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Po Pin Chau: See Hexagonal Rock Columns in Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

Last Updated on April 20, 2021 by queenie mak

Po Pin Chau (破邊洲) is a small island off the southeast coast of Sai Kung East Country Park in Hong Kong. The island is part of Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark and is known for its giant hexagonal rock columns formed from volcanic eruptions 140 million years ago.

The hike itself is not very difficult but the scenery is 100% rewarding. Not only you will see ancient volcanic rock formations along the coastline, but you will also see the High Island Reservoir East Dam, pebble beaches and spectacular ocean views.

If you enjoy hiking and want to get off the beaten path, you must visit Sai Kung and hike to Po Pin Chau and see these vertical rock columns. Keep reading, and I’ll show you exactly how you can make the most of your day trip to Po Pin Chau.

Related Post – 11 Off the Beaten Path Places in HK

What you need to know before hiking Po Pin Chau in Sai Kung

Before you start your journey to Po Pin Chau, take a look at my Hong Kong solo travel guide and get an overview of HK first.

And here are few additional tips for hiking Po Pin Chau:

  • The best time to hike the Po Pin Chau trail is late autumn, winter and early spring. The trail is exposed almost the entire way, so I would not recommend hiking during summer.
  • Get an Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard for taking public transportation and use it for taking the MTR and minibus to and from Sai Kung. It costs $100HKD, but you can use $50 stored value and get your $50HKD refundable deposit when you leave HK.
  • When you are in Sai Kung, the best way to get to the trail is by taking a taxi. Most taxi drivers will know where you are going. But just in case, tell your cab driver you are going to Po Pin Chau (破邊洲) and stop at High Island Reservoir Monument (萬宜水庫紀念碑). Make sure to bring cash. The cab ride is about $120HKD.

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How to hike Po Pin Chau in Hong Kong

The best way to see Po Pin Chau is to start at the High Island Reservoir Monument at the East Dam in Sai Kung East Country Park. Follow the unmarked trail through a series of hills and valleys along the coast. Along the way, see hexagonal rock columns along the coast of Po Pin Chau and rolling pebble beaches at Kim Chu Wan and Tsat Chung Beach. And finally, finish the hike at Sai Kung Man Yee Road.

  • Difficulty: easy to intermediate
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Distance: 5km
  • What to bring: hiking shoes, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), water, snacks, smartphone (for taking photos and navigation), gloves

How to get to the start of Po Pin Chau hiking trail

From anywhere in Hong Kong, take the MTR to Choi Hung Station. Then take exit C, and find the bus stop for minibus 1A and take it all the way to the end, which is at Sai Kung Pier Minibus Terminus.

  • Minibus 1A: from Choi Hung MTR Station Exit C to Sai Kung Pier Minibus Terminus

Take a taxi to the beginning of Po Pin Chau hiking trail

When you arrive at the Sai Kung Pier Bus Terminus, the taxi stop is nearby. You will see a sign or a row of green taxi’s.

Queue up and tell your taxi driver that you are going to Po Pin Chau (破邊洲) and want to stop at the High Island Reservoir Monument (萬宜水庫紀念碑). When you arrive, you will see the blue monument (see photo below). Make sure to bring cash. The cab ride is about $120HKD.

I was lucky that my cab driver knew exactly where I wanted to go, so he dropped me off near the staircase, which is the start of the hiking trail to Po Pin Chau. But I think most cab drivers in Sai Kung know where the start of Po Pin Chau’s trail is.

If you are going to Po Pin Chau on Sundays or public holidays, you can take minibus 9A. There is a bus stop near the monument at the roundabout. However, the minibus comes from Pak Tam Chung Bus Terminus and only runs on Sundays and public holidays between 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm. That means you still have to find your way from Sai Kung Pier to Pak Tam Chung Bus Terminus. Because of the complexity and infrequent schedule, I would suggest taking a cab for the most direct and convenient way.

The trail to Po Pin Chau starts at the base of the staircase across from the bus stop and on the same side as the blue monument.

A short hike to the top

Walk up the staircase until you see a red marker on the right. Then take the dirt path on the right, which will lead you to a cross and the triangulation station at the top of the hill. It is a quick climb to the top, but it has an awesome view of High Island Reservoir and the East Dam.

At the fork of the trail, take the path on the left to Po Pin Chau

From the triangulation station, follow the trail towards the coast. At this point, you can see a sliver of the small island of Po Pin Chau (see photo below).

