At 869 metres, Sunset Peak or Tai Tung Shan (大東山, literally “Big East Mountain”) is the third highest peak in Hong Kong, after Tai Mo Shan and Lantau Peak, the tallest and second tallest peaks respectively.
From its fields of silvergrass (Miscanthus floridulus) to the mysterious stone cabins on the plateau below the summit, Sunset Peak is unlike any other peak in Hong Kong. It’s unique and it’s charming!
So, it should come as no surprise that the Sunset Peak Hike is not only challenging and scenic but also very popular.
How difficult is the Sunset Peak Hike?
Sunset Peak is a moderately challenging hike. Personally, it felt like a combination of the Kai Kung Leng Hike (Rooster Ridge) and the Lantau Peak Hike, but easier. Like Kai Kung Leng, the Sunset Peak Hike also involves ascending and descending a mountainous trail for over 6 km. And like Lantau Peak, Sunset Peak has similar views and often draws comparisons with its taller sibling.
However, the Sunset Peak Hike isn’t as difficult as it feels long. Because no matter which route you take to the peak, it involves a minimum of 6 km of hiking. The only exception is if you start and end at Pak Kung Au. In which case, it’ll be around 4 km.
Sunset Peak Hiking Routes
Speaking of hiking routes, there are a few trails to Sunset Peak and among them, two are relatively popular – Wong Lung Hang Country Trail and Lantau Trail Section 2.
The Wong Lung Hang Country Trail runs between the Wong Lung Hang Road, above Tung Chung West, and the Lantau Mountain Camp.
And the Lantau Trail Section 2 runs between Pak Kung Au and Nam Shan, near Mui Wo.
To experience and appreciate the Sunset Peak Hike in all its glory, we recommend the route via Lantau Trail Section 2.
Sunset Peak Hike – Nam Shan to Pak Kung Au
The Sunset Peak Hike on Lantau Trail Section 2 runs between Nam Shan and Pak Kung Au (Tung Chung Gap).
You can approach the peak from either direction, but it’s important to note the difference.
The trail from Pak Kung Au is short but very strenuous as it involves climbing very steep steps!
And on the other hand, the trail from Nam Shan is longer but more gradual and involves a mix of steps and inclines.
We chose to hike from Nam Shan to Sunset Peak and end at Pak Kung Au. Needless to say, it was long but worth it!
The Sunset Peak Hike on Lantau Trail Section 2 starts from Nam Shan. There are two ways to arrive here, by bus or by foot.
It is possible to walk to Nam Shan from the Mui Wo Ferry Pier on South Lantau Road (Lantau Trail Section 1).
This is essentially the same route a bus would take and would add another 2.1 km to the hike.
Or you can take the Nam Shan Old Village Path, an alternative route to Section 1 of the Lantau Trail. The Nam Shan Old Village Path takes a detour through the villages to arrive at Nam Shan. This route will add another 2.8 km to your hike.
However, the easiest and most convenient way to arrive at the starting point is via bus. Take bus 1, 2, 3M, or 4 from Mui Wo Ferry Pier to Nam Shan Sam Uk Tsuen.
Once at the bus stop, cross the road to the Nam Shan public toilet to reach the start of the Lantau Trail Section 2.
To the South Lantau Country Trail Intersection
Once at Nam Shan, follow the signs for Sunset Peak. Don’t miss the wooden bench at the start dedicated to the silvergrass, the iconic mark of Sunset Peak.
The initial section of the Lantau Trail is an easy walk, shaded by a canopy of trees. The trail is moderately undulating, with easy inclines and steps.
Shortly into the hike, the trail runs parallel with a paved road. Stay on the dirt trail and climb the steps.
At the end of the steps is a helipad. From the helipad, you get the first and last views of Silvermine Bay.
Continue on the trail to the intersection of Lantau Trail and South Lantau Country Trail (380 metres from the start).
If up to this point you’ve been wondering that this is the easiest hike you’ve been on, you aren’t wrong. Because the real challenging section of the Sunset Peak Hike begins from here!
Steep and shaded steps
The next section of the hike is the toughest and steepest section of the climb.
The climb starts with moderate steps that are relatively easy. We found that in most parts there is an incline alongside the steps. So, if you aren’t a fan of steps, take the incline on the side whenever possible.
Soon after, the steps become steeper and more challenging. Our advice, as always, is to take it slow.
Take breaks whenever needed and climb one step at a time.
Fortunately, this section of the hike is shaded and if it had been sunny, I’m sure we would have been grateful for the tree cover.
Although there is no visible marker for the end of this section, on average it takes between 45 to 60 minutes to reach the next section of the climb.
