The Shing Mun War Relics Trail is an amazing heritage trail on the northern part of Smugglers’ Ridge, in Kam Shan Country Park. The trail explores the remnants of the Gin Drinker’s Line, a defensive line built to defend Kowloon and New Territories against Japanese attacks from the north during World War 2.
The best way to enjoy the Shing Mun War Relics Trail is to include it as part of the MacLehose Trail Section 6 hike. It’s a great way to combine a heritage trail with a fun and easy hike.
About the Gin Drinker’s Line and Shing Mun Redoubt
The Shing Mun War Relics Trail is a 250-metre section at the start of the MacLehose Trail Section 6 that explores the concrete tunnels, trenches, bunkers and artillery positions that were built by British soldiers at the start of World War 2.
These tunnels and batteries formed part of the Gin Drinker’s Line, an 18 km line of defence (modelled on France’s Maginot Line) that stretched across the hills of northern Kowloon. The defensive line derived its name from Gin Drinker’s Bay, what is present-day Kwai Chung.
The Shing Mun Redoubt was the headquarters of the Gin Drinker’s Line and it used Shing Mun Reservoir as a natural barrier.
When the Japanese attacked on 9 and 10 December 1941, Shing Mun Redoubt, which was severely undermanned, fell almost immediately. And the defending British and Indian forces retreated to Hong Kong Island.
What happened next on Hong Kong Island is relived on the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail.
Combine it with MacLehose Trail Section 6
Although the Shing Mun War Relics Trail is only a 250-metre section of the MacLehose Trail Section 6, we highly recommend completing the entire section of the Maclehose Trail.
At 4.1 km, Section 6 is the easiest section of the MacLehose Trail. It runs between Shing Mun Reservoir and Kowloon Reservoir, through Kam Shan Country Park.
To start the Shing Mun War Relics Trail and MacLehose Trail Section 6, make your way to Shing Mun Reservoir. You can take the green minibus number 82 from Tsuen Wan Shiu Wo Street to Shing Mun Reservoir.
You can also walk it to the reservoir from Lei Muk Shue Shopping Centre in Tsuen Wan, or from On Yam Estate in Kwai Chung.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi from Kwai Hing or Tai Wo Hau MTR Stations.
Depending on how you arrive at the reservoir, make your way to the Shing Mun Barbecue Area No. 4, which is at the entrance to the MacLehose Trail Section 6. If you take GMB 82, it is a 1 km walk on Shing Mun Road to the starting point.
The barbecue area has a vending machine, toilets, and a water fountain. It also has lot’s of informational material on the Battle of Hong Kong and the history of the war relics.
The Shing Mun War Relics Trail
The initial section of the hike is a relatively easy climb. In fact, the ruins of the tunnels don’t start till about 150 metres into the hike.
There are eight main attractions along the Shing Mun War Relics Trail. Each attraction is visibly marked by a number along with a QR code.
Personally, I didn’t find the QR codes to be helpful. But, what is helpful on the website is the Shing Mun War Relics Trail information leaflet, which can be downloaded here.
Many choose to go explore the additional pillboxes that are connected to the tunnels, but not marked on the War Relics Trail. Also, most of the tunnels are in good condition but the authorities request people not to enter them. Keep in mind that many of the tunnels are inhabited by bats, snakes, and geckos. So, enter at your own risk!
So, onto the eight officially marked attractions.
1. A partially destroyed tunnel
The first attraction on the Shing Mun War Relics Trail is a partially destroyed tunnel.
Here you get a first glimpse inside the labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath this area. This exposed tunnel runs north to pillbox PB 402, which isn’t marked on the trail.
2. Air vent of a tunnel
Right next to the tunnel is the second marker, an air vent.
As the defence line was a series of underground tunnels, proper ventilation was necessary for the soldiers inside the tunnels.
The second attraction is a look inside one of these air vents that kept tunnels ventilated.
3. Exits of tunnels: Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue
The third attraction on the trail is by far my favourite. It’s here that we get our first look at the exits of two tunnels – Regent Street and Shaftesbury Avenue.
The deep defensive tunnels with ventilation shafts and observation points were named after London streets to make life easier and familiar for the British soldiers stationed here.
The passageways and locations in the Redoubt are named Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly, Haymarket, Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross. In fact, the defensive headquarters, Shing Mun Redoubt was known as the “Strand Palace Hotel”.
4. Another exit of Shaftesbury Avenue
The fourth attraction is a little further ahead of the third. It is the other exit of Shaftesbury Avenue.
If you entered Shaftesbury Avenue at the third marker, this is where you’d exit!
5. Exit of Tunnel: Charing Cross
Opposite the Shaftesbury Avenue exit is the exit for the Charing Cross tunnel.
This is the final tunnel to the observation post and Shing Mun Redoubt.
6. Marker stone
The sixth attraction is a marker stone for Golden Hill.
Unfortunately, I’m not aware of the significance of the marker stone. If someone knows, please drop me a comment below.
