Story by Petti Fong
HONG KONG – Visitors to Hong Kong spend most of their time looking up.
The view from the bustling street level almost shuts out the sky. Hong Kong is home to some of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers with the tallest, the International Commerce Centre, a jaw-dropping 118 floors of glass and steel.
In this bustling city of 7.2 million, residents are crammed into tight spaces. It’s hard to remember sometimes that within the 1,000 square kilometres (386 square miles) that is Hong Kong, about 70 per cent of that is rural and the city has hundreds of hiking trails, most easily accessible by public transit.
One of the easiest to get to is Victoria Peak, better known simply as The Peak, always with a capital T. A quick subway ride from the Central MTR takes you to the funicular railway Peak Tram, which pulls passengers up 368 metres (a quarter of a mile) and at a steep incline that will leave your heart pounding.
At the top, don’t just snap some pictures and head back down as many do. Take Lugard Road at the Peak Tower for a trail walk that ends at Harlech Road past a waterfall. The path is flat and walkable.
Slightly more strenuous, but with a greater reward in the end, is Shek O Country Park, which a few years ago was voted Asia’s best urban trail. The 4.5-kilometre (1.7 mile) trail up Mount Collinson is of moderate difficulty and takes about two and a half hours, straddling city life and nature. Some houses are spectacularly grand here, while others in shabby villages are tiny and open to peer inside.
On one side, rows of white flats stagger the side of a cliff, which look to me like jagged teeth with cavities the size of windows. Down below are surfers, paragliders and even golfers. Head down along Shek O Road to Shek O beach and keep going towards Tai Long Wan where surfers are in action year round. The beaches here are not overly crowded. Cycling alongside the seaside, it’s hard to remember how close the skyscrapers are to nature.
Hong Kong is one of the most densely packed cities in the world and on the streets it’s all about moving with the crowd.
For those wanting more rigorous exercise, there’s the 100-kilometre (39 mile) MacLehose Trail, made easier in chunks. On Section 4, ranked extremely difficult, the hikers, including the hearty and the not-so-hearty like me, still managed fine with stops along the way to see the view below. Among those who hike the MacLehose regularly are soldiers from the Chinese army.
The five-hour, nearly 13-kilometre (five mile) trail in Section 4 takes hikers through vistas that include majestic rock formations in the ocean below and a view of the Sha Tin horseracing track.At the top of one peak Janice To and Matthew Lui, regular hikers, stopped to gaze.“We can look all around here, 360 degrees,” says To. “When you’re in Hong Kong, all you’re doing is looking up. But here, you can see everything.”
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Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Hong Kong Tourism Board via Glam Media Canada. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Hong Kong Tourism Board.