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 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
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.
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.
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