7. View of Shing Mun Reservoir
From the Golden Hill marker stone, there is a flight of steps that goes uphill. And as you climb the steps, the views of the reservoir become more prominent.
The seventh attraction on the trail is the lookout point for Shing Mun Reservoir. And right behind it is the final stop.
8. Artillery observation post of Shing Mun Redoubt
The views from the artillery observation post of Shing Mun Redoubt are naturally quite good. From here, one can see Tsuen Wan and Shing Mun Reservoir.
Unlike the tunnels, the observation post is relatively safe to under. Inside, you get a closer look at the damage and can imagine what it was like for the soldiers stationed here!
From behind the observation post, there is a network of tunnels and rooms. There is a tunnel towards Strand Palace Hotel, and the other towards Charing Cross.
There’s also a kitchen and officers sleeping and a meeting room.
Continuing with the hike
Once you’re done exploring the final attraction along the Shing Mun War Relics Trail, you can either choose to return to Shing Mun Reservoir or continue along Maclehose Trail and complete Section 6 at Kowloon Reservoir.
We highly recommend completing Section 6 of the Maclehose Trail. It’s relatively easy, scenic, and full of monkeys (as long as you don’t mind them)!
To Golden Hill Road
From the artillery observation post continue on Maclehose Trail.
Shortly after the relics, the views really open up. As you hike on the trail, you can see Kwai Chung right below, and Tsing Yi in the distance.
Continue along the scenic section of the trail, which is at a very gradual incline for the next 600 metres.
Thereafter, the trail begins to descend as it enters the forested area of Kam Shan Country Park. From this point, the trees provide a shaded route as the trail slowly descends. In case you’re wondering, this section of Maclehose Trail Section 6 runs parallel to Smuggler’s Ridge and Smuggler’s Pass.
And shortly after, the trail makes its final descent onto the paved Golden Hill Road.
PSA: Rhesus Macaque
A fair bit of warning, the next section of the hike is full of the rhesus macaque, Hong Kong’s monkeys who call Kam Shan Country Park their home.
Please do not feed, taunt, or trouble the monkeys. They’re harmless. Keep a respectful distance and in return, they will respect you.
To Kowloon Reservoir
To continue on Maclehose Trail, turn left towards Tai Po Road when you reach Golden Hill Road.
The paved road continues uphill on a slight incline. It passes a couple of outdoor barbecue areas and the entrance of the Wilson Trail Section 6.
There are quite a few monkeys on this path, so be careful of your belongings. But honestly, I found this section of Kam Shan Country Park to be very beautiful!
After passing the entrance to Wilson Trail, the road flattens and passes by an unmarked entrance for Golden Hill on the right. And then there is one more entrance to the Kam Shan Family Walk up ahead on the left.
We also noticed a couple of large cages where the authorities conduct field trials for contraceptives for monkeys.
After this point, simply follow the Golden Hill Road downhill. Again, there will be plenty of monkeys on this road. So, don’t feed or agitate them. And in return, they won’t say anything to you.
Finally, after walking downhill for about 25 minutes, you’ll arrive at the Kowloon Reservoir.
The Kowloon Group of Reservoirs in Kam Shan Country Park consists of three reservoirs,
- Kowloon Reservoir,
- Kowloon Byewash Reservoir, and
- Kowloon Reception Reservoir
Construction for the Kowloon Reservoir commenced in 1907 and was completed in 1910, making it the first reservoir in the New Territories.
This section of the Maclehose Trail is on the Main Dam of the Kowloon Reservoir. On one side is the Kowloon Reservoir and on the other is the Kowloon Byewash Reservoir.
The Kowloon Reception Reservoir cannot be seen from here but accessible from the Kam Shan Tree Walk next to the pavilion at the Main Dam.
Walk across the Main Dam as you admire this beautiful reservoir.
After the Main Dam, there is a small bridge before the road goes up and ends at Tai Po Road. There is where Maclehose Trail Section 6 ends.
To end the hike, you can catch a bus towards Tai Po and Shatin from the same side of the road. Or cross the road to catch a bus on the opposite side towards Kowloon. And FYI, the entrance to the Eagle’s Nest Nature Trail is also on the opposite side of the road.
Shing Mun War Relics Trail and MacLehose Trail Section 6
I personally think this is an easy, fun, and educational hike. It covers the Shing Mun War Relics Trail, and Maclehose Trail Section 6 through Kam Shan Country Park.
The Shing Mun Redoubt is one of the best-preserved war relics from World War 2 in Hong Kong. Its system of tunnels, pillboxes, and artillery posts is so fascinating to discover and explore!
If you enjoyed the Shing Mun War Relics Trail, we highly recommend the Wong Nai Chung Gap Trail, Hong Kong’s only battlefield trail that recounts the war on the Island after the fall of the Gin Drinker’s Line. And of course, make sure to explore all the other war relics in Hong Kong too.
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