Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic’s Guide to Hong Kong

Post originally Published January 20, 2024 || Last Updated January 20, 2024

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Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Explore HK's Hiking Trails

Lace up your boots and get ready to hit Hong Kong's spectacular hiking trails. While the city itself is all glitzy high-rises and pulsing neon, just beyond the gleaming skyscrapers lies a lush landscape of rolling hills, forests, reservoirs, and islands waiting to be explored on foot.

Start with a hike on Hong Kong Island. The 50-kilometer Hong Kong Trail snakes across the entire island, but if you're short on time, tackle just a small section. The Dragon's Back is one of the most popular segments, taking you through Shek O Country Park past jungle-shrouded rocky outcrops overlooking azure coves. The trail culminates with sweeping views of the South China Sea from Shek O Peak.

Over on the Kowloon Peninsula, Lion Rock makes for an iconic urban hike. Scale this famous peak via the Lion Rock Country Trail, which passes through woodlands filled with birdsong before ascending stone steps to the top. Take in panoramic views of Kowloon's dense tower blocks sprawling toward the harbor.

For a peaceful forest hike, head to Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve. Its shady walking trails wind past earth gods' shrines and hundred-year-old tree giants. Keep an eye out for native wildlife, like long-tailed macaques and colorful birds.

Those looking for a longer trek can traverse the 78-kilometer MacLehose Trail across the New Territories. Highlights along the way include a knife-edge ridge ascent of Golden Hill and visits to villages where time seems to stand still. Spend days weaving over hills and beside beaches, stopping to camp under the stars.

Lantau Island's 70-kilometer Lantau Trail loops around Hong Kong's largest island. Tackle the scenic 10-kilometer section from Mui Wo to Tai O to discover fishing villages, beaches, and monasteries in a few hours.

With its 200 islands, Hong Kong spoils hikers for choice. Catch a ferry to a back-to-nature escape less than an hour from the city. Lamma Island entices with plunging cliffs along the 14-kilometer Family Trail, while a circuit of Cheung Chau combines temples, seafood restaurants and pirate caves.

What else is in this post?

  1. Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Explore HK's Hiking Trails
  2. Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Take Class at a Martial Arts Academy
  3. Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Ride the Cycling Tracks Along the Harbor
  4. Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Paddleboard in Clear Water Bay
  5. Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Swim Laps in an Olympic-Sized Pool
  6. Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Work Up a Sweat at a Rooftop Bootcamp
  7. Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Join a Yoga Retreat on Lantau Island

Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Take Class at a Martial Arts Academy

Hong Kong is the birthplace of some of the world's most famous martial arts like Wing Chun and Southern Dragon Kung Fu. This makes it the perfect destination for travelers hoping to learn the techniques of martial arts masters. Sign up for a class during your stay to unlock your inner Bruce Lee.

One of the most accessible options for short-term students is to take a trial martial arts class at a local academy. For example, the Ving Tsun Athletic Association in Kowloon offers a free trial Wing Chun class every Saturday. In one hour, learn the basics of this close-combat style made famous by Bruce Lee. Classes take place in a temple-like setting with wooden dummies to practice your strikes.

Looking for a more extended program? Hong Kong has dozens of martial arts schools where you can immerse yourself for weeks or months. The PCYC Jockey Club Hong Lok Yuen Tai Chi Institute is located right in bustling Central District. Sign up for tai chi courses ranging from two weeks to one year. Focus your mind as you master the flowing "meditation in motion" of Tai Chi in a serene indoor studio.

There are also intensive retreats where you can completely devote yourself to training for a set time period. At the Shaolin Wushu Culture Centre on Lantau Island, live like a monk while honing your Kung Fu skills over 3 to 21 days. Wake before dawn for Tai Chi sessions on the beach, then spend afternoons training in strength, flexibility, and combat drills. Instructors adapt lessons for all experience levels.

Of course, you can also stop by local parks in the early morning to see martial arts masters leading groups through Tai Chi and other routines. Join in and feel at one with the community of locals integrating martial arts into their everyday life.

Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Ride the Cycling Tracks Along the Harbor

Glide along the Victoria Harbour waterfront on two wheels for a scenic spin through the heart of Hong Kong. The city has developed an extensive network of cycling tracks along both sides of the harbor, giving riders safe, easy access to sights from Central to Aberdeen. Leave the cars behind and feel the fresh sea breeze on your face as you pedal past landmarks, parks, and piers.

A convenient place to start is the Central Waterfront Promenade. From here, you can head east along the 7-kilometer track hugging the harbor’s edge, all the way to Quarry Bay. Gaze up at the forest of skyscrapers in Central, including the 490-meter-tall 2 International Finance Centre, Hong Kong’s tallest building. In the evenings, watch as the glitzy skyline lights up.

