Header image courtesy of @joexwong (via Instagram)
Named after the hill of Keung Shan that lies on the southwest of Lantau Island, the Keung Shan Country Trail is often overshadowed by its more famous or challenging neighbours such as Lantau Peak or Sunset Peak.
To pass over Keung Shan completely would be a mistake though, as this hike has much to offer, leading you past Ling Wui Shan hill and offering splendid views of Shek Pik Reservoir and Kau Ling Chung, before ending with the option to finish the day in the picturesque fishing village of Tai O. Here’s our guide to hiking the Keung Shan Country Trail.
An overall smooth trail with some rocky sections makes this hike a pleasant one to embark on. The only factor bumping its difficulty level up to moderate is the fact that this relatively long journey contains no rest points along the way, and does not really have shaded sections. While not too difficult, the way may also be slippery during Hong Kong’s wet seasons, so be sure to watch your footing.
For clarity’s sake, our guide does not only cover the Keung Shan Country Trail—we have elected, as many hikers have before us, to combine Keung Shan with a sojourn past Ling Wui Shan and Lung Tsai Ng Yuen for a more interesting hike with more to see, including a secret Chinese garden!
Should you choose to follow the entirety of the Keung Shan Country Trail instead, it will lead to the southern coastline of Kau Ling Chung, where there is nothing particularly worthy of note apart from an obelisk demarcating territory boundary from the Sino-British Convention.
If a nice sea view and a bit of history is your cup of tea, then by all means follow the full Keung Shan Country Trail instead of our guide, but should you want a hike spiced up with a little mystery, then read on!
Distance: 9 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 382 metres approx.
Total time: 4 hours approx.
From Tung Chung MTR station, hop onto bus 23 towards Ngong Ping or bus 11 towards Tai O. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry to Mui Wo from Central Ferry Pier 6, and then change to bus 2 from Mui Wo Ferry Pier. Whichever bus you decide on, alight the bus at Sham Wat Road stop. The start of the Keung Shan Country Trail is located opposite the junction where Sham Wat Road meets Keng Shan Road, marked as the Lantau Trail.
Almost immediately, the Keung Shan Country Trail puts you on an incline with some flights of stone stairs, but fear not—the ascent will not be too strenuous. Enjoy this initial climb up the slopes of Kwun Yam Shan, as well as the view of Shek Pik Reservoir to the east. You will not be going all the way to the top, just skirting along the hill mid-way up. Soon, the path dips down onto a ridge, which will display Keung Shan looming up ahead. The climb is not that daunting, and the trail meanders upwards in a vague zig-zag pattern, interspersed with flights of stairs.
From this hilltop, the path lightly dips and rises intermittently as it trails downhill—very smooth and easy-going. It is during this descent where you will encounter the junction that, should you take the left turning, will take you down the rest of the Keung Shan Country Trail proper towards Kau Ling Chung. Waiting at the end of this fork lies a fine little beach at the Kau Ling Chung campsite, a viewpoint, and the South Lantau Obelisk, erected by the British to mark its extended territory as laid out in the Sino-British Convention of 1898.
We recommend ignoring this turn and forging ahead to the next junction instead, which leads to Ling Wui Shan. At this second junction, you could take the right fork and head straight towards Man Cheung Po, but hey, we’re not quitters, so take a breather and a sip of water, then follow the yellow signage and take the left path up to the highest peak on this hike. Before you heave that sigh, we only meant the highest peak in terms of elevation, and since you’ve already scaled Keung Shan by this point, the actual climb up to Ling Wui Shan will actually be shorter.
No matter how tired you might be feeling, the slightly undulating slopes of Ling Wui Shan are more than pleasant to witness. Come autumn, these hillsides will be largely covered with silvergrass and other reeds, making for a lovely sight and a fetching set of Instagram posts. At the summit, give yourself a well-earned pat on the back and enjoy the view. Looking south, you will be able to see the little bay of Fan Lau Tung Wan as well as Kau Ling Chung—another reason why we didn’t recommend actually hiking down there, as you can see it from this peak anyway!
Take care as you make your way down Ling Wui Shan, because the initial descent is the steepest part of the whole hike. Past this section, the trail winds downhill gently as it brings you around the northwestern side of the hill. At the forked junctions that come up, simply keep following the signs towards Man Cheung Po until you reach the Man Cheung Po campsite, from which you will start following signage directions to Tai O instead.
What we reckon is the most interesting part of this hike actually comes up near the tail-end of the journey. Past the campsite and down some steps, the trail will lead past Lung Tsai Ng Yuen on the right. This old private villa and landscaped garden apparently used to be a famous scenic spot and was built by Woo Quen-sung in 1962. Initially serving as his private retreat, the Ng Yuen Garden was later opened to public visits and enjoyed some popularity, but since Woo’s death, the estate has fallen into disrepair and is now derelict.
What makes these grounds particularly fascinating is that it houses a rare example of the Nine-turn Bridge, an architectural style favoured for landscaped gardens during the Song dynasty, where the deliberate turnings of the bridge offer different views of the surroundings. Ng Yuen Garden’s Nine-turn Bridge stretches out across a lotus pond, leading to a hexagonal pavilion out on the waters. Although largely abandoned, Lung Tsai Ng Yuen is still private property, so we would not exactly advise venturing in, but the lotus pond and its zig-zag bridge can be seen from the trail—a glimpse into the now-secret garden of Lantau.
Leaving Lung Tsai Ng Yuen, take the forks at junctions that point northwest towards Leung Uk Tsuen. Eventually, the trail will encounter a steep concrete path and when you reach the little village playground, bear right for the road that will take you to the Tai O Bus Terminus, where you can spend some time enjoying food, refreshments, and a nice dose of the rural life, before hopping onto bus 11 back out to Tung Chung.