Climbing the Dragon’s Back

One of my favourite adventures during my trip to Hong Kong had to be a hike called the Dragon’s Back. This duration of this hike depends on two factors: how fast you walk and how many pictures you take.

IF you’re the traveller who needs to capture every angle in their photos (me) I’d give it 3.5 hours, BUT it can be done in up to 2.5 if you move quickly.

What I find amazing about Hong Kong is that it’s city centre of impressively tall buildings is surrounded by mountains that not only offer a calm escape, but also incredible views.

The Dragon’s Back hike is well known. You can find reviews on TripAdvisor, that may suggest you book a tour or take a bus. And you can also learn more about the trail from LonelyPlanet, but if you’d like an inexpensive method, tried and true by yours truly, keep reading.

My friend Adalia and I woke up early one morning, grabbed the freshest take out sushi I have ever had, and headed to MTR station Chai Wan, located on the end of the Island line. Like many countries in South Asia, transportation cards for the subway, buses and street cars, can be purchased and reloaded at 7-11 locations; they take convenience store to a whole new level over here.

So if you’re visiting, grab an Octopus Card, it will definitely be worth your while!

Next I recommend taking Exit A from Chai Wan MTR station, where you will walk through a mall. Keep to the right and exit at the first outdoor walkway, also located on your right. Take the outdoor walk way and continue straight, perhaps 2 minutes, until you find a set of stairs to take you down.

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Once you reach the bottom, walk across the street towards Wan Tsui Road, you should see the sign no problem.

Next walk straight on Wan Tsui for approximately 200 metres

Then take a left on Lin Shing Road. After turning left you have an incline walk, for roughly 350 metres. Once you reach the top of a small hill you’ll find an intersection and see the entrance for the Cape Collinson Catholic Cemetery across from you.

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This sounds strange, and at first looks strange, but go through the entrance and walk up the first set of stairs towards your left.

Again it’s a tad odd, and you’ll think “Are these really the right stairs?” “Am I being punked?” But they are, and you’re not. Once you’re there you can’t miss them!

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Continue straight up these stairs, up to the very top, until you are out of the cemetery and into the nature! This part of the climb is steep so take your time, use the railing, and remember: the view IS worth it.

Keep walking up the steps until you come to a clearing. To your right you should see the wooden sign pictured here, walk towards the direction of Tam Tam Gap.

From here on out it’s essentially a straight shot! Just follow the road to the trail, which will eventually head left, and don’t stress, sign posts will indicate the way.

The first bit of the trail is shaded, and not much of an incline so it’s really nice. It is a bit rocky so make sure to watch your step.

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Next you will see a sign indicating the Dragons Back! It might be a little tricky to see at first so be on the look out for a point where the path diverges. Follow that sign and start walking up towards the left. And then keep walking. And then walk some more…

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Right about now is when you can start to get really excited because at this point you are CLOSE. If the sign’s aren’t enough, you should be able to gage it from the amount of sweat on your body, gotta love that Hong Kong humidity. 

Here I wasn’t even at the top of the peak and I was literally speechless!

Once we reached the summit, we not only felt super accomplished, but we were blown away by the scenery. On a good day, you can clearly see the nearby Shek-o Beach, as well as the area of Hong Kong called Stanley behind you.

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Instead of going back the way you came from, I suggest you continue down the other side of the Dragon’s Back for some more amazing viewage. This direction is towards Shek-O Village, where you can have amazing Thai food and relax by the beach.

Once you’re back on flat ground, take a left out of the trail and wait for the #9 bus on the left side of the road to Shek-o Village! After Shek-O you can take the #9 back to the original MTR station you came from.

This hike has inspired me to attempt to climb Teapot Mountain 茶壺山 located near Jinguashi in northern Taiwan. This trail is much more difficult than Elephant Mountain, located in Taipei. Unlike the city views of Elephant Mountain, (20 minutes to climb), Teapot Mountain (4-5 hours to climb) lies in the heart of the wilderness on the northern coast, boasting views of the Pacific Ocean and even involving rock climbing at points.

Okay, so it’s ambitious, but after the Dragon’s Back I feel ready to tame another mountain!

Happy Hiking Friends! 

Dragon’s Back Route

More Hong Kong Hikes

Night Life Near The Red House

The Red House (or Honglou in Chinese) is an historical site located in the Ximen area of Taipei. Originally built in 1908 by the Japanese, this octagonal building is now home to a number of interesting people, shops, bars, restaurants and events!

This location is beaming with life, music, and a strong mixture of tourists and locals! If you’re moving to Taipei I would strongly recommend this area for these exact reasons!

To find it, take the Blue or Green MRT line to Ximen Station, choose Exit 1 and before you know it you’ll be steps away from this exciting area! If you feel like browsing some shops beforehand, take Exit 6 for the Pedestrian Area across the street from the Red House.

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(I am not the owner of this image)

There is a section of the Red House that often hosts concerts and just behind the building there is a multitude of outdoor restaurants and bars.

In fact, The Red House is the hub of Taipei’s gay bar scene. Having been to a few myself I can tell you they are a great time, and obviously all are welcome.

It’s safe to say night time is when this area really comes alive, with glowing lights, music, and the delicious aromas of various foods.

A restaurant called Yunnan Thai Style Southern Food served up the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had for a mere $150 NTD or $6 Canadian. It’s decor may not look like much but what it may lack in aesthetics it makes up for in delicious true thai taste!!

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On weekends vendors line the trendy area next to the Red House. You can find beautiful handmade items here! Ranging from jewellery, to leather coin holders, to stylish hand designed t-shirts to homemade soaps; the artistry will truly blow you away!

C’mon we all know a cat or dog who could use a neck tie am I right?? HOW CUTE!

The set up next to the Red House is reminiscent of a smaller and much more reasonably priced version of Toronto, Ontario’s Kensington Market, also an area belonging to part of a neighbourhood and considered an historical site.

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One vendor sells uniquely shaped records

Tents owned by different vendors are like treasure chests waiting to be explored; unique and handcrafted items lie around each corner. The vendors are nothing but proud of their work and happy to talk with you as much as they can. During my visit I did not encounter any owner that was pushy or put pressure on me to buy, rather the interactions I had were extremely pleasant and by the end of it I couldn’t leave without asking for a business card!

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For the care and craftsmanship behind each design I found the prices to be quite reasonable, but you will have to visit for yourself and tell me what you think!

 

Where did this information come from? See for yourself! 

The Red House (Honglou)

http://www.redhouse.org.tw/index_en.aspx

The Red House (Honglou) Market 

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowUserReviews-g293913-d1024907-r238542684-Ximen_Red_House_Ximending-Taipei.html

MRT Instructions 

https://guidetotaipei.com/visit/the-red-house-honglou-%E8%A5%BF%E9%96%80%E7%B4%85%E6%A8%93

Yunnan Thai Style Southern Food

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g293913-d6135304-Reviews-Yunnan_Thai_Style_Southern_Food-Taipei.html

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/taiwan/taipei/restaurants/thai/thai-food

Kensington Market

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensington_Market

Taipei Gay Bars