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A few days ago, I hiked to Sai Wan Village and Sheung Luk Stream in Hong Kong on the advice of an American friend who’d done the hike last year. The hike, lunch, and cliff jumping made for my favorite day of activities in Hong Kong and a stark contrast from the urban activities that dominate Central and Kowloon.
The Sai Wan Village hike is quite famous with even a CNN article on the topic, but I couldn’t find one site with good directions, photos, and maps of the hike to Sai Wan village and Sheung Luk stream, so hopefully this post can be that resource as well as a trip report to inspire you for your next trip to Hong Kong.
The hike is an easy 45 minutes to one hour in each direction along a fully paved path. The main issue is the omnipresent heat and humidity in Hong Kong.
Along the way, you’re treated to views of the High Island Reservoir, and at the end of the path is a spectacular beach and ocean, a fishing village with delicious Chinese food, and a stream with natural pools and waterfalls.
- How do you get to the trailhead?
- How do you get to the waterfall?
- What are your return options?
- Plus more pictures.
There are many ways to get to the trailhead. The cheapest is a combination of buses, but we were more interested in the fastest, so we took a taxi.
Our taxi driver didn’t know the Sai Wan Pavilion, the trailhead, so I directed him to go to Sai Kung, a town everyone will know, and then continue on Sai Kung Sai Wan Road. I had Google Maps out to direct him. Google also doesn’t know where the Sai Wan Pavilion is, but it does know Sai Kung Sai Wan Road. Have him drop you of when you get to the Pavilion, which looks like this. There’s nothing else like it on the road, and you cannot miss this pavilion.
The meter plus the tolls added up to a total cost of 279 HKD (~$36) and took one hour from Central Hong Kong. Split two ways, paying $18 each seemed like a no-brainer to maximize our time in Hong Kong.
Here’s a map showing the drop off point and some other parts of the hike. (I didn’t create the map, and I’ll love to attribute it, but I forgot where I found it.)
From the Pavilion, the trailhead is well signed.
There are a few trails that will take you to Sai Wan, and you can check them out on the map at the trailhead. We did the classic trail that heads south toward the reservoir.
The path is 2.5 km (1.5 miles) and 45 minutes according to posted signs.
The path is fully paved the entire way.
Some of the steeper sections even have stairs, which I preferred.
The path has ups and downs, but overall you drop in elevation from the trailhead to the village. If you make the return hike, it is harder, but nothing someone in moderate physical condition can’t easily tackle.
We arrived in 45 minutes to the small fishing village of Sai Wan.
We headed straight to its beach to cool down from the hike in the humid heat of the Hong Kong midday.
The beach itself was beautiful with gorgeous views of the small islands and the town’s little bay.
The ocean was a perfect temperature and shallow for quite a ways out.
After relaxing in the water for 20 minutes, we headed to the beachside restaurants for lunch.
Rice or noodle based dishes with chicken and pork cost 35 to 50 HKD ($5 to $7) and were delicious. We had the chicken with pineapple, curry chicken rice, and pork with noodle soup.
After lunch, we made the 10 minute walk to this natural pool and waterfall on the Sheung Luk Stream.
To get there, continue walking north past the town. Within a minute or two, you will come to a helicopter landing pad (really!) where you’ll see signs for the MacLehose trail. You want to follow the sand path, just to the right of the helipad.
You quickly come to a junction with a wooden board, some signs, and a bridge over the stream to the right. The only signs point to the right, but ignore them and head to the left under the low hanging tree.
You’ll walk along the stream for a minute or two and then come to this beautiful natural pool and stream.
On the day we went, we were two of the seven people at the pool. And we saw probably a dozen other people in town. If you go on a weekend, you’ll see many more.
At the pool, you can swim, or climb up the waterfall.
Cliff jumping is very dangerous, and at Sheung Luk stream, climbing to a good jumping spot requires crossing the slippery rocks where the waterfall flows. Needless to say, I cliff jumped, but I don’t recommend you cliff jump. Here’s a video of some folks jumping.
After about 90 minutes at the pool, it was time to head out.
Many days, there is a boat from Sai Wan to Sai Kung.
All the restaurants in town have the time table. The boat costs 130 HKD ($17) per person and puts you in Sai Kung, from where you can easily catch a cab or bus back to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island.
There was no boat the day we hiked, so we had to hike back to the Sai Wan Pavilion by 4:45 PM, when the last bus of the day heads to Sai Kung.
It took us one hour from the natural pool to Sai Wan Pavilion with no stops. We expected it to take longer, so we arrived at 4 PM. The mini-bus soon showed up, but it planned to wait until 4:45 PM to start its run. A green taxi arrived at 4:05 PM to drop off new hikers (you can camp in Sai Wan), and five of us jumped in it instead of waiting for the bus.
The taxi to Sai Kung market cost 89.5 HKD, which was only $2.50 per person. Green taxis can only drive in the New Territories, so we couldn’t take the cab all the way to Hong Kong Island. After walking on the pier at Sai Kung market for a few minutes, we caught a second taxi back to town. It cost 217 HKD ($27). Both taxis took 1hr40min combined because of the evening traffic.
- 11 AM: Catch taxi from Hong Kong Island to Sai Wan Pavilion on Sai Kung Sai Wan Road
- noon: arrive Sai Wan Pavilion, begin hike
- 12:40 PM: arrive Sai Wan village, swim
- 1 PM: lunch
- 1:30 PM: hike to stream
- 3 PM: hike to Sai Wan Pavilion
- 4 PM: arrive Sai Wan Pavilion, catch green cab to Sai Kung, catch red cab to Hong Kong Island
- 5:45 PM: arrive Hong Kong Island
- taxi there: 279 HKD
- lunch: 135 HKD
- two Gatorades for the way back up: 30 HKG
- taxis back: 306.5 HKD (53.5 HKD paid by other passengers to Sai Kung)
Cost per person for two people: 349 HKD ($45)
Even though, I didn’t feel like I had complete information in advance, the process of getting to the trailhead, hiking to Sai Wan, and hiking to Sheung Luk Stream was very easy.
The day of hiking made for a pleasant contrast to the urban jungle of Hong Kong, and this was my favorite activity of our four days in Hong Kong.
Hopefully this guide will inspire you to head to Sai Wan and Sheung Luk. Report back if you do!