Ok, I normally don't write my blogposts in English but I think this is of interest not only for Swedes but for all people who are interested in going to Hong Kong bringing their Mountain Bike.
I remember the first time when I went to Hong Kong and I was scavanging the net trying to find useful information deciding whatever or not I would bring my MTB or not.
In the end, I brought by bike with me and have since than been in Hong Kong a number of times the last three years mountain biking. I don't really have a super good answer why I travel from Sweden to Hong Kong to MTB, but it is a fairly easy trip, we have direct flights from Stockholm and I can travel for prices as low as 3000 SEK (300 EUR, 350 USD).
For a Swede going to Hong Kong, in November/December the weather is like a Swedish summer :) That means 20-25 C, no need for jackets day or night and little to rain. I have been cycling in Hong Kong November, December and March. I think that if you are between October - March it is not that humid and hot as it will be during Summer. So for me, going to Hong Kong in November/December is a good start for my upcoming training season and a nice break when the weather is getting cold and winter is coming in Sweden.
The first thing you probably think of if you never been in Hong Kong is if there are any nature, isn't it just a lot of skyscrapers? But looks can decive, Hong Kong have a number of nature parks in the surrounding area accessible in different ways, train, boat, car/van.
On all my trips I have rented living through AirBnB. It has worked out well all times for me. You can get good apartments for less than $100 / night that is fairly central. Last times I have stayed on Hong Kong Island 2-3 MTR stations from Hong Kong Station / Central. If you live on Hong Kong Island and close to HK Station / Central you can bike down to the ferry piers.
But let's start at the beginning, what bike to bring if you have choices?
I have been in Hong Kong both using my Specialized Epic and Stumpjumper FSR, both bikes with 29" wheels. Currently, 29" bikes used by locals are not that common, most I have met is using 27.5" bikes, even seen a few 26" bikes, but not that common.
Depending on your handling skills, most of the trails works with a XC bike, if you have a dropper post on it, that would make it easier in some of the down hill trails that you might want to try out.
My personal weapon of choice has the last time been my Stumpjumper FSR. An All Mountain bike will work good, something with 120-140mm front suspension and a dropper post. You could bring a down hill bike and go up and down using a gogo van, I haven't done it, but I know some of the locals do it, but with a DH bike your options becomes a bit limited when it comes to where you can ride.
Ok, so you decided what to bike to bring, you are on your way to Hong Kong..
When arriving at the airport.
All times I've been in HK my bike has been waiting at the lauggage band even before I get there. HK Airport is fairly nice when arriving with bikes since you don't need to pick up your bike at any special lauggage area.
Since I have picked my living fairly close to Central / Hong Kong Station, I have taking the Airport express train from and to the airport. It costs around 120 HKD one way. I have mostly traveled to/from the Airport and my living using the train system. At one time, I used some small buss and taxi.. But if you chose a living on Hong Kong Island, I think it is convenient to use the train system.
I highly recommend buying the Octopus Card on your way towards the HK Express train. If you buy the Octopus card, you need to pay in Cash, at least in the information booth close to the train. You pay a fee for the card as well that I think you get back if you return the card when leaving, I have kept mines all the time. Last time I chipped in 150 HKD and when arriving at Hong Kong Station I had to refill with another 100 HKD before entering the MTR (Subway) system after arrival to Hong Kong station.
You can use the Octopus card to pay in a lot of stores, so depending on how you use cards/cash when traveling, here is another option :)
In addition to the Octopus card, if you want to make your traveling on bike days a bit easier, I propose you get a local SIM-card so that you have a local number and you also get some GB's to use for surfing. I'd opt for the Hong Kong only 8 days visit card, but it depends a bit on what your plans are. There is a good web page describing the different prepaid cards you can get.
Before arriving to Hong Kong you probably decided whatever or not you would do like me, get to your place using the MTR system or if you will try the taxi-way, you could also try using the GoGo Vans if you are a number of people with alot of luggage, we'll cover the GoGO Vans a bit later.
