What to do on a long layover in Hong Kong

Have a long stop-over in Hong Kong, or are visiting HK for a few days and want to do a hike? Dragon’s Back Trail and Lantau Peak are two great options. We’ve done both hikes on trips when we had 12 hour stopovers in Hong Kong airport.

Dragon’s Back Trail

This easy hike is on Hong Kong Island. It doesn’t have too much elevation gain, but high enough to have gorgeous ocean views. It’s a great way to break up a long layover.

The trail – This 9 km hike is on a well-marked, good trail that is mostly dirt but has a few places with wooden steps. Elevation gain is approx. 180 m which is just enough to get the views without being too strenuous. There is no shelter on the trail, so check out the weather forecast ahead.

From the trail-head the hike immediately climbs up a dirt trail, with a few wooden stairs. At first you are surrounded by shrubs without much of a view, but don’t worry it will get better. The trail continues to climb for approximately 180 m (30 min) to the top of Shek O Peak. There are a few lovely lookout points on the way.

The trail then follows the ridge where you have 360° views. You can see Shek O Beach, Big Wave Bay, and parts of the city toward Tai Tam Harbour. After 1 ¼ hr the path splits. You can either return back to your starting point, or continue to Big Wave Bay. The trail to Big Wave Bay is on a paved trail and soon is covered in trees but is still a nice walk.

What to bring – Running or light hiking shoes, water, sunblock, a hat, a spare t-shirt for your next flight. Don’t forget to bring a jacket for wind or rain (depending on the weather forecast). As you can see from our pictures, it was a cloudy, rainy day when we were there.

Fee – The great thing about this trek is it is absolutely free!

Trekking time – 2 – 2 ½ hours

Travel time to and from airport – 2 hours eacb way.

Getting to the trek – If you’re coming from the airport, like we did:
• Catch Bus #S1 from the airport. You’ll find it outside the International Terminal by following the bus signs to the exit and then the S1 signs. Take the bus to Tung Chung MTR ($3.50 HKD, 7min).
• From Tung Chung, take the Orange Metro Line to Central Station ($26HKD, 30 min).
• From Central Station take the Blue Metro Line to Shau Kei Wan Station ($9 HKD, 20min).
• Walk across the parking lot to the bus station and take double-decker Bus #9 to Tei Wan Stop on Sheko road. ($7.20 HKD, 25 min). Ring the bell for the driver to stop. There will most likely be other hikers getting off here too. Instead of this bus, you could take the Red Minibus ($10 HKD) from Shau Kei Wan Station.
• The trek begins behind Tei Wan Stop. There are very clean toilets here if needed.

Getting back to the airport – The trail ends in Tai Long Wan village where you can catch the Red Minibus on the main road and return to Shai Kie Wan Station ($10 HKD). From there, retrace your steps back to the airport.


Lantau Peak

This is a steep hike to the top of the second highest peak in Hong Kong, Lantau Peak (934m). The lookout point above the Big Buddha offers awesome 360° views of Lantau Island. If you do this hike you can also visit Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery.

The trail – You can hike to Lantau Peak via two different trails. Both trails are well marked, in excellent condition and are a combination of dirt path, rock and wooden steps. From the top of Lantau Peak , the trail is connected to the much longer Lantau Trail which can be explored if you have time.

  1. Option 1 is to hike the trail that begins near the Big Buddha and returns to the same spot. It’s a steep trail climbing 440m in 2 ½ km, but you can visit the Big Buddha before or after your hike.
  2. Option 2 is to do a one-way hike beginning from Pak Kung Au, hiking to Lantau Peak and then ending at the Big Buddha. It’s less steep as it climbs 500m over 3 ½ km.

The trail is very straightforward, passing between low-lying shrubs in the short climb to the top of the peak. There are beautiful views along the way, and from the top you can see much of Lantau Island, Big Buddha and possibly as far as the airport.

What to bring – Running or light hiking shoes, water, sunblock, a hat and a spare t-shirt for your next flight. Don’t forget to bring a jacket for wind or rain (depending on the weather forecast).

Fee – There is no fee to do the trek or the visit the Big Buddha but bring money for lunch at Po Lin Monastery.

Trekking time – From Big Buddha – Ascent 1-1 ½ hrs, descent – 45 min

Travel time to/from the airport – 30 Min if by cable car, 50 min by 23 Bus, each way.

Getting to the trek – if you’re coming from the airport, like we did:
• Catch Bus #S1 from the airport. You’ll find it outside the International Terminal by following the bus signs to the exit and then the S1 signs. Take the bus to Tung Chung MTR ($3.50 HKD, 7min).
• For option 1 trek: From Tung Chung either take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car ($160 HKD, 25 min) to Ngong Ping Village (Big Buddha) or catch 23 Bus to Ngong Ping Village ($17 HKD, 40 min). It’s a winding road that travels across the island and offers wonderful ocean views.
• For option 2 trek: If you want to hike from Pak Kung Au and end at Big Buddha, from Tung Chung MTR take the 3M Bus and get off at Pak Kung Au bus stop ($6 HKD, 15 min). Tell the driver when you board the bus that you want to stop at Pak Kung Au.

To return to the airport – take either the cable car or Bus 23 back to Tung Chung and then take S1 Bus to the airport.

Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery

Before or after your hike to Lantau Peak, walk up the 268 steps to the 34m tall, bronze Big Buddha statue. You can walk around the statue on a kora pathway. In addition to seeing the monument and its temples up close, you have great views of the countryside.

At the base of the Big Buddha is the important Po Lin Monastery. It’s a large Buddhist monastery made in traditional architectural style. The monastery has an inexpensive cafeteria-style restaurant called Vegetarian Kitchen. There are also many shops and restaurants in nearby Ngong Ping 360.

Coming up next: Temples of Bali

For extra pictures from other blogs go to Gallery at monkeystale.ca

To read about more of our adventures go to Destinations.

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