The Fat Mun Ancient Trail is a trail that connects Ngong Ping to Tung Chung through Lantau Country Park. But truth be told, it’s so much more!
It is an ancient trail that was once the path taken by pilgrims, monks, and devotees to visit the many points of culture and worship on the northern face of Lantau Peak. Even today, the trail is full of Buddhist monasteries and institutes, some still in use and some abandoned.
History aside, the Fat Mun Ancient Trail is a beautiful and peaceful escape that offers a relatively easy and scenic hike between Ngong Ping and Shek Mun Kap Village (Tung Chung).
About the Fat Mun Ancient Trail
From what I’ve read, the area between the northeast of Lantau Peak and the east of Nei Lak Shan is considered holy by Buddhists. Tei Tong Tsai, a small Buddhist village, and the Fat Mun Ancient Trail are located between these two peaks.
The area’s significance is also apparent when you realise the popular tourist attractions of Tian Tan Big Buddha, Wisdom Path, and the Po Lin Monastery in this area.
The Fat Mun Ancient Trail can be completed in any direction as public transport is accessible at both ends. The trail is well paved and mostly shaded.
We completed the trail from Ngong Ping to Shek Mun Kap Village because we were in no mood to hike uphill on a hot and humid summer’s day in Hong Kong.
So, with that out of the way, let’s discuss how to reach the start of the Fat Mun Ancient Trail from Ngong Ping.
“Fat Mun” refers to the gate located at the end of the trail which is named “Tung Shan Fat Mun” (Dongshan Famen). The gate is a 1.5 km walk from the Ngong Ping Village bus terminus or Ngong Ping 360 cable car. If you do plan to take the cable car to Ngong Ping, be sure to book your tickets online to avail the discount and not stand in the ticketing queue. So, the total walking distance from the bus terminus to Shek Mun Kap is almost 5 km.
Once you arrive at Ngong Ping Village, where all the restaurants are located, follow the signs to the Big Buddha statue and Po Lin Monastery.
Once you walk past the large gates towards the monastery and statue, notice Lantau Peak ahead and Nei Lak Shan to the left.
From the base of the Big Buddha statue, turn right and continue following the signs for Wisdom Path and the Ngong Ping SG Davis Youth Hostel.
Keep walking down the path, with the Po Lin Monastery on the right, till it splits in two. Turn right towards the Wisdom Path.
At the end of this narrow path, turn left for Wisdom Path. Up ahead, don’t forget to admire the structures that have been overtaken by nature!
Stay on the path till you see a sign for Po Lam Zen Monastery. Turn left here.
Follow this path, as it first passes the SG Davis Youth Hostel, then the Ngong Ping Camp Site Public Toilet, before finally arriving at the Ngong Ping Camp Site.
The Ngong Ping Camp Site is at the intersection of four trails – Lantau Trail Section 4, Nei Lak Shan Country Trail, Fat Mun Ancient Trail, and Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail.
To continue on Fat Mun Ancient Trail, continue straight on the trail till you see the Tung Shan Fat Mun gate. This gates marks the start of the Fat Mun Ancient Trail.
To the Midway Pavilion
I found the start of the trail to be quite scenic. The trail runs on the northern slope of Lantau Peak. And the towering peak adds to the beauty of the trail.
As the trail descends, it enters a quiet and shaded section. Unlike many other ancient trails, the Fat Mun Ancient Trail is paved end to end.
Starting from here, you can catch glimpses of Tung Chung, the airport, and Castle Peak through the trees.
Stay on the trail for about 700 metres, till the Midway Pavilion. Take a break if you need to at the pavilion.
However, I don’t imagine anyone walking 700 metres downhill would be tired. This pavilion definitely serves a more meaningful purpose for those hiking uphill.
To Tei Tong Tsai
As the name implies, the Midway Pavilion is equidistant from Tei Tong Tsai as it is the Tung Shan Fat Mun, the gate at the start of the trail.
But the trail does become more interesting, starting with inscriptions on rocks on the side of the trail. I’m not completely sure, but I think these are Buddhist sayings or inscriptions.
Another 300 metres ahead, the trail turns sharply and opens up the views for the first time. There is a viewing spot and a bench to admire the views.
From here, you can not only see the airport and Tung Chung but all the way to Castle Peak. And with the absence of trees, even the shorter hills such as Wo Liu Tun and Shek Sze Shan, behind Tung Chung, are visible as you descend.
Just after the bench, there are more inscriptions and sayings painted on rocks along this section of Fat Mun Ancient Trail. Keep an eye out for them.
Unfortunately, I don’t understand these inscriptions, so if someone could translate them in the comments below, that would be appreciated!
Further ahead, the trail splits in two twice. Stay right on both occasions.
In fact, the second fork descends towards Po Lam Monastery. But as the monastery is not open to visitors, it’s best to continue straight and admire it from up ahead.
Po Lam Monastery
Tei Tong Tsai is a small Buddhist monastic village which is home to many Buddhist monasteries and institutes. And the Po Lam Monastery, is the first monastery on the Fat Mun Ancient Trail set against Nei Lak Shan and Lantau Peak.
The monastery was constructed in 1955 by a young monk whose dharma name translated to “enlightenment”.
