Hiking, Beaches and Free Camping in Hong Kong

If you love hiking and being in nature, make sure you do some camping in Hong Kong! Best of all, it’s completely free!

Dragons Back Beaches Nature Hiking Free Camping In Hong Kong
Dragons Back Hike offers beautiful views along the way

If you are like us, hiking and camping isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Hong Kong. We had always pictured Hong Kong to be like Singapore – A big city peppered with the occasional carefully manicured park.

When a friend of ours told us that about 75% of Hong Kong is actually undeveloped forest, we didn’t believe him. When he told us you could even do some free camping in Hong Kong, we were in shock.

In an instant our idea of Hong Kong completely changed, and we couldn’t wait to get there.

The famous Hong Kong skyline has been photographed innumerable times over the decades, and indeed it is quite beautiful (well, that is if you find really tall concrete and steel buildings covered in neon lights advertising corporations beautiful).

What was even more appealing for us was the stunning natural scenery Hong Kong holds. We’re talking turquoise oceans lapping at white sand beaches in remote coves.

Headlands covered in dense forest winding their way along the coastline. Mountain peaks offering superlative views over uninhabited islands. We’ve travelled a hell of a lot, and it takes a lot to impress us – but the nature of Hong Kong truly wowed us!

During our time in the country we did some free camping in Hong Kong on some of the most beautiful beaches we have seen in a long time, and did lots of gorgeous hikes. Getting out of the city really made us fall in love with Hong Kong.

READ MORE: Check out our new guide on how to spend 3 days in Hong Kong itinerary.
Maclehose Trail Nature Hiking Beach Free Camping In Hong Kong
Stunning views along the MacLehose Trail

Camping In Hong Kong – The MacLehose Trail

About 45 minutes from the city is a large seaside village called Sai Kung. Besides being a pleasant respite from the crowds of downtown, Sai Kung is also the gateway to the Hong Kong Global Geopark of China.

The MacLehose Trail is a 100km hiking route that winds its way from Pak Tam Chung, Sai Kung to Tuen Mun through perhaps the most magnificent scenery in all of Hong Kong.

It is broken up into ten sections, with the third being the most difficult. We wanted to spend a couple of nights beach camping in the Geopark, and decided to hike sections one and two.

Maclehose Trail Views Beach Hiking Nature Free Camping In Hong Kong
Lovely views along Stage 2 of the MacLehose Trail.
Maclehose Trail Beach Hiking Nature Free Camping In Hong Kong
Lush forest views.

Day 1 – Ham Tin Beach

We caught the bus from Sai Kung to the start (well actually the end) of section 2 at Pak Tam Au. We trekked about 6km to get to Ham Tin Beach. The path was paved the entire way and was an easy walk, even with the immense heat.

We arrived at Ham Tin after only a couple of hours with intentions of walking to Sai Wan to spend the night. But the beach was so clean and the water so inviting, we decided to stay put.

We pitched our tent about 50m from the water’s edge underneath a tree in the designated camping area. We couldn’t believe that the free camping in Hong Kong turned out to be real!

To make it even better, we had the whole area to ourselves. Only two other groups of campers appeared – two ex-Hong Kong police officers from the UK and a young couple living in the city who camped at the next beach along – so we pretty much had full run of the place.

What we hadn’t expected was for there to be a number of cafes and a bar to purchase food and drink. The Hoi Fung restaurant was right on the edge of the beach, and had cold beer, water and great food on offer. They even have tents, sleeping bags and mats to rent in case you don’t have your own.

  • Two Person Tent – 150HKD
  • Four Person Tent – 250HKD
  • Six Person Tent – 350HKD

About 300m or so from the beach there was a small village with some other (cheaper) options for food and drink, which was just as delicious.

Some other beaches, such as Tai Wan and Tung Wan are really close to Ham Tin as well, so if there are crowds there try those places. Keep in mind that these beaches can have powerful currents, so stay close to shore unless you are a strong swimmer.

Ham Tin Beach Hiking Nature Free Camping In Hong Kong
Our free camp site on Ham Tin Beach.
Ham Tin Beach Nature Hiking Beach Free Camping In Hong Kong
Ham Tin Beach.

Day 2 – Long Ke Beach

It only took about an hour to make it Sai Wan, and we were instantly glad we didn’t choose to stay there. While still beautiful, the place was packed, although admittedly it was the weekend.

However with more development brought more options, such as a number of cafes, restaurants and places to rent surfboards and kayaks. It really depends on what you are after, but we preferred the quietness at Ham Tin Wan.

