The mountainous archipelago of islands that make up Hong Kong in its totality are often overlooked in favor of the skyscrapers of the eponymous island. For those who like to get outdoors, however, there are some superb hiking opportunities less than an hour away from the frenetic hustle and bustle more usually associated with this prosperous and commercial enclave of the PRC. Twice the size of Hong Kong Island, Lantau has just a fraction of the 1.3 million population of its more cosmopolitan neighbor—just 50,000 inhabitants scattered across its 146 square kilometers.
Disneyland, the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha are among its many attractions, but with over 50% of the island dedicated to national park land, there's plenty of open space to go around. The 70 km Lantau Trail circumnavigates the island and is broken up into twelve sections, all offering breathtaking views of rugged hillsides and the South China Sea. Tackling the whole thing in one go is only for serious hikers who are fit and well-equipped. Otherwise it's better to pick a section and enjoy a leisurely day's walking or spend a few days exploring, staying in one of the many campsites or hostels along the way.
I visited Lantau over the summer and took on the first two stages from Mui Wo to Pak Kung Au, which made for a glorious (and tough in places) 9 km hike in the sweltering hot August sun. Remember to take plenty of water with you because there's nowhere to top up; the same goes for food. There are however, plenty of spots to stop along the trail and enjoy a picnic lunch along with the incredible views.
The circular trail starts and finishes in Mui Wo (also known as Silver Mine Bay), which is easily accessible by ferry from Pier 6 in Central. From the ferry terminal, head across the car park toward the HSBC bank by the roundabout, stocking up on any last minute supplies at the the nearby convenience store (water, snacks, sunhats, insect repellent etc). At the HSBC, turn left and follow the South Lantau Road as it loops back up behind it and you've started on Stage One. This first 2.5 km may be a steady uphill slog along the concrete roadside but just think of it as a warm up for what's to come!
The Central-Mui Wo ferry operates every 40 minutes. Check here for schedule and fares.
|Stage||Route||Length (km)||Time (hr)||Difficulty|
|1||Mui Wo → Nam Shan||2.5||0.75|
|2||Nam Shan → Pak Kung Au||6.5||2.75|
|3||Pak Kung Au → Ngong Ping||4.5||2.25|
|4||Ngong Ping → Sham Wat Road1||4.0||1.25|
|5||Sham Wat Road → Man Cheung Po||7.5||2.75|
|6||Man Cheung Po → Tai O||2.5||1.0|
|7||Tai O → Kau Ling Chung||10.5||3.0|
|8||Kau Ling Chung → Shek Pik||5.5||1.5|
|9||Shek Pik → Shui Hau||6.5||2.0|
|10||Shui Hau → Tung Chung Road||6.5||2.0|
|11||Tung Chung Road → Pui O||4.5||1.25|
|12||Pui O → Mui Wo||9.0||3.0|
Easy Walk Fairly Difficult Very Difficult
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