west to east on the island. A fairly easy hike to do even if it is blistering hot so I had to check it out and if it got me out of the city for a few hours.
Getting there: from Central Hong Kong take the MTR Island Line (the light blue line on the map) to Shau Kei Wan. Take the exit A3 out of the MTR station and head to the bus station next door and jump on the NWFB bus number 9 towards Shek-O. Get off the stop at To Tei Wen on the Shek-O road (driver knows a lot of hikers get off here but there are electronic signs with stop names in Chinese and English, so you really can’t miss the stop).
First part of the hike – going up: the way I did this from the start at To Tei Wen, it’s an uphill start straight away but a steady climb. The first part of the walk is a little bit boring but at the trail junction (the Dragons Back and the Hong Kong trail path is well signposted, keep following the Dragons Back path by the way), turning around, I managed to get some great views westwards of Stanley and the rugged coastline on this part of the island. I turned right here and carried on upwards until I got to the top of this part of the small mountain.
Second part of the hike – the Dragon’s Back. Why is it called the Dragon’s Back? All I can say is get to the right view point on the summit of this rugged mountains and it looks like you are actually on a back of a dragon. The path goes up and down but the best view came into view, overlooking the small town of Shek-O down below. I had a great day for this, the sun was out and there was a light breeze, so I stopped for a while, looking out towards the South China Sea. Taking in the quietness and at this point I was so glad to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Third part of the hike – At the next junction, I decided to turn left and follow signs back to the Shek-O road. This part of the hike actually goes quite quick as its flat. This took me back to the junction on the first part of the hike. Just carry on, go downhill and the bus stop at To Tei Wen is there.
Afterwards: The great thing about this hike is that it can be combined with a short visit to the seaside village of Shek-O. Jump back on the bus number 9 and stay on until the last stop. At Shek-O there are a few restaurants and a small shop but there are two things to do here.
First off carry on walking through the village to the headland which is located at the very end of the road (there are no signposts but visitors can’t get lost as the sea is at the end of the road). It’s a small bit of land (or a huge rock) out in the sea connected by a small footbridge. This can be a nice little hike and the views from the top looking back inland are great as I got to saw the ridge I walked on earlier in the day.
For relaxing, on the way back towards the bus stop and the restaurants, there is a sit down area on the left hand side of the road (or right hand side if coming from the bus stop). Walk through this and there is the beach and I have to admit the beaches on this side of the island looks pretty stunning. It’s pure golden sands, flat and with the warm sea and not many people, the beach was the perfect place to chill out and take a nap. Getting back to the MTR at Shau Kei Wan, just take the bus number 9 at the bus stop. It is that easy!
Overall I found the Dragon’s Back hike to be a pleasant easy one but it was just nice to get out of the city. It only takes a couple of hours and the total elevation is about 230m. Combine this with a trip to Shek-O and then this is a great day trip. I would just advise anyone else doing this to take some water and a light snack on the hike if needed (remember to take the rubbish with you), and take cash as there are no ATM machines in Shek-O. I would recommend this to anyone who just wants to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a day (but I been told that trail gets really busy at weekends with the locals).