The "Dragon's Back" hiking trail sign in Hong Kong, with islands in the background

Hiking Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong

We, mainly Ben, have been talking about going hiking together for more than half a year. Finally, we did it. We hiked Dragon’s Back.

Dragon’s Back is the most popular hike in Hong Kong. It’s popular for 3 reasons. It’s easy to get to, it has great views of mountains and of the sea and beaches below. And it’s not too difficult.

First things we did was go to the supermarket and stock up on 2 litres of water each and plenty of biscuits. Then hop on the MTR to MTR Shau Kei Wan and then a bus to the starting point.

As soon as you get off the bus, there is a sign pointing towards Dragon’s Back. You go straight into the forest and up. Straight up lots of steps.

There is absolutely no flat or slight incline section at the beginning to warm up. Combine this and the fact it has been a long time since either of us had done any hiking and after an embarrassingly short time, all four of our combined legs are burning with each step.

Before long, we had finished going up the steps and reemerged from the forest. A quick sip of water, some time viewing the surroundings and our legs were ready to go again, leaving the steps behind.

Large stones in the path of Dragon's Back, Hong Kong

Seeing the path ahead just made us wonder, “does my insurance cover a twisted ankle”. Thankfully, the path looks worse than it is. If you want to go straight, then you’ll be climbing, jumping and scrambling over the sprinkling of rocks. We opted to stick to the well-trodden path that snakes around them.

View of Shek O from Dragon's Back Hiking Trail in Hong Kong

On the way up, we caught a glimpse of a beach and a town. After checking the map, we realised that it is Shek O, the town where the hike will end. Confusingly, and worryingly, the trail heads aways from Shek O.

At the end of the hike, we were able to view the hike plotted on a map and see that it is U-shaped. The beginning and end are really close, it’s almost a loop.

Mountain Ridge on Dragon's Back Hiking Trail in Hong Kong

After just 40 minutes we reached the top of the mountain. That seemed very quick, no wonder our legs were aching at the beginning, we must have been close to running up. Thinking back, the bus does drive you most of the way up and we weren’t hiking particularly quick, but at the time we felt like athletes.

When you reach the top, you’ll be able to pose and take pictures with the famed Dragon’s Back sign to your heart’s content. But the true beauty lies when you look along the ridge of the mountain. That is the dragon’s back. The mountain is a dragon, and the ridge is its back.

And now you hike along the Dragon’s Back!

Posing on a bench on Dragon's Back Hiking Trail in Hong Kong

But only for a short while because there are some benches about 10 minutes later for some more posing!

This is a good point to eat your picnic, but remember to take your rubbish with you. Then continue along the Dragon’s Back, and keep your camera in hand as there are so many gorgeous views.

Most of the views are of the sea, islands, beaches, trees and mountains. But as the path starts to turn on itself you can see Chai Wan, which is at the end of the MTR Island Line and Kowloon.

View of Chai Wan from Dragon's Back Hiking Trail in Hong Kong

Along the ridge, there are many ups and many downs, with a few flat sections of sprinkled between. One particular downhill section seemed to go on for a quite a long time.

We knew this was bad, the more we go down, the more we will need to go up later. The path kept going down… and down… and down. And then suddenly… it didn’t go up, it just continued down.

We wondered whether we had already peaked and were instead just heading to the bottom.

Sure enough, the path opens up on to some steps and at the bottom of the steps is the beach. Big Wave Bay.

A man walking with his surfboard at Big Wave Bay Beach, Hong Kong

We knew that the beach was at the end, and were expecting to have just finished a tiring hike and need to cool off in the sea. In reality, we were still carrying most of the water from earlier and, in contrast to hiking the steps at the beginning, felt quite relaxed.

The hike was much quicker and easier than we were anticipating. It seems like it got easier and we had more energy as we progressed.

We weren’t hot, but as we had brought our swim wear and towels this far, we had to go for a swim in the sea.

Although it is called Big Wave Bay and there were a few surfers around, the waves were actually quite small that day. You may not even consider them to be waves. It was just a calm sea, perfect for swimming.

We swam and relaxed until dusk started to fall. Then we needed to complete the hike, so we dried off and made our way to the next beach along; Shek O.

BBQ at Shek O, Hong Kong

We planned to meet some friends at Shek O beach for a bbq in the evening after they had finished work. It was a Tuesday, so not everyone was free like us.

There are a few places to BBQ at Shek O. If you bring your own food you can do it on the beach. For the easier option, we went to an all-you-can-eat BBQ place. They provide everything you need, except beer. You can buy that from the shop next door.

You can just turn up and start BBQing. After an afternoon of hiking and swimming, we had worked up an appetite and could not manage to control our hunger enough to wait for most of our friends to turn up, so we had an extra long eating session!

We followed this Hiking Guide, which was very helpful and easy to follow.

We have subsequently used the same site for many other hikes in Hong Kong. There are loads and if you have more time, you should check some of them out. Be careful though, if a new hike is posted, you can be sure that 1000s of people will do it the following weekend and it will be very busy because that site used by most of the locals.

One problem that we found using a website is when your phone decides to refresh the page when there is no signal. If only there was an app… Well, Ben’s software company worked with them to create an app. You can easily follow the guide without signal and it’s a lot easier to discover new hikes. Available, for free, on iOS and Android.