Unspoiled and remote Ham Tin Beach in Sai Kung is a great escape from the crowds in Hong Kong. Hiking through beautiful green hills with stunning views of bright turquoise waters, you'll have a great workout in nature. Then, you'll end by relaxing on the beach. This guide not only shows you how to hike to Ham Tin Beach, but includes tips for getting out to Sai Kung East Country Park.
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Preparing to Hike to Ham Tin Beach
The hike to Ham Tin Beach in Sai Kung is a fairly easy hike. Beginning at the Sai Wan Pavilion, the hike is roughly 5-kilometers (~3 miles) in distance and takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
The trail is well-maintained, over mostly concrete paths and steps, which makes it easier to walk at a brisk pace.
PRO TIP: GET AN EARLY START! Although the hike itself is relatively short, getting to the trailhead took us longer than the actual hike!
Who Should Hike It?
Since this hike is fairly easy and the trail is mostly paved, I think any level of hiker could complete this hike.
The trail begins at the highest point of the hike so much of it is downhill. However, about halfway through the hike, you'll have to climb over a hill (~80 m high) to get from Sai Wan Beach to Ham Tin Beach.
When to Hike It?
Although you could hike to Ham Tin Beach year-round, since it's a beach hike I'd recommend saving it for warm weather. That way you can enjoy cooling off in the water and hanging out at the beach after finishing the hike.
It's a sunny hike though so be sure to wear/bring enough sunscreen to avoid a burn!
Items for Your Hike
Getting to Ham Tin Beach Trailhead
Because Ham Tin Beach is located on the far eastern side of Sai Kung East Country Park, getting to the start of the trailhead is an adventure in itself.
You'll need to use a combination of public transportation and taxi to get to the trailhead. The entire journey from our home on the western side of Hong Kong Island to the Ham Tin Beach trailhead took a little over 2 hours.
Obviously you could take a taxi the entire way, which would be faster, but would cost significantly more.
Step 1: Getting to Sai Kung
First, you'll need to get to Sai Kung town. If you're coming from Hong Kong Island like we were, this usually involves a combination of MTR and bus/minibus transportation.
New to Hong Kong? Check out this Guide to Public Transportation in Hong Kong.
MTR to Yau Ma Tei Station
To follow our route, take the MTR to the Yau Ma Tei stop, then leave via exit A2.
Walk north on Nathan Road (or through the alley) for a couple blocks, then turn right on Dundas Street. The Sai Kung red minibus stop is at the southern end of the Ladies Market in front of the refuse collection center. Look for "Sai Kung" on the lit sign on the front of the minibus.
Red Minibus to Sai Kung
Hop on the bus, or wait in line until a new one comes, and pay by Octopus card when you get on. It cost us HK $18 (~US $2.30) per person.
The ride from Yau Ma Tei to Sai Kung takes approximately 40 minutes, depending on traffic. Your stop is the minibus terminus in Sai Kung town.
Step 2: Taxi to Ham Tin Beach Trailhead
Once you arrive in Sai Kung, you'll still need to get out to the Sai Wan Pavilion which is the start of the Ham Tin Beach hike. The best way is by taxi.
Green Taxi to Sai Wan Pavilion
Head across the bus lots to the taxi stand. You'll need to take a green taxi as they are the ones that operate throughout the New Territories region of Hong Kong.
Tell the driver that you'd like to go to Sai Wan Pavilion. If he does not understand when you say it in English, you can show him on Google Maps. I find this usually works no matter where you're going.
The taxi ride takes around 20 minutes and costs ~ HK $80-100 (US $10-13).
Since you'll be going around some windy roads, be prepared to be a little carsick if you're prone to that. And yes, I'm speaking from experience.
Overview of Ham Tin Beach Hike
Once you've arrived at the Sai Wan Pavilion, you're ready to start your hike to Ham Tin Beach!
Although the Sai Kung East Country Park has many trails, I'm including a map of the route that we took. This hike is on a section of the Maclehose Trail Sec. 2 which starts further south in Long Ke Wan.
Toilet Tip: There are a couple of portable squat toilets at the Sai Wan Pavilion (in the picture above). If you're looking for something slightly nicer, use the public restrooms in Sai Kung after getting off the minibus.
Prefer a hike on Hong Kong Island? Check out my post on The Twins Hike!
Starting the Ham Tin Beach Hike
The trail to Ham Tin Beach begins at the highest point of the hike, so you'll start with a gradual downhill. Although the trail begins in a shady forest, it won't stay shady for long!
For the first part of the trail, you'll have beautiful views of turquoise waters of the High Island Reservoir off to your right.
The green hills and lack of buildings make you feel like you're in a different world.
Steep Downhill to Sai Wan Tsuen
After about 1.6 km (1 mile), you'll begin a steep descent towards Sai Wan Tsuen. Here, you'll find the first beach of your hike - Sai Wan Beach.
Since the trail is paved, it's fairly easy but has a fair number of steps. As you can see, it's a very sunny trail.
Looking for another lovely Hong Kong hike? Try Dragon's Back to Big Wave Bay Beach!
Flat Walk through Sai Wan Tsuen
After the steep downhill section, the trail evens out for a while. Despite it being flat, you'll be baking in the sun so it can still be incredibly hot!
After walking through a grassy valley, you'll arrive in Sai Wan Tsuen which has some houses and a couple restaurants. At this point, you could stop for a swim or grab a bite to eat to fuel up for the last section of the hike to Ham Tin Beach.
