Tai To Yan is a challenging ridge-line hike in the New Territories of Hong Kong. It is often referred to as the Dragon’s Back hike of the new territories. I thought it was a great trail, with lots of tough stair sections throughout the ridge. On a clear day, views of Shenzen are aplenty along the trail as well as lots of panoramic viewpoints.
TAI TO YAN HIKING GUIDE
In this blog post, I’ll share everything you need to know about the Tai To Yan hike including where it is, how to get there and when it’s best to visit.
TAI TO YAN HIKE DETAILS
- Hike Distance: The total hike distance was 9km from Kadoorie Farm to Fanling MTR station start and finish points.
- Hike Duration: Total moving time was just under 2.5-hours but you could bargain for about 3-4 hours to enjoy the viewpoints and relax along the hike. If you tried to run it or power through it could be done in under 2 hours.
- Hike Difficulty: The hike was relatively safe with no major 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. The major component of difficulty was the 651m of incline. The incline is often in the form of a staircase.
- Hike Incline: The total hike incline was 651-meters
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- Victoria Peak Tram & Sky Terrace: If you visit Hong Kong, you have to visit Victoria Peak!
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HOW TO GET TO THE TAI TO YAN HIKE
- Take the MTR to Kam Sheung Railway Station
- Catch the 64K bus to Kadoorie Farm Bus Stop
- The trailhead is on the side of the road (same side the bus will drop you) where you will find a big map on a signboard.
- Follow the signs to Tai To Yan summit.
- Continue all the way along the ride until you reach Fanling MTR Station.
I’ve included the GPX map of the hike I recorded on my Garmin. You can follow the same route and if you choose to download it to your device you can do so by Clicking Here.
You NEED the Octopus Card
TRAVEL TIP: In Hong Kong you NEED the Octopus Card to use public transport and ferries, which is how everyone gets around. Pre-Book your Octopus Card with a Pre-Loaded balance of 50HKD so you can pick it up at the airport (very easy) and then catch public transport straight to your hotel.
- Conveniently ride the MTR, bus, ferry, coach, and tram with just a tap of your Hong Kong Tourist Octopus Card
- Conveniently pick up your card with a preloaded credit of HKD50-100 at the Hong Kong International Airport
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE TAI TO YAN HIKE
On a cloudy afternoon, I headed out into the New Territories. I was hoping for the sun to break through but despite it’s best efforts, it would be a bit of a cloudy atmosphere for this hike. On a brighter day, the views would be that much sweeter but it was a great hike and maybe one of the best out and out ridges in Hong Kong.
When we got off the bus at Kadoorie Farm, the trail entrance was on the same side as the bus and off we set into the forest. The trail begins under dense coverage and begins in quite a relaxed fashion with no views to get you excited about. Lots of stairs and that beautiful smell of the woods will ease you into the Tai To Yan hike.
The trail is only about 3-kilometers to the Tai To Yan summit of 566m, but it is quite steep so it will take you a little bit of time and effort. Don’t expect to be up there in 40-minutes. At times the stairs were pretty relentless and the undulations gave us little time to take a breather and take in the views. Every so often I would turn around and despite the gloomy weather, be impressed by the backdrop as we climbed higher and higher.
The total incline for the hike was 656-meters, but most of it comes in these early stages as you climb your way up to the ridge. The section pictured below was probably the toughest climb of the lot. If you hate stairs, this trail (and most Hong Kong hikes) will not be your friend. It’s constantly up and down.
Once you make it up on the ridge it is just a few slight undulations to deal with but you can then enjoy the view and appreciate the drop-offs on either side. We found a few brilliant viewpoints throughout the ridge and really enjoyed seeing what was over the next little hill as we neared in on the summit.
After a couple of hours (slow going due to photo breaks), we reached the summit. To be honest, not much is going on at the summit and the best viewpoints were earlier on during the ridge. The summit simply has a trigonometric pylon as found all over Hong Kong. There are nice views but no better than elsewhere on the trail. It is simply slightly higher than the other parts of the ridge. Even with the dreary weather, we could still see across the border to Shenzen, China. On a clear day, it would be very visible.
After the summit, the trail continues on the ridge for a little while with similar undulations, before whipping off to the left and sending you back into the forest. This is where the downhill assault begins. It seems like a neverending staircase. I think it may be one of the longest continuous staircases in Hong Kong and just seemed to go on forever. I guess that’s why people start from the Kadoorie end of the ridge to avoid climbing up so many stairs in a row!
The hike finishes back at Fanling Station where you can catch the train back to wherever you might be staying in Hong Kong. This would be a good hike for sunset on a clear day as the way down would be relatively safe in the dark (with a head torch) due to the infrastructure of the stairs.
I hope you enjoy this beautiful ridge out in the New Territories of Hong Kong!
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY IN HONG KONG
- Best Value Hotel: Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay – 4-star hotel for less than $100
- Best Value Luxury Hotel: Hotel ICON – $150 for a 5-star hotel with an epic pool
- Best Hiking/Adventure Base: Hotel Stage – Located in Kowloon and right next to lots of epic hikes.
Check out my full guide here: BEST AREAS TO STAY HONG KONG
HAVE YOU READ MY OTHER HONG KONG ARTICLES?
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