Cooler temperatures, blue skies, stunning sunsets... No doubts, the hiking season is back in Hong Kong! Time to put away tank tops and flip flops and replace your beach routine by a hike. And where there's a will there's a pathway...
As thrilling Hong Kong can be, sometimes you just need a break from the city. Good news: the territory is mostly painted in emerald and azure, fringed with a beautiful gold -no skyscrapers in sights!-.
With almost 300 kms of tramping and countless smaller tracks, the range of options for hiking is so wide it can even be hard to chose sometimes. Looping around the south of the island, the 70 km-long Lantau Trail offers stunning panoramic views of the offshore islands. If you fancy a not-too-short-but-not-too-long hike and a beautiful -romaaantic- sunset, I've got just the right hike for you... Don't forget to bring your camera!
Hiking up Sunset peak
Length: 7 kms | Difficulty: moderate | Location: Lantau Island | Altitude of peak: 869 meters (2,851 feet)
Some of the hiking Hong Kong sites will say it's a difficult hike but as often in Hong Kong, for most part it's more a trek up some stairs than a hike. For your information, the Chinese name for Sunset Peak is Tai Tung Shan.
How to get to Pak Kung Au?
The Lantau Trail is 70 km-long, so there are plenty of options to hike to Sunset Peak, depending on your level of fitness, your time and well... your motivation. The easiest is probably to start from Pak Lung Au, climp up to the peak then hike back down to the starting point. The bus stop is on the ridge between the northern and southern side of the mountains -about 340m altitude.
From Mui Wo [Central ferry pier to Mui Wo via ferry, from 25 minutes to 1 hour -better to take the fast ferry] : bus 3M
From Tung Chung [Hong Kong Station to Tung Chung via MTR, 35 to 40 minutes] : bus 3M, 11 or 23
The sunset peak hike
The trail starts at a campground with picnic tables. You might want to fuel up before starting, as the hike starts straight with a steep climb. But don't forget it's worth it! Less than half an hour later, you will already be able to enjoy some great views.
Hong Kong has this incredible ability to surprise you -even when you've been living here forever. Arrived on the plateau, you will discover a different kind of vegetation composed of mainly grasses. It contrasts with the usual jungle of brambles and bamboos. With the view over the sea, you could think you're in Hawaii... or in Scotland -depending of the weather.
Further ahead is a windswept ridge dotted with little stone huts. These were built between the WW1 and WW2 as a holiday retreat for missionaries. From afar, you could think it looks a bit like the shepherds houses in the French Alps. Don't go in this direction, instead, follow the path on the other side, up to Sunset Peak. You're almost there!
When you finally reach the summit of Sunset Peak (after +/- 2 hours), all you have to do is wait for the golden hour and get ready for spectacular views over one of the busiest airport in the world, the stately Lantau Peak and the offshore islands.
The walk down to Pak Kung au
Warning: once the sun sets below the line of the sea, it gets dark within in few minutes. That's why it is not advised to hike at dusk when the path is wet. Dont's forget to carry flashlights -it's a must. From Pak Tung Au, you can catch the 3M bus to get your well-deserved dinner in Mui Wo (I'd say at the Turkish restaurant or The Kitchen for excellent pizzas!).
SMART TIPS BEFORE YOU GO
- If you hike in Summer, stay on the trails, don't forget Lantau Island means the Island of snakes!
- Don't forget your mosquito repellent, your camera and a jacket as it gets cold once the sun is down.
- Drink, drink, drink lots of water, as usual when you go hiking in HK.
Option 2: No sunset, but a full day exploring Lantau Trail
If you start on the morning and still got the energy & time after the descent from Sunset Peak, continue towards Lantau Peak along stage 3 of the Lantau Trail, which skirts the summit and ends at the Po Lin Monastery and its giant Bronze Buddha. Warning: you might fall for Lantau Island!