Continuing east, snake your way through the greenery of Lei Yue Mun Park, then cruise past the floating seafood restaurants of the typhoon shelter in Causeway Bay. Stop for a dim sum breakfast or fresh seafood lunch. Further along, Sugar Street in Quarry Bay is home to Hong Kong’s last remaining shipyards, where trawlers are still built using traditional techniques.

In the other direction, pedal west from Central along the promenade to Sheung Wan, weaving between historical sites like the Western Market building. You’ll then reach Kennedy Town, where you can take a break in New Praya Park to watch ships heading out towards the disappearing horizon.

Crossing Victoria Harbour via the Island Eastern Corridor, explore Kowloon’s bustling waterfront. One scenic route runs from Hung Hom through the parks of southern Kowloon, before heading back north along the shore to vibrant Tsim Sha Tsui. Another options is to cycle the 10-kilometer West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade heading up towards Yau Ma Tei, with its traditional temples and markets.

The longer 41-kilometer Island West cycle track makes an excellent half-day ride. Stretching from Kennedy Town to Sandy Bay near Ocean Park, it hugs the southwestern shoreline of Hong Kong Island. Highlights include stopping for photographs looking across the iconic Deep Water Bay and repurposing former military defense structures.

With relatively flat terrain and designated cycling paths, Victoria Harbour’s routes are beginner-friendly. For those wanting to avoid traffic, early morning or late afternoon are best times for riding. Novices may want to join a bike tour starting from the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui for a local guide. Consider renting a bike with electric assistance to take the effort out of any small hills.

Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Paddleboard in Clear Water Bay

Glide across the calm, clear waters of Clear Water Bay on a stand-up paddleboard for a fun workout with a view. Located on the southeastern side of Hong Kong Island, Clear Water Bay's protected beaches provide the perfect playground for paddleboarding. This popular watersport engages your core and tests your balance as you propel yourself through crystalline seas, taking in breathtaking scenery.

Paddleboarding is suitable for all ages and experience levels. Newbies can easily get the hang of standing on a board and paddling in Clear Water Bay's sandy coves with minimal waves. More experienced paddleboarders can venture out along the coastline or even paddle over to nearby Ninepin Island. Many companies offer lessons and tours to get you started.
No matter your skill level, you'll be rewarded with kaleidoscopic marine vistas paddling in Clear Water Bay. Its namesake transparent, jade-hued waters reveal swaying coral gardens flourishing just below the surface. You're likely to spot sea turtles and schools of fish as you peer through the liquid window beneath your board. Paddling out to the Tai Tau Chau islands brings the possibility of glimpsing native white-belied sea eagles swooping above the cliffs.
Early morning is the ideal time to paddleboard in Clear Water Bay before Hong Kong's heat and humidity intensify. Launch your board from Clear Water Bay Second Beach and marvel at the fiery hues streaking the sky as the sun peeks above the hills. Head out along the coastline to soak up one of Hong Kong's most sought-after sunrise views.

At the Palm Beach Boathouse, rent a board for HK$100-150 per hour and receive a detailed tutorial before heading out. Companies like Splash provide group and private paddleboard lessons for around HK$250-400. Paddleboarding tours led by an instructor let you enjoy the scenery while learning proper techniques. Or access secret snorkeling spots and secluded beaches only reachable from the water.
Those with their own paddleboard can launch straight from Clear Water Bay's white-sand beaches. Sung Tang Kiu offers public changing and showering facilities. Stay close to shore, wear a leash, and be mindful of swimming areas. For more freedom, paddleboards can be transported on cross-harbor ferries for exploring different coastlines.

Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Swim Laps in an Olympic-Sized Pool

Hong Kong’s year-round hot temperatures make swimming an appealing way to stay fit. While the city is better known for its harborside hikes and tai chi in parks, indoor pools abound for plowing through lap after lap. For the ultimate training experience, check out one of Hong Kong’s several Olympic-sized swimming complexes.

At 50-meters long, Olympic pools allow for uninterrupted lap swimming—no more frustrating stops every 25 meters. All that space lets athletes get into a steady, unbroken rhythm and work on breathing techniques as they muscle through hundreds of meters of freestyle, backstroke, or butterfly. Outside of professional training, these large pools offer amateurs a chance to swim longer distances more comfortably. Wide lanes keep fast and slow swimmers separated.
The Olympian City complex in West Kowloon has an impressive eight-lane 50-meter indoor pool open to the public. Grab a locker, secure a lane line, then turn on some upbeat music and start churning through the water. Test yourself to swim longer distances or try interval training to switch up speeds. The spaciousness allows for focusing on perfecting your stroke rather than maneuvering around others.

