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Lantau Island Hiking

Lantau Island is surprising because of its size and large country parks. It has mountains that you can hike to the top of, good beaches, and long hiking paths. Country parkland covers most of the island. After the hikes in the eastern New Territories, the hikes on Lantau are the best in Hong Kong.

  • 3 country parks (north to south): Lantau North Extension, Lantau North, Lantau South
  • Features: Hong Kong's second and third highest mountains, big natural beaches, rough hill hikes, free good campsites, small villages, secluded places for walking off trail.
  • Highlights: Lantau Peak, Sunset Peak, Pui O Beach, Cheungsha Beach, Lantau Trail, and Lantau South Country Park (22 square miles)
  • Time needed: Hiking through the whole area would take days.
  • Rigor: Moderate to difficult
  • Popular activities: Sightseeing, photography, solitude, camping, swimming, and long distance walks, visiting small villages
  • Suited to: hikers, beach goers, or visitors who want to just see the scenery
  • Claim to fame: one of Hong Kong's most beautiful and interesting natural areas
  • Free park and trail maps and pamphlets: The Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centers on Victoria Peak and at the Star Ferry in Tsim Sha Tsui has free pamphlets and maps that provide information about the various trails and country parks.

When to Go

In the autumn and until about the middle of December, Hong Kong has a relative dry season with sunny dry weather and nice hiking and camping temperatures. It is cooler and drier than the summer, and it is best for hiking and tourism in Lantau overall.

Lantau Peak Hike

  • Features: Hong Kong's second tallest peak. Great all around scenic views from the top. Easy to get to the trail from Po Lin Monastery. Rough trail on top of peak.
  • Time needed: depending on route, 1 hour (from Po Lin) to 2.5 hours (from Pak Kung Au)
  • Rigor: Moderate to difficult
  • Popular activities: Hiking, sightseeing, photography

Lantau Peak (934 meters, 3,060 feet) is the second highest peak in Hong Kong. Tai Mo Shan north of Kowloon is the highest, but access to the top is barred. But a hike to the top of Lantau Peak is fun and satisfying. There is beautiful scenery, and climbing at the summit gets a little rugged.

The hike up from Po Lin is a steep stair climb mostly, but the hike is short. However, the view is not very interesting, being mostly a view of a narrow valley, bushes, and tree limbs. The stairs are roughly hewn rocks, and these are slippery when they are wet. It may even be a dangerous climb if the rocks are slick because there is a possibility you could turn your ankle or slip and fall. At the top, the rocks are also loose.

Getting There

There are two main ways to access the peak. One is to go up the north side from Po Lin Monastery on Section 3 of the Lantau Trail (about an hour), and the other is to take the Lantau Trail Section 3 from Pak Kung Au from the east and go up from the southern side of the peak (2.5 hours).

Transport to the north side route: Bus 2 from Mui Wo to Ngong Ping. The bus takes you most of the way up the mountain. From the big bus station terminus, you can follow the signs that point to the hiking trail that is about a kilometer or a mile from the bus stop.

Transport to the south side route: from Mui Wo take Bus 3M or simply walk the 3 kilometers (2 miles) to the Lantau Trail at the Nam Shan campground. Alternatively, from Tung Chung by taxi to Nam Shan, show the taxi driver: 南山營地. The fare from Tung Chung will be a about 125 HKD.

Sunset Peak Hike

  • Features: Hong Kong's third highest peak. Excellent scenery and beautiful views, woods, and grasslands.
  • Time needed: depending on route, 2 hours from Pak Kung Au (Section 2 Lantau Trail) or 2.5 hours from South Lantau Road (Section 2 of Lantau Trail)
  • Scenery: excellent scenery in natural parkland, variety of vegetation, grassland, woods, and jungle. Long views and sea scenery.
  • Difficulty: moderate to semi-difficult

Sunset Peak is a more scenic hiking area than Lantau Peak. It measures 869 meters or 2,851 feet. It is known for its beautiful sunsets as the sun sets into the sea. The mountain is broader at top with a cluster of several peaks close together, and this provides a greater range for exploring and seeing the scenery in all directions. Lantau Peak in contrast is a single sharp peak.

