7 Reasons Why Hong Kong is the World's Best Adventure Megacity

Here is where the East meets the West. It's also where the urban meets adventure. Welcome to HK.

By: Kyle Obermann

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Hong Kong is a paradise for those who like the big city life just as much as they like escaping it. The famous skyline here, containing more skyscrapers than any other city, only tells less than half the story. Here's what I've learned from my last year living and adventuring in a megacity that's 60% green.

1. Mountains

You like to hike for views? Hong Kong is for you. Although it may be located on a peninsular island system, Hong Kong has two peaks with near 1000m vertical that break the tree line and are famous for giving spectacular views of the “sea of clouds.” There are 21 other over 500m peaks. This may not sound like much, but when you start from sea level and don't have switch backs – these are no joke.

2. Ocean

It's the world's 5th busiest container point and a gateway for finance and commerce between the East and West. But under the water is a different story. 110 species of hard and soft coral give life to an abundant marine ecosystem that is a delight for divers and island goers alike. These waters have more coral than the Caribbean. When you come off that 1000m elevation gain why don't you go for a dip in the crystal clear sea?

3. Islands

Take your pick from 260 of them. Use the same public transport card you'd use for the subway or bus and take the ferry to Tung Lung Chau, Po Toi, Peng Chau, or Tap Mun. Some of these islands don't even have electricity or running water. At night you can see the milky way. Islands are one of the best ways to ditch all trace of the concrete jungle and enjoy the slower life of old Hong Kong!

4. Trails

44,300 hectares of country parks and natural lands spread across Hong Kong, making up a mind-blowing 40% of the total land area. Trails spread out across these landscapes like a child's scribbles on a piece of paper – the options are near inexhaustible. They range anywhere from stone paths to red ribbons marking the way in the bush. There are four trails over 50km, including the longest of them all, the Maclehose, which stretches 100km across beach and mountain. It also hosts a trail race. Anyone wanna sign up with me?

5. Waterfalls

If you are the kind of person who finds cooling off at a beach too sedentary, try hiking to a waterfall. The plus? The water is often cooler, less people, and there's usually clear pools deeper than you can touch below each fall. So, yes, after you test the depth find a safe cliff and jump off it. My favorite is Nung Tung Chai, but you can also try Sheung Luk Stream, Bride's Pool, Tai Tam Mound, or, for a real challenge, Wong Lung Hang Stream. 

6. Infrastructure

The ease of Hong Kong's public transportation infrastructure ties everything together. A combination of subway, trams, buses, minibuses, and ferries, that all use the same “Octopus Card” to pay for rides makes getting to your adventure spot too easy. Plus, given the relatively small land mass, things are never far away. The trails are well marked, often with distance markers and a topo map at the start, and there is a wealth of additional English resources online.

7. Community

With so many people squeezed together in the city and all that wild laying just beyond, the outdoors community in Hong Kong is thriving. If you are looking to join up with some locals or just find some adventure buddies check out Hong Kong Hikers, Hong Kong Hiking Meetup, and @instahikehk on Instagram. I've had good luck meeting people on hikes of my own and via Instagram. The young photography community is explosive and people are incredibly friendly. The outdoors here is too great to do alone!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.