Well, in some way you have now sorted out how to get to your apartment, good for you! :)
Congratulations, you are now where you will live in Hong Kong, you have assembled your bike and thinking of what to do next :)
So, let's get down to the biking parts of this stay...
For me, I land early in the morning and have assembled my bike and are ready around 11 am local time. Since I am pretty busted after a long time travel, I have chosen to do an easier ride the first day just to get out.
There are a number of ways to get around with the bike in Hong Kong, the common ways would be ferry, GoGo Van or MTR. I'd say most of the locals and expats are using GoGo Vans or the ferry depending on where they are going.
MTR (Metro / Subway)
I have always traveled alone to Hong Kong, so for me using the MTR to some of the places works pretty well. There are some things you need to know if you plan to take your bike down into the MTR.
- When get to the gates into the trainstation, where you swipe your Octopus card, before crossing this line, remove the front wheel from the bike.
- To get down to the trains, you are not allowed to use the escalators. You should use the elevators that exists on all stations. At some times, I wait for all people to clear and then I enter the escalator last.. But if you head for the elevator, you will do just fine.
- So before you enter the train, you would need to head to either the front or end of the station before entering the train.
Taking the ferrys from the Piers close to Central out to Lantau or any other island has some different things you need to know. You can find the time tables at the web page for First Ferry.
Depending on where you plan to go, there are limitations on when you are allowed to bring your bike on to the ferry. If you plan to go to Mui Wo (Lantau) with a ferry, you need to verify what boats are taking freight.
So if you are planing to go to Lantau which is a good place to bike, you would need to check for the boats taking freight, in the time table they are marked with a "*".
When you arrive at the Pier, currently for Lantau ferrys it's Pier 6, you need to go to a small booth at the side where you pay the price to bring the bike and your own personal ticket, the cost is around 40-50 HKD one direction, cash!
You will then wait close to the booth for the boat to arrive, normally there will be some others with packages they will get on the boat, wait until most passengers has gotten off the boat before starting to enter the boat. Look at the others with packages they will leave on the boat what they are doing if you are unsure.
When on the boat, find a place around the middle of the boat where you can lean your bike, sometimes, just make sure it's not in the way for others to move around.
When arriving, just wait for most of the passengers to leave the boat before you get off the boat.
Going by boat is a nice way to see Hong Kong from the sea, recommended!
A common way for many locals is to meetup somewhere central or at some train station and then getting a GoGo Van to get to where they will start biking.
This is when your local Hong Kong number comes in handy, it is not uncommon for the driver trying to get in contact with you to sort out some details, or you might want to contact the driver to see where they are.
There is an App you can download called "GoGo Vans", think of it as Uber. In a GoGo Van you could normally fit 4 bikes in the back of the van. 3 for sure.
When I have met up locals and others living in Hong Kong riding with them, it is not uncommon to take a GoGo Van back to central parts of Hong Kong. A 20-30 min ride from outer parts of Hong Kong into central parts costs around 300 HKD, cash...
Never tried, but they could probably squeeze one bike into the back of their trunk, you would pay some extra HKD for that but this would be one of my last options....
So now you know a different number of ways to get around in Hong Kong with your bike..
Finally the fun stuff, biking stuff!
I have not been around everywhere on Hong Kong with my mountain bike, but I am starting to learn the different trails and areas, still have some areas to explore but since I'm only in HK like once a year, I normally tries to learn more about the areas I already know something about.
First time I went to Hong Kong I did some research trying to figure out where I could bike, I googled, look at segments on Strava and finally posted a question on a Hong Kong MTB facebook group saying I'd be in Hong Kong and asked if there were some group rides.
I now have a number of people that I reach out to when I get to Hong Kong, sometimes I have the possibility to tag along on some of their rides, could be with expats or with some locals. But I also do a lot of riding on my own. But to explore new trails, it helps to get some guidance...
You don't need to pay hefty money for somebody to show you the trails, with some research and following my tips, you should be able to get around doing some really nice trails in Hong Kong.
