The Lion Rock hike in Hong Kong is one of the most popular trails in the region with an epic viewpoint over Kowloon all the way to Hong Kong Central. The lion-head shaped rock at the summit is the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the city from the forest.
LION ROCK HIKE IN HONG KONG DETAILS
Hike Distance: The Lion Rock Hong Kong Hike was 6.9km for the loop trail, but there are ways to make it shorter. We began and finished on Chuk Yuen Road and completed a full loop but you can shorten the trail by starting at Chuk Yuen Road and doing an out and back to Lion Rock. I’ll share more about that in the directions below so you can peak the right hiking route for you.
Hike Duration: The total duration for the hike was 2-3 hours depending on how long you spend at the summit. It is quite steep so it will slow you down a little bit in parts but you can definitely make it to the summit in just over an hour if you are rushing up.
Hike Difficulty: The hike was a mid-range difficulty for the average tourist I would say. The incline was very steep in some sections, often with a staircase at a ridiculous angle. It was a quad and calf-burner at times. The trail was dirt and a bit slippery but pretty safe for the most part. Anyone with a moderate level of fitness will be fine but anyone a bit out of shape will surely be hurling some curse words to their friends who convinced them to come.
Hike Incline: The Lion Rock Hike had 540m of incline when hiking the loop route.
HOW TO GET TO LION ROCK IN HONG KONG
Step 1: It is quite simple to reach the starting point of the Lion Rock Hike in Hong Kong. From wherever you are based, catch the MTR (train/subway) on the green line to Wong Tai Sin MTR Station. You can begin the walk from the MTR station but it is just a 20-minute walk along the streets of the neighborhood and quite steep so if you want a workout, go for it but for many, they will prefer to grab a taxi just outside the MTR Station for the short journey up the hill.
Step 2: If you do catch a taxi, tell the driver to drop you at Fat Jong Temple, which is the furthest point the taxi can reach along the road ascending to the hike entrance. I took a taxi from the MTR and despite the driver getting lost it cost us $34 HKD, which is less than $5 split between two of us, so hardly an expensive time and energy-saving tactic.
Step 3: Now that you have arrived at Fat Jong Temple, you will continue walking up the steep, paved Shatin Pass road to Road for 20-minutes. Even from this road, you will have great views down over Kowloon but it’s nothing compared to what you will see from the summit. You are almost at the entrance gate to the Lion Rock Hike.
Step 4: Enter through the Lion Rock archway entrance gate and then just follow the signs from that point on to Lion Rock on the well-defined and heavily trafficked trail.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKING THE TRAIL TO LION ROCK PEAK IN HONG KONG
The Lion Rock hike can begin at the Wong Tai Sin MTR Station for some but for us, it began after being dropped by the taxi at Fat Jong Temple. We saved ourselves a short walk up the hill but we still had a way to go, trudging up Shatin Road to reach the start of the trek. Along Shatin Road, we caught a few glimpses out to our left of the city as we peered through the forest.
I was glad to finally reach the entrance arch and veer off of the road and onto the trail. It only feels like a hike once you have dirt beneath your feet and you have left the paved roads behind. The Lion Peak Rock trail begins with an immediate ascent of steps, which sets the tone for the numerous staircases throughout the route.
From the very first moment of the trek, you are immersed in the forest. The gaps in the foliage offer views back towards the city, which allows you the perspective of how far up you are climbing. I thought this trail was one of the most well-defined in Hong Kong but also very natural and in parts, the forest seemed to engulf as on all sides.
After about 45-minutes, we reached a sign that pointed up towards the Lion Rock summit. It indicated there was 500m left before we would reach the top. However, what the sign forgot to mention was that it was almost 500m of stairs! This was the hardest part of the hike with an incredibly steep set of stairs to navigate before you are rewarded with the views at the summit. If you make it through these stairs, you deserve the epic scenery at the top!
The summit blew me away from the very first moment I emerged from the stairs. We had views all the way out over Kowloon and even towards Hong Kong Central. The summit is actually a long ridge and depending on which route you take, you will likely come up on the opposite end of the ridge to the Lion’s Head. If you are on the ridge, the head of the Lion is actually not very recognizable and is easier to see from the drone or even from other peaks or hikes in the area. We reached the top during the golden hour and snapped a few photos but decided to continue our way along the ridge to visit the other viewpoints as well.
