The Braemar Hill hike takes you up to one of the best viewing platforms to watch the sunset over Hong Kong. It has a few names and this hike is often also referred to as, Hung Heung Lo Fung or the Red Incense Burner Summit. The hike itself is very short with an option to hike 3km in total or you can even reach the summit with just a 5-minute walk from the nearest bus stop!
BRAEMAR HILL HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: We began the hike at Mt Butler Road. The trail from here took us 3-kilometers to reach the Red Incense Burner Summit or Braemar Hill. Along the way, on this route, we found lots of other impressive viewpoints so it was a good route to take. However, when we finished at the Red Incense Burner Summit, we took a short way down and it was literally a 2-minute walk to the nearest bus stop next to St. Joan of Arc Secondary School.
Hike Duration: The total duration for the hike was one hour of walking time but with all the time at viewpoints and waiting at the summit for the city lights to come on it was more like three hours.
Hike Difficulty: The hike was very easy with a simple trail the whole way. There was hardly any incline and it would be suitable for children or even taking the dog for a walk.
Hike Incline: Our route had about 120-meters of incline
HOW TO GET TO AND FROM BRAEMAR HILL/RED INCENSE BURNER SUMMIT
I suggest you take the same route as we did so you get to visit all of the other viewpoints along the way. If you just go up and down from St. Joan of Arc Secondary School, you will only see Red Incense Burner Summit and no other viewpoints.
To reach the starting point you will need to take the MTR to Admiralty station and then catch the 24M bus to Mount Butler Block C & D. This is where the trail begins. You can put that address into Google Maps. Once you arrive there, put either Braemar Hill or Red Incense Burner Summit into your maps and follow the trail along the road. Be sure to dart off at all the unnamed rock viewpoints along the way.
When you finish at the Red Incense Burner Summit (after visiting the other spots and Braemar Hill), you will walk down for 2-minutes to the bus stop near St. Joan of Arc Secondary School and catch the bus back to Admiralty or whichever MTR you need to get home.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE BRAEMAR HILL HIKE
I began the day in Tsim Sha Tsui but saw that the weather was shaping up nicely after a few cloudy days. Braemar Hill is known as a great sunset spot so I headed off on the train across to Central and then caught the bus up to Mount Butler region. I didn’t know much about the trail, specifically the fact that you can reach the viewpoint in just two minutes from the other side. However, it turned out to be a great route that I chose because the other viewpoints along the way were incredible as you will see below.
The trail begins on a road with quarries and other construction sites on either side of you. Lots of the hikes in Hong Kong have started off in kind of weird surroundings on the edge of suburbia and the jungle. The first kilometer or so was very uneventful and a slow meander along the side of the road.
After a couple of kilometers we were now on a small path, surrounded by trees and enjoying being immersed in nature. The city was behind us and out of view except for the moments where gaps in the tree gave us a glimpse of the buildings below. The key to getting the most out of the Braemar Hill Hike is to venture off the main trail at any given opportunity. 90% of the trails we veered off onto led to great viewpoints. You need to have an adventurous mindset.
The first viewpoint was at the bottom of a small river, which at the time was lacking any water at all. We had a look down the river and followed it for a minute until we reached a clearing, looking out over the city. We had lots of time on our hands so made it a point to stop and chill at each viewing platform.
The next viewpoint came after a little bush trail led us out to another mangificent rock platform.
Before we had even made it to the first turn-off we again veered off the track to reach another viewpoint. None of this would have been possible had we come from the other direction, which is why it’s best to come from the Mount Butler Block side.
The trail continued on until we reached a small sign on the left of the route. It was in Cantonese but you need to turn left here to reach the ultimate viewpoint, ‘Red Burner Incense Summit’.
Shortly after this sign, you will again veer off to the left of the main track down a short dirt path to my favorite viewpoint of the whole hike. Here there are a few big boulders you can sit on with great views of Victoria Harbor, Kowloon and Central. We stayed at this viewpoint all the way up until sunset, which is when we made the final move to the end viewpoint, where the rest of the hikers had assembled.
The Braemar Hill Viewpoint is a little bit higher or you can head to the Red Incense Burner Summit down a little lower. We chose the latter as it had some nice boulders, completely surrounded by trees that created the perfect vantage point. Braemar Hill is only a short walk above and is much the same as were all of the viewpoints in this region. We watched the sunset come and go before the sky fizzled out and the city lights came on.
There were several guys out with their tripods and long exposure set-ups getting after some night photos. It’s a good place to bring a tripod for night shots if you are into that. I just sat my camera on my bag to get a couple of snaps but I’m sure the pro’s next to me came out with some great shots.
I hope you enjoy the Braemar Hill Hike and the Red Incense Burner Summit viewpoint. I also hope you get a nice sunset. Remember for the early viewpoints, begin the hike at Mount Butler Block a & B.
TOP 4 PLACES TO STAY IN HONG KONG
Best Value Hotel: Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay – This 4-star hotel in Hong Kong Central is just $73 and looks like a luxury resort worth 4-times that amount.
Best Hostel: Alohas Hostel – For less than $12 USD, you have a great location in a clean and simple hostel.
Best Value Luxury Hotel: Hotel ICON – $140 for a 5-star hotel with an epic pool. Need I say more!
Best Hiking/Adventure Base: Hotel Stage – In Kowloon and right next to lots of epic hikes, a gateway to the hikes in the New Territories. 4-star ultra-modern and a great adventure base.
