Last Updated on May 31, 2021 by queenie mak
Dragons Back Trail is one of the most popular trails in Hong Kong. It is also part of Hong Kong Trail Section 8 where the trail runs the entire top ridge of Shek O Peak in southeastern Hong Kong Island. The name of the trail came from the physical characteristics of the elevated trail along the undulating hills. It’s almost like you’re walking on “dragon’s back”!
And if you are travelling by yourself in Hong Kong, hiking solo is easy and safe, especially hiking on Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong. The trail is popular with locals and there are always hikers along the way. And the path is well-marked and cell phone signal is excellent.
So if you want to hike a picturesque trail with gorgeous sea and coastal views, consider hiking Dragon’s Back Hike in Hong Kong. And when you complete the entire trail, it will lead you to Big Wave Bay Beach, a perfect spot for ending a day of hiking.
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What you need to know before hiking Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong
Before you travel to Hong Kong, take a look at my solo travel guide to Hong Kong and get an overview of the city. And here are some additional travel tips specifically for hiking Dragon’s Back
- Get an Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard for taking public transportation (MTR, bus, minibus, ferry and tram). Purchase one at any MTR station or convenience store. It costs $100HKD but you can use $50 stored value and get your $50HKD refundable deposit when you leave. It is useful to take MTR and bus to hike Dragon’s Back Trail.
- The best time to hike the Dragon’s Back trail is late autumn, winter and early spring. The trail is exposed almost the entire way, so I would not recommend hiking during summer.
- It is safe for solo female travellers to hike Dragon’s Back. Even if you are hiking solo, there are always people around. The path is clearly marked and the cell phone signal is excellent.
- Make sure to bring enough water and sufficient sun protection. There’s not a lot of shade along the path and you can only get water at the end of the long trail.
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How to get to the start of Dragon’s Back Hike
The easiest and cheapest way to get to the start of Dragon’s Back Trail is to take public transportation. First, take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan MTR Station and take Exit A3 for Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminal.
Look for the bus stop for Bus #9 on the west side of the bus terminal. The bus will say Bus #9 and heading for “Cape D’Aguilar and Shek O“.
Take the bus all the way to To Tei Wan Station (11 stops). This is the start of Dragon’s Back Trail. You will see a few public toilets and a sign for the trial (see map).
- Bus #9: from Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminal to To Tei Wan Station
- Time: 23 minutes (every 20 minutes)
- Cost: $7.2HKD (cash or Octopus)
- Check: CityBus website, look for Bus 9 (bound for Shek O) in the “route list”
How to hike Dragon’s Back Hong Kong
Once you are at the start of the trail, you can hike up to the highest point of the Dragon’s Back Trail and backtrack your way back to where you start. The short journey is 2km up the mountain and will take 45 minutes one way.
Or if you are adventurous and want to continue your journey a bit further and end your day at a beach. All you have to do is follow my itinerary for a full day of hiking and relaxing on the beach.
- Difficulty: easy to intermediate
- Duration: 3 hours
- Distance: 8.5km
- What to bring: light hiking shoes, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), water, snacks, smartphone (for taking photos and navigation), towel and bathing suit
Beginning of Dragon’s Back Hike
Like I mentioned earlier, the beginning of Dragon’s Back Trail starts as soon as you get off the bus at To Tei Wan Station. There are several public toilets at the start of the trail. Might want to use the facilities before you start because there isn’t another one until you reach Big Wave Bay Beach.
Next to the public toilets, there is a small wooden sign indicating the start of Dragon’s Back Trail. And along the way, you will see similar signs along the path.
The entire path is either paved with interlocking stones or a dirt path. But either way, the path is clearly marked and well-travelled so the chances of being lost is very slim.
Continue hiking up the trail and maybe about 10 minutes or so, there is a sign indicating a picnic area on the left.
At the end of that path, there is a picnic table and a resting area. Even though you just started hiking, it might be a good spot to drink some water. (As you can see from the photos, the entire path is exposed so it is quite sunny. So make sure to drink water along the way).
But besides taking a short water break, this is the first opportunity to see a panoramic view of the west side of the peninsula including Tai Tam Bay, and Stanley Main Beach.
As the path gets steeper, the trail becomes a set of stairs. If you start pretty early in the day, most people will be walking up the stairs and not down. But later in the afternoon, you may have to share the stairs with hikers coming down the hill.
Dragon’s Back Viewing Platform
As you move up the mountain, you will approach a viewing platform where you can see a better view of the west side of the peninsula. Here you can see the houses in Red Hill, and Stanley Main Beach which is just on the left of all the houses.
And you can also see the mountains in the distance. They are called Violet Hill and The Twins, a difficult hiking path that crosses over two mountains and has over 1,000 steps! If you want to challenge yourself and see a gorgeous sunrise, try hiking the pair of mountains.
And as you go further, you will come to a junction where there is a small resting area and a couple of signs. Follow the sign for Dragon’s Back, which is up the stairs (unfortunately). But keep going, don’t give up, the view will be worth all your effort.
First panoramic view from Dragon’s Back: Shek O Peninsula
At the end of the steep stairs, the path opens up to the east side of the peninsula. This is the first time you can see the east side and what a view it is! You can see Shek O Peninsula, including Shek O Beach and the small island in Island Bay.