The surfing in Hong Kong might be decent during storms, but it was so small when we were there it wasn’t even worth paddling out.

The trail from Sai Wan became more like a hiking track, with the pavement giving way for dirt and a steep ascent. Make sure you stock up on water in Sai Wan before tackling this section, especially if the sun is out as there is very little shade. It’s worth the effort though, as the views from the top of the peak are sensational!

Long Ke Wan was equally gorgeous, and it took us no time in finding a decent spot to set up our camp. One thing to keep in mind for here is that there is nowhere to buy food or water, so stock up before arriving.

Long Ke Beach Hiking Nature Free Camping In Hong Kong
Long Ke Beach on the MacLehose Trail. Absolutely stunning!
Maclehose Trail Views Beach Hiking Nature Free Camping In Hong Kong
The views between Sai Wan and Long Ke.
Maclehose Trail Beach Hiking Nature Free Camping In Hong Kong
Maclehose Trail Nature Hiking Beach Free Camping In Hong Kong

Day 3 – Back To Sai Kung

As you leave Long Ke you climb up the headland and are rewarded with remarkable views back down to the beach. It takes less than an hour to get to the end of section 2, where section 1 picks up.

This is where you can spot some of the unique geological features that make this park so special – the volcanic hexagonal columns that are found on the High Island Geo Trail.

Similar to the basalt columns found at the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and Ganh Da Dia in Vietnam, most of these striking formations were exposed during excavation works for the huge reservoir that was built years ago. Definitely make the detour around this trail before moving on.

You can either take a taxi back to Sai Kung, or walk the 10km along the road back to Pak Tam Chung, where you can catch a bus into town. This is what we did, and the hike was ok, with some nice views every now and then. Just be cautious of speeding taxi drivers on the narrow road.

Volcanic Hexagonal Columns Nature Hiking Beaches Free Camping In Hong Kong
Volcanic hexagonal columns in the Hong Kong Global Geopark of China.
Volcanic Hexagonal Columns Nature Hiking Beaches Free Camping In Hong Kong

Dragon’s Back Hike On Hong Kong Island

One of the most popular hikes in Hong Kong is the Dragon’s Back located in the Shek O Country Park on Hong Kong Island.

This beautiful 5km trail offers more impeccable vistas while wandering through bamboo forest and lush woodland. Time Magazine even called this the ‘best urban hike in Asia’ back in 2004.

To get to the Dragon’s Back Hike take the number 9 bus from the Shau Kei Wan MTR station. Get off at Tei To Wan on Shek O Road. You will see the sign marking the start of the trail.

You finish the Dragon’s Back Hike at a small beachside village, where you can catch a bus back to the MTR station, or head up to the Giant Buddha.

Dragon's Back Lantau Island Nature Hiking Beach Free Camping In Hong Kong
Views along the Dragon’s Back hike on Hong Kong Island.
Dragon's Back Hike Lantau Island Nature Hiking Beach Free Camping In Hong Kong

Camping On Lantau Island

We didn’t get a chance to do any camping on Lantau Island, but there are a couple of supposedly superb spots that you can pitch your tent for free.

Pui O Beach – The most popular spot on the South shore of Lantau Island, and you can rent tents from here. On this beach there is even a full moon party thrown once a month, where you can find a collection of Hong Kong’s hippie community spinning fire, slacklining and dancing under the stars. It is also a bit of a family event, so don’t expect any of the debauchery that can be found in Thailand during the full moon.

Cheung Sha Wan – On the West coast of Lantau Island, and has teepees and safari tents available to rent. You can also rent surfboards, kayaks and body boards here.

Need accommodation in Hong Kong? Check out Agoda.com for great deals.

Nature Hiking Beach Free Camping In Hong Kong

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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57 thoughts on “Hiking, Beaches and Free Camping in Hong Kong”

  1. Thank you Alesha and Jarryd, super helpful!
    I plan on camping on the trail for about a week, are there some free showers there please?

  2. There are many free camping sites in Hong Kong, with most of them along the MacLehose Trail.
    https://bit.ly/1pYZD54 (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Hong Kong Government Website)
    This website will give you all the details you need for each campsite.

    I would say to everyone “take your own tents and camping gear with you” first you will feel more comfortable, secondly, for some reason it makes you feel safer.

    All campsites mentioned on the website I have posted allow you to cook on an open fire on site, many have toilets and some will have bathrooms and shower rooms with hot water.

    Trekking and camping in Hong Kong I must say “is one of my favourite destinations” I go almost ever two years, and will be going to trek the whole of the MacLehose Trail next month.

