The walk from Park View, on Hong Kong Island, to Stanley Gap Road takes about an hour and a half – more or less, depending on your level of fitness.
It’s a tough trail because it contains the famous (some would say infamous!) 1,000 steps – which are actually 1,100 steps – and there is virtually no shade at all, at any point.
You must make sure you have lots of water – that is very important! On one occasion I came across a couple who had not taken any water with them. They were sitting under a bush and they were in a pretty poor way.
Luckily, they had done all the climbs and only had to make their way down the steps to Stanley Gap Road. I gave them the remains of my water and let them know it was all downhill from then on – they looked pretty relieved!
There are different places from which you can start, but I’ve always got myself up to Park View and started from there. That requires a taxi, since the public busses don’t go up to Park View.
If you’re restricted to a bus, though, you could take a 6, 6a, 73 or 260 from Central and get off just past the Hong Kong cricket club, by the petrol station.
You will then need to cross the main road and walk up the path beside the Park View road past the Wong Ngai Chung Reservoir towards Park View.
About 50 metres before the top of the hill you will see the Wilson Trail signposted – it’s a path going off to the right, that takes you up and past the Park View residential complex.
Once you’re on the trail that’s it – you just need to follow it all the way to Stanley Gap Road.
As is pretty typical of Hong Kong, the weather started off rather overcast on the day these pictures were taken, but had cleared up by the time we got to wander around Stanley itself.
So, setting off, this is shortly after leaving from Park View. You can see the edge of the residential complex on the right in this picture, which is looking back at Hong Kong Island:
The first peak you come to is Violet Hill. This is actually higher than The Twins, but if you’re starting from Park View, you’re already three quarters of the way up the climb, which makes getting to the top easier!
From Violet Hill you drop steadily down to a point that’s just above Repulse Bay on your right (to the east) and Tai Tam Reservoir to your left (west).
At this point two trails intersect and, if you’re feeling the heat or just don’t fancy tackling the 1,000 steps, you can either turn left and follow the Tai Tam Waterworks Trail to Tai Tam road and catch a taxi from there, or turn right and follow the trail around the hill, following the road, until it intersects again with the Wilson Trail.
However, if you’re doing the 1,000 steps, this is where you start!
One piece of advice I received many years ago, when I started doing these trails, is to halve your pace when you start the climb but keep going until you get to the top.
Slow and steady all the way to the top is a lot easier than stopping to take rests on the way up.
The reason is because every time you stop to take a rest your heart rate drops and, when you re-start, you have to get your heart rate back up again but there is no warm up opportunity.
The first step you take when you re-start is the next step up the hill.
If I remember correctly, my best time up the 1,000 steps is 17 minutes, and that’s following the slow and steady approach by halving the pace I was doing as I dropped down from Violet Hill.
Once you get to the top of the 1,000 steps, though, the feeling of accomplishment is fantastic. And so are the views!
This is looking west, and that is Tai Tam Reservoir you can see down there:
And this one is looking back to where you’ve come from – that is the track you followed down from Violet Hill, which is the highest peak on the right side of the picture:
The Twins are so called because from the top of the first one (at the top of the 1,000 steps) you drop down a bit and then climb up to the top of the second one (it’s a very small drop and climb).
Once you reach the top of the second Twin you can see your destination – that’s Stanley down there and at the bottom right of the picture you can see a bit of the trail going down to Stanley Gap Road:
From here on it’s all downhill!
You follow the steps down to Stanley Gap Road, where you will come out at a bus stop.
You should take care, though, because if your knees are a bit suspect you should remember that it’s a long way down, and be sure to pace yourself.
At least on the way down you can take a break every now and then without the need to worry so much about your heart rate!
When you get to Stanley Gap Road you should definitely wait for a bus. You could walk to Stanley from there, but the road is so narrow that it’s dangerous for pedestrians as there’s very limited space for vehicles to pass.
Once you get to Stanley, you can look back at the second Twin and see the trail you came down:
When I do this walk, I look for a public toilet as soon as I get to Stanley and change out of my hiking clothes (which are always soaked with sweat by this time) before going to find something to drink and eat.
Once I’ve recovered, I then walk around Stanley for a while, so the following pictures were taken when the weather had cleared up – as you can see!
Stanley has two beaches: a small one on the east side of the peninsular looking towards Stanley Bay – that’s where these two pictures were taken:
And taken from the same spot but looking the other way:
The other beach is on the west side of the peninsular. It’s Stanley’s main beach and it’s one of the locations in which the annual dragon boat races take place every June:
And this is looking out at Tai Tam Bay, from Stanley Main Beach, where the dragon boat races are held:
Stanley is a nice location. It has a famous market, but on weekends it gets incredibly crowded – so much so, that I long ago avoided going there over a weekend.
The weekdays are far more pleasant!
The market has some interesting stalls, but don’t expect any particular deals – the prices are very much ‘tourist’ prices.
Still, I found some nice prints of historic Hong Kong (from the 1890’s) some years ago, which I love, and there are lots of other interesting and nice things to be found there.
There are also lots of restaurants facing Stanley Bay, so plenty of opportunity to get your fluid levels back up!
If you’re not up to doing the Wilson Trail the best way to get to Stanley is:
- Bus from the Central bus terminus at Exchange Square. You want numbers 6, 6A, 6X, 66 or 260
The taxi fare is around HK$130 – 150, the bus fare is around HK$3
Have you visited Stanley? Tell us about it in the comments!
The Expat Traveller