The Ma On Shan is one of the most epic but challenging hikes in Hong Kong with 866m of incline leading you all the way from Ma On Shan to Sai Kung. The trail climbs hundreds of stairs and rocky paths before you make it to the Ma On Shan summit. The hike then winds along the ridge, all the way to Sai Kung.
MA ON SHAN HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The hike distance was 10.85km from start to finish if beginning at the train station. If you begin at the Ma On Shan Country Park the hike is just 7km.
Hike Duration: Total moving time was just under three hours but total expedition time was about five hours including viewpoint breaks and photo stops.
Hike Difficulty: The hike was relatively safe with no major exposure/drop-offs on the trail for the most part. There were a few sections where the rope was used but it was very basic climbing with rope as a backup rather than a requirement. It was very steep in parts of course but it was more a consistent climb up rocky steps. The major component of difficulty was the 856m of incline. At the final viewpoint, there is a safe way down or a shorter way down. If you take the shortcut it is quite unsafe with danger/road-closure signs. It’s not necessary but was a fun adventure to go this way.
Hike Incline: The total hike incline was 866-meters
HOW TO GET TO THE MA ON SHAN HIKE
To reach the starting point of the Ma On Shan hike you will need to:
- Take the train to the Ma On Shan MTR Station
- Catch the village bus NR84 from On Luk Street (it never arrived for me/comes once every 1.5 hours also)
- Or walk to Ma On Shan Campsite
- Begin the hiking trail from Ma On Shan Campsite by starting off underneath the Ma On Shan Family Walk archway.
The hike will finish at Lo Che Road. Here you can catch the 1A to the Choi Hung MTR Station
Below I have attached my GPX Map so you can see the exact route I took on the hike. If you would like to download the GPX map to your smart-watch or device you can Click Here to download.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE MA ON SHAN HIKE
My day began in Tsim Sha Tsui where I caught the train to Ma On Shan MTR Station. Here, I should have been able to catch the NR 84 from On Luk Street, but it never came. It was listed as coming every 1.5 hours but never arrived. I waited for 20-minutes for it and then decided just to walk. It never passed me on the way up.
The walk from the Ma On Shan MTR took me about 45-minutes to walk the 3-kilometers with 300m of incline. It led me all the up the paved road the Ma On Shan Country Park. The Country Park was beautiful and very large. It had benches, play equipment, and even an outdoor gym. This is technically the start of the hike. On the left-hand side of the park is an archway that says Ma On Shan Family Walk. This is a small loop trail but it also extends out to be the launch-pad of the Ma On Shan ridge hike.
So follow this route for about 10-minutes until you reach an intersection with danger signs and pointing further up the mountain to Ma On Shan summit.
The trail is steep from the beginning with lines of stairs leading the way. When there aren’t stairs, you will have to wind your way up the trail on the dirt and rocks, occasionally fighting off the overgrown shrubs on either side. This part of the trail is a real test of fitness and by the time you reach the first viewpoint just 30-minutes into the hike, you can expect to be saturated in sweat.
I loved the first viewpoint and thought it was possibly the most spectacular spot on the trail. It’s almost worth just hiking to the viewpoint and back down if you are short for time. A rocky ledge looks out over Ma On Shan and Sha Tin and it really has that jungle vibe as you look down on the metropolis below.
The uphill assault now continues and the trail becomes a little more precarious than on the way to the first viewpoint. There is one section where you can use a rope to climb up but it is quite basic and not rock climbing by any sense of the imagination. Full concentration is required in these parts as you push on towards the summit.
After 5-kilometers, I reached the Ma On Shan summit, which sits at 702-meters above sea-level. Unfortunately for me on this day it was engulfed in clouds but the journey up until the last 100m had been clear to see the views in all directions. On a clear day, this will be a great viewpoint.
At this point, you can return the way you came, or continue on along the ridge to the second major peak in the region. The other peak comes close to Ngong Ping along the MacLehose Trail Section 4. The ridge now is quite rocky and slippery but there is nothing too dangerous about it when you take it as slow as you are comfortable with and make your way down.
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