Hong Kong’s Overlooked Outlying Island – Hike Tung Lung Island

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(Last Updated On: November 15, 2019)
You can hike Tung Lung Island with a baby
One of the many coastal views you’ll see if you hike Tung Lung Island

Hike Tung Lung Island or Go Camping – A Bit of Background

Whether you’d like to day hike Tung Lung Island (Tung Lung Chau in Cantonese) or go overnight camping on Tung Lung Island, this southern most island in Sai Kung District is simply going to wow you! With unrelenting coastal views, and hiking terrain suitable for intermediate hikers and above, there is plenty to explore and experience on this very much overlooked Hong Kong outlaying island. And, at a mere 40-minute ferry ride away from Hong Kong Island (below we explain how to get to Tung Lung Island), you just can’t go wrong with a trip to Tung Lung Chau.

Below we will explain how to hike Tung Lung Island as well as how to go camping out there overnight too. Additionally, if you’re a history buff, when you’re on the island make sure you also check out the 17th century Tung Lung Fort as well as the Tung Lung Rock Carving – the largest ancient rock carving ever found in Hong Kong.

If you have any question or comments about any of this, feel free to drop us a line below!

Hike Tung Lung Island

Cliffs and turquoise water you'll see when you hike Tung Lung Island
The southern coast of Tung Lung Island

There are many ways to hike Tung Lung Island. However, since we like to end our hikes at a tasty restaurant (if possible) we suggest you start your hike in the morning at the Tung Lung Chau Public Pier and end your hike in the afternoon at the Tung Lung Chau (North) Pier, conveniently located right near the South Garden Store where you can enjoy a wide variety of soup noodles! (More on Tung Lung Island amenities below.) If you take a look at our Tung Lung Island Google Map, you’ll see the route we suggest. And don’t worry, we will also explain how to get to Tung Lung Island.

Our route on Tung Lung Island is not very hard to follow (except for one part that requires a bit of bushwhacking), but if you don’t want to spend any energy on navigating, just give a click below, and we would love to guide you around this beautiful Hong Kong outlaying island!

Want a guide?

Go Camping on Tung Lung Island

A few tents are set up in Tung Lung Island's campsite
This is one of the two official campsites on Tung Lung Island.

Camping on Tung Lung Island is a popular thing to do. Especially since the campsites are free and first-come-first-serve. The Hong Kong government’s information about it is here. There are two official campsites on the island. The campsite pictured above is located here. There is a second campsite located nearby.

Regardless of which campsite you choose, if you take the ferry to the Tung Lung Chau (North) Pier, you will not be more than 500 meters from either one. That means even at very slow pace, it shouldn’t take you more than about 10 minutes of walking to arrive at either one. The easiest way to camp on Tung Lung Chau is to drop off all your gear and set up camp first and then go exploring. However, if you’re looking for something a bit more physically challenging, you can certainly hike around the island with all your gear and make the campsite your final destination.

ocean view
This is the view from the campground.

Campsite Particulars

No matter what you choose to do, with room for 20-50 tents, there is PLENTY of room to find your own spot to hunker down for a night or two. There are latrine toilets which help keep the area clean and tidy. Also, there is a piped water source, though it is untreated and only seasonally available. So, if you do plan on drinking the water on Tung Lung Island you NEED to use a water purifier to make it potable. Below, we go into the gear you’ll need to camp on Tung Lung Island (including the water purifier we recommend).

While stealth camping is not allowed on the island, and while we do not endorse stealth camping, there are a number of places where it is possible such as here. If you use basic leave-no-trace practices, the authorities might not even know you were there! But again, this is not allowed, and we don’t recommend you break the rules.

Lastly, check Hong Kong’s weather before you set out, unless camping in the rain is your thing.

Amenities on Tung Lung Island

people eating noodle soup at the south garden store after hike Tung Lung Island
The South Garden Store has a nice variety of noodle soups. We enjoyed some at the end of our hike for lunch.

General Advice

If you decide to go camping on Tung Lung Island, you should NOT count on being able to purchase any substantial provisions (food or water) on the island.

