The Outlying Gem | Po Toi Island

Hong Kong is made of several islands – some bigger than others, some more accessible than others. At the very “southern pole”, there lies an isolated gem – Po Toi Island. Situated a bit further away from Stanley, Po Toi Island boasts for its amazing landscape and scenery. If you are interested in weird and wonderful rock formations – this island is definitely for you!

 

Duration: 2-3 hours
Views: 5/5
Difficulty: 3/5

 

Transportation to Po Toi Island is quite tricky. Ferries to the island only run on Tuesday, Thursday and the weekends at very specific times from either Aberdeen or Stanley. Visit here to find out about the ferry’s timetable. If you so happen to miss a ferry but would still like to hike, I recommend hiking up Nam Long Shan if you’re in Aberdeen or go searching for the rhino if you’re in Stanley! A friendly reminder that there’s not a lot shade and tuck shops along the route – so do bring lots of water and wear a hat because it can get quite hot during summer!

I took the ferry ride from Aberdeen on a Thursday. It took around 50 minutes to get to the island. Take a turn to your right to get onto the trail en route to see different rock formations as well as the lighthouse!  Along the route, you’ll get a great view of the vast sea and crashing waves.

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Po Toi Island ferry pier
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Well demarcated route around the island
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Walking towards the light house along crashing waves

Not long you’ll reach a mini circular route – it doesn’t really matter which route you take first as you’ll be hitting the same spots, including the Buddha’s palm, turtle rock and light-house. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, feel free to venture a bit off trail, climbing up and down the rocks and reaching the ends of the island. At the southern-most tip of the island, you can look back onto Poi Toi Island itself and appreciate just how magnificent it is.

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Buddha’s palm
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Turtle rock
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Lighthouse
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Rocky landscape
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Looking back at the island from the southern-most tip

From the circular route onwards, the route becomes quite tough as it becomes very staircase heavy and the ascent is quite steep. Do take a lot of breaks during the ascent and stop to look back at the light house to enjoy a different view perspective of the island! The ascent takes around 45 minutes until you reach a pagoda for a well-deserved rest!

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The ascent
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Looking back at the circular route from above as well as the open sea
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Pagoda at the top – i.e. rest stop!

From the pagoda onwards, there will be a sign directing you back down to the ferry pier!

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The descent
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View of the pier, local cafes and mini beach on descent

At the ferry pier, there are many local cafes for you to grab and drink. Po Toi Island is known for its local production of seaweed – a lot of the cafes serve seaweed instant noodles which is worth a try!

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Egg and spam instant noodles with seaweed!

The Highest Point | Tai Mo Shan

The peak of Tai Mo Shan is the highest point in the whole of Hong Kong, sitting 957m above sea level. There are many ways to hike this giant monster – I definitely cheated and decided to drive all the way to Tai Mo Shan Road Top Car Park, which is already around 880m above sea level! There’s only one road up from the carpark so unfortunately (or fortunately), there won’t be much text regarding the hiking route.

 

Duration: 1-2 hours (from carpark and back)
Views: 5/5
Difficulty 1/5

 

The car park situates nicely next to a lovely lookout with a massive field of grass, looking out to the lands of Yuen Long, and Shenzhen, China beyond the sea border. This place is great for a picnic on a nice sunny day!

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Lookout just beside the carpark
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Yuen Long District and Shenzhen behind the sea

I also decided to walk a bit down along the car route to other lookouts which faces back at Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island.

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Glimpses of Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island

To get to the peak, head back to the car park and follow the car road up. It’s a gentle windy incline the whole way without any staircases. The more you ascend, the better the view.

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A better view of Lantau Island with the bridges that connect the different islands of Hong Kong

At one point, you’ll get a panoramic view from the Lion Rock all the way to the Lantau Peak – allowing you to appreciate the amazing urbanised infrastructure of Hong Kong.

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Windy incline of the route – with a panoramic view of the whole of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island
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Urban Hong Kong

As you walk further up, glimpses of Sha Tin will come into view, including Pat Sin Leng.

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The waters of Sha Tin – with Pat Sin Leng in the back

Not long, you’ll reach the peak – the Tai Mo Shan Fire Lookout Station! The view at the very top is surprisingly not as jaw dropping as along the route – but hey you’ve made it to the top of Hong Kong – that’s something to claim.

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The highest point of Hong Kong!

The Reservoir and Sea | Siu Ma Shan to Repulse Bay

Hong Kong has 17 reservoirs and 9 irrigation reservoirs. They were built as a source of local fresh water supply by the British during colonial times. Many of the reservoirs have family trails built around it. Tai Tam Reservoir is one of such reservoirs with a water heritage trail that takes you through the history of the reservoir.

Siu Ma Shan is an extension of Braemar Hill which gives you a wonderful 360 degrees view of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. A short detour can also bring you to the iconic sunset lookout spot of Victoria Harbour. From Siu Ma Shan, you can descend into Tai Tam Reservoir and Repulse Bay!

