South Lantau is the southern part of Lantau Island, the biggest island in Hong Kong. The whole area is very green and not so densely populated. The largest town in South Lantau is Mui Wo. Just a 30-minute ferry ride from Central, Mui Wo has a number of shops and restaurants, and a long, sandy beach with barbecue pits (please note that that the beach facilities are currently being upgraded, therefore the barbecue pits are closed at the moment and there are no lifeguards on duty on the beach).
Further along the coast are a number of smaller towns, including Pui O, Cheung Sha and Tong Fuk, where you'll find a range of laid-back beach restaurants. Also accessible via South Lantau is Tai O, a picturesque fishing village with traditional stilt houses over the water.
A popular area for families, South Lantau is also home to herds of cows and buffaloes, who roam freely around the wetlands, streets and beaches.
The Lantau Trail
The largest island in Hong Kong, Lantau is a hiker's dream, with numerous trails to tread and peaks to climb. Split into sections, the 70km-long, circular Lantau Trail consists of a number of different walks of varying difficulty. Starting in Mui Wo, the first sections of the trail are tough, passing over Sunset and Lantau Peaks, bringing you out at Lantau's famous Big Buddha. From there, the trail becomes a little easier as it continues on to the traditional fishing village of Tai O before looping back along the south of the island to its beginning.
DISTANCE: 2.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 0.75 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 1/3
Getting there: Take the ferry from Pier 6 in Central to Mui Wo.
Starting at Mui Wo ferry pier, head to your right and then turn left at the roundabout onto South Lantau Road. Follow the road as it winds uphill to Nam Shan, where you will find a resting area with benches, barbecue pits and public toilets.
DISTANCE: 6.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 2.75 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 3/3
Getting there: Take any bus from Mui Wo bus station. Get off at the Nam Shan picnic area as the bus climbs up the hill.
Starting at distance post L005 at Nam Shan, climb the stone steps and follow the path past the helipad. The trail is shaded in places at first, but soon opens up to views back over Mui Wo. At post L010, keep left, and continue the climb up Sunset Peak, the second highest peak on Lantau at 869m. Keep to the left as you go, heading towards Tung Chung Road, which runs between Sunset and Lantau Peaks. At post L013, a number of huts will come into view. The path does not directly go over the peak's summit, however it is possible to take a detour to the top if you wish to do so.
The views from the trail as it heads downhill are incredible, with stunning vistas of the South Lantau coast and the uninhabited Soko Islands. This second section of the Lantau Trail ends at post L018 at Pak Kung Au, where you will find picninc spots on both sides of Tung Chung Road.
From here, you can catch the bus to either Tung Chung or Mui Wo.
DISTANCE: 4.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 2.25 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 3/3
Getting there: Take the bus from Mui Wo or Tung Chung and alight at Pak Kung, the highest point on Tung Chung Road.
Without doubt the hardest section of the Lantau Trail, stage 3 starts at distance post L018 on Tung Chung Road, and involves a steep climb to the top of Lantau Peak, including many steps. The highest point on Lantau, and the second highest in Hong Kong, Lantau Peak rises 934m above sea level and offers incredible panoramic views of the island. A shelter sits at the top to provide refuge in case of bad weather.
Almost as tough as the climb to the top is the descent towards Ngong Ping, with large, steep steps that can be rather hard on the knees. Keep going until you reach a resting area, with picnic benches and maps of the area. Here, the path splits, the left-hand track heading downhill towards Shek Pik reservoir. This is a very pleasant walk, but is not part of the Lantau trail. The Wisdom Path, with 38 columns featuring Buddhist prayers, is located here.
DISTANCE: 4km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 1.25 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 2/3
Getting there: Take bus number 23 from Tung Chung, bus number 2 from Mui Wo, or the Ngong Ping cable car from Tung Chung.
If you are starting from Ngong Ping, follow the signs for the youth hostel. Keep going until you reach the Wisdom Path. Here, 38 wooden columns tower over the hillside, each inscribed with Buddhist prayers. The junction here also affords beautiful views over Shek Pik reservoir with its 700-metre long dam.
From the Wisdom Path, follow the signs for the Lantau Trail. When the trail meets the path from Tung Chung, keep to the left. At the next junction, bear right and head head through the retail village at Ngong Ping to Ngong Ping Road.
To your left sits the Big Buddha, a 34-metre-high bronze statue at the top of 268 steps overloking the Po Lin Monastery.
If you're ending your hike here, you can take the number 11 bus to Tung Chung or the number 1 or 2 bus to Mui Wo. If you are carrying on, head downhill until you reach the junction with Keung Shan Road.
DISTANCE: 7km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 2.75 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 2/3
Getting there: From Mui Wo or Tung Chung, catch the bus towards Ngong Ping or Tai O. Alight at the first stop after the Tai O Road junction and walk back to the start of the trail.
Starting at the intersection of Sham Wat Road and Keung Shan Road, section 5 of the Lantau Trail begins at distance post L035, where you will find a picnic site set back form the road. From here, follow the path uphill. After around 1km, the Kwun Yam Temple of Keung Shan, one of the best known temples on Lantau Island, will come into view to the right. The trail is easy to follow, although challenging at times, with peaks of 459 metres at Keung Shan and 490 metres at Ling Qui Shan.
At the crossroads, continue uphill and keep left at distance post L041. When you reach post L045, head towards Man Cheung Po. Look out for the colourful flying dragon sculpture as you head downhill. 6 metres long, the dragon overlooks the Man Cheung Po plain.