    One piece of advice, if you are trekking and camping alone, make sure you have a two way radio set on either the emergency channel 9, or the waterway emergency channel 16.
    Do not deviate from any trail during rain season, as there could be ground slides and river bed rises.

    I wish all of you safe travels when in Hong Kong, or anywhere around the globe.

  3. I have lived in Hong Kong for eight years. The information on this article is definitely not correct. There is a lot of confusion about itineraries and locations. Please doublecheck so you don’t provide the readers and reliable information

    • Hi Ema, thank you for your message. This is exactly what we did on our visit there and were told about these places from my family that live in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. Please if you think any of this information is incorrect, do comment. Saying it is incorrect and no specifying what is incorrect doesn’t help anyone.

      • The Dragon’s back is on HK Island so it definitely doesn’t make sense to go the Big Buddha which is on Lantau Island.
        It would take over 3 hours to get there by car and cable car..

  4. Hong Kong is a amazing place to visit! Thanks for sharing this post and helpful information. Keep it up!

    • Glad we could help. Hong Kong was a great place for hiking and camping. Thank you so much 🙂

      • Can you camp at the dragons tail hike or trail? Or at the beach at the end of the hike?

        • Hi Sally, we are not too sure. I am sure there is camp sites or accommodation at the end beach. We camped in another area of Hong Kong. All the best

          • Hi! Loved the article! If you were to choose, which is more beautiful? Ham Tin Or Long Ke beach? Am planning to camp overnight.

  5. I’ve got a hammock, not a tent. Do you think I’d still be able to try hiking and camping on the trail?

    Thanks for a great article!

    • Absolutely Henry, lots of trees to hang a hammock! Happy travels 🙂

  6. I see the price you put for tent rentals. I was wondering is that per night? Also, I am traveling for 5 days in HK. looking for cheap places to stay. I am not coming with a lot of camping equipment. Does that make a big difference?

    • Yes it is per night. The cafes along the way rent out tents and camping gear for the night only not weekly. If you want, I am sure there is a place in HK centre that you can rent the camping gear for the whole time instead of changing tents every night. I just googled it and there is a few. Maybe that will be a better option. Have a great time. 🙂

    • There are places in Mong Kok (Near Ladies Market) that you can buy an extremely cheap but functional tent – (just would not trust it in heavy rain. Budget tents less than $500HKD more expensive $2000HKD plus. SO depending on the number of nights you may want to consider buying one.

      They also have all the camping gear you can imagine.

  7. Thank you guys for this article! We wouldn’t have done the Maclehose trail if we hadn’t read you. We did the whole trail and had a wonderful time. Just a tip for anyone who wants to do it in the rainy season, a lot of cafes and shops are closed. So better carry your own food and also rent camping gear beforehand.

    • You are welcome. So awesome you did the hike and got to that area of Hong Kong. Not many people do. Thank you for the tip. I will add that above. Glad you had a great time. 🙂

  8. Hi guys! thanks for your post and really useful information. We are going tHam tin Wan this month. do you know if it is possible to cook food on the fire? I mean can we do kind of barbeque there? ot may be it is not allowe to make a fire in that place….??

    • Hi Yuliya, we didn’t see any BBQ’s but we are not too sure. There is a lot of bushland around so we are thinking maybe not with the fire. Don’t quote us. There are restaurants to buy food or take precooked food. We took bread, meats, fruits, crackers, cheese, carrots, nuts , dried fruits and snacks. You could take cereal and powdered milk if you can find some too.
      All the best and have fun. 🙂

      • are there places that have drinkable water from springs or streams?

        • Yes the are shops and drinking fountains along the way. Just bring a large water bottle to fill when you need.

  9. This is really helpful! I’m flying to Hong Kong this July and my original plan was to explore the central city and attractions. This story completely changed my mind to explore the best of HK’s nature. Now I’m excited to see it myself!

    • We are glad it is helpful for you Gillian. Glad we showed you another side of Hong Kong. You can easily do day hikes or overnighters and rent the gear. Have fun and enjoy. 🙂

  10. Hey! This may be a total long shot but I am headed to Grass Island during Chinese New Year to camp for a few days. But I am struggling to find camping fuel anywhere in Hong Kong for my MSR stove!!! I checked out the Overlander & a few gas stations but no luck. Did you guys bring a stove? Will definitely have to check out beach camping during Summer!

