The Dragon’s Back is one of the best hikes in Hong Kong and was once named by TIME magazine as the best urban hike in Asia.
Hong Kong is renowned for its skyscrapers, urban sprawl and work-hard-play-hard lifestyle. So people are often surprised to discover that in actual fact around 38% of the land surrounding Hong Kong has been designated as Country Park.
You don’t have to travel far out of the city to see these expanses of greenery – and more excitingly, within these country parks are hundreds of kilometres of well signposted Hong Kong hiking trails. In fact, hiking Hong Kong is one of the local residents’ favourite pastimes.
Especially if you head out on the hiking trails in Hong Kong at a weekend you will see plenty of fellow hikers along the way.
Here’s a little video that shows us hiking the Dragon’s Back on a gloomy November day. Hopefully you will have better weather than this (like in all the other photos on this page)! You will see it is not a very strenuous hike and the views you get to see along the way are awesome!
What is the Dragon’s Back Hike Hong Kong?
The Dragon’s Back is one of the best introductions to hiking in Hong Kong. It is a relatively easy hike, it has fabulous views out to sea – and it ends on a beach that has a cafe. What more could you ask for?
The 2-hour Dragon’s Back trail is otherwise known as Section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail. This 50km trail traverses Hong Kong Island through five country parks. The Hong Kong Trail starts at the Peak and ends on Big Wave Bay.
We have done all 8 sections of the Hong Kong Trail over time, and the Dragon’s Back remains our favourite. It is the only one we have done multiple times. We just keep coming back for more!
The Dragon’s Back is a relatively easy Hong Kong hike for kids (children aged 5 or 6 and up should be able to manage it), and offers spectacular views of Hong Kong’s Southside along the route.
Caveat: Although I hike the Dragon’s Back Hong Kong on a regular basis, I have yet to take my kids but I know plenty of people who do take their kids.
Dragon’s Back: How to get there
Start the Dragons Back Hong Kong along Shek O Road, just a 20-minute drive from Central Hong Kong. You can either take a taxi or you can take no.9 bus from Shau Kei Wan MTR station, and stop at the bus stop at To Tei Wan Village.
The entrance to the Dragon’s Back is right at the bus stop and is highlighted with a large sign and map.
Dragon’s Back Hike Guide
The first ascent from the bus stop to the Dragon’s Back is the hardest, and will probably get your heart pumping. You will be going uphill for about 200m, up steps and a rocky pathway. The good thing is, once you reach the top of here, you are immediately greeted with a fabulous view over Shek O Beach – and you know it gets easier from here.
From this viewpoint, it is an easy ramble along the undulating path that runs along the ridge of the mountain. This is the spine or ‘back of the dragon’ which gives the Dragon’s Back Hong Kong its name. Take your time and enjoy the views to your right over Shek O and to your left over Tai Tam Bay.
The trail then takes you through shady bamboo forests – keep a look out for the large Golden Orb-Weaver spiders spinning their webs at the side of the trail during the summer months (don’t worry they won’t hurt you even if they look scary!), and also look out for the large Black Kite hawks circling above you.
There is one final steep ascent to reach Shek O Peak. At 284metres, this is the highest point of the Dragons Back hike and rewards you with views in all directions. Take a look down over Big Wave Way Beach – this is where you are going to end your hike!
From here it is all downhill, and unfortunately the best of the views are behind you as you descend through the trees. When you reach the bottom of the Dragon’s Back section, just follow the signs to Big Wave Bay. It’s about another 40-minutes, firstly along a wide road, then along a forest path through the trees.
This final section is a bit boring to be honest, but think of it as exercise and remind yourself that it’s worth it to get to the beach at the end.
If you want to cut your Dragon’s Back hike short, you could alternatively choose to follow the signs to Shek O Road from here. You can jump on a bus or hail a taxi from there. But this will mean that you miss out on finishing on the beach!
The Hong Kong Trail finishes in Big Wave Bay. As you descend the steps from the trail, you will arrive into the village. Wander past the village houses and follow signs to the beach.
Here you can rehydrate to the sound of the crashing waves. There’s a small café on the beach here serving a good selection of refreshments, and you can hire boogie boards and surf boards from the nearby shops.
Top Tips for Hiking the Hong Kong Dragon’s Back
- This is probably Hong Kong’s most popular hiking trail. If you don’t want to get stuck behind crowds of people, either come mid-week, or set off hiking before 9am on the weekend.
- Bring water! Especially if you are hiking in the warmer months, it will be hot and sweaty work. I never go hiking in Hong Kong without my Camelbak.
- Wear sensible walking shoes or trainers – flip flops aren’t really going to cut it on this hike.
- Hong Kong weather is changeable – bring both a waterproof jacket and suncream.
Hiking the Dragon’s Back featured in our article 10 Uniquely Hong Kong Experiences. Read more here!
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