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Take a Hike: How to hike to the Big Buddha via Lantau Peak

By Julie Magno 21 May 2018

Header image courtesy of @lapas77 (Shutterstock)

As Hong Kong’s second-highest peak at 934 metres, Lantau Peak gives you magnificent 360-degree views over the bays of South Lantau as well as northwards towards the airport—on a clear day. You also get to cheat by starting your hike from Pak Kung Au (322 metres), which is the point where Tung Chung Road crosses the saddle between Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak, making the hike a little easier.

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Photo credit: (Instagram)

Overview & fast facts

The hike takes you along Stage 3 of the Lantau Trail, and after about three hours of ascent and descent, you can end your hike at Ngong Ping and the Big Buddha (362 metres) where you can grab a bite to eat and have a look around Ngong Ping with its monastery and the Big Buddha.

Alternatively, you can continue down to Tung Chung along the shady Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail, as we did, passing smaller monasteries, abandoned houses, and rushing streams. Hard-core hikers can continue along any one of the many trails towards Tai O, or down towards Shek Pik Reservoir, and take a bus there.

Transport options from Ngong Ping include buses and taxis to Tung Chung or Mui Wo, where you can get a ferry back to Central, or you can return in style to Tung Chung on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car and wave at all the hikers below as you glide overhead.

Distances & total times:

  • Pak Kung Au (322 metres) to Lantau Peak (934 metres): about three kilometres (two hours approx.)
  • Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping and Big Buddha: five kilometres (three hours approx.)
  • Pak Kung Au to YMCA Christian College and Tung Chung Road (via Ngong Ping): 10 kilometres (four hours approx.)

Total ascent: 617 metres

Accessibility: It is a steep-ish climb, but we met a Japanese tour group with some very elderly members, as well as a French family with three kids, none of whom could have been older than five years old. Mum’s tip was to bribe the kids with the offer of sweeties at the top; we met them on the way down and the kids certainly seemed happy enough. I guess it works.

How to get there

The easy way in is via the MTR. Take exit B and head across the plaza, through the covered bus station and towards the cable car terminus where you will find the bus stop that serves Mui Wo, Ngong Ping, Tai O, etc. You can get any one of these buses.

Get off the bus at Pak Kung Au; it’s only notable feature is that is it the saddle between Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak, and the only structures are the two bus stops. You’ll reach it about 15-20 minutes after leaving Tung Chung. If hiking at the weekend you’ll notice that all the other hikers are also making ready to get off at this point; it is difficult to miss.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

By Catharina Cheung 15 October 2019
By Amanda Sheppard 19 December 2018
Photo credit: @lapas77 (Shutterstock)

The hike

As you get off the bus, cross the road and you’ll find the start of the path. From this point, simply head up until you reach the top. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to walk clear of the bushes. After that, you will get to enjoy the views of both the airport to the north and South Lantau… to the south. At the top, take a break, get a snap of yourself by the marker, and high-five the other folk you meet up there. If the weather is bad, you can make use of a little temporary shelter that has been built there.

The descent is steep and mostly stairs. The good news is that it’s not long—about one hour—before you reach the outskirts of Ngong Ping and the Wisdom Path, a series of 38 poetry-inscribed wooden pillars. Either continue into Ngong Ping or take the path to the right and continue down back towards Tung Chung along the Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail.

Photo credit: (Instagram)

You will pass several monasteries and although not particularly beautiful in architecture, the chanting that you sometimes hear gives a mystical atmosphere to your walk. The path joins Shep Mun Kap Road where you can pick up a minibus that seems to run very occasionally or carry on walking to either join the Tung Chung Road there or cut through the car park and find a path that carries on towards Tung Chung.

We cut back on to the Tung Chung Road at the back of the YMCA Christian College, but you can carry on to join the coastal Tung Chung and Tai O path and head back that way. Another option to end your hike is to head down to Mui Wo and enjoy the dining there or at one of the beachside restaurants in Pui O or Lower Cheung Sha Beach.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Helpful tips

  1. You wouldn’t want to do this hike on a hot day. It is exposed and despite the “leg up” at Pak Kung Au, it is a still a 617-metre total ascent.
  2. You could start the hike from the Big Buddha and end at Pak Kung Au, but the Pak Kung Au and east-face of Lantau Peak is slightly easier for an ascent, as the path alternates between steps and flatter walks around contours or over saddles, so you do get a break. The path on the Big Buddha and west-face of Lantau Peak is mostly stairs; better for going down than up in my opinion. Do not attempt if you suffer from stair rage.
  3. It may seem a bit naff, but a hiking stick helps when you are going down all those stairs.
  4. As always, take plenty of water, snacks, sunblock, something warm for the top if you are hiking in the winter months, have a map, let someone know where you are going if hiking alone, etc. Make sure you have shoes with good grip, especially if wet, as the path could be slippery.
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