    • No we didn’t. there was so much food to purchase around so we didn’t need to cook at all. Have you got a multi fuel cooker? If you can’t find cooking gas use gasoline only if you have a multi cooker. That can use anything. We have an MSR multi fuel cooker and had to use gas in Tajikistan when we couldn’t find any. Worked fine, just burns dirtier. All the best

  11. Thanks for this write up. It helped me in planning my route for our planned hiking and camping in HK this March.

    • No worries Jo! Glad it helped. Enjoy your trip 🙂

  12. Hello again! I’ll be camping for 4 days, I see that you mentioned food in your post. But one thing I need to know, do a have to bring any kind of food for this 4 days camping or can I buy everything I need there? Thanks for the support!

    • You can buy some food at the cafes. We did come across some places where there was no food around so we were glad we had some food. Maybe take food for 2 nights and use the cafes when you come across them. 🙂

  13. Hello, I’m thinking to go spend the new years there, you inspired me! I have a barrack and sleeping bag. The think is, I’m going alone do you think is dangerous? What kind of gear should i bring with me? (like: lights, water filters,…). Thank you!

    • Hey Andre,

      Glad to hear our blog post inspired you to go there for New Years! It’s very safe down there on the beach. Just bring down some lights, drinks and some money to buy food/drinks at the cafe there. We had our water filter but didn’t really need it in the end. Have a great 2017!

      • Thank you for the fast reply and for the tips! Have a great 2017!!

  14. Hey!!! Thank you so much for this article!

    I was wondering though, how did you get to the different camping spots? Are there any buses? Taxi? Boat?
    What was the cost of it?

    Thank you so much!!

    • Hi Sylvain. We hiked to all those spots, but you can get taxis or buses to close to a lot of the camp sites 🙂

  15. Amazed by so much green! Quite surprised with the landscape, I could only picture skyscrapers when thinking of HK 🙂

    • I know. Us too. We were so shocked. It was so stunning.

  16. Two of my favourite words. Free & Camping.
    This is going straight on my bucket list!
    Cheers guys.

    • Haha us too. Free camping is the best. 🙂

  17. Hey there,

    I’m traveling to HK in a few weeks and your write up inspired me to camp at Ham Tin Beach. It looks lovely. Just wondering if I’d be able to leave Ham Tin and hike back to Sai Kung in one day or is that too ambitious? Traveling with my sister, we are new to the hiking world so would appreciate any feedback 🙂 Thank you!

    • We recommend braking it up. Might be a bit too much and no time to sit and take in the beaches. There are sorter hikes in the area if you only a have a day. All the best.

  18. Hi!! Can you tell me where are free campings in Hong Kong?? Already thank you!

    • Yes great question I would also like to ask because I want to camp here with my ultralight backpacking sleeping bag

    • Thank you for your comment. It is all in the post above. Happy travels

  19. Great webpage you made.
    I’ve been hiking in HK for more than 20 times including 27 hours to complete the Maclehose trail.
    Sai Kung is really the most away from it all and Biggest challenge is water supply. I always travel with a Katadyn water purifier but even you see drinkable water, it can be hard to reach. Plover Clove Reservoir is a real Tantalus experience. You see the water all the time but you can’t reach it.

    • Good on you Mike. That’s awesome. We would love to go back to HK and hike the whole of the Maclehose trail. Great tip about the water filter. We love ours and carry it all the time.

  20. this is called beauty of nature and it is very good to enjoy this beauty of nature and backpacking in this place is a beautiful experience.

    • Very true Daisy. 🙂

  21. Thank you so much for this! We’ve wanted to visit Hong Kong for a long time, but we never knew that there was this much beauty there. We always thought it would be a city break…. Now, we will have to add an extra week or two for some hiking and camping.

    It looks absolutely stunning – I had no idea that Hong Kong looked like this!!

    • Hong Kong surprised us too. Hope you get a chance to check out the camping next time, Karianne 🙂

  22. We spent two weeks in Hong Kong but didn’t get to experience any of this (it was winter, cold & rainy). Looks fantastic, next time we are back it’ll have to be for hiking.

    • That’s a shame! It definitely wouldn’t be as nice in the rain. You’ll love it when you go back.

  23. it is good to hear that Hongkong offers you free camping. MacLehose TraiL is a good place to visit and it,s view is amazing.each beach and every camping place of Honkong is worth visit place.

    • Hong Kong really surprised us! The beaches were sensational 🙂

  24. I never had much interest in visiting Hong Kong, until now! Love this

    • We didn’t know this beauty existed either. It’s incredible there! Thanks for reading, Michelle.

  25. Hong Kong is amazing! It really has it all! I am glad you headed to the nature it is mindblowing and most of the time you will have it for yourself! I will diffidently go camping the next time I am in HK! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • We loved it there in Hong Kong. It really surprised us. Thanks for reading, Tine 🙂

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