 

Duration: 3-4 hours to Quarry Bay, 4-5 hours to Repulse Bay via Tai Tam Reservoir
Views: 5/5
Difficulty 4/5

 

The route begins at Braemar Hill Bus Terminus near Chinese International School. This can be reached via minibuses 25 and 25A at Causeway Bay. Right opposite the bus terminus, there is a concrete alleyway on the left – this is where the trail starts. It is very well sign-posted. Not long, you’ll reach a split – to get to Siu Ma Shan, take the route on the left towards Braemar Hill. Feel free to take a little detour here on the right towards Jardine’s Lookout for Red Incense Burner Summit –where the breath-taking panoramic view of Victoria Harbour is located.

Along the route towards Siu Ma Shan, you’ll soon reach Sir Cecil’s Ride Stream Rest Area. Here, take the stairs on the right towards Siu Ma Shan. This is when the ascent begins – with many stairs to endure before reaching the top. As you walk up, you’ll get a good glimpse of Quarry Bay and its newly built office buildings. At the other end of the sea, there Kwun Tong and Lei Yue Mun, with Devil’s Peak at the tip. You’ll pass by a few receiving and signal stations along the way.

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Quarry Bay (closest to you), Devil’s Peak at the other end of the sea
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A glimpse of Victoria Harbour on the ascent

The real test begins after you’ve reached Siu Ma Shan Bridge. From the bridge, the ascent will become tougher – with less shade and just loads of stairs. Take rests every now and then – the view is spectacular the more you ascend with both the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon side in good view. As you go further up, the southern side of Hong Kong Island appears and soon you’ll see a cluster of water bodies surrounded by shorter green hills – that’s basically Tai Tam Reservoir!

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Tai Tam Reservoir from Siu Ma Shan

Not long you’ll reach the peak of Siu Ma Shan demarcated by a summit pole. There’s also a poster board that points out different landmarks in view at the peak. Continuing on the same route, you’ll descend into Quarry Bay Pavilion where you have a few options – you can either turn left and descend towards Quarry Bay. You can turn right which will bring you to Tai Tam Reservoir (and even further towards the Southern side of Hong Kong with many beaches for a dip!). There’s also a route which goes up again towards Quarry Pass.

How to get to Repulse Bay from Tai Tam Reservoir

Once you cross the Tai Tam Upper Dam, follow Tai Tam Reservoir Road along Sheung Tam Stream. You’ll then pass Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Masonry Bridge. Take a right turn once you have crossed the bridge. There will be a sign pointing towards Repulse Bay. Follow the route and in around 30-45 minutes time you should be reach Repulse Bay!

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Tai Tam Upper Dam
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Repulse Bay

For a similar hike, I would recommend Ma On Shan Country Trail!

View of the Boujee | Nam Long Shan

When I was a kid, taking the cable car at Ocean Park (arguably one of the best theme parks on this planet) would be one of my favourite things to do. Ocean Park is built on 2 parts – one on land and one on a hill separated by the sea. The cable car serves to connect them. Riding the cable car is both fun and frightening – you are surrounded by the green hills and glistening sea with a splendid view of the boujee area of Hong Kong Island – Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay. However, one would fearfully wonder what would happen if the cable car just plummets and rolls into the vast sea?

Due to COVID, Ocean Park is currently closed. Where would I be able to experience that view again? Luckily, Nam Long Shan is a quick and easy alternative (and definitely cheaper) to the cable car.

 

Duration: 2 hours (round-trip)
Views: 5/5
Difficulty: 2/5

 

The trail begins at Wong Chuk Hang station at Exit B. Descend the bridge and walk along Nam Long Shan Road. Once you walk pass a bus terminus and Singapore International School, Nam Long Shan Road takes a right turn and the incline starts to build. As you continue uphill, you’ll pass through several residential buildings as well as Canadian International School. From here onwards, it’ll look more like a hiking trail. Before taking the stairs up Nam Long Shan, take time to enjoy the view of Shum Wan which houses many yachts of the Aberdeen Marina Club and Ap Lei Chau.

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Shum Wan – Aberdeen Marina Club and Ap Lei Chau behind

 

Not long, there will be a set of stairs on your left that will bring you to Nam Long Shan Road Rest Garden. Walking another quick flight of stairs, you’ll reach Brick Hill Pavilion. At the Pavilion, you’ll get to see the first glimpse of Ocean Park on your left. On your right, there is Ap Lei Chau and bits of the Lamma Island behind (you can see the 3 iconic chimneys).

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Brick Hill Pavilion
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Panorama near Brick Hill Pavilion
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Lamma Island in the distance (3 chimneys)

From Brick Hill Pavilion onwards, the path will become more rocky but the incline is not as intense as the staircases earlier. At certain spots, you’ll be able to get a view of The Peak and Aberdeen.

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The Peak

Not long, you’ll reach a helipad – the highlight of the whole trail. At the helipad, you’ll get a magnificent panoramic view of Southern Hong Kong Island. On one side of the vast sea, there are several beaches along the boujee area of Hong Kong – Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, Middle Bay Beach, South Bay Beach, Chung Hom Kok Beach and St Stephen’s Beach of Stanley.  On the other side, there’s the view of Ocean Park with its colourful rides of varying shape and height.

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The helipad
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Panoramic view from the helipad
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Ocean Park
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Beaches along the southern Hong Kong Island

The final part of the trail involves walking up a flight of stairs to the peak where there’s a transmission tower. From there, you’ll get an even higher view of Ocean Park. The route ends here and the only way to return is to walk back down the same route!

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Final ascent to the peak (transmission tower)
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View of the helipad and Ocean Park from the peak