The second half of our long weekend in Hong Kong was the part I had been anticipating the most. We were finally ready to tackle the Dragon's Back hike, nine kilometers of Hong Kong's most beautiful hiking trails and scenic views. Ben and I knew that this was a must-do on our Hong Kong itinerary early on, we love hiking and pretty much any outdoor activity plus it was clear that the views atop the Dragon's Back were to die for. There's a reason this trail was named the world's best urban hiking spot!
We began the morning of our hike at one of the trendiest breakfast spots in SoHo: Elephant Grounds. In true millennial fashion, we had espressos, an avocado toast, and avocado with quinoa & eggs... If you can die from being too basic, I think I left may have left my soul in that café. I won't apologize though because this protein heavy breakfast was the exact food we need to power us through a long day of hiking. Plus, it was freaking delicious!
After breakfast we took the escalators alllllll the way down to the bay area, hopped on the MTR, and travelled to Chai Wan, a city on the Eastern end of Hong Kong island. We had zero idea how to get to the trail head so we hailed a cab, surprisingly they're extremely cheap in Hong Kong so it's not a terrible mode of transportation. In no time at all, we went from a bustling city center to a mountain wilderness. The three of us knew that our destination had arrived when we saw a collection of port-a-potty's and tourists who were equipped with enough gear to climb Everest (I still laugh thinking about it.) We had finally made it to the start of the Dragon's Back and for a moment I felt relieved that all of that travelling was over with.... Only to remember what we were about to do!
Although the hiking route we took is a bit long, roughly 5.6 miles in total, I'd say that the trail overall was quite doable for beginners. The most challenging part is right at the beginning where you need to ascend up a steep, rocky path for about 500 meters. We actually saw a few tourists who had to stop along this portion to catch their breath - this near vertical way up can be no joke depending on your fitness level!
Ben and I brought a backpack along with us that contained some energy bars, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Since it was winter in Hong Kong, we were fortunate enough to be able to leave the bug spray behind, however I heard that this place is crawling... Literally... with spiders and other creepy critters during the summer. Unless you're brave and/or equipped with tons of bug repellent and spider web swatting sticks I'd stay off of these trails during this time. Apparently the summer in Hong Kong is also unbearably hot and humid so all-in-all it seems as though late fall, winter, and early spring are your best bets for any Hong Kong hiking trips.
I mean it when I say the pictures don't do the insanely gorgeous views atop the Dragon's Back any justice! In retrospect, I wish Ben and I had spent a bit more time up here since the second half of our hike was primarily covered by the jungle. Luckily though, the beautiful views didn't stop after the peak of the hike. When we had completed our journey up, on, and down the Dragon's Back, Ben and I ended up at the idyllic Big Wave Bay. This little beach town is known for it's surfing and laid back, beachy vibe. We purchased a Sing Tao and a San Miguel - two of Hong Kong's most beloved beers - and watched a few surfers catch some waves while we sat on a rocky bit of shoreline. After toughing it in the mountainous jungle for the better part of 1.5 hours, this break was much needed.
I'm not gonna lie, it felt a bit surreal that we had just hiked such a scenic mountain and were now at a beautiful beach all while in HONG KONG!!! Like I said in my Hong Kong: Part 1 post, this city really does have it all.
When our beers were empty and our bodies were brave enough to move again we hopped on a bus (that was travelling approximately 400 km an hour for reasons unknown) and travelled to the neighboring town of Shek-O. Shek-O also has a beach, but instead of a surfer vibe it's atmosphere is a bit more posh which attracted a crowd more interested in sunbathing than catching waves. There were way more restaurants here, in fact the whole town seemed to be quite a bit bigger than Big Wave Bay, so we grabbed sandwiches and leisurely took our time to eat. In all honestly, I don't think Ben or I were ever going to be ready to leave this part of Hong Kong. We were head over heels in love with this easy going, absurdly scenic area and parting from it was anything but easy.
All-in-all our hiking excursion took us approximately 5-6 hours and I kid you not I enjoyed every second. The views on the Dragon's Back are 100% worth the trip and the well kempt, easily navigable trails made for an enjoyable trek. It was also really nice to swap the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong city for some zen wandering in the wilderness. This was easily my favorite part of the entire trip and I'm already scouring East Asia for another awesome hiking spot!
Back in the urban part of Hong Kong, Ben and I decided that we pretty much had to drag our butts back over to Kowloon's Avenue of the Stars (the other side of the harbor) to see the free light show that happens every night at 8 pm. Truthfully, I wasn't feeling that great at this point in time. Hiking earlier had sapped all of my energy, so I feel as though my impression of this light show may have been a bit clouded by my bratty attitude... But I thought it was just okay. Listen, lasers ARE cool but at the end of the day having to take a ferry and then fight a massive crowd of selfie stick wielding tourists for a chance to see a couple of them wasn't really worth it to me. I would've preferred it if we stayed on our side of the harbor and watched the lights, albeit with a worse view but way less effort. I will say though that Ben and I both agreed we were happy we went only because we now never have to wonder whether or not we missed to coolest thing ever (we didn't, lol.)
Overall, I highly recommend Hong Kong as a travel destination if you're interested in outdoor activities, day trips to parks and beaches, some of the best views in the world, nightlife and of course, great food. Hong Kong is an expat haven with an unusual British history, so Chinese culture isn't as accessible here. If that's you're thing, this might not be the city for you!
I may be happy that we're home and back to our relaxing lives, but truthfully Ben and I have already spent quite a bit of time nostalgically reminiscing about our adventures in Hong Kong. We fell in love with this unique city and after such a great weekend the feelings of wanderlust are stronger than ever. Fortunately though, in just two short months we'll be headed up to Tokyo for a week long vacation with my family. Trust me, the countdown timer has already been set on my phone and I CAN'T WAIT!!!
We're Kara and Ben, a Marine Corps family currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Enjoy our adventures, travels, photos, thoughts, and life together halfway around the world!
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