The Sunset Peak hike from Tung Chung Station to Pak Kung Au is a challenging trail which takes you up into Lantau Island's rolling hills and past several beautiful peaks. As you climb, you'll have incredible 360-degree views, including Hong Kong International Airport, nearby islands, and the sea. Use this hiking guide for tips on how to climb Hong Kong's third-highest peak!
Preparing to Hike up Sunset Peak
Sunset Peak, or Tai Tung Shan, is Hong Kong's third-tallest peak, and Lantau Island's second highest peak, at 869 m / 2,851 ft. I know it best as the mountain I've been staring at from my apartment for 3 years and thinking "one day I'll climb that"!
Although most seem to hike to Sunset Peak starting at Pak Kung Au, we decided to start at sea level in Tung Chung and finish in Pak Kung Au to increase the challenge. And it worked - this hike was difficult!
Following our route, the Sunset Peak hike is ~9-km (5.5-mi) long and takes approximately 4 hours to complete.
Tip: As you hike this trail, you'll come across many off-shoot trails that lead to other peaks. You could increase the difficulty and length of your hike by climbing some of them.
Who Should Hike Sunset Peak?
Due to the initial strenuous climb from Tung Chung, I'd recommend this hike for experienced hikers with a good level of fitness. The terrain on the first section is steep and requires scrambling up rocky, dirt trails.
If you begin at Pak Kung Au, the trail leading up to Sunset Peak is just as steep with giant stone steps leading up to the peak. Since the stairs seemed steep when we were going down them, I can only imagine how the hikers climbing up them felt!
That being said, stone steps are generally easier to climb than rocky, dirt trails, plus I saw hikers carrying full camping gear up them. So if you are a less experienced hiker and want to attempt the Sunset Peak hike, starting at Pak Kung Au and hiking up would be best.
When to Hike Sunset Peak?
I'll admit, I struggled with this hike. For me, it had a lot to do with the intense sunshine, pollution, and lack of breeze on the day we hiked it. As a result, I highly recommend this Sunset Peak route for cooler temperatures and perhaps when there's some cloud-cover.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind when picking a day to hike this trail:
This hike has practically NO SHADE. Unfortunately, we hiked up on a very sunny day. Combine the UV rays with the steep hills and I've found it's a recipe for heat exhaustion. As you'll see from our photos, it was also quite polluted which makes it harder to breathe.
However, as I've seen from my balcony, the top of Sunset Peak is often completely encased by clouds or is above the clouds. This would make it difficult to see the views, but could make the hike interesting in its own way.
Items for Your Hike
A few items I recommend for the Sunset Peak hike in addition to your normal supplies:
Getting To Trailhead
To start the Sunset Peak hike in Tung Chung, take the MTR to Tung Chung Station. Use exit D, then head towards Fu Tung Street. Shortly after, continue on to Cheung Tung Road. Keep going straight on this road and you'll reach the trail after 550 m / 0.3 mi.
Pro Tip: If you enter directions from the MTR to the trail into Google, it leads you on a roundabout route. There's no need for this as you can continue along Cheung Tung Road (passing under Yu Tung Road) on pedestrian pathways until you reach the trail.
The entrance to the trail looks like it might be maintenance stairs. But there's no barrier and this is indeed the start to the trail.
Before reaching the stairs, you'll pass a road which seems like it could be the entrance. But I believe it leads to a parking area and not the trail itself. We didn't take it so I can't be sure, but I didn't see it meet up with our trail.
Overview of Sunset Peak Hike
From the Tung Chung MTR to the Pak Kung Au bus stop, the Sunset Peak trail is ~9-km (5.5-mi) long and takes approximately 4 hours to complete.
The trail begins with a steep and difficult climb into the hills of Lantau Island. After completing that ascent, you'll meander through the rugged mountainside, gradually working your way higher and higher.
About three-quarters of the way through the hike, you'll reach Sunset Peak. From there, it's a steep descent down to the Pak Kung Au bus stop on Tung Chung Road.
To make it easier to follow along, I've broken the hike into several parts.
Part 1 - Steep Climb to Por Kai Shan Junction
As soon as you turn onto the trail, you'll begin climbing towards Por Kai Shan. At first, the trail is easy, concrete steps in a forested area.
After a couple hundred steps though, the trail turns into a rocky, dirt path with large boulders that require a scramble here and there.
Unfortunately, this is where the shade also disappears. Since we started at noon, the intense, mid-day sun shone on us from this point on. The lack of breeze that day also made this part difficult.
Whenever we reached a small patch of shade, I turned around to admire the gorgeous views of Hong Kong International Airport. It's the closest I've been to the airport since March 2020! During normal times, this trail would be an excellent plane-watching spot. Even that day, we saw a couple planes taking off and landing.
About 1.2-km / .8-mi after beginning the trail, you'll reach Por Kai Shan junction and meet up with the Lin Fa Shan Trail. At this point, you can keep climbing up to Por Kai Shan Peak, or take the Lin Fa Shan Trail to continue on the Sunset Peak hike.
