Hong Kong is a hiker's paradise. The views from the jagged mountain tops rival any in the world. But clambering to the summit of Lantau Peak, or scrambling up the steep sides of Sharp Peak, can be an intimidating prospect.
There are a host of shorter, or flatter hikers, if you want a more relaxed walk. They are perfect for beginners looking to build their experience before taking on one of the big climbs.
Mui Wo to Pui O - 8km
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This lovely walk takes you along the shores of Lantau Island and finishes at a stunning beach with a restaurant. The public transport to the start and end is easy.
Start at the ferry pier in Mui Wo and turn left. Follow the seashore around, keeping the water on your left. Just as the buildings end, there is a right turn up some steps into the trees.
Take the turn and you'll find yourself on a shaded trail.
Navigation is easy for 5km. Don't take any turns. Keep the sea on your left.
Eventually, you'll reach a beach, backed by a wide open grassy area. Go across the beach and turn right on the road.
There is a short but steep climb after some houses. Then the road descends. The sea will appear again, this time on your left. Follow it all the way round to Poi O and the beach.
The Twins (the easy way) - 5km
So your friends want to do The Twins, the notoriously difficult 1,000 steps hike that busts even the fittest hikers.
You want to enjoy the outdoors and revel in the post-hike lunch in Stanley, but you cannot face The Twins.
Well, fear not. Just at the bottom of where the Twins start, turn right. A catch water hugs the contours of the mountain, bringing you around to the same finishing spot as your friends, with lots of views and a fraction of the effort.
You can start at the top of Repulse Bay. Or you can do Violet Hill, which begins with a steep climb, then a long descent. The latter option is a halfway house between a very easy hike, and taking on the twins. Get a puff on without committing to the whole slog.
Sai Wan/Ham Tim - 1.5km/3km
This short hike offers two end points. Both are absolutely incredible. You can then take a boat ride back via the impressive Unesco GEO Park, for around HK$150.
But be warned, the weather has to be good for the boat to run. Even when it seems calm, the swells at sea can prevent the boat from making the trip. If you commit to the second finishing point, it can make this easy hike a bit harder as you walk out again.
Start at Sai Wan Pavilion. You can take a bus or taxi there from Sai Kung.
Follow the concrete path all the way to the beautiful Sai Wan beach, with a couple of lovely restaurants. Ask in the restaurants about the boat trips. The walk back from Sai Wan is short, but has an initial steep climb.
Or, go to the other side of the beach and hike over the headland to Ham Tin beach. There are restaurants on the other side of the beach that run the boats here too.
Mount High West - 5km
Take a bus up to The Peak and you'll be rewarded with great views of the city on this walk. Mount High West is a short sharp climb that will get you heart going, and is a good stepping stone to even bigger hikes in the future.
Once at The Peak, go onto Lugard Road. This path hugs Victoria Peak and has amazing views off to your right.
Eventually, you'll reach a small open area with a pavilion. Cross to the opposite corner, and there are some concrete steps down to a path.
Follow the path and you will start the climb to Mount High West. It's a steep climb, but it's less than 100m. So, it will get your heart rate racing and improve your fitness if you want to build to some of Hong Kong's more challenging hikes.
When at the top, you'll be rewarded with a view of Lantau, Lamma and Hong Kong. Head down the way you came, turn right to finish the loop back at Victoria Peak.
Lion Rock - 5km
Lion Rock towers over the city like a guardian. But you do not have to be an experienced hiker to enjoy its views.
There is a steep climb, but it isn't long. Beware, the cliffs are vertigo inducing and do not have a rail.
You can start from Sha Tin Pass. It requires a taxi to the start point, otherwise you can walk up the hill, making this easy hike quite a bit more challenging.
From Sha Tin Pass, go under the large wooden arch announcing Lion Rock Country Park.
Follow the wooded trail for about 2.5km. There is a sign to turn left to Lion Rock.
The hike up is very steep. It will get you blowing and feels anything but easy. However, it is short. Much like Mount High West, it's a good place to build yourself up to more challenging hikes.
The views from the top are breathtaking. The sheer cliff below is dramatic.
Come back the way you came, and enjoy some food at Sha Tin Pass before heading back down the hill. Again, you can get a taxi or add the extras with a walk. It's one way, so the taxi will take you on a big loop.
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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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