Lantau Peak is the second highest peak in Hong Kong at 934 meters. It’s Section 3 of the Lantau Trail, which has a total distance of 70 kilometers. This section leads you to the Lantau Peak and then eventually to Ngong Ping, where the largest outdoor sitting Buddha is located in Lantau Island. It’s a lung-buster with a total ascent of about 600 meters just in the first 2.5 kilometers but the trek is worth the view of Lantau Island, the neighboring Sunset Peak and the Ngong Ping.
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I’m probably in Hong Kong about once or twice a year and that also means that I’ve been to about every attraction they have to offer. I reverted to their trails, which are friendly to trekkers since it’s properly marked and you can easily search for the directions going to the start area. Anybody can easily trek their trails as long as they have enough lung power to endure the climbs. Last year, I did the Dragon Back trail, which is the last leg of the Hong Kong trail and I enjoyed that experience. This year, I did Lantau Trail and the Lion Rock trail (will tell you about it on the next post). Since I’m mostly staying in Tung Chung when I’m in Hong Kong, I’ve always wanted to trek that mountain in front of me. I have to try even a piece of the Lantau Trail so I selected the highest part of the trail which is the Lantau Peak. This would also be a good way to reach Ngong Ping Village and the World’s Largest Outdoor Sitting Buddha, which I have already visited previously via Ferry Boat and Bus and also using the Cable Car.
The Map and Elevation
The start of Lantau Trail is at Mui Wo Ferry Pier but if you want to go straight to section 3, which is Pak Kung Au to Ngong Ping, take bus 3M at Tung Chung Bus Terminal. It’s a few blocks away from Citigate and it’s near the Cable Car Station. Advise the driver that you’re going down at Pak Kung Au since most of the passengers would be heading to Mui Wo, which is a common beach attraction. The start of the trail is on the other side of the road at Pak Kung Au. It’s an uphill climb starting at Pak Kung Au with about 600 meters ascent for the next 2.5 kilometer to reach Lantau Peak. The trail descends for the next 2 kilometers with about 500 meters worth of elevation heading to Ngong Ping Village.
Trekking Lantau Peak
The Lantau Trail is about 70 km from Mui Wo Pier and goes around the mountain to get back at Mui Wo Pier. It’s divided into 12 stages, which has an entry and exit point so you can choose to cover one or two segments at a time. Stage 2 covers the Sunset Peak (869 meters) and Stage 3 has the Lantau Peak (934 meters). I opted to go to Lantau Peak since it’s the higher peak and it leads to a Ngong Ping Village, which is a popular tourist attraction. Section 3 starts at Pak Kung Au and you get to see the trail marker above. The trails are properly marked and you follow a single track all throughout.
You start to climb via stone steps and that’s a lot of stone steps as you get to go over steps like this for about 800 meters. This is the portion that’s a bit shaded so you won’t feel the heat of the sun much. Since it’s a continuous accent, expect the lungs to go on overtime here. It was a struggle really as the uneven steps is a bit of a challenge since you have to take bigger steps, which requires more effort and the vertical climb, literally, takes your breathe away. I would take a breather after about 100-200 meters of trekking.
There are trail markers for every 500 meters. Stage 3 of Lantau trail is from L018-L027 so that’s about 4.5 kilometers. That’s one way of getting the distance. For me, I was more focused in monitoring the elevation so after 800 meters, I was about 500 meters above sea level. It also means I would be climbing more than 400 more meter of steep ascent. The climb is steep especially with the stone steps.
From a covered trail, the trail opens up after about 800 meters. You get to see the mountain range. At your back, you can see sunset peak and on the far end, you can see Lantau Peak. Yes, it’s still a long way. You start getting to feel the heat at this point since it’s about noon already. I think I was among the few crazy ones in the trail at the hottest time of the day.
There are a few flats and moderate inclines on the traverse from one mountain area to another. You’ll barely notice them since they are short and at the same time leads to a higher incline. I took it as a chance to rest but the thing is it was hard to stay on a spot for a long time as you’ll really feel the heat of the day and you’re gonna lose your momentum too. There are no shades too so a few seconds drinking break, rest and go on again. There are some section where you get a mountain breeze and that’s the best spot to rest.