Food

The main amenities on Tung Lung Island are the South Garden Store (where we ate some tasty noodles and enjoyed some cold drinks after our hike) and the Tung Lung Chau Holiday Store which also sells some basic cooked foods and cold drinks. You can count on these shops for a decent lunch, but they will not be open early in the morning or late at night, so if you plan to camp on Tung Lung Island, you will need to bring the majority of your own food.

Water

The only free and public water source on the island is located at the Tung Lung Chau Campsite, however you CANNOT DRINK THE WATER there without purifying, boiling or chemically treating it, as it’s unfiltered stream water. We love this water purifier, and below we go into full detail on the gear you’ll need to camp on Tung Lung Island or to simply go for a day hike.

Gear ESSENTIALS – Hike Tung Lung Island

woman standing in the sun on the hike Tung Lung Island trail
Most of the trails on Tung Lung Island are fully exposed to the sun.

To day hike Tung Lung Island, you won’t need much gear. Your main considerations will be having enough water and sun protection.

Water – It’s Essential When You Hike Tung Lung

Tung Lung Chau does not have much shade. In the summer time, and if you sweat a lot, we recommend you bring at least 2 liters of water per person. In the winter time, the same person who sweats a lot might still need 1.5 liters. You know yourself best, but make sure you have enough water, as there is no potable free sources on the island, and you’ll pay a premium for water at the two stores on the island. We always use these Hydro Flask Water Bottles, as they are insulted and super durable.

Sun Protection – There’s Not Much Shade on Tung Lung Island

As mentioned above, there is not a lot of shade on Tung Lung Island. So, you’ll need to be adequately prepared to protect yourself from the sun. As and aside, most of the campsites have shady spots, but try to arrive early to secure one such site.

Rain/Wind Protection is Always Useful

a view of the ocean from Tung Lung Island
It’s beautiful but pretty windy on the exposed parts of Tung Lung Island.

Islands in Hong Kong can be windy at any time of year. Moreover, when you’re on Tung Lung Island, you’ll likely get a bit sweaty from hiking (especially if you carry a hiking pack full of gear). Wind, plus being sweaty, equals a situation where you could potentially get quite chilled. Thus, when we do a day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip, we always bring our rain jackets. We love the Marmot PreCip jackets because they are lightweight, durable and great value.

Hiking Shoes are Perfect for Tung Lung Island

When you hike Tung Lung Island, unless you are particularly prone to needing extra ankle support, you will not need hiking boots. The majority of the trails there are paved, and the ones that are dirt are hard packed. We love the shoes below, but ultimately make sure you wear something that is comfortable and has good traction.

Hiking Socks Too

As crazy as it may seem, we hike in wool socks year round, as they help prevent blisters. In the summer time we use thin ones and in the winter we use thicker ones. The ones below are quite good for year round purposes.

Snacks Won’t Hurt

Again, you will be able to buy a limited range of cooked foods for lunch at the two stores on Tung Lung Island, so for day hiking purposes you might be okay leaving home without any snacks. We always bring a few snacks just to be safe.

Gear EXTRAS – Hike Tung Lung Island

Hiking Poles

a steep stretch of trail you'll descend if you hike Tung Lung Island
Hiking poles are most useful on this steep section.

For most of our route around Tung Lung Island, you won’t need hiking poles. However, if you’ve got knees that get sore, there are a few places where you’ll appreciate having some hiking poles. We use these Black Diamond hiking poles as they are compact and lightweight.

Camera and Lens

Tung Lung Island is beautiful. Frankly, you’ll want to take a lot of pictures. We love our Sony Alpha a7II. It’s got a full-frame sensor and a weatherproof body. That means it takes great pictures and is able to get a bit wet. The Sony 35mm F2.8 prime lens is our go-to lens, as it’s lightweight and has enough functionality for our photographic purposes.

A Drone

Now this is definitely not essential gear, but it is definitely fun! The DJI Mavic Air Fly More Combo is our drone of choice. It takes great quality photos and videos, it’s super lightweight, and when it’s all folded up, it’s a bit smaller than a 1 liter soda bottle.

