How To Hike The Dragon’s Back Trail, Hong Kong
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The Dragon’s Back Trail is undoubtedly one of the most scenic hikes in Hong Kong. It also happens to be one of the easiest hikes to complete and the most conveniently located to start and finish. Because of all of this awesomeness, the Dragon’s Back Trail has rightfully earned its top spot as the most popular hiking trail in Hong Kong.
Of course, with popularity comes people, so don’t expect to have the entire thing to yourself. But don’t worry, the best thing about Dragon’s Back is that there are plenty of views to share, even on a crowded day.
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What makes Dragon’s Back so famous?
Those beautiful ocean views that’s what. Now, if you’ve ever hiked in Hong Kong you know that the trails there are no strangers to ocean views, Hong Kong is a collection of islands after all, but what makes the Dragon’s Back section so unique is the sheer number of kilometers of trail those views stretch on for.
The trail snakes its way up and down a completely exposed ridgeline on top of the mountains with the ocean on either side. So instead of hiking up to a viewpoint, you’re hiking up to a gigantic view mural that’s so big you can walk for half an hour and still be looking at the same incredible view. The topography of the trail is reminiscent of the shape of a Chinese dragon’s back, hence the name, Dragon’s Back Trail.
How Long Is The Dragon’s Back Trail?
7 kilometers (4.3 miles) which takes between 2-3 hours to complete depending on how fast of a hiker you are.
The Dragon’s Back Trail is actually just a branch off of section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail.
The only hard part about hiking the Dragon’s Back Trail is the around 250 steps you have to walk up at the start. Other than that it’s basically flat and then rolling up and down once you hit the “dragon’s back” section.
What You Should Bring To Hike Dragon’s Back
There is nowhere to get water once you hit the trail, so come prepared with enough to last the hike. On a hot day, which it is around 7 months out of the year in Hong Kong you should aim to carry 1.5 liters. The beginning section of the trail is shaded, but once you hit the dragon’s back portion you’ll be completely exposed to the sun and it’ll get hot quick.
No one likes to get hangry, or to be around others who are, so it’s never a bad idea to bring some snacks on the trail. Also, while the actual hike only takes 2-3 hours the trail ends right near the beach so you’ll probably end up spending some time there at the end of your walk, extending your time frame. Remember, you’re not you when you’re hungry.
Where To Start The Dragon’s Back Trail
To start hiking the Dragon’s Back Trail you have two options.
1. Take the metro to Chai Wan Station (the last stop on the island line) and walk 1 kilometer to the Hong Kong Trail parking lot.
2. Take the metro to Shau Kei Wan Station, transfer to Bus #9 towards Shek O and get off at the To Tei Wan bus stop.
Each of these options has you hiking the trail in a different direction. Option two drops you off right at the trailhead on Shek O Road whereas with option 1 you have to walk around 1 km to get to the start of the trail.
How To Get To The Dragon’s Back Trailhead
Option 1: Walking From The Chai Wan Metro Station
1. Exit the Chai Wan metro station using Exit A.
Walk through the mall and take the first outdoor walkway on your right.
2. Walk straight on the catwalk and go down the stairs at Wan Tsui Road.
Wan Tsui Road is the road on the left-hand side of the tall glass building called Youth Square.
3. Walk straight on Wan Tsui Road for 200 meters.
4. Turn left onto Ling Shing Road.
5. Follow Ling Shing Road for 450 meters until it dead ends at a crossroad (Cape Collinson Road).
Straight in front of you, you’ll see the entrance to Cape Collinson Catholic Cemetery.
6. Walk through the entrance to the cemetery and take the first set of stairs in front of you on the left-hand side of the cemetery.
7. Walk straight up the stairs until you reach a road.
8. Follow the road until you come to another set of stairs.
9. Take the first set of stairs you see going up from the road.
10. Go up the stairs until you reach a parking lot and rest area.
You have now reached the Hong Kong Trail.
11. Turn right towards the parking lot/road and away from the rest area.
12. Follow the paved road towards Tai Tam Gap.
13. Walk along the paved road for 1 km until you reach a signpost and road on your left.
This is the Dragon’s Back trailhead.
