Hiking in Hong Kong – Five Tips for Beginners

After three weeks of stalling, last Sunday I finally had to give in and join my friends in one of the main activities of Hong Kong: hiking. First of all, I have to give you a bit of background info: I’m a 21-year-old girl that considers clubbing on Saturday nights cardio. I barely exercise. But for some reason, I was an optimist about this “hike”.

So here I was, a person with almost zero hiking experience, taking the MTR to Lantau Island. We have decided to hike Tai Tung Shan (Sunset Peak), which is the third highest peak in Hong Kong (856 meters). Yeah, I googled that before going. And yet, I did not foresee that for a super lazy city girl maybe it was a tad ambitious to go for it. But I did.

We got there at noon. We made a quick “let’s eat something and go to the restroom” stop. And after some minutes we were ready to go. I was still an enthusiast.

I was surprised to discover that most of the way up was covered by rock stairs. Of course, some parts of the trail were made of soil, grass and some pebbles; but mostly, from the beginning to the top, it was just an endless stairway. I was three minutes into the hike when I realised that it was going to be a long, long, long day.

I am not going to bore you with the details of how I was always the last one to reach the resting points, or of how I fell four or five times in the most humiliating ways. It got to a point where I started to use photography as an excuse to stop because I was entirely out of breath. And then it got to the worst point in which I didn’t even care anymore: I just stopped whenever I felt like it. No shame. I didn’t think I was going to make it.

However, as incredible and illogical as it may sound, I managed to get to the top and back. And it was completely worth it. The views were love, and overall the experience was quite fun — when you leave aside the fact that I felt like I was having a stroke multiple times. Nevertheless, I recommend it.

If you have never hiked before, perhaps you should start with Victoria Peak or something of the sort. If your friends are going and you don’t want to miss out, you can rest assured: if I manage to make it, then you will too. And here are some tips on how to survive Sunset Peak as a beginner:

1. Shoes

Not all sneakers are the same. I usually go for Adidas Boost collection. Most of those models are pretty general. If you own a pair of Adidas sneakers, I would say chances are you own one of the models of this collection. But Boost sneakers are no good for hiking because they’re made for running. You want to take something a bit more sturdy, something that holds your feet in place and has a sole with more texture.

2. Water

AT LEAST ONE LITRE. It was not my case, but some people thought that it was not worth it to carry around a bottle of water (because of the weight). But believe me, you barely feel that weight, and you are going to need tons of water.

3. Food

Again, not my case (because for me food is life and I would carry it around all my life if it were necessary), but some people thought that it was not worth it to bring their lunch to the top. But it was. Super worth it. Plus, you get to have a nice meal with a spectacular view.

4. Pick what you want to take with you thoughtfully

Aside from water and food, there are not a lot of things that you’ll be needing up there. Maybe a jacket, maybe your phone. For me, my camera is always a must. But that’s me. You have to take into account that every single thing that you decide to bring with you is a thing you will have to take care of. And if you are a beginner, such as me, you are going to have more than enough taking care of yourself. So give it some thought. Really.

5. Relax, take it easy

It’s okay if you’re slow. Even if it takes you a while if you take your time you will make it to the top eventually. Do not try to go fast just because you feel like you are staying behind. If you do, you’ll probably fall; and if you get too hurt then for sure, you will not make it. Take care of yourself first. And, of course, enjoy the hiking.

Here you have some of the photos I took, so you can picture how the journey looked like from where I was standing (always at the very back of the group). If I had to describe the experience, I would say it was quite challenging, but also quite rewarding. So, the bottom line is: give it a go, guys. You might like it, just as I did.

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