Gentler steps and incline with no shade
As the steps become easier, the vegetation thins and the trail loses its shade. This is the indication that the toughest section of the hike is over.
The next section of Sunset Peak Hike is quite scenic. And although it continues to climb, it feels much easier after what you’ve just endured.
The trail emerges from the canopy of trees and runs along the side of the hill, with open views on the other side.
On the open side are scenic views of Pui O, Nam Shan Campsite, and Chi Ma Wan Peninsula visible for the first time. The views are quite gorgeous!
This section of the trail comprises shorter flights of steps and inclines.
And although this section is longer than the previous section, it feels easier because the steps and incline aren’t too challenging.
Closer to the end of this section, the trail passes through a patch of bamboo.
The bamboos mark the start of a slightly challenging climb before the trail returns to the unshaded trail.
After the bamboos, the trail follows a gentle incline before reaching the next stop on the hike, a scenic viewing point below Yi Tung Shan.
Yi Tung Shan Viewing Point
At 749 metres above sea level, Yi Tung Shan is the ninth highest peak in Hong Kong. Its name translates to “Second East Mountain”, as opposed to Tai Tung Shan (Sunset Peak) which is “Big East Mountain”.
Yi Tung Shan marks the start of the Lantau Mountain Camp. But it’s not visible or directly accessible from the viewing point. For that, we need to walk around to the other side of the hill first.
To the Lin Fa Shan Trail Intersection (Sheung Tung Au)
From the Yi Tung Shan Viewing Point, Lantau Trail moves inland and continues to gently climb Yi Tung Shan.
At the end of the climb, the trail connects with the Lin Fa Shan Trail.
The intersection sits in the gap, known as Sheung Tung Au, between Lin Fa Shan and Yi Tung Shan.
At 766 metres, Lin Fa Shan is the sixth highest mountain in Hong Kong. The Lin Fa Shan Trail ultimately heads down to Tung Chung via Por Kai Shan.
But to continue to Sunset Peak, follow the sign keep walking straight.
To Wong Lung Hang Country Trail Intersection
From Sheung Tung Au, Lantau Trail moves from the south side of the range to the north. This means that the airport is visible.
So, enjoy the views of the Hong Kong Airport and Tung Chung as you continue hiking on this section of the trail. The deep valley below Lin Fa Shan also serves as a reminder that you’re already pretty high up!
The first views of Sunset Peak become visible around the corner, just as you’re approaching the Wong Lung Hang Country Trail intersection. The Wong Lung Hang Country Trail is a shaded trail between Lantau Mountain Camp and Wong Lung Hang Road, above Tung Chung.
Lantau Mountain Camp
If it’s not immediately obvious standing at the Wong Lung Hang Country Trail intersection, you’re almost at Sunset Peak!
But more importantly, this is the start of the iconic Lantau Mountain Camp and the lush fields of silvergrass. In fact, this area is what makes Sunset Peak so unique, because the peak itself is not much to talk about.
Situated on the plateau between Yi Tung Shan and Sunset Peak are 20 stone cabins that comprise Lantau Mountain Camp.
These cabins (also labelled as chalets) were handbuilt using local materials in the 1920s for missionaries who loved the remoteness of this location. The cabins were used for rest, recreation, and meditation.
The cabins are designed with 16-inch walls to withstand the gale-force winds commonly experienced at Sunset Peak.
All 20 stone cabins are privately owned. So, don’t be surprised if you notice people inside the cabins. In fact, some of the cabins can also be rented.
There’s a very nice article about the stone cabins next to Sunset Peak that you can read at your convenience.
There’s also a small reservoir next to the camp labelled Heaven Lake.
To Sunset Peak
Unlike Lantau Peak which is situated on Lantau Trail, reaching Sunset Peak requires a detour from the trail.
There are many unmarked trails to the top of Sunset Peak. And which one to take is ultimately your choice.
But if you continue on Lantau Trail, you’d reach one of the most beautiful rock formations on Sunset Peak, RM’s Rocks. And there’s also a new viewing platform next to RM’s Rock.
But the shortest unmarked trail to Sunset Peak from the Lantau Mountain Camp is the one right after cabin number 18.
So, turn right after cabin number 18 and follow the trail past all the other cabins.
You might encounter some crisscrossing trails up ahead, but simply keep your sight on the summit and walk on a trail heading in that direction.
Unlike Lantau Peak, Sunset Peak doesn’t tower over its surroundings. But fortunately, this only blocks part of the views.
From the top, the views of the airport, Tung Chung and the valley below are quite spectacular!
And so are the views of Lantau Peak!
