Looking for something more off-the-beaten path to do in Hong Kong? Then skip the Dragon’s Back hike this time around — the Reservoir Islands Viewpoint hike is just the thing you need!
This X-mile hike is equal parts scenic and entertaining, with just a tinge of elevation to challenge outdoor enthusiasts. And the payoff of the viewpoint at the end of the hike? So worth the effort of getting up there!
Here’s everything you need to know about the Reservoir Islands hike–from how to get to the trailhead via public transportation to the landmarks you’ll see along the way, this step-by-step guide will make your day hike a total breeze.
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Reservoir Islands Viewpoint Hike: Things You Need To Know
The Reservoir Islands Viewpoint Hike (also known as Tai Lam Chung Reservoir, 大欖涌水塘 千島湖, or Thousand Island Lake hike) is a popular hiking destination in Hong Kong that offers stunning views of the city’s reservoirs and surrounding landscapes.
The hike is best described as moderate (due to some incline), with well-marked trails and a moderate incline that’s just enough to get you sweating. The views at the end are 100% worth the effort you’ll put in to get there!
It is a great option for hikers of all skill levels looking for an enjoyable half-day hike that isn’t all too bad on the
The hike itself takes about 2-4 hours to complete, depending on your pace and how long you decide to linger at the vista point.
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to take in panoramic views of the Wong Nai Tun Reservoir and Tolo Harbour, as well as the lush forests and rolling hills of the New Territories.
Overall, the Reservoir Islands Viewpoint hike is a must-do activity for nature lovers visiting Hong Kong who are looking to get off the beaten path with their time there.
- Hike distance: ~5 miles roundtrip
- Average hike time: 4-5 hours on average, 2-3 hours for faster hikers
- There is no entrance fee for hikers who arrive on foot
Getting To The Reservoir Islands Viewpoint Trailhead
Much like many of the other scenic hikes in Hong Kong, because this hike is located in the lush countryside of the Hong Kong area, it does take a bit of time and effort to get to.
Having said that, it’s 100% worth the effort it takes to get there!
You can start this hike in either Tuen Mun or Yuen Long. This guide is going to show you how to get to the hike from Yuen Long.
If you’re coming from southern Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Jordan, etc.) or Hong Kong Island (Central, Causeway Bay, etc.), expect the ride via public transportation to get to the trailhead to take 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
In short, you’re going to want to take the train or bus from wherever you are to Yuen Long town. Get off at Long Ping Station in Yuen Long. From here, you’re going to be taking a local bus (K66) to get to the Reservoir Islands Viewpoint trailhead.
From Yuen Long Town, get to the K66 bus stop by the Chateraise bakery shop. If you can’t find it, pop this in your Google Maps and follow the walking directions to get to K66 bus stop.
Take the bus to Wong Nai Tun Tseun Tai Tong, the last stop on the bus line. From the end of the bus line, it’s about 20 minute walk to get to the trailhead.
From there, you (and likely a bunch of other people in hiking clothes) will get off and start walking!
Here are a few examples of what you’d do to get to the hike trailhead based on a couple of different locations:
- From Central: Take the 968 bus or MTR Brown Line (Tuen Ma Line) to get to Long Ping Station, then transfer to K66 bus. Hop off at the end of the line and walk to the trailhead.
- From TST: Take the MTR Brown Line (Tuen Ma Line) to Long Ping Station, get onto K66 bus. Hop off at the end of the line and walk to the trailhead.
- From Mong Kok: Take the MTR Red Line, transfer to the Brown Line to get to Long Ping Station, then transfer to K66 bus. Hop off at the end of the line and walk to the trailhead.
Reservoir Islands Viewpoint Hike: Hiking Directions
Once you get off the K66 bus at the end of the bus line, you’re going to turn left and walk towards a bunch of bright yellow rails. Follow the yellow rails for a bit.
Eventually, you will reach a “grapery” where you can seasonally pick your own grapes and strawberries.
As you keep going, you will encounter Chinese signage that points you in the direction of the reservoir.
Eventually, the rails will turn green. Keep walking along this path for about 10 minutes. Along the way, you’ll pass by some private farms. Check out the aloe plants, papaya trees, and other exotic greens!
Take a few moments to appreciate all the greenery in the area–seriously! You’ll immediately forget the metropolitan vibes that define Hong Kong are just a bus ride away.
You’ll then run into a block in the road (blocked by a whole bunch of random stuff).
Directly to the left of the blocked path is a stairway path that begins to lead up! This is the path you’ll take to reach the reservoir. The signage by the staircase will say “Wong Nai Tun Reservoir ” which is the correct path. (The other arrow points you back to the bus stop so don’t go that way.)
