You can but it won’t be fun. This is not China and the trend for bikes that has hit the likes of New York and London hasn’t reached Hong Kong. It probably never will. Space in this city is incredibly tight. Basically built on a rock, there is barely even room for cars on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon isn’t a lot better.
Hong Kong has the highest proportion of people using public transport for a reason – the roads are too small and crowded for cars. That means there isn’t much wiggle room to fit in bikes. Given the difficult circumstances, very few people cycle in downtown Hong Kong. The roads are too small and the bus drivers too aggressive. There is also the problem of parking. Chaining a bike to anything that isn’t a designated parking place will see your bike confiscated.
The Hong Kong Cycling Alliance is trying to lobby the government to take a more positive attitude to cycling in the city but Hong Kong is a long way away from having a mass bike rental system or even a decent spread of bike lanes. Given the geographic limitations, it's not a situation that is likely to change soon.
Where Can You Bike in Hong Kong?
The cycling that is done in Hong Kong is done on dedicated trails and in parks; mostly in the New Territories and on outlying islands. Frustratingly, to cycle in country parks you’ll need a permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The permit is, at least, free and can usually be issued on the spot if you visit the office in person with your passport.
For the leisure biker, head to out to Lantau – there are no cars on this rural island and most of the population travel around by bike. Just take a look at the stacks of cycles pictured in our photo guide to Lantau Island. The trail here offers beautiful scenery and views across the South China Sea.
Also worth a look are the trails snaking around the market town of Tai Po in the New Territories.
The Hong Kong Mountain Biking Association is a fantastic resource for looking up biking trails. They have profiled and ridden some of the more exciting rides around Hong Kong. You can go to their website for the full list but it includes rides like this “Starting about half way up Hong Kong's highest mountain Tai Mo San a myriad of root infested trails sweep through lush forest and bamboo groves to finally drop you at the Tai Lam Reservoir for a fast section of smooth singletrack ending at the Gold Coast."
Got your attention? Head over to the Mountain Biking Association to find out more.
It’s worth mentioning that many of the bike trails are shared with hikers and at weekends they can be very full. If you can, try and ride during the week. If not, take care on the trails.
Where to Rent a Bike in Hong Kong?
There are plenty of places to rent a bike in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance keeps an extensive list that runs to dozens of shops. It’s worth mentioning that it’s usually smarter to rent the bike near where you want to take your ride. It’s difficult to transport bikes in Hong Kong. While you can take them on inter-island ferries, they aren’t accepted on the Star Ferry, buses or trams.