An External Hard Drive and a Wireless SD Card Reader/PowerBank

These two items, the SanDisk 2TB Extreme and the RAVPower Filehub Plus are not essential at all. But if you plan to do a good bit of photography in the filed, you can use these two devices together to back up all the data from your camera’s and drone’s SD cards. The FileHub is also a power bank.

Gear ESSENTIALS – Go Camping on Tung Lung Island

a camp site on Tung Lung Island
At both campsites, there are fixed picnic benches and fire pits.

Camping on Tung Lung Island and having a good time will largely depend on bringing the right gear and checking the weather before you depart. Depending on when you camp on Tung Lung Island, i.e. the warm or the cool season, the gear you need will be slightly different, but below are the items we consider essential year round. We’ve divided the gear into clothing essentials and camping gear essentials.

Clothing Essentials – To Camp on Tung Lung Island

All of these items will be necessary in Hong Kong’s cooler months – approximately December to January. In the summer time, it’s likely you will not need all of these items, so pack accordingly.

  1. Hiking Shoes: Female option, Male option
  2. Low Cut Wool Socks (2 pairs per person): Unisex option
  3. Zip Off Pants, non-cotton (1 pair per person): Female option, Male option
  4. Quick Dry T-Shirt, non-cotton (2 per person): Female option, Male option
  5. Quick Dry Underwear (2 pairs per person): Female option, Male option
  6. Raincoat (1 per person): Female option, Male option
  7. Rain Pants (1 pair per person): Female option, Male option
  8. Long underwear top, non-cotton (2 tops per person): Female option, Male option.
  9. Long underwear bottom, non-cotton (2 bottoms per person): Female option, Male option
  10. Down Parka (1 per person): Female option, Male option
  11. Wool Hat, mid-weight (1 per person): Unisex option
  12. Light Gloves, smartphone friendly (1 pair person): Unisex option
  13. Waterproof Mitten Shells (1 pair per person): Unisex option
  14. Hats for sun, with neck flaps (1 per person): Unisex option

Camping Gear Essentials – To Camp on Tung Lung Island

This is the gear we bring when we go camping, and it’s never left us wanting. So, we recommend that you bring these items when you go camping on Tung Lung Island. TIP: If you’re planning on cooking over an open fire, you may not need some of the following items.

  1. Hiking backpack (one per person): Female option , Male option
  2. Sleeping bag (one per person):  Female option, Male option
  3. Sleeping pad (one per person): Unisex option
  4. Hiking poles (one pair per person): Unisex option
  5. Stove (one per party)
  6. Fuel bottle (one per party)
  7. Cooking Pot Set (one per party)
  8. Cooking utensils (one set per party)
  9. Sponge
  10. Water purifier (one per party)
  11. Back up water purification method (one per party)
  12. 1L insulated water bottle (2 per person)
  13. 3L Water storage container (one per party)
  14. Matches/lighter
  15. Spices
  16. Biodegradable Soap
  17. Spoon/Fork/Knife (one set per person)
  18. First Aid Kit
  19. Parachute Cord 50’ (one bunch per party)
  20. Trowel (one per party)
  21. Toilet Paper
  22. Toothbrush
  23. Headlight (one per person)
  24. Camera
  25. Knife
  26. Compass
  27. Tent (one per party)
  28. Pack towel (one per party)
  29. Pack cover (one per person)
  30. Inflatable Pillow (optional, one per person)
  31. Nylon stuff sack(s) to make bear bags
  32. Emergency whistle

Getting There and Getting Home

the Blue Sea Ferry pier you take to get to hike Tung Lung Island
This is the place from which the Blue Sea Ferry departs.

There are a few ways to get to Tung Lung Island. The most direct way to get there is to take the Blue Sea Ferry. The Blue Sea Ferry departs from this ferry pier in Aldrich Bay. At the time of writing, the round trip ticket costs HK$55/person. However, check their website for the most up to date fares and departure times.

