Despite being one of the most built-up and dense cities in the world Hong Kong provides some of the best hiking to be found so close to a large urban center. Within half an hour you can be away from the skyscrapers and climbing rolling mountains or walking along pristine coastlines.
For my second hike in the region I ventured up to the peak of Lantau Island (nearby where I’m currently living) - walking from Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping, home of the Big Buddha which I previously visited last year. To track my every step I used the EveryTrail iPhone app (free).
To reach the beginning of the walk take the no. 11 bus from Tung Chung bus station (next to the MTR station) alighting at Pak Kung Au stop about 15 minutes later. The trail is clearly signposted on the opposite side of the road so is hard to miss.
The path starts off fairly gentle but soon becomes quite steep although should be fine for anyone in good health.
As with most mountain trails there are plenty of false peaks along the way but if you find yourself in need of a break a couple of resting spots / shelters with fantastic views are available.
It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the top at an elevation of 3000 ft or 934 m above sea level. On a clear day you get a good view of the planes taking off from the airport and Tung Chung town center below.
The plateau is a nice place for a snack or a picnic but it pained me to see some people had not been very conscientious in throwing away their litter. Don’t be one of them.
Lantau Peak (鳳凰山) is the second highest in Hong Kong and looking back down provides a great feeling of satisfaction! For someone who spends a lot of their time stuck in front of the computer getting some fresh air is welcome respite.
Trigonometrical stations seem a bit quint in our modern world of GPS phones which can almost instantly tells us where we are. I’m not sure if they’re used for anything anymore? Will have to remember to ask my brother whose a geologist.
On the way down you get a good view of the enormous Shek Pik Reservoir. Around this time we could hear what sounded like air raid sirens wailing in the distance; I speculated that it might have something to do with the reservoir but further research seems to point towards the maximum security prisons nearby. Not the worst place to get banged up I suppose!
For those who want to take a longer route you can continue all the way along the mountain ridges south to one of the small fishing villages on the coast. My legs were beginning to feel like jelly at this point but perhaps next time.
Be careful where you step otherwise you might end up like this fellow with a severe headache (and sunburn in my case)…
…but be sure to keep a spring in your step
After paying your respects to the Big Buddha (or not) you can choose to a) walk back down, b) take the bus, c) take the cable car. The latter is most fun and provides great views but is the most expensive at 80 HKD one way.
We choose the fun option which felt like a just reward for all the hard work! The walk itself is 3.5 miles in total and takes about 3 hours to complete at a modest pace.
I really love the stats which EveryTrail produces – the iPhone never ceases to amaze me at what it can do. I’m looking forward to trying it out some more around Hong Kong in the near future.