A hike would take take about 5 hours, and transportation is convenient from both Tung Chung (3M Bus) and Mui Wo (by ferry). Transportation to and from Central takes about an hour each way through either location. For more detailed description of the hike and transportation, see Hiking Sunset Mountain on Lantau Island.

Lantau Trail Hike

This well-laid hiking path is a major highlight for Hong Kong hikers. There are 12 sections. Most of it is well prepared with dirt track or carved rock steps and stretches in a 70 kilometer circuit from Mui Wo to Tai O. It provides access to excellent hiking and camping areas like the two big peaks and campgrounds around Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak.

Features

  • Time needed: two or three days for the whole route.
  • Opened in 1984, it is a well-traveled trail with park posts marking every half kilometer. 
  • You'll find park benches, maps, bathrooms, fire pits, picnic tables, and tent camping areas for the use of hikers.
  • Excellent scenery and beautiful views. Jungles, woods, and grasslands. 
  • Excellent beaches at Pui O and Changsha. 
  • Mui Wo and Tai O as old village attractions on either end of Lantau.
  • Hong Kong's second and third highest peaks. 

There are two Lantau Trail branches that start at Mui O because the whole Lantau Trail is a circuit. One branch starts from Mui Wo and goes east and more northwards into the high hills towards Ngong Ping, Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak. The other starts from Mui Wo and branches south and goes along the coast on hillsides overlooking the shore.

The Southern Coastal Route

You can see some wonderful beaches and ocean scenery. The trail goes to the interesting native fishing town of Tai O on the west coast of the island that was known mainly for the houses on stilts and the seafood restaurants. It might be a good place to have a meal at the end of hike there.

Finding this southern route from Mui Wo is a little tricky however, since it is not well marked and is out of the way. From the Mui Wo ferry terminal, walk along the shore to the water treatment plant. The trail ascends up the hill from the plant.

Section 7: Leaving Tai O, you have to push your way through private land and badly made trail. But there is beautiful scenery, a white sand beach, and an abandoned village.

Sections 8 and 9: This part of the trail by the large Shek Pik reservoir to Tai O is rugged because some of Stage 9 is badly prepared and you have to push through bushes. On the positive side though, the area of the lake is beautiful, and Section 8 is paved.

Getting There

The easiest way to start the trail from Tsim Sha Tsui or Central is simply to take the ferry to Mui Wo from the Star Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. There is a half hour fast ferry or an hour slow ferry. 

Alternatively, you could take the rapid transit to Tung Chung, take the 3M bus to Pak Kung Au stop, and access the trail there for Sections 2 and 3. The 3M continues on to the Nam Shan campsite area for another place you can access the trail. To get to Nam Shan by taxi, show the taxi driver: 南山營地. The fare from Tung Chung will be a about 125 HKD.

North shore of Lantau hike: urban and airport scenery?

Tung Chung to Tai O: For a big change of scenery compared to the mountains and coast of the Lantau Trail, you can hike the hiking and biker route between Tung Chung and Tai O. It is actually a nice afternoon hike, and you'll see the contrast between modern Chinese shopping and residential complexes at Tung Chung, and little villages such as Tai O. You can finish up with dinner at Tai O.

Instead of nature, you get a dose of new urban scenery and airport scenery. Starting from the Tung Chung subway station, you'll exit out a modern huge mall and then see the airport. A lot of children and adults would enjoy watching and hearing the planes at Hong Kong's airport.

There are some nice scenic sea views as well. But the route hugs the shoreline, so you won't get to see far inland due to the thick vegetation and hills. But it is a nice change of pace from hiking on the Lantau Trail.

Olympic Trail

Olympic Trail: This short scenic route is mainly through the natural hills in eastern Lantau. The path is well paved, and dirt paths lead off it.

Hiking Off the Lantau Paths

It is difficult to walk off the main trails in most of Lantau Island because the hills are steep and the vegetation is thick, and squatter huts, farms, and legal buildings block the way. An exception to this is the area immediately above Discovery Bay walking northeast.