Again, if you’re camping on Tung Lung Island (and you want to get nice and close to the campsites), you should ride the ferry until the second stop, the Tung Lung Chau (North) Pier. If you’re only planning to do a day hike on the island, and if you want to end your day at the small restaurants, get off at the first stop, the Tung Lung Chau Public Pier.

graphic map of Tung Lung Island
For camping purposes ONLY, it’s best to ride the ferry to the second stop, Tung Lung Chau (North) Pier.

With all that said, if you simply want to enjoy Tung Lung Island without having to worry about any of the logistics, click below, and we’d be glad to start planning for you a guided tour of Tung Lung Island.

Want a guide?

Our Route – Map to Hike Tung Lung Island

While you’re hiking on Tung Lung Island, on your mobile device you can use our hike Tung Lung Island Google Map to follow our route!

Tung Lung Island graphic
We looped Tung Lung Island in a counterclockwise direction.

Our route goes around the island in a counter clockwise direction. We start at Tung Lung Chau Public Pier and circled around to the Tung Lung Chau (North) Pier. There are a few stretches on our hike Tung Lung Island Google Map where Google does not actually recognize there is a trail. Therefore, we dropped some waypoint pins that you can follow at those points. The waypoint pins look like this:

Also, if you click on the button in the top left hand corner of the map, you will be able to toggle on or off various features of our map. The button looks like this:

TIP: We found the entire island quite scenic, but some of our favorite spots were at the very southern tip of the island as well as along the series of waypoint markers on the northeastern side of the island.

the souther end of Tung Lung Island
This is the loop at the southern end of the island.

Our Route – Difficulty and Distance

a happy family portrait while hiking Tung Lung Island
Hiking Tung Lung Island is totally doable with a baby on board!

We consider the entire loop around the island to be moderately challenging. If you’ve got little kids that can be carried in a backpack, or if your children are able to hike for a 3-4 hours, this is suitable for you. Carrying our son with us, the entire loop took us about 3 hours. Check out the elevation profile below for some of the trail stats.

Distance, Elevation Gain, Duration – Intermediate Descent

an elevation profile for the route we take when we hike Tung Lung Island
This is the elevation profile for the counterclockwise loop we hiked.

The entire loop around Tung Lung Island is ~6.3 km and covers ~394 m of elevation gain. Again, this is not beginner friendly, but if you’re an intermediate hiker, you’ll be fine. For intermediate hikers, plan on this taking about 3 hours. Advanced hikers will likely be able to complete the loop in about 2 hours.

Our Route – In Pictures

(Click to enlarge. The order of the pictures goes from left to right, top to bottom.)

View the picture below to see the start of “#1 Unmarked Trail” as referenced on our hike Tung Lung Island Google Map.

#1 Unmarked Trail

#1 Unmarked trail is sporadically marked by the white ribbons (see below). It’s also quite well worn in, so don’t worry if you can’t find the ribbons. Eventually you’ll reach the fence. Then, follow the fence line downhill.

If you care to get down to the beach, you can use the rope to descend down the small embankment.

#2 Unmarked Trail

“#2 Unmarked trail” as referenced on our hike Tung Lung Island Google Map starts approximately at this fence line.

This next part is where hiking poles would be most useful.

Other Hong Kong Outlaying Island Adventures

Coastal beauty on Tung Lung Chau.
A view from the southern tip of Tung Lung Chau.

If you’re like us, your hike on Tung Lung Island has merely whet your appetite for Hong Kong’s beautiful outlying islands. So, why not keep exploring them? How about going for a hike on Lamma Island for the lucky chance of seeing some sea turtles? Or, if you’re looking for something really far out, why not hike on Po Toi Island and escape Hong Kong’s hustle bustle for a while? Our off the beaten path hike on Cheung Chau Island is also another great island option (this route requires a bit of bushwhacking), and there is also some really good value seafood restaurants there too!

No matter what you’d like to do, if you have question or comments, feel free to leave them below, and we’ll get back to you in a flash. Happy hiking!

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