The second viewpoint had a huge stone ledge. It was the perfect sunset viewing platform. There is a huge, deadly drop-off if you were to have a fall so don’t take this ridge or stone viewpoints lightly. Be careful, be mindful and stay where you are comfortable and can enjoy the experience. I grabbed a photo of this couple enjoying the view, what a moment!
The next viewpoint was one of my favorites because as the sun goes down it leaks light off of the edge of the rock on top of the summit. With a few trees on top, I thought it would be the perfect spot for a silhouette photo with the backdrop of the city buildings. The photo after this one is the view from on top of the summit pictured.
We were now at the second last viewpoint and with just one more viewpoint to go and the light quickly fading, I decided to throw up the drone on the way to the final viewpoint to catch the last light. The aerial view from the drone allowed me to gain a new perspective of the ridge and to find a good angle of the Lion’s Head. These are my favorite captures from the air.
As the fiery red ball lowered itself out of the picture, most of the crowds left. However, in Hong Kong, there is always the idea to wait and see how the scene will look once the city lights up. It was a warm night and we weren’t in a rush so we stuck around to see the city lights slowly switch on. I advise always carrying a little tripod up on hikes for this very situation so you can catch a long exposure nightscape shot. I’m not too great at them but captured one on my wide-angle nonetheless. I advise bringing a tighter lens maybe 100mm+ to really zoom in on some of the details as the scene was a bit flat on my 35mm from Lion Rock on this night. There were some night photography gurus up on the summit who were getting some night tighter-in photos so it seems to be a great vantage point for night shots.
After the night shots, we made our way back down the trail taking a different route back down from the way up. We headed directly down from Lion’s Head to complete the loop and make our way back to civilization and catch a train home to cap off an epic Hong Kong adventure. I hope you get a great sunset and enjoy looking out over the city on one of the best hikes in Hong Kong.
BEST TIME TO HIKE LION ROCK PEAK IN HONG KONG
The best time of day to hike the trail up to Lion Rock Peak is about an hour or two before sunset in my opinion. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, you will avoid the hottest period of the day by leaving it till later in the afternoon. The trail is quite steep in parts and isn’t completely in the shade so going later in the day will help. The second reason why I suggest late afternoon as the best time to hike Lion Rock Peak is that you will be up at the summit for the sunset. The sun will set out over the ocean and we could actually see the fiery, orange ball slowly lowering itself down (through the smog) to the horizon.
It’s a pretty simple and safe trail to get back down in the dark after the sunset but make sure to bring a headtorch or at least your phone light if you do stay at the summit for sunset. I’ve not done this hike for sunrise but it could be great also at golden hour on either end of the day.
I did the hike in December and had beautiful conditions as you can see from the photos with a nice sunny day.
TOP 4 PLACES TO STAY IN HONG KONG
Best Value Hotel: Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay – This 4-star hotel in Hong Kong Central is just $73 and looks like a luxury resort worth 4-times that amount.
Best Hostel: Alohas Hostel – For less than $12 USD, you have a great location in a clean and simple hostel.
Best Value Luxury Hotel: Hotel ICON – $140 for a 5-star hotel with an epic pool. Need I say more!
Best Hiking/Adventure Base: Hotel Stage – In Kowloon and right next to lots of epic hikes, a gateway to the hikes in the New Territories. 4-star ultra-modern and a great adventure base.
Want a more detailed breakdown? I wrote the biggest ever guide for where to stay (and why) in Hong Kong! You can check it out here: WHERE TO STAY IN HONG KONG: BEST AREAS & HOTELS
BEST TIME TO HIKE IN HONG KONG
The ‘best’ time to visit Hong Kong will depend on a few factors. The biggest factor will, of course, be the weather. All of these hikes I did were in my month-long stay during December 2019. The weather was quite chilly as it was winter but the sun was still out on at least 60% of the hikes. In the day it was warm most of the time but I always had a jacket for at the summit. The suggest months for hiking in Hong Kong are:
Winter: December to February – Mild weather and pretty comfortable for hiking. Minimal rainfall and still lots of sun during 2/3 of the days. I would suggest the winter after having experienced it myself.
Spring: March to May – Unpredictable weather with some sun and some clouds, Humidity is now rising quite high. Rainfall can happen regularly during the spring.