The vegetation there is dry and sparse for some reason and is reminiscent of a desert area. Going off the main developed trails and exploring the little valleys and hills can be really fun there. There is also an artificial lake in that area.

Lantau's Best Campsites

There are two notable big campsites that hikers could use for overnight camping or for rest and refreshment. Both of these have public bathrooms and cold showers.

Pui O Beach Campsite

  • Location: southern Lantau Island near the village of Pui O.
  • Features: Clean, good public beach with facilities such as bathrooms, free showers, BBQ grills, tables, café, tent camping site for 52 tents, lifeguard services, and shark nets. There is an outdoor adventure company there and a kiosk for renting surfboards and other equipment.
  • Activities: sunbathing, hiking, canoeing, swimming, eating, barbecuing, camping, relaxing, and surfing.

This offers quick access for a hike to Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak. The beach is broad, sandy and quite long with no rocks, so it's safer for surfing. When the waves are right, it is one of the best surfing beaches. Kayaks and surfboards can be rented.

There is both a free government-run campsite that is first come first serve and a private sandy camping area behind Ooh La La. The company rents tents and bicycles. Pui O is close enough to walk to for food and drinks, but the beach café offers Western food such as grilled hamburgers, fries and beer.

Directions: It is quite easy to reach this campground by public transport, taxi, or a China Highlights driver from Tung Chung or Mui Wo. Show the taxi driver: 大嶼山貝澳露營區. The fare from Tung Chung is 93 HKD.

To go by public transport: First take a subway or bus to Tung Chung Station and take Bus 3M to Pui O (30 minutes). Or take a ferry to Mui O, and take any bus to Pui O (15 minutes). Then walk down Chi Ma Wan Road.

Nam Shan Campsite

  • Location: southern Lantau Island in the hills above the village of Pui O.
  • Features: Clean, big campground area with with facilities such as bathrooms, free showers, BBQ grills, tables, and tent camping sites for 60 tents. It is located right next to the road for easy access.
  • Activities: hiking, eating, barbecuing, camping, relaxing.

This campground area has several campgrounds that are spread out over over a large area. You can find a variety of tent sites. This campground is on South Lantau Road.

Bird calls: While hiking and camping, you’ll hear birds. There is an amazing species of bird in southern China that makes a loud hooting sound at dawn. The sound seems amazingly loud, so people might think it is a kind of monkey. There is another kind of bird that makes an amazing jackhammer chatter as it flies interspersed with some sweet notes of birdsong. That is unusual too. You may hear a lot of other birds chirp and sing too.

Health and safety suggestions: Tap water is freely available at Nam Shan, but it might not be potable. So filter it or boil it. In the last few years, more Chinese have been squatting in the hills and staying in the campgrounds for long periods of time. Crime and harassment is increasing. Be on guard with your belongings and especially after dark.

To go by public transport: First take a subway or bus to Tung Chung Station and take Bus 3M to Nam Shan (35 minutes). Or take a ferry to Mui O, and take any bus to Nam Shan (10 minutes). By taxi, show the taxi driver: 南山營地. The fare from Tung Chung will be a about 125 HKD.

Planning a Hiking Tour in Hong Kong

China Highlights can help you design a trip that includes hiking and camping in Hong Kong. We specialize in arranging transportation and getting tickets for trips to Hong Kong and cities in Mainland China according to our clients' interests and travel constraints. We could provide private vehicles, drivers, and guides for individual and groups. We can arrange Hong Kong hotel rooms, Hong Kong and China flight tickets, and train tickets for a pleasant trip.

Recommended Hong Kong Tour Packages

Essence of Hong KongEssence of Hong Kong Tour

2-Day Hong Kong Coach Tour: Visit the local highlights on a bus. Tell our tour experts to include hiking. This tour is modifiable.

You can create your own dream trip and visit the places you want in Hong Kong and China while you enjoy hiking in Hong Kong too.

Further Reading