Want a more detailed breakdown? I wrote the biggest ever guide for where to stay (and why) in Hong Kong! You can check it out here: WHERE TO STAY IN HONG KONG: BEST AREAS & HOTELS
BEST TIME TO HIKE IN HONG KONG
The ‘best’ time to visit Hong Kong will depend on a few factors. The biggest factor will, of course, be the weather. All of these hikes I did were in my month-long stay during December 2019. The weather was quite chilly as it was winter but the sun was still out on at least 60% of the hikes. In the day it was warm most of the time but I always had a jacket for at the summit. The suggest months for hiking in Hong Kong are:
Winter: December to February – Mild weather and pretty comfortable for hiking. Minimal rainfall and still lots of sun during 2/3 of the days. I would suggest the winter after having experienced it myself.
Spring: March to May – Unpredictable weather with some sun and some clouds, Humidity is now rising quite high. Rainfall can happen regularly during the spring.
Summer: June to August – This is not an ideal time to hike in Hong Kong. The humidity is at it’s highest, temperatures can reach 30 degrees daily and rainstorms can be frequent. There are beaches in Hong Kong, more than you would imagine but they aren’t all necessarily close to where you will be based in Hong Kong Central or Kowloon.
Autumn/Fall: September to November – This is rated as the best time to visit Hong Kong. You have nice sunny weather but humidity is at it’s lowest for the year. Rainfall is also low during these months.
PRE-BOOK YOUR 4G SIMCARD FOR HONG KONG (AIRPORT PICKUP)
Before I arrived in Hong Kong, I pre-booked my 4G sim-card for pick-up at the airport. It gives you unlimited data for 5 days of traveling in Hong Kong at 4G speeds. As soon as I arrived at the airport, I walked to the stall, the guy put in my new sim-card and activated it and I was connected from the very first moment. You can Click Here to pre-book your 4G sim-card here and you’ll be surprised it’s actually cheaper to book it in advance.
Book yours now: Pre-Book 5-days Unlimited Data 4G Sim Card
PRE-BOOK YOUR 4G OCTOPUS CARD
You will need to purchase an ‘Octopus Card’ and then you reload it at the machine at the subway station. I pre-ordered my octopus card through Klook, which meant that when I arrived at the airport I simply picked the card up at the Klook counter and caught the train to my accommodation. It saved me from catching an expensive taxi and figuring out the Octopus card later.
You simply scan in at the station you enter and scan out where you exit and the fee is deducted from your card. On the bus, you will pay a fee depending on how much of the route is left and you only scan the card once for a fixed rate. I found moving around in Hong Kong very cheap, efficient and safe.
Click Here to pre-order your Octopus Card with 100 HKD credit loaded onto the card. Pick-up at the airport desk. 100HKD is good for 6-8 train rides and then you can top it up as you go.
Book yours now: HKD 50 Pre-loaded Octopus Card
CHEAPEST AIRPORT PRIVATE TRANSFER SERVICE
The airport in Hong Kong is on Lantau Island, which is about 40-minutes away from Hong Kong Central and 30-minutes away from Kowloon. If you don’t want to bother with public transport, you can book a private transfer that will pick you up at the airport and drop you to your hotel (or vice versa picking you up at your hotel and dropping you to the airport). It’s actually not that expensive and can save you valuable time. The cheapest option is actually the coolest and is in a Tesla car, which is pretty cool. I did this to and from the airport for less than $40.
Book yours now: Hong Kong Airport Transfer in Tesla
KEEP READING! CHECK OUT ALL THE BLOGS FROM MY HONG KONG SERIES
A complete guide to the best things to do: 27 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN HONG KONG
My favorite hikes in Hong Kong: 21 AWESOME HIKES IN HONG KONG
How to plan your Hong Kong trip: 3-DAY HONG KONG ITINERARY FOR ADVENTURE-LOVERS
The biggest ever guide for where to stay in Hong Kong: WHERE TO STAY IN HONG KONG: BEST AREAS & HOTELS
My favorite EASY hikes: 10 EASY HIKING TRAILS IN HONG KONG
The most luxurious places to stay: THE TOP 10 LUXURY HOTELS IN HONG KONG (5-STAR LIST)
The ultimate adventure: EPIC HONG KONG HELICOPTER TOUR FROM THE PENINSULA HOTEL
The toughest overall hike: WEST DOG’S TEETH HIKE ‘HARDEST HIKE IN HONG KONG’
Best waterfall hike: TAI MO SHAN HIKE: THE HIGHEST PEAK IN HONG KONG
ARE THERE HONG KONG HIKING AND TOUR GUIDES?
While I did all of my hikes independently, there are a number of affordable tours that will either take you on a private hike or add you to a group experience. I’m comfortable organizing the route, transport, and logistics for a hike in a new region because I’ve done it hundreds of times but if you prefer to have a local lead you then I can recommend checking out the links below, which offer guided tours of some of the hikes you will find on this list. The website to book through is Klook, which is a trusted platform for booking activities and employs local hiking guides who have tons of experience.
They range from $50-$100 and all the other details can be found by clicking on the links below.
Guided Hike: Lion Rock Hiking Tour
Guided Hike: Dragon’s Back Hiking Tour
Guided Hike: Lantau Peak Sunrise Hike
Guided Hike: Tai Mo Shan Waterfall Hiking Tour