You could get some information, some accurate, some outdated, at Hong Kong Mountain Bike Association.
Another place to get some maps over trails is AFCD. This can be handy to have either on the phone or some printouts in the back.
I will also post some of the GPX-files from some of my rides in some of the areas that you could use to get around. In some areas the trails are pretty well marked at crossings.
The biggest area where you have a lot of trails, XC and DH, is in Tai Mo Shan. This is the biggest trail system for mountain biking. I also go over to Lantau, the same island as Hong Kong airport resides on. There are also a number of trails on Hong Kong Island but I have not explored much of it yet.
There are also some trails at some smaller islands but if you want to do some serious mountain biking for a couple of hours this is not something I would recommend. If you want to do some sightseeing, biking, eating then visiting some of the smaller islands where bike trails exists is an option. I've tried it once but compared to TMS or Lantau, TMS and Lantau are unbeatable if you want to explore see alot of nice biking trails.
My first day I use to go to Chai Wan in order to go up to the known walking path, Dragon's Back. In tripadvisor this is one of the sights you should visit if you are in Hong Kong. To get to Chai Wan, I have always taken the MTR. To get to the start of the Dragons Back trail, there is a bit of tarmac, going up.. So you need some stamina if you want to be at this place.. You could of course go by GoGo Van or Taxi up to the start of the trail, or you can use my GPX and do some uphill biking before you enter the trails :)
Good to know about Dragons Back is that it could be fully packed with hikers so you are unable to bike the Dragons Back and only the lower trail. When I've been on that trail in November/December on a weekday, there haven't been that many hikers. In March it was so packed so being there wasn't much fun.
Biking on the Dragons Back is more about the views than the actual trail. You need to carry your bike at some places but a lot of it is rideable. But you need to be a bit skilled with your bike in order to manage all parts of the trails that you could ride if your skills are up for it.. Better safe than sorry, just walk your bike if needed.
When you have biked up on the Dragons Back, you can bike back on a trail that is more bike friendly, there are some places where you can stay and just relax. Since this often is my first day, I use to stop at some nice place, just sucking up the sun eating some candy and watching the ocean.
Tai Mo Shan
The biggest trail system in Hong Kong, what's good to know is that there are trails where you are not allowed to bike on. If you do that, you could get stopped and will be fined. The fines are maybe not that high, but you need to go to court and it's a couple of months later. This is at least what happens to the ones who lives in Hong Kong, I don't know how this will work for tourists, so... Keep this in back of your head..
To get to TMS it's not uncommon to take the MTR to Tsuen Wan or Tsuen Wan West and than a GoGo Van up the Twisk Road to the "bus stop where bikers meet". I've tried both going up the mountain with a GoGo Van and this year, 2017, I biked up Twisk Road competing with the roadies on my MTB :) It's 6 km and an average 6% climb. Biking up this road on your MTB is probably not something most people do, it depends on your fitness. I did it twice on 33 and 35 min.
There is a meeting point up on Twisk Road, on weekends you will see a lot of locals meeting up at 9, 10 or 11. You normally don't end your rides at this place, rather you end up down at Hong Kong Gold Coast on a bar or at Kam Sheung Road MTR station.
You should plan for 3-4 hours of riding when going to TMS. If you are to follow my GPX-files, I do ride a lot of the black trails but they are often black because it could be a bit steep on one side of the trail.. Still trees and grass so no free falling, but you should be comfortable with your biking skills if you follow my GPX-files.
You could follow the easier marked trails in TMS, you have signs to follow that would lead you down to Tai Lam Country Park that have easier trails that are more XC-trails. This is where the maps over the trail system can come in handy. If you use my GPX, you will be doing some black trails up in TMS, and some easier trails in Tai Lam.