At your back is Sunset Peak and it’s also covered with fog. Sunset Peak is about 869 meters and you’ll see it often in the route especially when you rest looking back so you’ll forget for a short while that it’s still a long trek. The heat, humidity and the forever climb makes this a mentally challenging route. Good thing, phone reception is good at this area, I can check my online accounts here and upload some photos too.
There are several traverse so at times, you’ll feel that you’re seeing the peak and once you get to that area, you see another set of climbs. This is about 500 meters to the peak and it feels like forever. I’m now a believer of forever (Yes, May forever). The view is awesome as get to see the mountains from all angle at this point.
The last 500 meters is probably the hardest as the stone steps gets bigger and the climb gets steeper. It’s much cooler at this part though as you get to enjoy the mountain breeze and foggy surroundings. I was doing 30 seconds of climbs and 30 seconds of rest to appreciate the views.
While the peak is the highlight of the climb, you can’t help but appreciate each steps that led you there. There are views from each angle. Each breathless moment is worth it’s while. It was both an appreciation of the view and effort going through the last 100 meters of the climb. It’s the journey and destination that makes the climb worth it.
Finally, the second highest peak in Hong Kong. I read that the highest peak is occupied by a weather station so the Lantau Peak is the highest area accessible to trekkers. It’s not as high as other mountains I’ve climb but it was a great character building climb as it’s an almost direct assault and I was doing this alone. It was foggy at that time so the most you can enjoy is the view. It’s about 2 kilometers away from Ngong Ping,
The road down should be easier right? Well, not really as it was more technical going down as we have to navigate big uneven stone steps. It’s less taxing on the lungs as it requires less effort but it still takes its toll on the knees when you go too fast.
It’s a single track stone steps heading downward and there are some area covered by trees which is an excellent place to rest. It’s a bit safer than dirt tracks but navigating it is much slower as it takes longer to cover each step. It felt like descending forever and that’s about 1.5 kilometers worth of continuous descent. How I wished I had my trekking pole with me.
After 1.5 kilometer of descent, it shifts to a flatter surface and less technical route. You also get to see the Giant Buddha from a distance. It’s time to speed up on this part and finish the trail.
When you see the wisdom path, you are now approaching the end of the trail. I’ve been to the wisdom path before coming from Ngong Ping so this already familiar territory. You get an option to exit at Ngong Ping or proceed to the Stage 4 of Lantau Trail at the food of the Wisdom Path. I opted to go to Ngong Ping as planned and head back to Tung Chung.
From the trails, you get to regular roads as you go to the more popular side of Ngong Ping. I saw the site where a tree grew into a house. Not necessary an ancient attraction like Ta Phrom in Angkor Wat but it’s such an irony seeing nature growing into a cemented area.
Finally at the site of the Giant Buddha and I can say I’ve finally reached this area by foot. I took some refreshments and ice cream to replenish lost water in my system and went home in style via the Cable Car. I had a choice to take the bus but I wanted to have a different look at the trail from the cable car ride.
I got to appreciate another part of the trail as I discovered just below the cable car was another trail called, the rescue trail. It’s basically a part wooden / part cemented path in the middle of nature that can take you back to Tung Chung in about 2-3 hours by foot. Well, some other time.
I also saw a falls beside the trail below the cable car. You get to pass by the falls when you take the rescue trail. I also saw a lot of people enjoying the trail as it’s an excellent training ground with its rolling terrain. There area is also heavily forested, which is among the things Hong Kong was able to preserve.
After the Cable Car ride, I was back in Tung Chung to take my lunch. That was a great Tale of The Trail. I really appreciate the effort they did on the trails that makes it easy for trekkers to navigate. It’s a good way to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.
Outfit of The Trail
- Top: Berghaus with #TaleOfTheTrail Design by Breakout Design
- Bottom, Socks and Sling Bag: Under Armour
- Shoes: Newton BOCO Sol
- GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit 3 Sports
- Visor: 2XU
- Camera: GoPro Hero 3+