TAI MO SHAN HIKE: THE HIGHEST PEAK IN HONG KONG
The Tai Mo Shan hike is a special adventure because it is the highest peak in Hong Kong. The hike takes you on a journey through the jungle, passing by several incredible waterfalls before you reach the peak, which overlooks Hong Kong on a clear day.
TAI MO SHAN HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The hike distance was 10.37km. However, it can be done as an out and back loop or you can even drive up halfway and hike from there. There are lots of options for routes but I suggest my route because you also get to visit the incredible waterfalls.
Hike Duration: The hike up and down took me 2 hours and 40-minutes of moving time. However, you should bargain some time for enjoying the view at the summit and to explore the waterfalls.
Hike Difficulty: The hike was relatively safe with no exposure/drop-offs on the trail for the most part. It was very steep in parts of course but it was more a consistent climb up rocky steps. I found the hike quite straight forward and would be suitable for all who are confident with that level of incline.
Hike Incline: The total hike incline to the Tai Mo Shan summit was 895m from start to finish. However, the summit itself is the highest peak in Hong Kong at 957m above sea level.
HOW TO GET TO TAI MO SHAN: THE HIGHEST PEAK IN HONG KONG
There are several routes, which will all take you to the top of the highest mountain in Hong Kong, Tai Mo Shan. The simplest route is to drive up from the Rotary Club campsite and park at the parking lot mid-way up. This will mean you have about 2-kilometers of hiking to the summit and then return 2-kilometers to your car. It’s quick but to be honest, the viewpoint is less impressive than the hike itself when you do it the adventurous way. The details I will share below is the route I took and I have included my map, public transport directions, and tips. This route includes the Ng Tung Chai waterfalls on the way to the Tai Mo Shan summit.
TAI MO SHAN HIKE DIRECTIONS
- Take the MTR to Kam Sheung Railway Station
- Catch the 64K bus to Ng Tung Chai Bus Stop
- Backtrack 100m to the trail entrance on the opposite side of the road (sign marked NG TUNG CHAI)
- Follow the signs to the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls
- Follow the signs to Tai Mo Shan
- Walk down to Tai Mo Shan Visitor Center
- Walk a further 200m to the bus stop and catch the 51M (doesn’t come frequently, we waited for 40-minutes)
- Get off the 51M at Tsuen Wan MTR Station and catch the train back to TST/Central.
The above instructions should work for you and I’ve included my map below so you can follow that as you go although there is limited service on the trail but it is well signed. If you want to download the GPX map for smartwatch or app you can Click Here to download my Tai Mo Shan hiking map.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKIN TO TAI MO SHAN: HONG KONG’S HIGHEST PEAK
As always, a little bit of transit preparation is required before a Hong Kong hike but with the 64K bus dropping us at the trailhead, we set off into the forest. The trail began like many in Hong Kong, a paved road winding up through the foothills. There were a few forks in the road but following the signs to the Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls seemed to do us well.
I hadn’t planned to visit any waterfalls, I was only interested in the Tai Mo Shan summit but it turns out that this region has some great cascading waterfalls. In fact, there was one intersection early on that pointed to the right and said “Tai Mo Shan via Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls’ and the other suggested it was not via the waterfalls. It was only an extra 15-20 minutes so we decided to visit the waterfalls as well, which I highly recommend. In reality, it would add on a lot of time as you will want to explore and maybe swim in the waterfalls but the trail itself isn’t much of a detour.
Early on, the trail takes you under a beautiful archway, past some small waterfalls, and through the wild jungle. This was the most wild I had seen in Hong Kong so far, which was surprising considering we hadn’t traveled far from the city.
After about 30-40 minutes we reached the first waterfall called ‘Bottom Falls’. Although it isn’t as big as ‘Main Falls’ further up the track it was our favorite because it is in a tiny slot canyon and it’s a magical little spot. We hung out here for almost an hour soaking it all in. No-one else was around and it was my favorite part of the hike.
The hike continues with a theme of rocky steps, which lead you up the relentless incline. We passed a few more waterfalls but none as impressive as Bottom Falls. I’ve pictured them below and they were great for a quick photo stop but we didn’t have time to hang out at them all and felt we had chosen wisely by spending the majority of our time at Bottom Falls. It’s important to keep in mind that we visited in dry December, so it may be much more impressive to visit the waterfalls after heavy rain. There were many signs warning about flash-flooding so keep that in mind.
With the waterfalls behind us, we now locked in on our mission to reach the Tai Mo Shan summit. We still had 500m of incline to climb and it was a battle! The trail was still incredibly wild although well-signed throughout so it was hard to get lost. There are multiple trails and routes leading to the top. You can see mine on the map above but it is one of many so as long as you reach the top you are all good.
The final few hundred meters of the incline was along the road for us on the route we took. It was the final push and unfortunately, we could see we were headed into the clouds as it was foggy at the summit.
At the summit, there are a few radio towers and buildings but no defined viewpoint so we hung out on a few of the nice rock perches in the area and enjoyed the view while it lasted. The clouds were rolling quickly and we managed to enjoy the view for about half an hour with a bit of sun even creeping in momentarily. However, shortly thereafter the clouds overtook the scene and we were engulfed in a ball of white. It was time to retreat down the mountain towards the Tai Mo Shan Visitor Center.
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