Updated: May 1
Wong Lung Hang Stream is easily one of the most challenging and stunning hikes in Hong Kong. This adventure has everything; it includes several impressive waterfalls, large plunge pools with cliff jumps, clear running water, rock climbing with ropes, bush whacking and a ridgeline trail back to civilisation. If you only have time for one, then this is it.
Hike Location: Lantau Island, Tung Chung
Hike Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
Hike Length: 8 Hours
High Distance: 15km
Hike Incline: approx. 800m
Tips: You'll need to start early to really make the most of the day. I'd suggest beginning the trail at 10am. This will allow plenty of non-moving time to chill out at the falls and will still get you to the ridgeline for sunset. Bring a torch for the last section where you're likely to be descending back down to Tung Chung after dark.
Full Disclosure: The second half of this trail is DIFFICULT. Once you leave the stream and begin to ascend the valley wall, overgrowth and dense tree cover presents a challenging endeavour to reach the ridgeline trail that leads you back to civilisation.
Alternative Route: An easier version of this hike is to complete the stream section and then retrace your steps back to where you started. If I was doing this then I'd aim to make the second large waterfall my turn-around point (photo 19, below).
To get to the start of the trail you need to make your way to Tung Chung MTR station on Lantau Island. From here, get in a blue taxi and ask the driver to take you to "Wong Lung Hang Picnic Site", found at the end of Wong Lung Hang Road. The taxi ride should only take 5-10 minutes. Photo 1 is where you'll be dropped off. Follow the road up from here.
Stick to the road for about 1km and note that the trail begins further along than the Wong Lung Hang Picnic Site itself. When you reach the fence at the end of the road, take the path to left, which will lead you into the stream system (photo 5). This is where the trail really begins.
Climb up the mossy steps under the trees on the left side of the stream (photo 7). These take you around the dam structure. From here on, just follow the stream until you reach the first big falls. This should take roughly 1 hour, depending on how quick you are at climbing around rocks. The best time to tackle this hike is after a good rain since the waterfalls become even more impressive and the clear pools become deep enough to swim in.
Below are photos of the first large waterfall. This is potentially my favourite fall I've come across on all my Hong Kong hikes, so soak it up and enjoy. You can jump off the rocks to the left if you leap out far. However, I would advise only doing this after heavy rain; it might be worth testing the depth of the plunge pool first.
After you've enjoyed this beautiful spot, take the ropes to the left of the waterfall to access the next section of the stream system (photo 16).
After roughly 30 minutes of more bouldering you'll arrive at the second large falls (photo 19). Another true Hong Kong gem. You can actually climb around the back of the large rock and jump off it into the deep turquoise-green pool. This pool is my suggested turn-around point for those looking for an easier version of the hike.
Again take time to time enjoy this Hawaii-like scenery before following the trodden path lined with ribbons up to the next section. Keep to the stream and soon you'll arrive at a stunningly tall waterfall cascading down from the tree line. Believe it or not, you'll be looking down from the top of this fall shortly.
But first, continue into the valley past another spectacle on your right (photo 23). Once you reach this, the fourth set of large falls, you'll also see the end of valley in front of you marked by another impressive cascade (photo 25). You cannot pass this last one, so you now need to climb up the left side of the valley, following ropes and ribbons to the top.
The ropes begin opposite the falls (photo 26). The route takes you back in the direction you just came from and involves lots of climbing along the cliffside, so be cautious. It eventually flattens out and the ribbons lead you to the top of the very high waterfall you will have seen in the distance earlier (photo 31).
For the next section of the trail you are essentially making a beeline for the ridge. Prepare for bushwhacking, spiderwebs and ruined shins; this is where the jungle is thickest. Follow the river bed up and keep a look out for the occasional ribbon.
Eventually the blue and white ribbons will lead you to a path on your left, heading through trees to what looks like a more open area of the forest (photo 33). Once you find the path and gain a bit more elevation you will reach a point where you can see ridge lines in all directions. Follow the path, which leads to the nearest ridge line, North-East of you.
This next section is hard work. You'll already be dead on your feet but there's no turning back at this point. It'll be a race against the light to reach the ridge trail for sunset. You'll find the ribbons very helpful at this stage. I've placed white ones at the more confusing intersections. Keep pushing. The views are 100% worth the grind.
Once you reach the ridge trail, it's another hour or so back down to Tung Chung. You'll almost certainly need a torch for the last part of the descent, but as long as you stick to the path you can't get lost. As with most adventurous Hong Kong hikes the final 'landmark' is a set of maintenance-access steps. Take these down to the road and follow it left towards the MTR station.
See the route I took on the MAP below and download the KML file to see the route in Google Earth 3D. The KML file is compatible with both desktop and mobile but will only run if you have the Google Earth app downloaded on your device.
Below is a screenshot from the Google Earth KML file.
NB: When I classify a hike as 'Difficult', I'm suggesting that someone with an above average level of fitness should be prepared for something adventurous and potentially challenging.
To date, none of the Ventureon Hong Kong Trails have been too difficult or dangerous to complete. Rocks in Hong Kong's waterfall systems tend to have good grip, but this can change close to the streams and in heavy rain. Hikes with drop-offs and muddy trails require a heightened level of concentration, especially during the rainy months. If you are unsure, then choose a day with good weather. Always proceed with caution. You know your own limits best.