If you'd like a shorter hike, you may choose to end your hike here. Sai Wan Beach has many of the same amenities of Ham Tin Beach, including a boat back to Sai Kung town. The boat from Sai Wan Beach to Sai Kung is HK $110 (~US $14) per person.
Once you're finished exploring Sai Wan Beach, continue on the trail out of town.
Detour Adventure - Sai Kung Rock Pools
As you leave Sai Wan Tsuen, you have the option of a detour to the Sai Kung Rock Pools. Here you'll find a waterfall with a deep pool below that is perfect for cliff jumping.
Although the trail isn't on Google Maps, if you walk along the rocks and follow the stream, you'll find the Rock Pools. On a weekend, you'll most likely hear people yelling as they jump off the cliffs so you can follow the noise!
Sadly I haven't experienced the rock pools yet since Jeremy and I got a late start when we did this hike. However, Jeremy went to the rock pools with friends on a different hiking day and let me use his photos for this post!
Over the Hill to Ham Tin Beach
The final leg of the hike is the last hill to get to Ham Tin Beach. From the stream, the remaining hike is 1.8 km (~1.1 mi). You'll climb up ~80 meters (260 ft) and have incredible views of both Sai Wan and Ham Tin Beaches.
Along the way, you'll pass a stargazing structure which is kind of neat. I wouldn't recommend this trail at night unless you have a flashlight!
For another Hong Kong beach and hike adventure - try Mui Wo to Pui O Beach on Lantau!
Once you reach the crest of the hill, you'll see Ham Tin Beach in front of you. From here, you'll go down a lot of stairs as you wind your way around the hillside.
If the sun is out, the water in Sai Kung is a beautiful deep turquoise that shines. It has to be some of the prettiest (and cleanest) water in all of Hong Kong!
Things to Do in Ham Tin Beach
Once you arrive in Ham Tin Beach, the relaxation begins! The beach is a large, white sandy beach with a couple restaurants at the end.
Tip: If you don't want to carry all your beach equipment with you, you can rent umbrellas and towels at the shops by the beach.
Since Ham Tin Beach is so hard to get to, it has way fewer crowds than many beaches in Hong Kong. There's plenty of room to spread out, play Frisbee, or other beach activities!
If you'd like a longer hike, you could continue along the coastal trail to some of the other beaches in Sai Kung East Country Park - Tai Wan Beach and Tung Wan Beach. Since I haven't been there, I'm not sure if those beaches have any services on them or way to get back to Sai Kung. If not, then you would need to return to Ham Tin Beach to catch the boat.
Lunch in Ham Tin Beach
When Jeremy and I finished our hike, we were famished, so we ate lunch immediately. There isn't a lot of shade on Ham Tin Beach so one way to escape the sun is to eat under one of the restaurant umbrellas. They also have a section that is covered by an overhang.
The food was decent and pretty large portions. You can also buy water, beer, soda, and such from the shop.
Need more ideas? Check out these 16 Incredible Things to Do in Hong Kong!
Camping in Ham Tin Beach
As you've seen, it takes a lot of effort to get out to Ham Tin Beach. So if you don't want to turn around and go all the way home, you could stay overnight.
Tents and camping equipment are available for rent at the shops at Ham Tin Beach.
Returning to Sai Kung
Since Ham Tin Beach is only accessible by hiking trails, the only other way to get back to Sai Kung is by boat.
Boats depart roughly every hour and the ride back takes ~50 minutes. Tickets cost HK $160 per person.
Since you pass some beautiful rock formations along the way, it's a lovely boat ride. We left on the last boat on the day (6:00 pm on the day we visited), so it was already dark by the time we made it back to Sai Kung.
Once you're back in Sai Kung, you can return to Hong Kong Island or elsewhere the same way you came or try a different route. We usually check which minibuses are around and hop on the first one going to an MTR stop.
Sai Kung Getaway
If you're not quite ready to head home, why not stay in Sai Kung? This charming seaside town has great restaurants, cute shops, and plenty of beautiful hikes nearby.
Places to Stay in Sai Kung
Sai Kung is a residential area so you won't find many hotels. So if you'd like to stay in Sai Kung, it's also a good idea to check out vacation rental sites like Airbnb or VRBO for accommodation options.
Though I haven't stayed in these accommodations, I've found a couple places that I would consider booking if I were planning a weekend getaway in Sai Kung.
This stylish and cozy 2-bedroom apartment in the heart of Sai Kung town would be perfect for a family or a couple to stay. Steps away from shops, restaurants, as well as the beach in Sai Kung - it's incredibly convenient for a Hong Kong weekend retreat.
Plus, it's pet-friendly so you can bring your favorite hiking companion along with you!
The Pier Hotel is located just south of Sai Kung town in Hebe Haven, or Pak Sha Wan - a tranquil harbor which is home to several yacht clubs. Its spot right on the waterfront provides beautiful views from the chic and modern guest rooms. This hotel is a great jumping off point for exploring Sai Kung's many excellent restaurants, local hikes, and beautiful beaches.
If you're looking to relax at the hotel, the rooftop pool (summer only) and on-site fitness center are excellent amenities to enhance your stay.
Other Hikes in Sai Kung You Might Enjoy
It's always an adventure going out to Sai Kung and it has such a different vibe from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. And if you're looking to escape the crowds and relax on a gorgeous beach, you really can't beat Ham Tin Beach!
Have you hiked out in Sai Kung East Country Park? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of it!