Lantau Trail Hikes
- Written by Nic Tinworth
Starting and finishing in the quiet coastal hamlet of Mui Wo, the 70-kilometre Lantau Trail was opened to the public in December 1984. It consists of 12 well-maintained and marked sections, with excellent visitor facilities along the way.
There are detailed maps displayed at junctions between all the sections. Distance posts every 500 metres make sure that hikers and runners alike won’t get lost.
From expansive 360-degree views from the top of some of our highest peaks, to off-the-beaten-track trails, seemingly isolated from civilisation, and the quiet and wonderfully quaint old fishing village of Tai O, the Lantau Trail offers something for everyone.
Section 1 - Mui Wo to Nam Shan
2.5 kilometres. Easy walk, about 45 minutes hiking.
It’s a rather lacklustre and dull start to such a great trail, with Section 1 starting at Mui Wo Ferry Pier and following the South Lantau Road for 2.5 kilometres until you get to Nam Shan . Fill up with drinks and food at the 7-11, then follow the Lantau Trail signs up the road. Along the way you pass a couple of small villages, like Lychee Yuen after 1 kilometre, and there are some pretty views of Mui Wo Valley soon after. Sunset Peak looms ominously in the distance - the first great test awaits! Public toilets and water taps (not drinkable) are available at Nam Shan along with a pagoda for shelter if it’s raining.
Section 2 - Nam Shan to Pak Kung Au
6.5 kilometres. Very difficult, about three hours hiking.
Surroundings get a little wilder as you make your way out of Nam Shan and up to the 869-metre top of Sunset Peak via winding trails, stone steps and paths carved out of the rock face. The higher you get, the more views are exposed, and when you pop out of the treeline at about 500 metres (it’s nicely shaded for summer hikes) you are afforded your first unobstructed view of the Pui O Valley. South Lantau’s wonderful coastline stretches south towards Chi Man Wan and west to Cheung Sha. Onward and upward you climb, hopefully with a breeze, before reaching a collection of old stone huts, built by missionaries working in southern China in the 1930s. This is a good place to stop and rest and take in the incredible 360-degree views. From these huts you face a somewhat gruelling and very exposed descent to Pak Kung Au via large stone steps, but there’s a pagoda at the bottom to rest in before your next big test - the even higher Lantau Peak.
Section 3 - Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping
4.5 kilometres. Very difficult, about 2.5 hours hiking.
Don’t let the relatively short distance of this section fool you - it’s mostly all up. Starting with a steep stair climb shaded by canopies of trees, you’ll soon find yourself on exposed, flatter trails before more stairs and undulations start, giving way to an almost meadow-like valley. The ascent can be tricky as many of the stone stairs are not sized or spaced evenly, but as with Sunset Peak, the higher you get, the better the views become. You’ll eventually find yourself looking out over the South China Sea again with the small village of Tong Fuk beneath you. Have a rest when you reach the 934-metre top of Lantau Peak - Hong Kong’s second highest mountain - because a short but jarring descent via more uneven stone stairs and boulders is all that stands between you and the Ngong Ping Plateau.
Section 4 - Ngong Ping to Sham Wat Road
4.0 kilometres. Moderate, about 1.5 hours hiking.
The original, prettier trail at the start of Section 4 was sadly washed away by a landslide in 2008, but this re-routed option still affords expansive views of Shek Pik Reservoir and the surrounding countryside. This includes Wisdom Path, the wonderful Po Lin Monastery and the towering bronze Tian Tan Buddha - impossible to miss, jutting out above the ridgelines but still in the shadow of Lantau Peak. Before you descend via Sham Wat Road to the Section 6 trailhead, be sure to stock up on food and water at Ngong Ping Village, where there is a 7-11 and some other local stores nearby.
Section 5 - Sham Wat Road to Man Cheung Po
7.5 kilometres. Fairly difficult, about 3 hours hiking.
Things start to get really interesting along Section 5: wilder, quieter, more remote. Leaving civilisation behind, you venture up from the Keung Shan picnic site, gaining elevation quickly and passing more colourful temples. The two biggest peaks, Keung Shan and Ling Wui Shan don’t get above 500 metres, but there’s still some good climbing to do. Rolling trails and views out along the south west of the island are your reward. There’s a technical descent from Ling Wui Shan, but rockpools and streams aren’t far away on the plains of Man Cheung Po, and the abandoned and beautifully designed Lung Tsai Ng Yuen is worth stopping to explore.