Summer: June to August – This is not an ideal time to hike in Hong Kong. The humidity is at it’s highest, temperatures can reach 30 degrees daily and rainstorms can be frequent. There are beaches in Hong Kong, more than you would imagine but they aren’t all necessarily close to where you will be based in Hong Kong Central or Kowloon.
Autumn/Fall: September to November – This is rated as the best time to visit Hong Kong. You have nice sunny weather but humidity is at it’s lowest for the year. Rainfall is also low during these months.
PRE-BOOK YOUR 4G SIMCARD FOR HONG KONG (AIRPORT PICKUP)
Before I arrived in Hong Kong, I pre-booked my 4G sim-card for pick-up at the airport. It gives you unlimited data for 5 days of traveling in Hong Kong at 4G speeds. As soon as I arrived at the airport, I walked to the stall, the guy put in my new sim-card and activated it and I was connected from the very first moment. You can Click Here to pre-book your 4G sim-card here and you’ll be surprised it’s actually cheaper to book it in advance.
Book yours now: Pre-Book 5-days Unlimited Data 4G Sim Card
PRE-BOOK YOUR 4G OCTOPUS CARD
You will need to purchase an ‘Octopus Card’ and then you reload it at the machine at the subway station. I pre-ordered my octopus card through Klook, which meant that when I arrived at the airport I simply picked the card up at the Klook counter and caught the train to my accommodation. It saved me from catching an expensive taxi and figuring out the Octopus card later.
You simply scan in at the station you enter and scan out where you exit and the fee is deducted from your card. On the bus, you will pay a fee depending on how much of the route is left and you only scan the card once for a fixed rate. I found moving around in Hong Kong very cheap, efficient and safe.
Click Here to pre-order your Octopus Card with 100 HKD credit loaded onto the card. Pick-up at the airport desk. 100HKD is good for 6-8 train rides and then you can top it up as you go.
Book yours now: HKD 50 Pre-loaded Octopus Card
CHEAPEST AIRPORT PRIVATE TRANSFER SERVICE
The airport in Hong Kong is on Lantau Island, which is about 40-minutes away from Hong Kong Central and 30-minutes away from Kowloon. If you don’t want to bother with public transport, you can book a private transfer that will pick you up at the airport and drop you to your hotel (or vice versa picking you up at your hotel and dropping you to the airport). It’s actually not that expensive and can save you valuable time. The cheapest option is actually the coolest and is in a Tesla car, which is pretty cool. I did this to and from the airport for less than $40.
Book yours now: Hong Kong Airport Transfer in Tesla
KEEP READING! CHECK OUT ALL THE BLOGS FROM MY HONG KONG SERIES
A complete guide to the best things to do: 27 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN HONG KONG
My favorite hikes in Hong Kong: 21 AWESOME HIKES IN HONG KONG
How to plan your Hong Kong trip: 3-DAY HONG KONG ITINERARY FOR ADVENTURE-LOVERS
The biggest ever guide for where to stay in Hong Kong: WHERE TO STAY IN HONG KONG: BEST AREAS & HOTELS
My favorite EASY hikes: 10 EASY HIKING TRAILS IN HONG KONG
The most luxurious places to stay: THE TOP 10 LUXURY HOTELS IN HONG KONG (5-STAR LIST)
The ultimate adventure: EPIC HONG KONG HELICOPTER TOUR FROM THE PENINSULA HOTEL
The toughest overall hike: WEST DOG’S TEETH HIKE ‘HARDEST HIKE IN HONG KONG’
Best waterfall hike: TAI MO SHAN HIKE: THE HIGHEST PEAK IN HONG KONG
ARE THERE HONG KONG HIKING AND TOUR GUIDES?
While I did all of my hikes independently, there are a number of affordable tours that will either take you on a private hike or add you to a group experience. I’m comfortable organizing the route, transport, and logistics for a hike in a new region because I’ve done it hundreds of times but if you prefer to have a local lead you then I can recommend checking out the links below, which offer guided tours of some of the hikes you will find on this list. The website to book through is Klook, which is a trusted platform for booking activities and employs local hiking guides who have tons of experience.
They range from $50-$100 and all the other details can be found by clicking on the links below.
Guided Hike: Lion Rock Hiking Tour
Guided Hike: Dragon’s Back Hiking Tour
Guided Hike: Lantau Peak Sunrise Hike
Guided Hike: Tai Mo Shan Waterfall Hiking Tour