This is an excellent spot to take photos of Shek O Peninsula. If you walk a bit south to the open rock area, you can take some more awesome photos of Shek O.
Here is the view looking back at the trail and the open rock area. Hopefully, you can see people standing on the flat rocks. They are all taking selfies with Shek O Peninsula.
Hiking on the “Dragon’s back”
The hiking trail earned its name because of the physical characteristics of the hiking path on the undulating hills. The dirt path is either going up a hill or down. And it continues on as if you are actually walking on a dragon’s back.
The hike along the elevated ridges aka “dragon’s back” is not difficult. The slope isn’t very steep but I would definitely wear proper hiking shoes.
And along the way, you can see the coastline between Shek O to Big Wave Bay Beach including Shek O Golf Course.
If you want to check out an off the beaten path place in Hong Kong, visit Shek O another day and try coasteering along this coastline. Coasteering is a combination of rock climbing, swimming and jumping off cliffs. But make sure to wear grippy shoes, knee guards, gloves and bring a waterproof backpack.
Summit of Shek O Peak
At 284m high at Shek O Peak summit, it is the highest point along Dragons Back Trail in Hong Kong. Not the highest peak in HK but it has a gorgeous view of both the west and east side of Shek O Peak.
At the summit, you can continue to see Shek O Peninsula, Shek O Golf Course and Big Wave Bay Beach on the east side.
And on the opposite side, the view of the west side emerges again and you can once again see Tai Tam Bay and Stanley Main Beach in the distance.
At this point in the trail, you have the opportunity to backtrack the entire trail and return to your starting point and catch Bus #9 on the opposite side of the road and catch the next bus back to Shau Kei Wan MTR Station. It will be easier as you will be walking downhill and down the steps.
But if you continue the rest of Dragon’s Back Trail, which is also the Hong Kong Trail Section 8, you will descend down the mountain and walk across a flat trail the rest of the time.
After a quick descend, you will arrive at the perpendicular path, take a right and follow the dirt trail. Follow the sign for Tai Tam Gap and Shek O Road. The long trail wraps around Mount Collison is rugged but easy. Keep walking the partially shaded path for around 20 minutes.
Continue on Hong Kong Trail Section 8
The rest of Hong Kong Trail Section 8 to Big Wave Bay Beach is really easy. The entire path is either a wide paved road or a dirt path going downhill. All you have to do is follow the path and signs.
And before you hike down to Big Wave Bay Beach, there is a small park perfect for a bit of rest before continuing further.
The descent on the dirt path is about 25 minutes or so. At the end of the trail, it will lead you directly into the village by Big Wave Beach.
Final destination – Big Wave Bay Beach
When you complete the Hong Kong Trail Section 8, it will bring you directly into the small village of Big Wave Bay Beach.
If you decided to take the long and scenic route, you will be rewarded with a gorgeous white sand beach at the end.
Big Wave Bay Beach is a small beach on the east side of the peninsula. And as the name suggests, it has big waves! It is one of the best beaches for surfing due to its accessibility to public transportation and is not too far from the city centre. Moreover, there are good facilities like showers, change rooms, and toilets.
If you still have energy after a 2 hour hike, you can rent a surfboard, standup paddleboard and wetsuits at one of the local shops like Ho Lok Shop.
Or you can rent a beach chair and relax on the beach. You deserve a good break after a few solid hours of hiking!
How to get back to Shau Kei Wan from Big Wave Bay Beach
If you chose to hike the entire Dragon’s Back trail and finish your hike at Big Wave Bay Beach, there is a simple way to get back to Shau Kei Wan MTR Station.
Take the red minibus at the main parking lot at Big Wave Bay Beach and it will take you back to Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminal where you can take the MTR home.
- Red Minibus: from Big Wave Bay Beach to Shau Kei Wan MTR Station
- Time: 30 minutes
- Cost: $10 HKD ($12HKD on weekends and public holidays) cash only
- Check: 16seat website for more info
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Will you go on a solo day hike on Dragon’s Back in Hong Kong?
Hiking and being in nature is a big part of exploring Hong Kong. And one of the best solo hikes you can do is the Dragon’s Back Trail in southern part of Hong Kong Island. You don’t have to worry about being lost or navigating and it is completely safe for solo female travellers.
I hope you enjoyed this post and will see this part of Hong Kong. It is a must-see! Let me know in the comments if you have any additional questions about this hike.
Other Hong Kong hikes you might be interested:
- Rhino Rock Hike: see a rocky rhinoceros head in Stanley
- Pineapple Mountain: the Great Canyon of Hong Kong
- Red Incense Burner Summit on Braemar Hill: best spot for sunset and night views
- High Junk Peak: one of three sharpest peaks in HK
- Ma On Shan Hike: hike across the horse-saddle mountain to Sai Kung
- Pat Sin Leng Hike: hike over 8 peaks named after Chinese Mythological immortals
- Mount Nicholson Hike: see hidden rock statues in the middle of HK Island
- Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail: hike around HK’s largest reservoir
- Kowloon Peak and Suicide Cliff: See HK’s most dramatic cliff
- Po Pin Chau: hike around hexagonal rock columns in Sai Kung