Being surrounded by beeping traffic lights, storefronts, and towering buildings can be a tad draining. Hong Kong’s modern developments can take over the cultural history, leaving some of the most historic sites overlooked. Hiking is an easy way to take a break from city life, recharge, and learn about the remarkable past of this place we call home. Transport yourself back to nature – and also back in time – to unearth the historic gems that are hidden in the midst of skyscrapers. These historic hikes make sure you’re guaranteed to learn about Hong Kong’s history.
Explore the terrain of, arguably, the most important battle of the Defense of Hong Kong in WWII. Starting from the Wong Nai Chung Reservoir and ending on Stanley Gap Road, the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail offers hikers and history buffs a thrilling insight into Hong Kong’s wartime landscape. The strategic importance of the Wong Nai Chung Gap transformed the now serene hill into a bitter battlefield. Remnants of the Commonwealth effort to defend Wong Nai Chung Gap are scattered throughout the trail. Explore the ruins of bunkers, pillboxes, and anti-aircraft batteries.
Getting there: Take the number 5 minibus to Wong Nai Chung Reservoir. Alternatively, take the number 41A or 63 bus from North Point, the number 6 bus from Central Exchange Square Bus Terminus, or the number 76 bus from Causeway Bay Pennington Street to Wong Nai Chung Gap Road. From there, take a 10 minute walk towards Parkview, on Tai Tam Reservoir Road. Wong Nai Chung Reservoir is just opposite Parkview’s entrance.
Duration: 3 hours
Getting home: When you reach Stanley Gap Road, take the 6A, 6, or 260 to get to Admiralty, Central, or Wanchai. Alternatively, cross the road to take the 6A, 6, 260, or 73 to go to Stanley.
Named after the pirates that occupied the hill during the Ming Dynasty, Devil’s Peak is perfect for beginner hikers or those looking to squeeze in a quick scenic hike. During The Battle of Hong Kong, Japanese forces bombarded the prudent fortifications built here – such as the Gough Battery built in 1898, and the Devil’s Peak Redoubt. The gorgeous scenery juxtaposed with memories of war offer an almost surreal experience of Hong Kong’s past.
Getting there: Take the MTR to Yau Tong Station, and get out from the A1 exit into Domain Mall. Take the escalators to the mall’s ground floor, and then exit the mall from its back entrance, on to Ko Chiu Road. From there, walk past Lei Yue Mun Estate housing, take an immediate right, walking uphill towards the Tseung Kwan O Permanent Cemetary. Enter the Wilson Trail, and follow the signs to Pau Tai Shan.
Duration: 1.5 hours
Getting home: Once you reach the observation post Retrace steps back to Yau Tong Station.
The Shing Mun War Relics Trail is the shortest section of the famously challenging MacLehose Trail. As part of the Gin Drinker’s Line, a 13-mile defence front designed to counter Japanese aggression in WWII, this trail is full of historic ruins. Though it can be hard to get to get to, it offers hikers the chance to trace Hong Kong’s wartime scars and journey into the past through underground war tunnels, pillboxes, and trenches.
Getting there: Take the number 82 minibus from Tsuen Wan Station to Shing Mun Reservoir. Take a right from the Shing Mun Reservoir sign and walk down the road until you reach the BBQ area where you can join the MacLehose Trail. Walk towards the Memorial Arch of MacLehose Trail Section 6.
Duration: 2 hours
Getting home: From Tai Po Road (the end of the trail), take bus number 81 to Jordan, or bus number 72 to Sha Tin, Kowloon.
The next time you’re at The Peak, why not take a hike through the Pinewood Battery Trail? Nested in the Lung Fu Shan Country Park, this trail features the highest coastal defence battery in Hong Kong. Built in 1903, the Pinewood battery was used as an anti-aircraft battery during WWII. After being severely destroyed by Japanese heavy artillery, the ruins now provide a relaxing picnic spot after a steep hike.
Getting there: Take the number 15 bus from Central Exchange Square Bus Terminus to The Peak. From there, walk 20 minutes into Harlech Road and then go down Hatton Road. There is a sign for the Lung Fu Shan Country Park on the left. Walk down the flight of stairs.
Duration: 1.25 hours
Getting home: From the battery, go back to Hatton Road and walk down the path to Kotewall Road. Turn to University Drive and head towards the HKU MTR station. Alternatively, retrace your steps back to The Peak.
Ping Shan Heritage Trail
Opened in 1993, the Ping Shan Heritage Trail was Hong Kong’s first heritage trail. Escape the city and immerse yourself in the ancient architecture of the New Territories with this hour long, 1.6km trail. Starting from the Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda – the only surviving ancient pagoda in Hong Kong – and ending at the ancient Hung Shing Temple, this trail is sure to transport you back in time! Click here for more details about Ping Shan Heritage Trail.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail
Starting at Hong Kong University and ending on D’Aguilar Street, this trail features 15 key attractions that are all related to the life of one of China’s most important figures, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. The full trail is 3.2km long and takes around 2 hours to finish. You’ll find the map and leaflet for Dr. Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail here.
Wan Chai Heritage Trail
Wan Chai is one of Hong Kong’s earliest settlements. This 3km walking trail takes you through a 2-hour long exploration of Wan Chai’s history and the distinctive architecture of buildings in the area. Starting from The Green House on numbers 1-11 Mallory Street, and ending at Gresson Street Open Market, you can find the map to Wan Chai Heritage Trail here.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2018 by Christiana Wu and was updated in July 2020.