Header image courtesy of @tszsangallery (via Instagram)
We all know Sai Kung is home to some amazingly scenic hikes, such as Tai Long Wan, Three Fathoms Cove, and Long Ke Wan, that truly showcase the beauty of Hong Kong’s nature. Should you wish to do a nice weekend hike that is more off the beaten track though, then Tai Tun Shan will do you perfectly. Not to be confused with Tai Tung Shan (大東山)—also known as Sunset Peak—on Lantau Island, Tai Tun Shan (太墩山) is located near Pak Tam Chung in Sai Kung. Definitely pack lots of water and sunscreen for this one; although it’s not a very long hike, it’s pretty steep and without much shade to speak of. You’ll be rewarded with some great views of Tsam Chuk Wan though and what looks like an endless expanse of islands, so here’s your dedicated hiking guide to Tai Tun Shan.
Located in Sai Kung West Country Park, this hike is easily accessible from Sai Kung Town, and is almost a loop hike, starting at Pak Tam Chung and ending nearby at Cheung Shan. A local Hong Kong hiking guide has ranked this four out of five in difficulty due to its relative steepness in certain sections—you’ll need to be prepared for some scrambling both on the way up and down, so do wear shoes with good grip and maybe bring gloves along.
At this elevation, Tai Tun Shan isn’t exactly a mountain, but you’ll still get to look down across the Tsam Chuk Wan archipelago with its smattering of islands and islets embedded in azure waters. We’d like to reiterate that there is barely any shade on this hike, so if you burn easily, do slather on the sunscreen (bringing the bottle for top-ups as needed), and consider wearing a cap. Being a bit of a hidden hike, there are also not that many clear directions, so just be on the lookout for those little ribbon markers—a bit of adventuring is a large part of the fun in hiking anyway!
Distance: 5 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 317 metres
Total time: 3 hours approx.
There are several ways to get to the starting point. From Sai Kung Town, you can either get bus 94 or the minibuses 7 or 9 for a mere 15-minute journey. On weekends and public holidays, bus 96R running from Diamond Hill MTR station to Wong Shek is also an option. Whichever route you’re taking, alight at Pak Tam Chung stop. Should you wish to drive, there are also parking spaces available at the entrance of the Pak Tam Chung Country Park, but do be warned that the parking lot itself is not very large, so unless you go early in the day, there’s no guarantee of being able to find a space.
Start your journey by finding the hidden entrance to the trailhead! Head into the parking lot adjacent to the Pak Tam Chung Country Park Visitor Centre. Stock up on supplies at the snack kiosk before starting your hike and to the left, you’ll spot a blue “P” signpost. The start of the trail is hidden in the bushes slightly to the right of the signpost; look out for the ribbon markers.
Follow the trail uphill, which really is just a mud path created by years of determined hikers clomping through the brush. The ascent is almost immediate but overall it’s moderate enough to get the blood pumping and the fresh air being pulled into your lungs while not being intensely challenging. This initial section is shaded by trees, but will soon open out as you head further upwards.
You’ll soon find yourself on a section of concrete, which is where you’ll need to look out for ribbon markers on your right because you’ll be deviating off that concrete path and cutting into the brush. From here, simply wend your way up the hill—midway through, the trees overhead open up and you will be able to gaze up to see the summit of Tai Tun Shan itself. Expect to have to clamber where the path is particularly steep, but the trail does become more gentle as you’re approaching the top of the hill.
From the summit, the view southward overlooks a range of little islands and landmasses in the bay of Tsam Chuk Wan, including Kau Sai Chau, Tai Tau Chau, Sharp Island, and Yim Tin Tsai. It’s rather reminiscent of the Andaman Islands archipelago, and the contrast between the mossy greens of the islands and the blues of the ocean truly makes for a sight for sore eyes. Boats and vessels will occasionally zoom by, breaking up the colours with trails of sharp white behind them.
Looking eastward to the left, you might be able to see the body of water that is High Island Reservoir, with the pointy Sharp Peak in the distance behind it. Even on foggy and overcast days, it’s still interesting to see the distance shrouded in mist, with a touch of melancholy.
Once you’re done admiring the lush view, continue on the trail through the grass and shrubbery, making your way down into the trees eventually. Forge ahead to the northwest for now, though you’ll eventually be looping your way back south towards Cheung Shan, which you’ll have been able to see jutting out to sea from the summit. The woods will bring you up a gentle knoll that is still part of Tai Tun, before a sharp descent downhill.
If you’re not an experienced climber, do be careful while making your way down. The path can be a bit precarious and slippery, especially if it’s recently been raining. Following the trail to Cheung Shan will eventually bring you to a flight of stairs, which you take to get down to Tai Mong Tsai Road. The hike finishes at barbecue area 14 in Tai Mong Tsai, which is a short walk to the bus stop for bus routes 94 or 96R going back to Sai Kung Town.