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3 Great hikes on Lantau Island, Hong Kong

Shaded by canopies of banyan trees and waxy palms, the trail meanders past old orchards and abandoned huts.

Lizards resting along the path and fiddler crabs on the beach skitter away at the crunching sound of our approaching feet.

We’re stepping out on one of the hikes on Lantatu Island in Hong Kong.

Hikes on Lantau Island

Eventually, after following the shore of a tidal creek, we reach the quaint fishing village of Tai O (and its fascinating Kwan Tai Temple).

In Tai O, corrugated-iron houses perch on stilts over streams.

Hiking to Tai O stilt village is popular on Lantau Island
Hiking to Tai O stilt village is popular on Lantau Island

Old men play mah jong and sell dried salted shrimp in the streets.

And villagers live the same unhurried pace they’ve lived for generations.

Hong Kong hiking

It may come as a surprise, but there are many great Hong Kong hiking trails!
It may come as a surprise, but there are many great Hong Kong hiking trails!

This is Hong Kong?

True, the city is better known for its dizzying shopping, neon-lit skyscrapers and the energy of people, people everywhere.

But more than 70% of the territory’s land mass is made up of rural mountains, forests and over 200 outlying islands.

Almost half of Hong Kong is protected by 23 country parks.

There are more green spaces, hiking trails and beaches, all close to the central action, than most cities can boast.

You don’t usually think of green spaces and quiet nature parks when you think of Hong Kong, do you?

Nature lovers will find tons of things to do in Hong Kong for kids and adults.

When the fancy strikes, it’s easy to flee into the great outdoors!

We love hiking – and we have to tell you that the hikes in Hong Hong really are quite a treat.

Hikes on Lantau Island

Take lush, hilly Lantau Island.

Hong Kong’s largest island, it’s popular with day-trippers who catch the ferry over to visit (a 30- to 50-minute ride).

Many come to see the world’s largest seated outdoor Buddha.

The big Buddha is probably the most popular attraction on Lantau Island
The big Buddha is probably the most popular attraction on Lantau Island

Sitting atop a mountain at the Po Lin Monastery, the 110-foot high bronze Buddha has drop-dead views of the island and surrounding emerald waters. 

But to gaze at what the Buddha sees, you have to climb 268 steps to reach the base on which he rests.

The monastery also serves delicious vegetarian lunches, prepared by grey-robed monks.

The Po Lin Monastery is just steps away from the Big Buddha
The Po Lin Monastery is just steps away from the Big Buddha

From there, you can enjoy one of the best hikes on Lantau Island – the Tai O hiking trail.

1) Tai O hike

From the Big Buddha, this hike takes you mostly downhill, some four miles through the countryside to Tai O.

Tai O stilt village on Lantau Island
Tai O stilt village on Lantau Island

The tiny stilt village of Tai O is a trip back in time.

A wide creek splits it in two.

On some weekends, you can still cross from side to side on the slow rope-pulled ferry that was operated by old women of the village for 86 years, until a new drawbridge was built in the mid-1990s.

Stroll Tai O’s streets, and you can’t help but feel the pressures of modern-day life fall away.

What do we have here? Dried squid and other seafood for sale in Tai O
What do we have here? Dried squid and other seafood for sale in Tai O

Children ride rusty bicycles, ding-a-linging their bells as they weave in and around gawking tourists.

At the Kwan Tai temple, devotees burn incense and pray to the goddess of the sea.

Wandering into an old Chinese calligraphy shop, we watch the silver-haired proprietor mix inks for his paintings and weigh supplies on ancient balance scales.

A caligrapher mixes inks in Tai O store

2) Hiking the Lantau Trail

There’s also the Lantau Trail.

A circular 44-mile hiking route, divided into 12 sections, it winds through forests of acacia and pine trees.

Lantau Trail, Hong Kong
Some sections of the Lantau Trail are easier than others

Some sections are relatively flat and easy. Others? Well, let’s just say you’re gonna know where your thighs are the next day.

Wildlife is plentiful. Birds, butterflies, lizards – and yes, even snakes and spiders – are spotted.

On the coastal cliff section that we walk along one day, there isn’t another soul in sight. Talk about escapism!

3) Mui Wo hike

Hiking to Mui Wo
A sign points the way to Mui Wo

Another day, we hike to Mui Wo, where no-frills seaside eateries serve tasty prawn and duck specialties.

Apart from a few other hikers, the only living creatures we encounter on this trail are cranky cows.

Hong Kong hiking - Mui Wo
Silver Mine Bay at Mui Wo

Now you know about hiking Lantau Island!

So don’t forget to pack your sneakers or hiking boots when you visit Hong Kong!

Because there are oodles of places to stride out, enjoy nature and get away from it all. And the hiking trails on Lantau Island offer some of the best hiking in Hong Kong.

Experience more of Asia!

Read our essential posts on:

Thailand | From Bangkok’s gilded temples to Phang Nga Bay’s dream islands, check out the bucket list places to visit in Thailand.

Yangon, Myanmar | Best expat bar? Where to shop? Why could dentists make a great living? Discover 25 fun and useful Yangon travel tips and facts.

China | Zhangjiajie is a hidden treasure if you love mountains, nature and hiking. Here’s a 4-day Zhangjiajie Avatar Mountains itinerary for luxury lovers.


Have you enjoyed any hikes on Lantau Island?

What’s your favorite Lantai Island hiking trail? Let us know in the Comments below.


Photo credits: 2, 7 to 9, 11 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Nicole Webb

Monday 16th of June 2014

Gorgeous post! Showcases HK in its true glory. The side most people don't expect to see!

Kathryn

Tuesday 16th of April 2013

I've enjoyed exploring your blog. Some great photographs here. There is still time to enter my travel photography competition if you'd like to!

Janice and George

Tuesday 16th of April 2013

Glad you've enjoyed exploring our blog :-) And thanks for the kind words on our photos...

Sophie

Saturday 20th of October 2012

Unusual take on Hong Kong this. Very interesting.

Leigh

Monday 15th of October 2012

I'd actually heard of hiking in Hong Kong and understood it to be quite good. The stilt village looks like a very interesting place to visit.

Janice and George

Monday 15th of October 2012

Yes, you'll have to visit Hong Kong! In the meantime, enjoy your upcoming Utah hiking trip. Should be great...

Beatrice

Monday 15th of October 2012

Been there - done it ! You captured the ambiance and spirit of the place...I also loved hiking the trail, except these days it would take me longer. Good things can be said of some things that never change.

Janice and George

Monday 15th of October 2012

Thanks for your comment! We've hiked all over the world, and Lantau Island is one of our favorite hiking spots - perhaps because it's so unexpected to find nature so close to the buzz of Hong Kong city. (Plus we love having hot Asian food for lunch, rather than sandwiches :-)