14. Turn left onto the side path following the signs towards Shek O Peak and Dragon’s Back.
You are now on the Dragon’s Back Trail.
Option 2: Take the bus to To Tei Wan
1. Take the metro to Shau Kei Wan Station and exit using Exit A3.
2. At the bus station next to the exit take Bus #9 towards Shek O.
3. Get off at the To Tei Wan bus stop.
The Dragon’s Back trailhead is right across the street from the bus stop. You’ll see a trail map and sign for the Hong Kong Trail Section 8 and Dragon’s Back.
Hiking the Dragon’s Back Trail
No matter which option you take to get to the Dragon’s Back Trail you’ll have to walk up a couple hundred steps. Hong Kong doesn’t believe in switchbacks so all of their trails just go straight up the mountain, most of which utilize stairs to do so. But don’t worry, walking up the steps to the ridgeline is the hardest part.
If you use option 1, you’ll have completed most of your steps before you ever reach the Dragon’s Back trailhead. If you choose option two, you’ll be starting your Dragon’s Back hike going up the 200 or so steps that the option 1 hikers will be going down at the end of their hike.
Option 1 Hike (From Chai Wan Metro Station)
Once you leave the paved road the trail winds through the woods along the edge of the mountain. There are no views at this point, but it’s a beautiful wooded walk under a canopy of trees. If you’re doing this hike during the summer months that shade will be a godsend. Relish it.
You’ll be walking through the woods for around 2 kilometers before the trail turns left and heads up onto the “dragon’s back”. This is where it gets cool.
All of the sudden you climb above the tree line and emerge on the spine of the mountain with incredible ocean views all around you. You’ll hike for another 2 kilometers with breathtaking views the entire time before the trail turns and heads down the mountain.
After walking down the steps you’ll end up at the other trailhead on Shek O Road. From here you can take Bus #9 towards Shek O and head either Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay Beach) or Shek O Beach, or cross the street and take Bus #9 in the opposite direction back to the city and get off at Shau Kei Wan Metro Station.
Option 2 Hike (From Shek O Road Trailhead)
After you get off the bus the entrance to the Dragon’s Back Trail will be across the street in front of you. Walk straight and head up the stairs. After walking up around 200 steps, your efforts will be rewarded with an incredible view of the ocean on either side of you.
This is the part of the trail that Dragon’s Back gets its name from, as for around 2 kilometers you’ll walking straight along the rolling ridgeline marveling at the blue ocean views. the highest point of the trail is Shek-O Peak at 284 meters.
After 2 kilometers of walking the trail comes to a T intersection with the Hong Kong Trail. Turn right and follow the signs for the Hong Kong Trail Section 8 towards Big Wave Bay.
After another 2 kilometers of hiking the trail again comes to a T intersection at a paved road. Turn right to stay on Section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail and follow the signs for Big Wave Bay.
You’ll follow the road for 1 kilometer where you’ll come to a parking lot and rest area. From here you can either keep walking straight through the rest area and follow the signs to Big Wave Bay or take the stairs on your left down to Cape Collinsion Cemetery and out to the Chai Wan Metro Station.
Where To End Your Hike
No matter which direction you hike the trail in I would highly recommend ending at Big Wave Bay Beach or Shek O Beach. The beaches in Hong Kong are amazing. The water is so blue and beaches are incredibly clean and fun to hang out on. Plus there’s simply no better way to end a hike than with a dip in the ocean, especially on a hot day!
How To Get Back To Hong Kong City From The Dragon’s Back Trail
From Big Wave Bay
Take either Bus #9 or the Express Mini Bus to Shau Kei Wan Metro Station.
From Shek O Road
Take Bus #9 to Shau Kei Wan Metro Station.
From Cape Collinson Cemetery
1. Walk straight out of the cemetery onto Lin Shing Road.
2. Follow Lin Shing Road until it ends at a T intersection with Wan Tsui Road.
3. Turn right onto Wan Tsui Road.
4. Walk for 200 meters until you reach the traffic circle.
5. Walk up the stairs onto the pedestrian walkway to cross the road and follow the signs for the Chai Wan Metro Station.
Happy Hiking, my friends!
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