Although Hong Kong may be more well known for it’s nightlife than it’s hiking, the trail system around Hong Kong does not disappoint. Hong Kong has well over 300 km of well marked hiking trails, and what better way to explore Hong Kong and it’s surroundings then by hiking it! The Big Buddha (Tian Tan) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong, situated on Lantau Island, which is relatively close to the airport. It can be reached via the Lantau Trail.
The Stage 3 Lantau Trail ascends Lantau Peak (934 masl) and continues on to the Big Buddha. It is classified as a very difficult hike, which I more or less took into consideration upon commencing the hike, thinking something along the lines of “This can’t be worse than the Rockies”. Ha. It quickly ascends at a very steep gradient, consisting mostly of stone steps up to two feet in height. Closer to the peak, the steps are about knee high. Switchbacks do not exist here. Let’s just say my quads were burning and legs were shaking uncontrollably by the end of it.
During most of the ascent, the fog clouded most of our views so that we had no idea what would be coming next. It gave it a bit of an ethereal feeling to it, as if we were walking into the unknown.
During the descent the fog started to lift, bringing the Big Buddha into view! The landscape was lovely, and by the time we reached the Big Buddha the fog was entirely lifted.
What you need to know to hike the Stage 3 Lantau Trail:
Total Distance: 4.5 km
Approximate Time: 2 to 3 hours, depending on fitness level
Take the ferry (Pier 5) to Lantau Island, then take the 3M bus located just outside the Mui Wo ferry terminal. Get off at Pak Kung Au (ask the bus driver if unsure as this isn’t a popular stop, and you don’t want to miss it!).
Once at the Buddha, you have more than one option. You can take the bus back to the Mui Wo ferry terminal, or you can treat yourself and take the gondola back (worth it if the sky is clear) for $185 HKD.
What to Bring: Lots of water, sunscreen, good shoes
Difficulty Level: Challenging
For more information about the hike, visit the government of Hong Kong’s website here.
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