Keep descending the hill until you reach the fork of the trail. And at this point, take the left path towards Po Pin Chau.

At the fork, you will also see a hiking path going up the mountain on the right. This is Fa Shan (translation: flower mountain). You will come back to this junction afterwards and walk up the mountain after seeing the hexagonal rock formation at Po Pin Chau.

A possible trail from High Island Reservoir

As you descend, you will see a glimpse of the water in front of the High Island Reservoir on the left (facing north). And you can even see a trail coming from that direction.

I read on another blog that the trail leads to the dolosse, the reinforced concrete block in a geometric form, at the bottom of the High Island Reservoir. However, I did not hike the path, so I cannot confirm. So it might be possible to see Po Pin Chau if you are at the base of High Island Reservoir.

See the heart in the mountain at Kim Chu Wan

On the way to Po Pin Chau, you will pass by a small path the descends into a cove with a pebble beach at Kim Chu Wan (撿豬灣). It is an interesting beach and you will have a chance to see the awesome beach after seeing Po Pin Chau.

Along the way, the hiking trail will take you along the coast along Sai Kung East Country Park.

Take note of the mountain on the right side of the pebble beach at Kim Chu Wan. There is a large hollow in a shape of a heart known as “Hong Kong’s Heart on the slope. It might not be obvious right away (I didn’t see it right away), but keep walking away from it and look back. It is on the middle righthand side. Do you see the heart?

Search for the concrete cross landmark

Keep hiking along the coast until you reach the concrete cross landmark. The hexagonal rock columns of Po Pin Chau are just right behind the concrete cross.

Po Pin Chau: part of Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark

At the clifftop, you can see the entire south side of Po Pin Chau, which is composed of hundreds of tall hexagonal rock columns. And at the base of the small island, there are a couple of rock pools.

It is possible to descend a bit further to get closer to Po Pin Chau. And at that point, it is the closest you can get to the giant pipe organ formation. It is not possible to actually be on the small island, but the view from the clifftop is quite spectacular.

Retrace your steps back towards Fa Shan

To continue the hiking trail, make your way back to the fork of the road before ascending Fa Shan.

And on the way back, you can see “Hong Kong’s Heart” on the slope again.

Visit Kim Chu Wan: a rolling pebble beach with giant rock columns

Remember the small path down the cove at the junction of the trail? This is Kim Chu Wan and it is truly a hidden gem along the Po Pin Chau hiking trail. The is quite unique as it has a pebble beach and giant rock columns.

There is a warning sign and a rope at the entrance of the pebble beach. Follow the rope and descend down to the pebble beach. If you brought your gloves, this is a good time to use them.

On the left of the cove, there are giant hexagonal volcanic columns. It is safe to hike up a bit to take photographs. This is the only spot along the Po Pin Chau hiking trail where you can get up-close and personal to these giant volcanic columns. So climb up and be amazed by the natural rock formation.

And throughout the beach, there are many giant oval pebbles or rocks on the beach. It is not too difficult to walk across the rocky beach, so explore the entire cove if you have extra time.

Hike up Fa Shan

Return back to the junction again and continue hiking up Fa Shan. There are more to see on the other side of the mountain.

This is probably the longest and steepest part of the hike. But it is not super difficult. So keep at it!

The south coast of Sai Kung East Country Park

The hiking trail will take you along the southern parts of Sai Kung East Country Park.

Even though the trail itself is not clearly marked, you can wander around the coast to see the hexagonal columns, different rock formations, Town Island, Wang Chau Island and the turquoise sea water of South China Sea.

Look back at the jagged cliffs of Po Pin Chau

Keep hiking along the coast where you will see the cliffy escarpment. And don’t forget to look back at Po Pin Chau. You can still see the hexagonal columns along the perimeter of the coast.

Stacked rock art along the southern coastline

Keep hiking further along the coast. There are a few spots that are worth photographing.

And there is a spot along the coast where that are hundreds if not thousands of stacked rock art. Not sure how long they’ve been there but a pretty cool spot to take photos too.

And when you are ready to continue hiking, find the hiking trail along the hills of the mountain and continue hiking west.

Hike towards Tsat Chung Pebble Beach

Keep hiking the unmarked trail towards Tsat Chung Pebble Beach (七重石灘). Not sure why the trail does not have any signs or wayfinding. But I followed the actual trail and found my way towards the end of the trail.