At post L049, take a right and follow the path until you reach Lung Tsai Ng Yuen, a striking, deserted villa, which is sometimes open to the public. If you are ending your hike here, take the path downhill, keeping to the right as you do so. Follow the service road to Tai O Road where you can catch the bus to either Tung Chung or Mui Wo.
If you are continuing your hike, just keep going straight ahead.
DISTANCE: 2.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 1 HOUR. DIFFICULTY RATING: 2/3
Getting there: Continue on from stage 5 or take a bus from Mui Wo or Tung Chung towards Tai O, alighting as the bus heads down into the Keung Shan Valley. From there, follow the country park road to distance post L050.
Starting at Man Cheung Po, stage 6 of the Lantau Trail starts at distance post L050. Trees provide some relief from the sun along parts of the trail. You will soon reach the village of Leung Uk. Pass the children's playground on the left and continue on to Tai O, where you can catch buses to Tung Chung and Mui Wo.
Tai O is well worth a visit while you are there. This picturesque fishing village is unique in Hong Kong, with traditional stilted houses sitting above the water and views over to the north of Lantau from the top of the hill.
DISTANCE: 10.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 3 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 3/3
Getting there: Catch a bus from Mui Wo or Tung Chung, or take the ferry from Tung Chung pier.
Starting at Tai O, head south to join the trail. With the sea to your right, pass by the village houses. At ditance post L058 you will be presented with two options: to follow the newer path to the left, which joins back up with the original trail at post L074, or to stay on the old trail. On the old trail, you will find a resting place and a public toilet. Keep going to Yi O bay where you will come across a temple.
At post L062 the concrete path disappears, however keep going, and follow your nose through the greenery and back to the coast, where the path runs along the beach. Heading inland again, the path then climbs, passing the Tsin Yue Wan campsite before heading downhill towards the southernmost point of Lantau - the abandoned village of Fan Lau. Continuing through the village, the path climbs once more, offering great views of the beaches below.
Stage 7 ends above Kau Ling Chung beach at the catchwater, where you can choose to either head back to Tai O via the newer path, or continue on the stage 8.
DISTANCE: 5.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 1.5 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 2/3
Getting there: Stage 8 of the trail is usually accessed via stage 7.
Continuing on from stage 7, stage 8 of the Lantau Trail starts at the entrance to the Kau Ling Cheung Campsite. Nearby, there is a viewing point which affords fantastic views of the surrounding area. Follow the trail along the catchwater towards Shek Pik. The path is well shaded and has a number of picnic areas, as well as more great views. This section of the trail ends at Wang Pui Road, where you will find public toilets.
DISTANCE: 6.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 2 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING: 1/3
Getting there: Take any bus from Mui Wo or Tung Chung towards Tai O or Ngong Ping. Alight after the bus crosses the Shek Pik dam.
Starting at Wang Pui Road, walk across the Shek Pik dam, which separates Shek Pik reservoir from the prison. To your left, high up in the hills, is the Big Buddha.
After crossing the dam, follow the trail markers and head past the Red Cross Youth Camp. Continue on along the stone and sand footpath. The path eventually starts to climb, with large stone steps rising up the hill. The other side of the peak, the path descends and becomes shaded. Passing a beach on the right, the path then ascends again via more stone steps. Eventually, the trail meets a service road. Turn left here and make your way into Shui Hau village until you come to distance post L100. From here, you can catch the bus to Mui Wo or Tung Chung.
Getting there: Take any bus from Mui Wo or Tung Chung towards Tai O or Ngong Ping. Alight as it approaches Shui Hau village.
Starting at Shui Hau, follow the trail uphill and inland. Turn right when you come to the catchwater. Barbecue pits can be found along the way. At this stage, you have the option to head left towards Lantau Peak, however stage 10 of the trail continues on along the catchment to the old Tung Chung Road.
DISTANCE: 4.5km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 4.25 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING 1/3.
Getting there: Take any bus from Mui Wo or Tung Chung towards Tai O or Ngong Ping. Alight at Tong Fuk village. From there, head uphill towards Lantau Peak until you find the picnic area at distance post L113.
Starting at the old Tung Chung Road, this section of the Lantau Trail follows the catchwater. At distance post L117 you can enjoy a fantastic view over Cheung Sha. The catchwater ends at post L119. From there, the path continues along the hillside, with some steps and wooded areas along the way until it reaches South Lantau Road at Pui O village. Here, take a left into the village, where there are shops and restaurants, and you can catch a bus to either Mui Wo or Tung Chung.
DISTANCE: 9km. DURATION: APPROXIMATELY 3 HOURS. DIFFICULTY RATING 2/3.
Getting there: Take any bus from Mui Wo or Tung Chung towards Tai O or Ngong Ping. Alight at Pui O village, just before Bui O School.
Starting at Bui O School in Pui O, follow the road towards the beach and cross the bridge to Ham Tin Village. Continue on through the village until you reach a temple at distance post L124. From here, head inland to post L126, where the trail turns left and heads uphill. The climb is fairly steep to start with, but becomes easier.
At post L130, the path heads steeply downhill towards Nam Shan, with steps leading down as far as the Pak Fu Tin campsite. Continue on along the path and then a the road towards Mui Wo. Silvermine Bay will come into sight after post L135. Keep going, past Mui Wo Southern District Secondary School until you reach Mui Wo ferry pier. You are now at the end of the Lantau Trail.
From Mui Wo, you can catch the ferry to Central or a bus to Tung Chung.