Section 6 - Man Cheung Po to Tai O
2.5 kilometres. Fairly easy, about 1 hour hiking.
More streams for dipping and natural dirt trails are in abundance along Section 6. Combined with tree canopy cover, this short section goes relatively quickly, and it’s not until you reach the start of the steep descent into Tai O that any murmurings of civilisation reappear. It is a very steep descent, and can be quite slippery when wet, so take care not to fall on the short concrete trail down into the sleepy traditional fishing village of Tai O. With its stilt houses and charming old customs, the village is worth a thorough investigation.
Section 7 - Tai O to Kau Ling Chung
10.5 kilometres. Very difficult, about 3 hours hiking.
It’s back onto concrete now, as you follow a relaxing, twisting coastal path to the mangroves of Yi O. Just after this village you’ll re-enter the wild side of Lantau, leaving concrete behind for more exposed, dirt trails that feel softer under foot. Kan Tau Au is an open pass between the hills, and not long after you pass the campsite to discover the historic ruins of an old fort at Fan Lau. A short diversion takes you down to a secluded beach, where you can swim or just sit under the trees to enjoy the coastal breeze. Looking around, it’s hard to believe you are still in Hong Kong. Leaving Fan Lau, you’ll head for the monotony of the Kau Ling Chung catchwater, heading uphill past mountainside streams.
Section 8 - Kau Ling Chung to Shek Pik
5.5 kilometres. Easy, about 1.5 hours hiking.
The junction of Sections 7 and 8 leads down to a campsite, and a viewing point with access to a stone obelisk. Erected in 1902, it indicates a new sea boundary after the Chinese and British governments signed the Sino-British Treaty in 1898, adding the New Territories to the colony. The rest of this section follows a shaded water catchment all the way to Shek Pik, with excellent sea views along the way and several picnic sites to stop at.
Section 9 - Shek Pik to Shui Hau
6.5 kilometres. Easy walk, about 2 hours hiking.
After a walk across the impressive Shek Pik Reservoir, looking up at the back of the Big Buddha again, you’ll drop down past a youth camp and the Shek Lam Chau campsite. The trail along here is easy underfoot and there are no hard climbs as it hugs the coast, leading you eventually to another campsite and wonderfully remote and beautiful bay - Lo Kei Wan. On a clear day you’ll be able to see the Soko Islands on the horizon, before turning your back to them as you make your way towards Shui Hau Village - one of the oldest villages on Lantau - and rejoining the South Lantau Road for a kilometre before the next section.
Section 10 - Shui Hau to Tung Chung Road
6.5 kilometres. Easy walk, about 2 hours hiking.
This entire section consists of a flat walk along water catchment systems. You walk above the beaches, villages and bays of Shui Hau, Tong Fuk and eventually Upper and Lower Cheung Sha, thriving with gleeful beachgoers in the summer, and almost deserted in the winter. Covered by trees and with ample barbeque and picnic sites along the way, it’s a good opportunity to sit and listen to the soundtrack of nature before you arrive at the old Tung Chung Road, now closed to traffic, where a pagoda comes in useful during downpours.
Section 11 - Tung Chung Road to Pui O
4.5 kilometres. Easy walk, about 1.5 hours hiking.
This penultimate section has more catchwater unfortunately, but only for the first 3 kilometres. You’ll look down into Cheung Sha for most of the way through the brush, but soon after the catchment turns to trail again and continues along the mountain contour for another kilometre under tall trees in dense woodland. A short descent via stone steps delivers you into Pui O - a village inhabited since the Ming dynasty - where the final section of your journey awaits.
Section 12 - Pui O to Mui Wo
9 kilometres. Difficult, about 3 hours hiking.
A short walk past the public school and along Chi Ma Wan Road has you skirting the public beach at Pui O - head in to Mavericks for great food, music and drinks, and a table by the beach. Otherwise, carry on through Ham Tin passing wallowing water buffalo. Hugging the coast before the road heads uphill, a left turn outside the Chi Ma Wan Country Park takes you up a healthy climb to the Pak Fu Tin Campsite, near Nam Shan. There are many places to stop and admire the views along the way here - Chi Man Wan and the wetlands of Shap Long Village lie nestled beneath you. Winding your way back down to the coast via shaded, wooded trails, you eventually catch site of Mui Wo and Silver Mine Bay, where a final short walk along the coastal path will drop you out, fortuitously, near a plethora of restaurants and bars. Your journey ends here!
Source: Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department