Last Updated on November 7, 2021 by queenie mak
Tung O Ancient Trail (大嶼山東澳古道) is a 14km hiking trail in Lantau North Country Park in Hong Kong. The trail is also known as Tung Chung to Tai O Trail because it used to be a footpath between the two neighbourhoods.
Today, the Tai O hike is popular for those who enjoy a long and relatively flat trail. As a bonus, the scenic hike ends in Tai O, where you can explore the quaint fishing village and catch a beautiful sunset.
In this post, I”ll show you exactly how you can spend the day hiking the Tai O hiking trail and explore Tai O in Hong Kong.
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What you need to know before starting the Tai O hike
Before you start hiking the Tung Chung hiking trail, take a look at my Hong Kong solo travel guide and get an overview of HK first.
And here are few additional tips for the Tai O hike:
- The best time to hike the Tung O Ancient trail is late autumn, winter and early spring. Part of the trail so I would not recommend hiking during the height of summer.
- Try to hike during the weekday as the Tai O hiking trail is busy on weekends and holidays.
- Even though there is at least one store along the trail where you can get water and food, it might not be open all the time. Bring enough water for a few hours of hiking.
- Also, bring sunscreen and other sun protection as most of the trail is exposed to the sun.
- Start hiking the Tung Chung to Tai O Trail at around 9:30 am if you want to spend a few hours in Tai O afterwards.
- Get an Octopus Card, a rechargeable smartcard for taking public transportation and use it for taking the MTR to Tung Chung Station and for taking the bus from Tai O. It costs $100HKD, but you can use $50 stored value and get your $50HKD refundable deposit when you leave HK.
How to hike Tung O Ancient Trail
The best way to hike Tung O Ancient Trail is by starting at Tung Chung Station. Then follow the signages and find the start of the actual trail and hike towards Tai O.
It is possible to hike in the reverse direction, but I like the idea of ending the hike in Tai O, a quaint fishing village where you can get some food and perhaps catch one of the best sunsets in HK.
- Difficulty: intermediate
- Duration: 4.5 hours
- Distance: 14km
- What to bring: light hiking shoes, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen), water, snacks, smartphone (for taking photos and navigation)
How to get to the start of the Tai O hiking trail
Although you can take public transportation to the start of the trail, walking is the easiest way to get to the start of the Tai O trail.
When you arrive at Tung Chung Station, take Exit A and walk towards Hing Tung Street. Then turn right on Tat Tung Road, left on Shun Tung Road, and right on Yu Tung Road.
Keep walking on Yu Tung Road, pass Yat Tung Estate on the right, and there is a trail that will lead to Tung O Ancient Trail. Keep walking and follow the signs, and you’ll reach Tung Chung Hau Wong Bridge, where you can start hiking the Tai O trail. It sounds complicated, but it’s not difficult (see route).
The walk takes about 30 minutes and through a residential neighbourhood. It is not super exciting but it is the easiest way to get to the start of the trail.
FYI – The actual start to Tung O Ancient Trail is a few minutes to the south of the bridge, near the Tung O River. But you don’t have to go all the way down there.
Beginning of the Tung O Ancient Trail: Tung Chung Hau Wong Bridge
Like I mentioned earlier, the actual start of the Tai O hiking trail is a few minutes south of the Tung Chung Hau Wong Bridge but you don’t have to go there to start hiking the 14km trail.
So for clarity and simplicity purposes, we will start hiking the Tung O Ancient Trail at Tung Chung Hau Wong Bridge.
From this point forward, there are many signages along the way. And there is only one way to Tai O. As long as you are hiking along the path where the mountain is always on the left and the water is always on the right, then you are on the correct path.
See villages along Tung O Ancient Trail
For many years, the Tung Chung to Tai O Trail was the only way for people to move between the two neighbourhoods. And since it was one of the main routes at the time, many small villages popped up along the path.
Today, a handful of these villages are still occupied by local residents.
Views from the viewing platform
About 10 to 15 minutes into the hike, you’ll approach an open area with a viewing platform on the right.
At the viewing platform, the view of the area opens up where you can see Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Tung Chung Bay.
And from the point forward, you will see the bridge during the entire duration of the hike. The bridge is 55km long and is the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.
Be aware of some of the villages along the path
When you are hiking on the Tai O trail, make sure to stay on the path and avoid venturing into the villages.
I read somewhere online that for a while the Tung O Ancient Trail was blocked by some of the local residents because they didn’t want anyone walking through their property.
And since then, the path is opened again, but a sign says, “Defend our hometown Sha Lo Wan does not welcome visitors.”
I believe the residents are annoyed by the amount of foot traffic, strangers wandering around their home turf, and probably garbage and other unwanted items left behind on the trail and in the villages.
So a reminder for anyone who is hiking on Tung O Ancient Trail (and honestly, this applies to any other hiking trails in Hong Kong), please be respectful of nature and don’t litter. Bring your trash with you and don’t leave anything behind. And try to keep the noise level to a minimum.
