Hiking | hikes for the christmas holidays - 4 levels
It’s time to do something that takes advantage of the cool weather and something that can remind you that life isn’t all about being stuck on the train, rubbing shoulders with strangers in the street or staring at a screen.
At Christmas. December. The weather (hopefully) cools down to where you reach for your jeans and a jumper, but not quite enough for feather jackets.
The familiar red and green glow of the Christmas lights reflects on the calm ripples of the harbour and you breathe in the cool sea breeze.
Then it dawns on you. You have days off coming soon. You’ve been working so hard that you’ve almost forgotten that days off exist, and who can blame you? It’s time to do something that takes advantage of the cool weather and something that can remind you that life isn’t all about being stuck on the train, rubbing shoulders with strangers in the street, or staring at a screen.
Level 1: sai wan battery (length 2.6km, estimate 1hr)
If you’re meeting up with friends that you never get to see for lunch and have a family dinner in the evening, this is the perfect afternoon hike for you!
This hike takes you up the hill behind the Lei Yue Mun Holiday Village and Heng Fa Chuen, and offers a wide view of the east side of the harbour, the Kai Tak cruise terminal, the Tseung Kwan O district as well as a glimpse of the ocean beyond. It’s relatively short, doable within two hours round trip, depending on how long you stay at the top of course.
The story here is that the holiday village was a barracks for the British army and this gun battery was built in the late 1800’s and is the ‘sister installation’ to the battery on Devil’s peak just across the harbour above Lei Yue Mun (not for holiday makers).
The walk from Shau Kei Wan station isn’t short, so I would recommend taking one of the many buses that stop at the Lei Yue Mun Holiday Village stop. From Hong Kong island, the 85, 8X, or 780 and from Kowloon, the 606 or 106 also stop here.
After you get off, head towards the holiday village. Just before the entrance, you’ll see a sign on your right for the ‘Sai Wan Fort Morning Trail’, head up the steps, and follow the concrete path all the way to the top. You’ll pass some derelict structures and at the top, there’s a scenic spot for you to enjoy the view.
Level 2: nam long shan (brick hill) (length 4.7km, estimate 2hrs)
Ocean Park tickets aren’t cheap, I completely get it. But what if I told you you can get close enough to hear the screams from the roller coasters without paying a dime?
This hike is longer than the last one - I would give it a full afternoon, 3-4 hours at a leisurely pace with generous sightseeing breaks or a picnic at the top. One can reach this trail either by exiting Wong Chuk Hang station using exit B for the cooked food market and going up Nam Long Shan Road. Alternatively, the 72A from Causeway Bay and 107 from Kowloon also reach Nam Long Shan Road. Continue toward Singapore International School and then Canadian International school, but the road gets narrow after that so watch for cars coming behind you. The entrance of the trail will be some steps on your left. It’s mainly stairs from this point onwards and the path is open enough to offer wide views of the harbour around Ap Lei Chau as well as the aforementioned partial view and sounds of Ocean Park’s rides.
On a sunny day, it can get warm but with the cool December breeze, it should be a comfortable spot to take in the sights of the Southern District and Lamma Island in the distance.
Level 3: tung lung chau (length 8.9km, estimate 6hrs)
Remember to bring some sunblock for this one as there’s very little in the way of shade, which also means there’s little to get in the way of an amazing view. Tung Lung Chau is an island across from the Clearwater Bay golf club that offers great views of the Southeast of Hong Kong Island as well as the oceans beyond. There are ferries to the island from Sai Wan Ho and Sam Ka Tsuen on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays but it is important to note that you must have the timetable for these ferries on hand when you go - you wouldn’t want to be stranded on the island to fend for yourself overnight. Allow at least 4 hours for hiking alone and maybe an extra hour or two for breaks.
A lot of the trails on the island are paved with concrete, though they do ascend and descend quite quickly at points. The island essentially has one trail that takes you around the outer edge and then up to where there’s a helipad and air navigation installation. To return to the ferry pier from there, I would recommend going back the same way you came though on one occasion I did take a rather overgrown dirt path that goes straight down the hill. I came back in one piece but I wouldn’t recommend it. The island also has a few shops and restaurants, convenient for buying water before your hike or for a snack afterward.
Level 4: high junk peak (length 6.3km, estimate 3hrs)
This one is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is oh so rewarding. Imagine taking that final step needed to stand up on the summit and being greeted by the strong cool wind rushing up the mountain; an expansive view of endless hills, islands and water. That view really hits home the feeling of having really achieved something. It’s about the furthest thing from a dull day at the office that you can get to - ironically - within a few hours of your office.
Take either the 103, 103M or 16 to Ng Fai Tin, there’s a green pavilion right next to the stop that marks the start of the trail towards Sheung Yeung Shan. On the ascent, you’ll reach a fork in the road, take the one on the left towards Miu Tsai Tun. After summiting a first peak, you’ll have a clear view of High Junk Peak ahead. The rest of the journey is rough with quite a few sections that involve scrambling, so watch your footing and take it slowly. After summiting High Junk Peak, continue heading down towards Ha Shan Tuk and Po Toi O for the return journey.