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Your ultimate guide to the Lantau Trail

By Enoch Ngan 16 December 2022

Header image courtesy of Enoch Ngan

Neighbouring the towering skylines of Hong Kong sits the luscious island of Lantau, where citizens get away from the hustle and bustle of the high-paced city life for a relaxing stroll along beautiful beaches. Alongside priding itself on having some of Asia’s best hiking trails, thousands of iconic Hong Kong photos were taken along the coasts and peaks of Lantau Island. Opened on 4 December 1934, the Lantau Trail is the third-longest continuous trail in Hong Kong that loops around massive mountains and ancient villages. 

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Overview and fast facts

Stretching over a tremendous 70 kilometres, the Lantau Trail includes points from Mui Wo Beach to the Tai O Market. The trail is separated into 12 stages, each with wonders of its own. Each section varies in different lengths and difficulties, allowing hikers to pick and choose their own adventure when travelling to Lantau Island. Since the Lantau Trail’s creation decades ago, multiple maps and checkpoints have been sprinkled along the trek to inform hikers of the area around them. Along the rocky paths and sandy beaches are wooden distance posts that tell hikers of their position in comparison to the entire trail.

For those living either in New Territories or Hong Kong Island, there are multiple ways of getting to and from the Lantau Trail. Ferries at Pier 6 in Central leave several times a day to Mui Wo Beach. We recommend leaving Lantau by this ferry at night, with the ability to get stellar views of the glimmering lights of Hong Kong for just a few bucks.

The MTR station in Tung Chung also operates throughout the day late night, with an attached shopping mall with dozens of food options and shops. Arriving in Lantau by MTR is ideal since the Tung Chung bus terminal is just a short walk away. With hundreds of buses leaving from the Tung Chung hub every day, making your way to any point on the Lantau hiking trail should be a walk in the park. Those hoping to start their trek at Mui Wo should travel by bus 3M, while those starting at Tai O should take bus 11.

If anything goes array during one of these hikes, a bus stop is likely just a stone’s throw away from your position. If you are unsure which buses you should take, the New Lantau Bus website has information about where and when their buses leave from the Tung Chung bus terminal. Remember to charge your phone and bring a battery pack!

Total distance: 67 kilometres approx.

Total difficulty: Beginner to intermediate

Total ascent: 4,057 metres approx.

Total time: 70 hours approx.

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1

Mui Wo to Nam Shan

Section 1 is a relatively easy warm-up for those hoping to trek the more challenging paths ahead. Many hikers consider this hike a relatively leisurely stroll into a transition into Section 2. Several potty houses and restrooms are placed along the trail for hikers to prepare for the long road ahead. As mentioned before, hikers can either take the Mui Wo ferry from Central or bus 3M from Tung Chung to get to this spot.

Distance: 2.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 45 minutes

2

Nam Shan to Pak Kung Au

Although probably one of the hardest stretches of the Lantau Trail, Section 2 passes by a beautiful lookout known as the Sunset Peak. Visiting this trail at either sunrise or sunset to catch a glimpse of Nam Shan’s golden sunlight reflection is an unforgettable experience. Due to its infamous rocky trail pathways, there are multiple resetting stops at small huts for hikers to take a sip of water and recharge. However, hard work pays off, as always, and this path is known for having the most beautiful views of Lantau. Exclusive flat spots are spread across this trail, making it a popular destination for campers and hikers.

Distance: 6.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

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Photo: Minghong (via Wikimedia Commons)
3

Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping

On days with clear skies and cool weather, Section 3 is a must-do for all hikers seeking a rewarding challenge. Claiming the second-highest peak in Hong Kong, trekking through this hike awards travellers with stunning views of the vast hills and mountains of Lantau. Several camping spots are located along the road, with benches and gazebos to recharge your mental and physical batteries. Remember to bring a GPS and watch out for misleading pathways customised for professional hikers looking for an adventure.

Distance: 4.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

4

Ngong Ping to Sham Wat Road

Section 4 has the best perspective of Ngong Ping’s acclaimed Big Buddha. While hiking to the Ngong Ping Village, several points on the left offer spectacular views of the statue. Once at the village, travellers are welcome to use the public restrooms or restock on food and water. Additionally, many tourists take this trail alongside visiting Lantau due to its easy access and straightforward paths.

Distance: 4 kilometres

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

5

Sham Wat Road to Man Cheung Po

Beginning at the Keung Shan Picnic Site, Section 5 starts with views of lush forests and beautiful nature. The path continues into Lung Tsai Ng Yuen, a breathtaking lake villa that was landscaped by businessman decades ago. Although overgrown and old, the villa is still a novelty for travellers passing by. With barely any shade or trees to cover under, make sure to dress for the weather when going on Section 5.

Distance: 7.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

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Photo: WiNG (via Wikimedia Commons)
6

Man Cheung Po to Tai O

As the second-shortest hike on the Lantau Trail, Section 6 to Tai O is a relaxing saunter downhill under shaded trees and flat rocks. Finishing by the popular tourist attraction of Tai O, many hikers are welcome to grab a quick snack or souvenir from the street vendors.

