Lantau Trail No. 2
NAM SHAN via Sunset Peak
Distance: 6.5 km
Duration: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: 3/4 out of 5 depending on your fitness level. Constant elevation and descent with stairs.
The challenging, strenuous yet rewarding hike to Sunset Peak (大東山) on Lantau Island in Hong Kong became one of my favorite hike to do since i conquered it 3 days ago. It is physical demanding and i WARN you here now it is not simply a stroll on a hill after a hangover like Dragons Back on Hong Kong island. So please be prepared when you do this hike, coming from someone who don’t exercise intensely often.
Why Sunset Peak?
It is the 3rd highest mountain in Hong Kong with the height of 869m , 2,851 ft above sea level. Relatively easy to get to and from the peak you can have an overview of all of Hong Kong. By this i literally mean all the islands of HK ( New Territories, Kowloon and HK island as well as the Airport!) You can even see China if its on a good day! 🙂
Before we get down to business, let me tell you the situation i was in and some tips.
- We started in the afternoon in summer at 2:00pm.
- We had a good night sleep before the hike
- Please have a good breakfast in prior, there is NOTHING available during this hike. Be prepared!
- Bring about 3-5 Liters of water or sport drinks each if you plan to do this in summer
- Bring bananas and oranges to replenish your energy
- Bring sandwiches or other food
- Protect yourself from the sun and mosquitoes
- Anti Shock Hiking Stick can be useful
- Bring a compass
- Turn your airplane mode on, roaming will turn on near the peak. I didn’t realized and my phone bill is going to be ridiculous.
How to get there?
1.) Get to Tung Chung!
Walk to Hong Kong station and find the Tung Chung Line which is the orange line and get off at the last station.
You can take the Tsuen wan Line which is the red line and change to the Tung Chung line at LAI KING station.
2.) Get to Pak Kung Au (伯公坳)
I recommend this because its faster and you dont need to queue, it is also affordable with the cost of 40-50 HKD. The station is behind MTR station and bear left in a small roundabout. The taxi will drop you off at a bus stand which you only need to walk a little bit up to find the trail on your left! (Don’t cross the road, otherwise you will be hiking on a completely different trail.
Take the 3M from the Tung Chung bus station, they look like tour buses. Different than the normal HK buses, you can find the info Here.
START by following the Nam Shan VIA Sunset peak sign.
What the FXXX!? I thought in my head, 80% of the hike up is on rough stones and the rest is dirt path. Do approach this elevation with patience and appropriate speed though, the constant elevation with twist and turns were definitely challenging but deep down in my heart – I LOVED IT! The view began to emerge from the bushes and hills which will motivates you and offer you a glimpse of what you will achieve in a the end!
One mistake i made was that i was saving the liquid rather than drinking it, you know its like you feel like you are being careful and making sure you will have something to drink later? Almost like saving the best bits of food in the end to eat when you are a kid but you always become too full to eat it. Anyway….Under the bright hot summer sun, i did feel dizzy at one point as i was trying to reserve my liquids, but after a while when i realized that i am sweating more than i am consuming.
So we started to take more breaks, because in the end of the day you do need to stop and take in the benefits of hiking which is to appreciate the environment around us. Its very easy to just keep marching on almost like your body and mind enters a survival state of mind telling you “Keep going, keep going, the peak is where u should stop, not here!” You know what, I was glad that I had some good shoes on that made my hike more comfortable! It was so hot and my Shoe, was quite air dynamic so my feet didn’t feel like it was on fire!
As you hike up the trail, you will see there are paths that lead to different points at various height level, those are great for taking a break and to regain your energy or to send photos before your phone loose signals and roaming turns on.
View Point Tranquility
Okay, this is not the official name of the viewpoint, nor it actually has one so i came up with it (excuse me for being too cheesy). We go to the near peak level. The paths and elevation became flatter and much more pleasant to walk on. We walked towards the end of the trail and found these rocks near the hill to sit on and relax. When you get to that height, temperature usually cools down much more and you really can just relax and eat your lunch with this majestic view of Hong Kong.
Being in Hong Kong, your horizons tend to be short – by this i don’t mean it in a personal level but literally because the furthest thing you see is probably people cross the streets, cars flying by. And when you look up, it mostly covers by the overwhelming skyscrapers, sky is a shadow that’s carved out by the skyscrapers. But being up here, you are free. Free of worries, thoughts, rules, people, loudness and in return you find inner and outer peace, love, happiness, beauty, appreciation and other things you often neglect or forget in the city life.
My friend Aneesh said to me;” Just listen,can you hear that?“
“What?” i replied.
“Silence, the beauty and peace of just complete silence.” he said.
At first i didn’t understand, there is always some noise, birds, airplane flying by or insects. But when you actually close your eyes and listen you will hear this “nothingness” this silence. There is always silence but you just can’t hear it or pay attention to it and after all silence gives us peace.
The Sunset Peak
At the end, you have an option; either you can hike further up to the peak or you can follow the trail which will lead you to those huts which we didn’t do. Instead we went further up. To the top of mountain! Incredible sights, needless to say more you can get a sense of my experience with the photos below.
Photos taken with Canon EOS M3
We didn’t stay for the sunset but as you can imagine how beautiful it would be. We were running out of supplies and did not prepare for staying for sunset so we decided to go back. Most interestingly we had no idea which way to go. We wanted to go South to the beach of Chang Sa, that was the only direction we had and we just went South! A bit silly but i loved it, the aspect of adventures and exploring. Walking down the hill, the trails began to disappear and we were lost. The grass around us appeared to grow taller and taller until we had the thought that we should have brought a machete.
But it was still a beautiful way to see the place, an unofficial, risky and bold one but the angles you see is different and i thought that was the most memorable part of the hike as it was challenging, fun and most importantly – adventurously stupid. When we found our way back to the trail we were on, then it led us to where we began and took a taxi to Tung Chung and then central or you can catch a bus to Mui-Wo and there is a ferry service to Central which is a very slow but pleasant ride.