Header image courtesy of @looksky / Flickr
Low temperatures, blue skies, stunning sunsets—it’s hiking season. To make the most of these short and fleeting cooler months in Hong Kong, go on a stunning hike over Sunset Peak on Lantau Island.
As thrilling as Hong Kong can be, sometimes you just need a break from the city. Good news then that we have beautiful natural landscapes painted in emerald and azure, fringed with a beautiful gold—and no skyscrapers in sight! Some of the hiking websites in Hong Kong will say that Sunset Peak is a difficult hike, but as so often the case is, the majority of it involves more of a trek up some stairs rather than a hike.
With almost 300 kilometres of hiking trails and countless smaller tracks, the range of hiking options in Hong Kong is so wide that it can be hard to choose which to tackle. But looping around the south of Lantau Island, the 70-kilometre-long Lantau Trail offers stunning panoramic views of the offshore islands, not to mention a beautiful and romantic sunset at the peak—so don’t forget to bring your camera!
Luckily, you won’t have to tackle all 70 kilometres of this challenging trek. The easiest—and fastest—option is probably to start from Pak Lung Au, climb up to the peak, then hike back down to the starting point.
Distance: 2 kilometres
Total ascent: 869 metres
The Lantau Trail is 70 kilometres long, so there are plenty of options to hike to Sunset Peak, depending on your level of fitness, your time, and your motivation. The easiest option is probably to start from Pak Lung Au, climb up to the peak, then hike back down to the starting point.
There are two ways to get to Pak Lung Au. From Mui Wo, take the fast ferry (25 minutes) or slow ferry (one hour) from Central Pier 6 and hop on the 3M bus to Pak Kung Au. From Tung Chung, take the 35-minute MTR ride from Hong Kong Station to Tung Chung and hop on the 3M, 11, or 23 bus to Pak Kung Au.
The Pak Kung Au bus stop is on the ridge between the northern and southern side of the mountains at about 340-metre altitude. The trail starts at a camping site with picnic tables, and you might want to fuel up here before starting, as the hike begins with a steep climb. This might feel like a challenge, but don’t forget—it’s worth it, because less than half an hour later, you will already be able to enjoy some stunning views.
Hong Kong has this incredible ability to surprise you—even when you’ve been living here forever. Once you arrive at the plateau, you will discover a different kind of vegetation composed mainly of grass, which contrasts with the brambles and bamboo. Right here, with a beautiful view over the sea, you could almost think you were in Hawaii... or in Scotland—depending on the weather.
Further ahead is a windswept ridge dotted with little stone huts. These were built in the period between WW1 and WW2 as a holiday retreat for missionaries. From afar, you could think they look a bit like the shepherd’s 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 about 2 hours), all you have to do is wait for the golden hour and get ready for spectacular views over one of the busiest airports in the world, the stately Lantau Peak, and the offshore islands.
Warning: Once the sun sets below the sea line, it gets dark within just a few minutes, so don’t forget to pack torches—this is an absolute must. This is also why it is not advised to hike at dusk when the path is wet, so pick your time frame wisely. From Pak Tung Au, you can catch the 3M bus to Mui Wo to enjoy your well-deserved dinner at The Turkish or The Kitchen, which serves excellent pizzas.
If you start in the morning and still have energy and 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 the Big Buddha—here’s how.