Like Tai Mo Shan, Sunset Peak is one of the foggiest and mistiest summits in Hong Kong. It was bright and sunny when we started our hike but had gotten cold and cloudy by the time we reached the summit.
Sunset Peak is also known to be very windy. And as we stood at its summit, on a cold and cloudy winter’s day, we can vouch for it!
Five minutes in and our faces and fingers went numb because of the cold wind.
The only thing we felt thankful for was that the clouds hadn’t descended to our height and that it didn’t rain.
Return to Lantau Trail
After admiring the views from Sunset Peak and taking all the pictures, it’s time to return to Lantau Trail.
There are numerous unmarked trails towards the south that return to Section 2 of the Lantau Trail.
Simply follow one of the trails downhill or notice the one from which other hikers are coming up.
On the trail we took, we found numerous rock formations and photogenic spots, including the famous ledge rock. We couldn’t resist taking a moment to admire the views from here! But we did skip the ledge rock because of the crowd.
As we got closer to Lantau Trail, the trail we were on became extremely steep and slippery.
But after carefully and slowly navigating our way through the rocks, we finally made it back on Lantau Trail.
To Sunset Peak Viewing Point No. 1
Once back on Lantau Trail, turn right to begin your descent towards Pak Kung Au.
The flat trail soon makes way for the steps, and that’s where the views begin too.
If you recall, the hike to Sunset Peak from Pak Kung Au consists almost entirely of steps. Fortunately, we had to climb down and not climb up them.
As the steps head downhill, the views of Cheung Sha Beach and Shui Hau Wan and Tong Fuk Miu Wan bays become more scenic!
And on the other side of the steps, I couldn’t help notice a field full of rocks.
At the bottom of this flight of steps is the platform for Sunset Peak Viewing Point No. 1. Feel free to step onto the platform to check out the views of Pui O and Chi Ma Wan Peninsula from up here.
To Pak Kung Au
From the Sunset Peak Viewing Point No. 1, it’s another 1.2 km to Pak Kung Au.
My favourite part about the first half of the descent is the views of Lantau Peak in front.
From our descent, we could clearly see section 3 of the Lantau Trail making its way up the second highest peak in Hong Kong.
Lantau Peak honestly looks so grand and majestic from this section of the hike.
There are a few unofficial viewing points and mounds to appreciate the views of Lantau Peak on this section of the steps. So, feel free to take your time to photos or simply admire the views.
With about 700 metres to go, the steps begin to descend into thicker vegetation, away from the silvergrass.
But it’s the last 300-400 metres that absolutely wreck your knees! This section has some of the steepest steps that I’ve ever encountered on a hike!
The steps are built from flattened boulders that are probably twice the average height of a regular step.
Climbing down these steps was quite painful. Imagine how challenging it is to climb up them!
Thankfully, this section doesn’t last too long and we could soon hear the sounds of vehicles.
And shortly after the brutal steps, we stepped onto the Pak Kung Au rest area and pavilion.
End the hike
This rest area and pavilion at Pak Kung Au is right beside Tung Chung Road.
If you’re heading to Tung Chung, cross the road to the bus stop on the other side and take any bus (3M, 11, 11A, or 23). They all head to Tung Chung.
To continue your journey to another destination, stay on the same side of the road. From here you can catch bus 3M to Mui Wo Ferry Pier, 11 to Tai O, or 23 to Ngong Ping.
Sunset Peak vs Lantau Peak
One of the most commonly asked questions is, which hike is tougher – Sunset Peak or Lantau Peak?
Don’t get me wrong, Sunset Peak isn’t an easy hike and is as difficult as Lantau Peak in many aspects. However, there are two factors, in my opinion, that make Lantau Peak more challenging than Sunset Peak. One is the lack of shade, and two is the steeper ascent.
Also, in terms of distance, both hikes are a little over 6 km. Although Section 3 of the Lantau Trail is only 4.5 km, you still have to walk an additional 1.3 km to reach Ngong Ping Village from Wisdom Path.
Best time to hike to Sunset Peak
The best time to hike to Sunset Peak is in the autumn months (October to December) when the silvergrass looks the best.
That’s also the time of the year when the sunsets are the most spectacular from here. The charm of sunsets from Sunset Peak is accentuated by the beauty of the stone cottages and the silvergrass.
Sunset Peak, Hong Kong
We hope you found our detailed guide to the Sunset Peak Hike on Lantau Island helpful!
I have to admit that it wasn’t the clearest day when we hiked up Sunset Peak. And that’s why we’ll be sure to return here in the autumn to appreciate the silvergrass and the sunsets!
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