If you’re debating when to visit Hong Kong, it’s pretty simple – don’t come in July and August. Don’t even think about it. In fact, the city is a bit of a ghost town during these months, as even the residents try to escape the heat, humidity, and typhoons. Offices overcompensate for the sweltering heat with vicious amount of air con, so summer actually becomes the cold/flu season, as people constantly switch between furnace and fridge. Air quality is also worse during this time of year, which can make outdoor activities and exploring the city far less pleasant.
Late November to mid-Feb is “winter”. It can get down to about 10-12 degrees Celsius, which isn’t all that bad. The weather tends to be dry, particularly in comparison to the summer typhoon season. If you enjoy hiking, this is a good time to visit, as the cooler weather is perfect for exploring Hong Kong’s many trails. It’s worth bearing in mind that Chinese New Year usually falls in February, which means plenty of entertainment and events, but also pricier flights.
Spring and autumn are when Hong Kong is at its best. The humidity isn’t yet ridiculously high, nor do the typhoons take over. It’s nice and warm, giving you plenty of opportunity to get to the beach as well as explore the city.
Hiking in Hong Kong
The stereotype of Hong Kong is skyscrapers and partying, and that’s definitely a big part of city life! What makes HK unique, though, is that a 20-minute ferry ride can take you to beautiful islands, mountains, and beaches. Hong Kongers know how to make the most of the country as well as the city. Here are some of try favorite spots for Hong Kong hiking:
1 | Tai Tam Reservoir
A bus from central quickly gets you to the starting point for this hike. Unlike quite a few of the other trails, it’s not too hilly, so it’s a good one to pick if you’re after great scenery and not too much hard work. The trail is mostly wooded, and skirts the edge of the mountain so you get some fantastic views over beaches and the reservoir. It’s less busy than some of the other trails, so I always find this a relaxing walk.
2 | Man Cheung Po Infinity Pool
Over on Lantau island, it takes a fair bit of effort to get to the start of this hike, but I think the train and bus rides are absolutely worth it. You’ll see another side of Hong Kong walking through the fishing village of Tai O, before heading up the mountain. There are some stairs — but only for the second part of the hike — and you’ll find the most incredible view of the infinity pool (aka reservoir).
3 | Dragon’s Back
Well-known and much-loved, it’s a great weekend hike that starts near to the city center and brings you out near the picturesque Shek O or Big Wave Bay, depending on where you choose to leave the trail. The total distance is around 8.5 kilometers.
4 | Twin Peaks
I have an issue with this hike: it’s actually three peaks, not two as the name suggests! And they are all hard work. It’s a popular trail so is well-maintained, and mostly consists of (many, many) steps cut into the mountains. The advantage is it’ll bring you out at Stanley for a well-earned beer and a break, but this hike is hard work. Did I mention the steps?
5 | The Peak
There are a couple of different starting point options for this hike. The easiest to find (but longest) is from the tram terminus – feel superior over those taking the easy way up as you stride past (though you may regret it ten minutes later). I prefer starting in mid-levels, near Conduit/Po Shan Road. You join the trail higher up, getting an easier walk with all the views, and quickly finding your way to the peak.
The Best Beaches in Hong Kong
Fun fact: Hong Kong has 41 beaches, 32 of which have shark nets, so…um…watch your toes!
Your first decision when it comes to beaches is whether to stay on Hong Kong island or head further afield. The main island beaches tend to have better facilities and be more polished, family-friendly affairs, but can get very crowded as a result. With quieter beaches just a ferry ride away, I’d recommend being adventurous and heading further afield for a lazy island afternoon. Here are my top picks!
1 | Hong Kong island
· Repulse Bay: set in an upmarket residential area it’s well-maintained, though if you can’t nip back to your penthouse across the street there’s not much in the way of food. It’s not a beach I really warmed to, but remains popular with families for safety of the shark nets and lifeguards.
· Shek O: one of, if not the most popular beaches on HK island. It’s got plenty of facilities from cafés to crazy golf, as well as the basics like showers. Throw in the shark nets and life guards and you’ve got a comfortable trip to the beach.
· Tai Long Wan/Big Wave Bay: the name says it all — Hong Kong’s only officially recognized surf beach, but the term’s used loosely, as waves only really pick up in wilder weather. A bit more secluded than the other HK island beaches, it’s a good bet for somewhere less crowded, and connects to many of the island’s hiking trails. It’s got a good range of facilities with a BBQ area, toilets, showers, and a small café/shop for drinks and snacks.
2 | Lamma Island
· Lo So Shin: with views back to the mainland, but also the infamous power station, this beach can suffer from litter, but on a good day it’s beautiful. Good to relax before or after a hike, there are vendors selling frozen pineapple slices which are perfect in the heat.
3 | Cheung Chau Island
· Tung Wan: by no means the prettiest, but Cheung Chau is probably my favorite island and tends to be a bit less crowded (relatively speaking!). There are some short trails around the island too, so you can stretch your legs after sunbathing.
4 | Peng Chau Island
· Tung Wan (again – popular name, different place): this often-overlooked island has the benefit of a quiet beach and tons of character. The beach also has a BBQ area, making it great for groups after something a little different. If your BBQ doesn’t work out there’s plenty of choice for food on the main street near the ferry terminal, a short walk from the beach.
5 | Lantau island
· Mui Wo, Silver Mine Bay: My favorite beach! Despite being heaven on earth it’s always pretty quiet. There are one or two local restaurants, a shop to buy drinks and BBQ equipment, and a small park for kids. Several hiking trails lead off from here so you can relax before heading off into the hills.