But up in TMS, you have some down hill trails that you without problems can ride if you brought your AM bike :) You can do it on your XC-racer, hardtail or whatever, but it will not go as fast as it can. First year I was there I flew of my bike riding down Moi Po, I was then riding on my XC-bike (Specialized Epic) so it wasn't the best weaping of choice for the task :)
Look at the videos that Steve Gould has posted on youtube, most of the trails he shows are trails that you will encounter if you use my GPX-file. Tin Man is a 3km fantastic down hill route, Mo Poi is a steeper classic Down Hill trail.. And to get to those trails, you have some nice rides ahead before you get to them.
Watching Steves video gives you a sense of what you can encounter up at TMS. However, the videos does not make the true picture of how it actually looks like, a lot of fantastic scenary, even though you might be busy looking at the trail a head of you..
Good to think of is that many trails are shared by bikers and hikers, so you need to be careful at some times, the hikers are normally friendly and tries to stand aside when you come.. Just say thank you thank you, hello and be nice to them and it will work out fine.
As I wrote earlier you likely will end up at two places, one leading to the MTR-station or the other down at the Gold Coast where you will drink a beer before heading back to Hong Kong. From Gold Cost it is easiest to call a GoGo Van, you could also do a 15-20 min bike ride up to the Tuen Mun MTR station, I've never done it but looking at maps it looks like two bigger roads you need to follow in order to get there, so it shouldn't be super hard. But it's a long ride with the MTR into central.
Lantau is the island with the airport. If you live on Hong Kong island or Kawloon I think it's easiest to take the ferry from Central to Mui Wo. Then you have a trip to a "classic" trail on Lantau which would be the Chi Ma Wan trail. This is a fairly "easy" trail, still got it's quirks and challanges, but a fantastic spot to stop at for an energy break.
On Lantau you have friendly big animals walking around, I have twice gotten kind of "face to face" with them, once when I got back away, the second time it was laying on the trail and we had to pass it close.. They seem very used to humans but I would kind of challange them.
I did this 5-6 hour ride once with an expat who showed me trails I normally dont go to alone. We basically cycled around the Island, well, not really, but you get the point :) But that trips was on a lot of trails that... were not marked as MTB trails.. maybe not OK ;) We visited the Big Buddha placed high up on Lantau Island, then took the Buddha Downhill trail (I think that was what he called it). It was a really nice day but demanding and not for everybody.
But wait, isn't there more?
Yes, it is! You have trails "close" to central on Hong Kong Island but I have not been discovering them yet. Seems like they are more used for night rides. I also took the boat out to a smaller island that were supposed to have this trail where some local competitions are going from time to time, but I was there for biking and the trail was just a few kilometers in a "circle". There were small villages on the island so if you were interested more in sighseeing, some food and biking just a small think that day, good option.. Name of the island? Lamma Island.
There is still a lot for me to explore but that is just another reason for coming back :)
Tourism in Hong Kong
Yes, you can do that, but you'll find better information at other places than here. I have been up to Victorias Peak, nice view down towards HK Central. I've been up in the bar in the highest building, fantastic view..
Absolutely! You have all different kind of food available, price range from low cost to really expensive. I once lived in a building with a 3 star michellin restaurant, I did not visit that one :) I tend to go for the burgers, some Dim Sum places and some place serving a good steak.
You can follow me on Strava , send me a message on facebook if you have any thoughts, questions or hints.. Last years I have had the "luxuary" to bike both on the roads and on MTB-trails around the world. My "dream" is still to visit Peru and the Inca-trails. Those were the ones that a couple of years ago inspired me the most.
If you come to Stockholm bringing your bike, want some tips or trying to find local ride to hook up, send me a message and I might be able to help you out..
Hmm, at some weak moment, like 2 months ago when I started to write this, I had the intention of adding some GPX files. Hard to add files here, but here are some links to my activities on Strava with rides in Hong Kong..
TMS from train station to another train station
TMS long day, going around the water, you can shorten the trip. Ends at Golden Cost and afterbike. :)
Lantau Island, Moi Wu -> Chi Ma Wan trail, going back and forth on that trail.
Those are some trails you could dump into your Garmin and follow.