Urban dwellers craving a mix of exciting city life and quiet nature escapes can get the best of both worlds in Hong Kong, and we’re not even talking about Victoria Peak or Dragon’s Back. 

Victoria Peak - Guide to Timelapses in Asia

First published: 20 Jan 2019

Hong Kong is often dismissed as “just another Singapore”, but did you know 70% of it is actually pure greenery? Not many do, which makes it the perfect city to uncover some of the more underrated escapes.

For those craving more nature in a city, here are 9 lesser-known gems with views you might enjoy aside from places like Victoria Peak.

Also read: 5D Hong Kong Itinerary — A Guide To Exploring the Different Sides of Hong Kong

1) Sai Kung Islands (西貢) — West Dam, Tiu Chung Arch, Elephant Trunk Cave, Tai Chi Rock


The best way to get around here is to hop on a boat! You can hire one from Sai Kung Pier and check out some of the best sights like West Dam, Tiu Chung Arch, Elephant Trunk Cave, and Tai Chi Rock.

The Naturally Formed Tai Chi Rock Around High Island - Hong Kong's Outdoors

The Tai Chi Rock, aptly named from its shape resembling a person practicing tai chi.

If you’re prone to getting seasick, do bring along pills as the current tends to get choppy at times!

For a guided tour, the guides on the Geopark boat tour help make the experience more personal. We learnt about the best summertime activities in the area, and how a cluster of unassuming ships actually served as detention centres for maritime criminals!

Cost: Varies (depending on the tour operator)
How to get there: Walk 7mins from Diamond Hill MTR Station to Diamond Hill (Choi Hung Road) Public Transport Interchange. Take Green Mini Bus 1A and alight at Fuk Man Road Public Light Bus Terminus; outside King Wah Building (11 stops). Walk 2mins (Google Maps)

2) Pineapple Mountains (菠蘿山)

Pineapple Mountains Terrain - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

Photo credit: Jhing Explore via Facebook

Dubbed Hong Kong’s equivalent of the Grand Canyon, its yellow-hued, weathered rocks resemble the famed pineapple buns of Hong Kong. From the peak, you can even see the coastline of Shenzhen! The hike up Pineapple Mountains is generally easy, except for a few tricky slopes along the path.

The ground is sandy and slippery, so exercise caution when traversing the rocks. The location is also near Tsing Shan Firing Range, so check the official website for the military firing practice schedule (updated monthly).

How to get there: From Tuen Mun MTR Light Rail Station, take Tram 505 to San Wai Station. Continue down the road until you reach a trail path heading upwards. The best way to get back is the same way down (Google Maps)

3) High Island Reservoir — East Dam (萬宜水庫東壩)

Dolosse Blocks at High Island Reservoir East Dam in Sai Kung - Hong Kong's Outdoors

Gigantic dolosse concrete blocks are used to prevent water from eroding the dam.

Lo and behold, the pièce de résistance across Hong Kong’s entire Geopark — the East Dam of High Island Reservoir. Get up close with gigantic dolosse blocks, a sea cave, and iconic S-shaped hexagonal rock columns formed from volcanic activity.

Group Shot with the S-Shaped Hexagonal Columns - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

S-shaped hexagonal rock columns formed from prior volcanic activity.

The East Dam is also the start of the MacLehose Trail. Take a 10 to 15-minute walk up the path to experience a view of the South China Sea even better than from East Dam.

High Island Reservoir East Dam - Hong Kong's Outdoors

How to get there: Take a taxi up to the East Dam from Sai Kung Pier. Getting back to Sai Kung Pier might be tricky if there are no cabs; if possible, get the phone number from your taxi driver, or try your luck carpooling with other tourists (Google Maps)


*Note: You can also take the green minibus 9A from Pak Tam Chung Bus Terminus to the East Dam of High Island Reservoir (3 stops). However, bus services are only available on weekends and public holidays.

*Pro-tip: Alternatively, book an East Dam Half-day Tour if you don’t want to worry about transportation! For enquiries, contact the Volcano Discovery Centre at 8200 0248.

4) Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls (梧桐寨瀑布)

Tai Mo Shan Middle Fall - Hong Kong Outdoors

Situated on Tai Mo Shan (AKA Hong Kong’s tallest peak at 957m-high), the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls comprise four different waterfalls named after their altitudes — the Bottom Fall, Middle Fall, Main Fall and Scatter Fall. Clear signposts are scattered throughout the 5km trail, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost!

How to get there: From Tai Wo MTR Station, walk 1min to Tai Wo Plaza. Take Bus 64K and alight at Ng Tung Chai (14 stops). Alternatively, take the Green Mini Bus 25K and alight at the same stop. To return, take Bus 64K in the opposite direction back to Tai Wo MTR Station (Google Maps)

5) Hakka Villages — Wu Kau Tang (烏蛟騰), Sam A Tsuen (三椏村), Lai Chi Wo (荔枝窩)

Aerial View of Lai Chi Wo Village - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

Explore some of the few Hakka villages left in Hong Kong — trek through nature from Wu Kau Tang to Lai Chi Wo, and spot Yan Chau Tong Marine Park (印洲塘海岸公園) along the way. Witness how the remaining villagers live while appreciating the unique Hakka architecture.

View of Yan Chau Tong Marine Park - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

The view of Yan Chau Tong Marine Park en route to Lai Chi Wo.

The total hike could take around 3 to 3.5 hours, so pack food and drinks to refuel!

Inside an Abandoned House in Lai Chi Wo - Hong Kong's Outdoors

Inside an abandoned house in Lai Chi Wo.

With the guided Lai Chi Wo Hiking Tour, you can also glean insights into the villages’ history and restoration efforts, as well as explore abandoned ancient villages along the way.

Cost: HK$1,000/pax (~S$171), includes round trip transport and lunch
Duration: ~6.5hrs
Meeting point: Tai Po Market MTR Station

6) Clear Water Bay (清水灣)

High Junk Peak - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

Photo credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board

In just 2 – 3 hours on this hike following the Clear Water Bay Country Trail, be greeted with an expansive view of the blue waters from the High Junk Peak (釣魚翁) — one of the three sharpest peaks in Hong Kong. As you head downhill after the 7km hike, you may even catch a glimpse of Ninepin Island (果洲), Tung Lung Island (東龍洲), and Lion Rock Hill (獅子山)!

*Pro-tip: On the trail, you will encounter forks in the path that have no signs. Always go with the left in such cases, as they offer better views than the right 😉

How to get there: From Tseung Kwan O MTR, walk 8mins to Tseung Kwan O Station Public Transport Interchange. Take Green Mini Bus 103M and alight at Clear Water Bay Second Beach (5 stops). Then take another green minibus 103 and alight at Clear Water Bay Road; near Sheung Sze Wan Road (3 stops). Hike 24mins to High Junk Peak (Google Maps)

7) Fan Lau, Lantau South (分流, 南大嶼山)

Along the Lantau Trail - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

If you’re headed to Lantau Island, get your hiking shoes on and walk along the Lantau Trail (鳳凰徑) from Fan Lau. It runs for 70km ending in Mui Wo town, but is split into 12 sections that you can choose to hike depending on your time and ability — each offering top-down sea views, beaches and unspoilt nature.

Depending on your route, you may also hike to the famous Fan Lau Fort (分流炮台), which once served as a military lookout.

Tai O Fishing Village - Hong Kong's Outdoors

Tai O Fishing Village.

End off your hike in Tai O (大澳) Fishing Village and walk through the market for street snacks, dried seafood and souvenirs. You can also further embark on boat tours that take you along the fishing village for a more intimate experience with the residents!

*Pro-tip: For those who don’t have the stamina for hiking, opt for a Lantau Cultural and Heritage Insight Tour instead! Besides Tai O Fishing Village, you’ll also visit other famous attractions like the Giant Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, and Ngong Ping Village.

How to get there: Take an 11min taxi ride from Tung Chung MTR Station to the Lantau Trail (Google Maps)

8) Discovery Bay (愉景灣) from Mui Wo (梅窩)

Discovery Bay - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

Photo credit: 香港愉景灣 Visit Discovery Bay via Facebook

This 10km trail involves climbing lots of stairs (so prepare to sweat) and bring a water bottle in case it gets too hot! It’s not the easiest of hikes but most of the trail is paved, which means you’re unlikely to get lost.