Por Kai Shan Peak
Por Kai Shan is the first peak you'll encounter on the way to Sunset Peak. At 482 m /1,581 ft tall - slightly shorter than Mount High West on Hong Kong Island - climbing to this peak alone would be a good, short workout.
Since we were continuing on to Sunset Peak, we chose to skip the final ascent to Por Kai Shan and go around on the Lin Fa Shan Trail. However, if you want to climb Por Kai Shan on the way, you can meet up with the Lin Fa Shan Trail on the other side of the peak.
Part 2 - Lin Fa Shan Trail
Once you reach Por Kai Shan Junction, turn right to continue on the Lin Fa Shan Trail towards Sunset Peak. The trail is nicely flat at first with beautiful views of the mountains.
You'll pass the meet up with the other Por Kai Shan trail after rounding the side of the mountain. Eventually, you'll begin to climb again but the stairs are wide and gradual.
Despite the fact that this ascent seemed like it should be easier than the climb to Por Kai Shan, I was struggling. The time I'd already spent in the sun was catching up to me. And there was very little shade to be found. This is why I'd recommend hiking this trail on a cloudy or partly-cloudy day. At least you'd get some respite from the sun!
As you continue to make your way upward, you'll come across several trails leading to other peaks. Someday, maybe I'll explore these as well. But on that day, I was determined to make it to Sunset Peak!
Looking for other hikes on Lantau Island? Check out the Lo Fu Tau trail from Discovery Bay to Mui Wo!
Part 3 - Lantau Trail, Sec. 2 to Sunset Peak
After ~5 km / 3 mi, you'll reach the intersection with Lantau Trail, Sec. 2. Turn right to head towards Sunset Peak. The other direction would take you to Nam Shan Camp Site which is roughly halfway between Mui Wo and Pui O.
On the Lantau Trail, Sec 2, you'll have breathtaking views of the trail you've just hiked. Plus, you can see the airport once again over the ridges.
As you climb, you'll begin to see structures dotting the hillside. It's a strange sight on a peak that's only accessible by foot. These 20 stone chalets are known as Lantau Mountain Camp and were built by local stone cutters in the 1920s to use as a summer retreat.
These chalets are still privately owned and occasionally the owners come up to stay for brief periods of time. It is much cooler at the peak than at sea-level, so I can see why this would be a nice little getaway.
Plus, some of the chalets have incredible views of Pui O Beach below. You can also clearly see the rocky cliffside of the Temple Crag above Pui O Beach on the Chi Ma Wan Peninsula. I couldn't believe how short that peak looked from up on Sunset Peak!
Interested in hiking to the Temple Crag? Check out the Chi Ma Wan Peninsula Hike!
Part 4 - Sunset Peak
Although Lantau Trail, Sec 2 takes you up to Sunset Peak, it will not take you all the way to the summit. For that, you'll need to use one of the smaller trails cutting through the long grasses over rocky terrain.
Make your way up the side of the peak until you reach the summit at 869 m / 2,851 ft. On a clear day, you'll have amazing 360-degree views. On the day we hiked Sunset Peak, the haze made it difficult to see Hong Kong Island across the sea.
To meet back up with the Lantau Trail, Sec 2 that will take you down to Pak Kung Au, follow another tiny trail down the opposite side of the peak. These trails aren't on the map, so you basically just eye-ball it to see which one to follow.
This part of the trail was hard on my ankles and they turned several times on boulders hidden beneath the grasses. Plus the grasses cut up my lower legs and I got a weird bug bite that took weeks to heal. Pants would have been better protection for my legs but I may have melted, so I guess that's the trade-off?
Eventually we reached the well-maintained Lantau Trail again and it was a relief!
Part 5 - Steep Descent on Lantau Trail, Sec. 2
Once you meet back up with the Lantau Trail, Sec 2 after Sunset Peak, it's a swift and steep descent to Pak Kung Au bus stop. The path is mostly steep stairs made out of the giant boulders for which Lantau Island is known.
Did you know? "Lantau" means "broken head" in Cantonese. I think it describes the rugged landscape of Lantau Island perfectly!
This part is ~1.6-km / 1-mile long and you'll descend ~450 m / 1,500 ft. The steepness of the trail is similar to the initial climb to Por Kai Shan at the beginning of the hike. However the stairs make it easier than scrambling on the dirt trail.
Getting Back from the Trail
At the bottom of the trail, there's a small park with a gazebo and two portable toilets. From there, head down the final set of stairs to reach Tung Chung Road.
If you want to go back to Tung Chung to catch the MTR, cross the street and catch one of the buses heading towards the Tung Chung Town Centre. This should be pretty much all of them!
To get to other places on Lantau Island, including Mui Wo to catch the ferry, stay on the same side of the street, turn right, and walk up and over the hill to the bus stop. The 3M bus terminates in Mui Wo.
The Sunset Peak hike from Tung Chung to Pak Kung Au is a challenging but beautiful hike which explores a good chunk of the hills in Lantau South Country Park. Whether you hike directly to Sunset Peak or explore some of the other trails along the way, you'll have beautiful views and an excellent day out in nature.