Trail condition to Tsat Chung Pebble Beach

Besides the fact that the trail is unmarked, parts of the hiking trail are covered in overgrown shrubs and branches. I usually wear shorts or knee-length leggings and ended up getting many scratches on my legs. So if this is an issue, wear something that covers your legs.

Hike up the hill between Tsat Chung Pebble Beach and Pak Lap Tsai

Tsat Chung Pebble Beach is similar to the beach at Kim Chu Wan where it has giant pebbles instead of sand. This is the last spot along the coast on this hiking trail before hiking inland.

In order to reach the end of the hiking trail, walk across Tsat Chung Pebble Beach and climb up the middle rock formation between the pebble beach and Pak Lap Tsai (白腊仔), which is another beach on the other side of the slope.

Turn right when you see the swing

Follow the hiking trail until you reach the bottom of the valley, where you will see many trees and a swing. At this point, turn right and follow the path going north.

Walk towards Sai Kung Man Yee Road

Keep following the narrow path. There are occasional yellow markers along the way.

The markers will lead to a muddy road where it loops around several buildings being constructed. Keep following the road.

At some point, you will see signages for Sai Kung Man Yee Road (西貢萬宜路). Keep walking up the paved path until you reach the main road, Man Yee Road, which is also MacLehouse Trail Section 1. There is a pagoda on the main road and several signages.

Options to return to Sai Kung Town from Sai Kung Man Yee Road

At Sai Kung Man Yee Road, you have two choices:

  1. Hike MacLehose Trail Section 1 to the start of the trail at Pak Tam Road and catch a bus back to Sai Kung Town; or
  2. Catch a cab on Sai Kung Man Yee Road and return to Sai Kung Town

Option 1: Hike MacLehose Trail Section 1 to Pak Tam Road and take a bus or minibus

Walking along MacLehose Trail, Section 1 is essentially following Man Yee Road. The 6km trail will take about 75 minutes (see route). The hiking trail scenic and passes High Island Reservoir West Dam.

When you reach Pak Tam Road, turn right and find either a bus stop or minibus stop.

Take either minibus 7 & 9 or bus 94. They all end at Sai Kung Town, where you can catch a minibus back to Choi Hung MTR Station.

  • Minibus 7: from Tsak Yue Wu to Sai Kung Pier Minibus Terminus
    • Time: 20 minutes (every 20 to 30 minutes; last minibus at 6:25 pm)
    • Cost: $13.1HKD (use Octopus Card)
    • Check: 16seats website for minibus 7 for more information
  • Minibus 9: from Tsak Yue Wu to Sai Kung Pier Minibus Terminus
    • Time: 20 minutes (every 30 minutes; last minibus at 9:15 pm)
    • Cost: $7.40HKD (use Octopus Card)
    • Check: 16seats website for minibus 9 for more information
  • Bus 94: from Tsak Yue Wu to Sai Kung Bus Terminus
    • Time: (every 30 minutes; last minibus at 10:30 pm)
    • Cost: $6.80HKD (use Octopus Card)
    • Check: KMB website for bus 94 for more information

Option 2: Catch a cab on MacLehouse Trail Section 1 back to Sai Kung Town

The second option is to take a taxi back to Sai Kung Town. There are many green taxi’s going towards High Island Reservoir as there is a taxi stand at the end of Man Yee Road. Somtimes, there are vacant taxi’s on route to the taxi stop.

If you see one on Man Yee Road, hail a cab and take it back to Sai Kung Town. The cost is about $120HKD.

As soon as I reached the end of the hiking trail, I saw a cab right away and didn’t even have to wait 2 minutes. I finished the hike at about 3:00 pm, so there were plenty of taxis.

Want to explore Hong Kong with a tour? Check out one of these exciting tours:

Are you ready to hike the Po Pin Chau hiking trail in Hong Kong?

Po Pin Chau is definitely a hidden gem in Hong Kong. It is one of the most unique UNESCO scenery I have ever come across.

While the trail itself is not difficult, the most challenging part is actually following the hiking path because they are not clearly marked. But if you follow my itinerary, you will have no problem finding your way around the southern part of Sai Kung East Country Park.

Hope you enjoy this blogpost! Let me know in the comments if you are going to see this hidden gem in Hong Kong!

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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