Distance: 2.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 1 hour

7

Tai O to Kau Ling Chung

Starting from the Tai O Village alongside the waters of Lantau’s coasts, Section 7 holds beautiful views throughout the hike. The long trail includes passing by isolated clean beaches with stellar vantage points sprinkled along the road. With amazing views of the awe-inspiring nature, there are thousands of reasons why Section 7 is a favourite amongst hikers.

Distance: 10.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 3 hours

8

Kau Ling Chung to Shek Pik

Attached right after the exhausting hike on Section 7 is the tranquil trail through Kau Ling Chung. However, keep in mind that a bit of coasteering on medium rocks is necessary for getting across the beach. Apart from some clear outlooks on Lantau beaches and mountains, Section 8 continues with simple concrete roads with a water catchment.

Distance: 5.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

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9

Shek Pik to Shui Hau

Despite being one of the easier hikes on the Lantau Trail, Section 9 prides itself on amazing lookouts and peaceful views of the South China Sea. A beach and campsite are both situated along the path, allowing hikers to rest and enjoy the wonderful scenery. Being a moderately difficult hike, the path ends at the village town Shui Hau, where travellers can grab a quick lunch or snack and use the public restrooms.

Distance: 6.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 2 hours

10

Shui Hau to Tung Chung Road

Similar to Section 8, walking from Shui Hau to Tung Chung road on Section 10 is a rather uneventful path. Although a slow ascent up to the Tung Chung Road from Shui Hau can prove a little difficult for inexperienced hikers, the paved road above, also used for cyclists and runners, is a simple walk through campsites and concrete bridges.

Distance: 6.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 2 hours

Photo: Minghong (via Wikimedia Commons)
11

Tung Chung Road to Pui O

The Tung Chung Road continues through Section 11 as a relatively easy paved road path for hikers and walkers alike. Shaded areas and open views make this section more like a solitary stroll in the park rather than an actual hike.

Distance: 4.5 kilometres

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes

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Photo: @cpig.jpg (via Instagram)
12

Pui O to Mui Wo

The Lantau Trail ends with a beautiful trek through townhouses and high vantage points. With a wonderful perspective of the beaches of Lantau, this section is by far the most popular portion most hikers venture on. Easy flat roads mixed with challenging climbs make this section an exciting journey for everyone. Passing through the coastlines of Mui Wo is a breathtaking waltz of its own, with the ability to see Hong Kong’s distant skyline on a clear sunny day. Those starting from Pui O can finish their day off at the restaurants located in Mui Wo. For more information about this specific hike, visit our article and video here.

Distance: 9 kilometres

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 3 hours

What to bring and remember

Being prepared is almost as important as the hike itself. Running out of water or money can cut your adventure short and ruin your fun for the day. Don’t forget to bring these essentials on your next journey to Lantau.

Photo: Enoch Ngan

Hiking shoes or waterproof shoes

Mossy rocks and wet slabs await you on the Lantau Trail, so make sure you bring shoes with good grip in case your situation gets dicey. Waterproof hiking shoes are also a giant plus, with the possibility of climbing through streams or walking on rocks during a slight drizzle.

Check the weather beforehand

Although hikes should ideally be taken during cool breezy days, sometimes the weather may go array. Ensure your safety by checking all possibilities of what the day of your hike’s weather may be like, and bring sunscreen, umbrellas, or raincoats accordingly. Also, wear hiking-appropriate clothing when going on the Lantau Trail. For your information, short sleeves and pants are not going to cut it in the harsh winds of December.

A gallon of water and even more

Water makes up 70 percent of our human body for a reason. Imagine that every step you take drains a percentage of your human resources of water. Making sure you drink enough water throughout a physically challenging activity, like hiking, is vital to hiking healthily. You can either bring a giant water bottle from home or buy giant bottled water at nearby convenience stores before hiking.

Some money to buy snacks and dinner

Eating a quick, nutritious bar is probably all you need to finish that last stretch. Before going out for any hike, such as the Lantau Trail, either pack a healthy snack or bring enough money to buy a small meal for the myriad of vendors on Lantau.

A phone and battery charger

Hiking without any GPS back-up is a disaster waiting to happen. Running out of battery mid-hike will leave you stranded if you are unfamiliar with the trail. Hikers should always have a charged phone and battery bank with them at all times when hiking.

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Photo: Lanáltiran Enguerrade (via Wikimedia Commons)

Lantau, in general, might be hard to reach for most hikers from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and New Territories due to its long travel times. However, finding a day to wander along the coastlines of this sensational island is a memorable experience you will never forget.

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Enoch Ngan

Writer

Enoch is an Asian-American born in California who studied in Hong Kong when he was younger. While in Hong Kong, he enjoys going on hikes with breathtaking scenery and catching up with old friends and family. If you ever see him around, he always has music playing in the background, whether that be exploring the city or simply relaxing at home.

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