Along the way, you’ll also be treated to views of Lantau and Sunset Peaks, and even a glimpse of Lamma Island on a cloudless day.

The trail ends at Mui Wo, which has a food centre right beside the ferry pier. Grab a meal or cold beer while waiting for your ferry back to Hong Kong Island!

How to get there: Take a 30min ferry ride from Central Pier 3 to Discovery Bay Ferry Pier. Walk 18mins to Discovery Bay (Google Maps)

9) Sharp Island, Sai Kung (橋咀洲, 西貢)

Sharp Island - Hong Kong Outdoors

Photo credit: Hong Kong Tourism Board

A 10-minute boat ride away from Sai Kung Pier, Sharp Island is on the edge of a gigantic area where a cluster of volcanoes erupted and collapsed 140 million years ago, leaving a crater known as a caldera.

The island is also known for its quartz monzonite rocks resembling the famous Hong Kong Pineapple Bun (bo lo bao) and gives off a reddish glow when directly under the sun.

During low tides, a 250m-long tombolo (or sand bar) connects Sharp Island to a smaller island nearby, Kiu Tau (橋頭) which you can walk across (pictured above).

Geopark Guide Explaining the Volcanic Rock Formations on Sharp Island - Lesser-Known Sights in Hong Kong

To learn more about the natural rock features and Hong Kong’s history of volcanoes, head to the Volcano Discovery Centre at Sai Kung Pier, which also showcases different types of hexagonal rock columns around the world.

If you’re a nature buff, the Lion’s Nature Education Centre houses elaborate exhibitions including a seashell museum and bird-watching garden. Our Geopark guide was not only super passionate and knowledgeable about rocks, but she could also recognise specific birds just from the sounds they make too!

Lions Nature Education Centre on the Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region Tour - Hong Kong's Outdoors

Lions Nature Education Centre.

How to get there: From Sai Kung Pier, hire a round-trip ride from a boat vendor to Sharp Island. To get to the Lion’s Nature Education Centre, take Bus 92 from Sai Kung Bus Terminus (3min walk from the pier) and alight at Pak Kong (北港) (4 stops). Then walk 5mins (Google Maps)

Travel Essentials for exploring Hong Kong’s outdoors

Scatter Falls in Tai Mo Shan

Here are some must-haves to help make your experience more enjoyable when heading to these lesser-known sights in Hong Kong:

Comfortable hiking shoes: To get to these areas requires lots of walking, and sometimes through dirt paths and rocky terrains. Having appropriate yet comfortable footwear gives you the right support when tackling uneven ground — it definitely saved my ankles 🥾

Sufficient water and food: Some of these places are more remote and there’s no nearby convenient stores. So be sure to load up before you head off from the closest MTR station. Trust us, we realised just bringing our water bottle wasn’t enough — get that 1.5L of water!

Real-time weather forecast app: Avoid poor weather by downloading Hong Kong Observatory’s MyObservatory app to get real-time updates on the weather. It takes a photo every 5 minutes with the weather cameras all over the city. So whether you’re hiking on Lantau Island or venturing into Sai Kung, you’ll know if the skies are clear that day!

Engage a local guide: It can get frustrating when there isn’t enough information on how to get to these lesser-known places. We hired an experienced, local guide to bring us to the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls. Our guide knew the best way to all four falls and we even went off the beaten path to see the falls from lesser-known viewpoints.

What other lesser-known sights should we explore in Hong Kong? Share with us in the comments below!

This post was brought to you by Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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  1. Awesome article here. I have been to Hong Kong for more than 20 times but there are some interesting places in this articles that I have not been to before. Is the Pineapple Mountains (菠蘿山) and Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls (梧桐寨瀑布) – are these suitable for children age 7 years old?

    • Hi Chuen Buan,

      Glad you found this useful! The terrain at the Pineapple Mountain is quite sandy and slippery, so it may not be so safe for children who like to move around. The Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls would be fine, though bear in mind the entire trail is 5km, so children may get tired halfway through.



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