Over on Hong Kong Island, the Victoria Park Swimming Pool Complex contains two indoor 50-meter pools. Early morning and evening are the best times to snag a lane for steady laps when crowds are smaller. Illuminated underwater lights make the pool appealing for logging laps even after a long workday. Or take a lunchtime dip to re-energize.

Kowloon Park Sports Centre also houses a six-lane 50-meter indoor pool that’s open daily. While public hours cater more to casual swimmers, joining the space during designated lap swimming periods provides an almost competition-level space to plow through continuous lengths.
While less ideal for dedicated athletes, hotels like The Mira and the Grand Hyatt have luxurious 50-meter sky-lit indoor pools. Visitors can purchase day passes providing exclusive access. Do laps while gazing out floor-to-ceiling windows at Hong Kong’s ultra-modern cityscape.

Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Work Up a Sweat at a Rooftop Bootcamp

Sweating it out at a rooftop bootcamp is one of the coolest ways to workout in Hong Kong. With panoramic views of the gleaming skyline all around, you'll get your heart pumping as the city pulses below your feet. Joining a bootcamp class surrounded by skyscrapers makes exercise feel less like a chore.

I'm a big fan of rooftop workouts because they provide such an energizing urban backdrop. While pounding the treadmill at a dark basement gym can get old fast, running and jumping outside in the open air with Hong Kong's iconic towers soaring above you is seriously motivating. Some bootcamps even time exercises so you're doing push-ups as the daily light show starts, adding to the energy.
Another benefit of rooftop bootcamps is taking advantage of Hong Kong's amazing weather year-round. Instead of getting sweaty inside a crowded fitness center, you'll be outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. The ample space is also great for activities like sprints that need more room than a treadmill provides.

According to Alicia, who spends 3 months a year in Hong Kong for her finance job, "I used to just run alone on the streets, but joining a rooftop bootcamp completely changed my workout experience. The trainers really push you while the skyscraper views keep you pumped. I leave every class feeling energized instead of exhausted."

Brian, who teaches English in Hong Kong, says: "I was skeptical at first about running around on a roof, but the trainers do a great job keeping the classes safe yet challenging. Being outside takes working out in Hong Kong to a different level. My favorite is when we do burpees right during the nightly light show!"

Rooftop bootcamps range from HIIT style classes to military style obstacle courses to straightforward cardio and strength training. While intensity and price varies, expect to pay around HK$200 per class. Most hotels like the W Hong Kong and Hotel Icon offer rooftop classes open to the public. Or join a group like HK Hustle for bootcamps on top of skyscrapers like California Tower.

Get Your Sweat On: A Fitness Fanatic's Guide to Hong Kong - Join a Yoga Retreat on Lantau Island

Tranquil Lantau Island provides the ideal setting to deepen your yoga practice and de-stress from hectic Hong Kong. Join a yoga retreat on this island oasis and immerse yourself in the flow surrounded by nature.

Yoga instructor Amanda says that Lantau Island is her favorite place for yoga retreats: "It has such a serene, relaxed vibe compared to the city. I love teaching yoga with sweeping ocean views in the background and then exploring waterfalls or going on meditation walks after class. Students leave so rejuvenated."

Trying yoga for the first time? Or an advanced practitioner looking to take the next step? Retreats cater to all levels, with beginner-friendly options like hatha or restorative yoga to more intense styles like Ashtanga. Iyengar yoga centers on precise alignment using props like blocks, straps and bolsters.
Multi-day retreats allow uninterrupted time to meditate, practice yoga, and embrace the island's laid-back spirit. Stay in a rustic village like Mui Wo or pamper yourself with 5-star accommodations at the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Either way, Lantau Island's peaceful pace and lush scenery encourage slowing down.

Rise early for a beachfront yoga session as the sun peeks over the hills and the sea glitters. In the afternoons, restore the body with yin yoga, focused on long holds in restful poses to open joints and hips. Evenings might bring candlelit yoga overlooking the mountains. Hike to a waterfall between classes for a revitalizing dip.
Silva Method instructor Erin says: "I always recommend my stressed-out city clients book a yoga retreat on Lantau to hit the reset button. The slower island lifestyle plus twice-daily yoga classes really help people chill out. They return to Hong Kong much calmer and more centered."

If you’ve never tried yoga before, a retreat is a supportive environment to give it a go. Beginners can take things slowly and ask questions as instructors guide you through modifications. Many find yoga retreats the perfect introduction to see if yoga could become part of their everyday lifestyle.
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