Follow the signs to Tai O
The Tai O trail near Sha Lo Wan doesn’t follow the coastline. But instead, the path moves inland a bit. Keep following the signs towards Tai O. This is the only spot along the trail that you don’t see the sea view and the bridge.
Small beach and pier by Sham Wat Village
Keep trekking on the paved path and it will led you back to the coastline.
And when you return to the coast, there is a small beach and pier. This is near Sham Wat village. The area is called 粉紅海岸 in Google Maps. It doesn’t have an English name, though, but the rough translation is “pink harbour.”
The last part of Tai O hiking trail: uneven terrain
For about the last third of the Tai O trail, the path changes from a paved path to an uneven sandy and rocky terrain. It sounds dramatic, but I guarantee you, it is not difficult at all. There are no major steep hills, and the path is relatively even. If you wear light hiking shoes, sneakers or even Birkenstocks, you can easily hike this part of the trail.
Shallow and rocky beaches near Tai O
As you approach Tai O, there are shallow beaches along the coastline. There are a few opportunities where you can walk towards the water and see the beach closeup.
When the path opens up, you’ll see the temple in Tai O. That means you’re very close to the fishing village!
Approaching Tai O
You will know when you are near Tai O. The first indication is spotting Tai Wong Temple (大王公廟) along the coast.
Around this part of the path, Tai O Ancient Trail merges into Sun Ki Street in Tai O (according to Google Maps), which means this is the end of the Tai O trail, and you’ve completed 14km of hiking.
Make sure to look back at the landscape and the bridge one more time before heading into the fishing village. This is the last opportunity to see this view!
Final destination: Tai O
Tai O is one of Hong Kong’s oldest fishing villages. But before getting to the touristy part of the village, you’ll have to meander through the small streets of houses on stilts.
When Tai O Trail merges with Sun Ki Street, keep following the path and it will lead you to the heart of Tai O.
Tai O: a sleepy fishing village
Also known as the “Venice of Hong Kong”, Tai O is a quaint fishing village on the western side of Lantau Island. The village has two major waterways going through the centre, many stilt houses, a scenic trail (besides the Tung Chung to Tai O Trail) and boat tours to see pink dolphins.
If you start hiking the Tai O Trail around 9:30 am (as suggested earlier), you will arrive in Tai O around 2:00 pm or so. I timed this itinerary so you can enjoy a late lunch in Tai O.
And it will also give you a few hours to explore Tai O before returning to Tung Chung.
Return to Tung Chung from Tai O
When you are ready to return to Tung Chung, cross the pedestrian bridge on Tai O Market Street and turn right on Tai O Wing On Street. The small and narrow street will merge into Tai O Road, which is where the bus terminal is located.
Look for the bus stop for New Lantau Bus (NLB) Bus #11. Then take the next bus back to Tung Chung which is the last stop on the bus route.
Once you arrived at the bus terminus in Tung Chung, the MTR station is right next to bus stop.
- NLB Bus #11: from Tai O Bus Terminus to Tung Chung Town Centre Bus Terminus
- Time: 50 minutes (every 5 to 30 minutes)
- Cost: $12.8HKD on weekdays and $21.1HKD on weekends and public holidays (pay with Octopus)
- Check: NLB website for cost and timetable
Want to explore Hong Kong with a tour? Check out one of these exciting tours:
Are you ready to hike the Tung Chung hiking trail?
I hope my detailed itinerary for the Tung O Ancient Trail will motivate you to hike across Lantau Island to Tai O. It is a wonderful day trip with amazing scenery. The hiking trail itself is not super difficult but it is quite a long journey. So make sure to pack enough water and snacks and spend an entire day exploring Lantau Island.
If you love to hike and want more suggestions, I included a few below. And if you have any questions about the Tung Chung hiking trail, let me know in the comments.
Other HK hikes you might be interested:
- Victoria Peak Hike: See Hong Kong’s city skyline
- High West: a short hike to see the Victoria Peak sunset
- Dragon’s Back Hike: the most popular day hike in HK
- Violet Hill and the Twins: hike over two mountains with over 1,000+ steps
- Rhino Rock Hike: see a rocky rhinoceros head in Stanley
- Pineapple Mountain: the Great Canyon of Hong Kong
- Lamma Island: hike from Sok Kwu Wan to Yung Shue Wan
- Red Incense Burner Summit on Braemar Hill: best spot for sunset and night views
- High Junk Peak: one of the three sharpest peaks in Hong Kong
- Ma On Shan Hike: hike across the horse-saddle mountain to Sai Kung
- Mount Nicholson Hike: see hidden rock statues in the middle of HK Island
- Plover Cove Reservoir Country Trail: hike around HK’s largest reservoir
- Kowloon Peak and Suicide Cliff: See Hong Kong’s most dramatic cliff
- Po Pin Chau: hike around hexagonal rock columns in Sai Kung
- Pat Sin Leng hike: see the 8 immortal hiking trail in Tai Po District