One of the things I like about Hong Kong is its easy access to nature with an abundance of hiking trails amid varied landscapes. Believe me, there’s more to Hong Kong than just skyscrapers and shopping malls.
The last time I was in Hong Kong, I spent a few days on Tai O, a small fishing town on the western coast of Lantau Island, with my family. The oldest existing fishing village in Hong Kong, Tai O is a slow-paced and picturesque town.
As it was our first time visiting Tai O, I thought it would be fun to explore the village and some parts of Lantau Island on foot. So we embarked on the ‘Tung O ancient trail‘, which used to be the main route for villagers to travel between Tai O and Tung Chung.
As we were staying in Tai O, we started at point 7 in the map above and walked around 16 kilometres from point 5 to point 1 in Tung Chung. The trail is mostly paved and makes for an enjoyable walk. We took around six hours to complete it.
We followed the main creek in the village, passing various stilted houses over water in Tai O village.
Soon we arrived at the coast of Lantau, near Yeung Hau Temple in Po Chue Tam. Built in 1699, this is the biggest temple in Tai O and is surrounded by various hills named after creatures such as the lion, elephant, tiger and phoenix.
Leaving behind the little concrete blocks and stilt houses, we continued up a hilly coastal path lined with shrubs. This is probably the most physically demanding part of the entire trail and my mother had to take a little breather in between.
This is a lovely walk with expansive panoramic water views. We passed various coastal habitats such as mudflats, mangrove forests and rocky shores.
Along the way, we passed small farms and little villages, stopping at one of the villages for some refreshments. There were a few lonely-looking abandoned buildings – I presume that their previous occupants had left for the city.
Towards the end of our walk, we could see aeroplanes landing at and taking off from the Hong Kong International Airport. In the foreground were small fishing boats slowly crossing the bay.
As we approached the end of our walk, tall residential buildings in Tung Chung new town could be spotted in the distance, creating a striking juxtaposition against the small village houses in their rural settings. I hope that the concrete towers will keep their distance and not encroach upon the rustic areas that cover the rest of Lantau island.
Getting to Tung Chung is easy as there is the Tung Chung MTR station. There are various ways to get to Tai O by public transport:
- Bus 11 from Tung Chung Town Centre, which takes around 40-60 minutes
- Ferry from the Central Ferry Pier 6 to Mui Wo takes around 35 minutes on the fast ferry,followed by Bus 1 from Mui Wo to Tai O for about 45 minutes
- Bus 21 from Ngong Ping village, which is home to the Big Buddha monument, takes around 20 minutes
- Ferry from Tung Chung takes around 30 minutes
The Tung O Ancient Trail is suitable for most people and is a great way to discover a different side of Hong Kong. Bring plenty of drinking water and apply some sunblock as the path is mostly unshaded.