On this hiking route, you’ll first be passing by the Wong Nai Tun Reservoir before reaching the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir, which is our final destination.
From here, it’s up you go! While it’s pretty much uphill the entire way, you will be granted views of the nearby city behind you as you climb.
Keep going up those stairs. As long as you see stairs and powerlines in front of you, you’re going in the right direction.
It’s hard to get lost because there’s really only one path you can take until you reach your first viewpoint, the Wong Nai Tun Reservoir.
Wong Nai Tun Reservoir looks like this. You’ll be walking alongside this body of water for about 5 or so minutes. The view of the reservoir is better on the far end, so keep walking, being sure to turn around once you get to the other end.
Shortly after this, you’ll come to your second viewpoint, the MacLehose Trail Section 10. Here, you’ll likely find other hikers resting, snapping some photos, enjoying a snack, or using the porta-potty.
It’s at this point where you’ll first get a glimpse of the reservoir islands!
Do what you need to do, then follow the signs for Reservoir Islands Viewpoint. You’ll head left.
This is typically where you’ll experience the most foot traffic, as a few different trails join to funnel hikers to the Reservoir Islands Viewpoint.
After a couple of minutes of walking, you’ll come across another set of stairs–the final climb to get to the viewpoint!
Once you reach the top, you’ll see a lot of people hanging out, eating lunch, and taking photos.
Depending on the day, you may have to do a little bit of waiting to snap the perfect selfie, as the Tai Lam Chung Reservoir Viewing Point can be quite crowded, especially on weekends and public holidays!
Once you’ve had your fill of the views and have enjoyed a picnic lunch or light snack, it’s time to make your way back.
The easiest way to get out of there is to head back the way you came. Down the stairs, past the green rails, the yellow rails, the grapery, and out to the K66 bus stop at Wong Nai Tun Tseun Tai Tong.
Alternatively, you could return to the Viewing Point sign and continue on Section 10 of the Maclehose Trail to reach the Tai Lam Nature Trail, where you can opt to see Tai Lam Country Park’s famous sweet gum woods (another hike altogether). From there, head along Tai Tong Shan Road to reach Tai Tong Tsuen, where you can catch bus K66 to Yuen Long.
Given that there are so many different trails that will get you back to town, you can feel free to use Google Maps and pick any trail that will get you back out to the paved streets. From there, there will most likely be a bus that’ll get you back to civilization.
Reservoir Islands Viewpoint Hike: Essential Tips
- Late afternoons or early evenings are the best time to view the Thousand Islands Lake, as this is the time when the sun is setting behind you.
- Wear a sturdy pair of shoes with traction – while hiking boots would be best, a pair of sneakers with good traction will do just fine in dry conditions. If the trail is wet, you’ll want to make sure you have shoes with good grip. (I did this hike in December and sneakers did just fine.)
- Bring snacks or even a picnic lunch for the top!
- Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the hike can feel quite strenuous in the hot and humid Hong Kong weather.
- Pack a nice digital camera – I personally use the Sony a7 IV Full Frame Mirrorless Camera for all my international trips.
- Don’t forget to bring your trusty Octopus Card to get around via public transportation.
- If you plan on using the internet for Google Maps, and even random internet searches when there’s no WiFi around, I’d highly recommend picking up a Hong Kong prepaid SIM card. I did HK without a SIM card (just used T-Mobile’s free international roaming) and while Google Maps worked fine, even basic Google searches would take ages to load.
- Make sure to download Google Maps and Google Translate on your phone. That way, you can check bus/train schedules, access maps, and see where you are on the trail when you’re on foot.
Where To Stay For Reservoir Islands Viewpoint Hike
The most convenient place to stay to get an early head start on this hike is Yuen Long.
Because my aunt has a home in the Yuen Long area, I stayed with her for a few of my final days in Hong Kong. I did this hike during one of those last few days. Being based in the area made the transit to the trailhead a lot easier (about 30 minutes by bus, as opposed to 1.5 hours from Hong Kong Island).
If you’re still looking for accommodation or are thinking about an overnight stay in a non-touristy part of Hong Kong, consider the following hotels, closer to the Reservoir Islands hike:
Harbour Plaza Resort City (New Territories) – close to Hong Kong Wetland Park and Yuen Long Old Market.
Nina Hotel Tsuen Wan West (in Tseun Wan) – close to lots of malls, cheap eats, and other amenities.
Hong Kong Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance.
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun and not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, they will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as emergency medical evacuation (much needed if you like to go hiking / trekking in the wild), travel delay, and lost checked luggage.
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