It was in the 1950s when the Venerable Sing Yat, the Fifth Abbot of Po Lin Monastery, met this young monk who was building a hut with his hands in the village. When he learned that the cabin was being built for others, he helped raised money to fund materials.
Today, Po Lam Monastery is one of the most discreet hermitages in Hong Kong and does allow any visitors. The monks inside the monastery practice Zen Buddhism teachings daily during the summer and meditate for seven consecutive days during the winter.
During our visit, we could hear them chanting inside one of the halls.
You can walk around the village walls to admire the monastery and the lodging for the monks. Outside the village is a small garden for growing vegetables.
To continue the descent, follow the sign to Tung Chung at the bottom of the monastery.
To Fa Hong Monastery
After approximately 150 metres from Po Lam Monastery, Fat Mun Ancient Trail arrives at the next monastery, Fa Hong Monastery.
However, unlike Po Lam Monastery, Fa Hong Monastery is no longer in use. It’s shut to the public, but you can admire the abandoned building through the gate.
Right opposite the monastery is a small outdoor temple. With the burning incense and fruits placed as an offering, it was clear that this temple is still in use.
To Fat Lam Monastery
From Fa Hong Monastery, follow the signs for Tung Chung Town via Shek Mun Kap.
This area is still part of Tei Tong Tsai. The village is in a way divided into two parts – the first part where Po Lam Monastery is located and the other with Fat Lam Monastery. The Fa Hong Monastery sits in between the two sides.
Just before the entrance to the second half of Tei Tong Tsai, is a brook that feeds into the Tei Tong Tsai Stream further downhill. As you cross the bridge, you’ll immediately notice the back of another Buddhist building.
Some of the monasteries in the village look abandoned, but not the Fat Lam Monastery.
The Fat Lam Monastery was constructed in 1932 and is the largest monastery in this part of Tei Tong Tsai.
From along the side wall of the monastery, it’s possible to admire the main hall and the vegetable garden. Just around the corner are two entrances to the monastery, which are also closed to the public.
After crossing Fat Lam Monastery, there are a couple of more monasteries in the village, evidenced by their gates. We spent some time trying to peer through the gates and trees to catch a glimpse of these beautiful Buddhist monasteries in Tei Tong Tsai.
After the final monastery, the village comes to an end. But continue walking for another 150 metres to the bridge over the Tei Tong Tsai Stream.
Along the Tei Tong Tsai Stream
After the bridge, the trail splits in two. The trail going uphill on the right is the Tei Tong Tsai Country Trail, which ends at Pak Kung Au (Tung Chung Gap). But to continue on Fat Mun Ancient Trail, go straight.
The trail from this point on runs alongside the Tei Tong Tsai Stream. The water level in the stream depends on the season. But we were lucky because it had rained all of the week before we hiked this trail.
The sound of the gushing stream while hiking is just so soothing! And the views of Nei Lak Shan to the left, Tung Chung in the front, and Lantau Peak at the back, made this section of the trail the most scenic!
If that wasn’t already enough, we found a small stream pool slightly downstream. We would have sat there longer had there not been so many mosquitoes!
This section of the trail, along the stream, reminded me of another ancient trail, Tsz Sha Ancient Trail.
Shortly after the stream pool is a small shrine alongside the trail. There are a few chairs outside the shrine, and the inside had Buddhist pictures, statues, and posters.
As the trail continues downhill, it distances itself further from the stream. Although you can still hear the water gushing, you can no longer approach its banks easily. But the views, which now include the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars, continue to impress!
After the final views of Tung Chung and Castle Peak, the trail bends and descends sharply through a shaded section. Continue walking downhill till you reach a green fence.
The fenced area belongs to the Bright Pearl Buddhist Institute. And just ahead of the institute is the final monastery on the Fat Mun Ancient Trail.
Lo Hon Monastery
The bright and beautiful colours of Lo Hon Monastery are hard to miss!
Unlike the other monasteries, the Lo Hon Monastery is open to the public. The monastery is also known for its canteen that serves vegetarian food that is harvested from its own gardens.
The origin of the monastery goes back to the 1920s when a monk discovered a rocky cave in this region and called it Lo Hon Cave. The cave soon attracted other monks as a place to meditate.
Years later the Lo Hon Monastery was built next to the cave, at the foot of Lantau Peak. The monastery consists of numerous halls and a beautiful garden. This cave still exists today and next to it are 18 gold statues of the Arhats.
Although we didn’t get a chance to enter the Lo Hon Monastery and try their food, we hope that you do!
Shek Mun Kap
After the Lo Hon Monastery, the Fat Mun Trail finally enters Shek Mun Kap village.
Like many of the villages on Lantau Island, it too is a reminder of the tranquil life in these parts of the island. The village is at the foot of Lantau Peak in the south and Wo Liu Tun in the east.
The trail briefly meanders between the village houses before ending at the Shek Mun Kap bus terminus.
From here, there are three options to finish to reach Tung Chung MTR.
- Catch bus number 34 (low frequency) from Shek Mun Kap bus terminus to Tung Chung Town Centre.
- Walk another 400 metres on Shek Mun Kap Road to Tung Chung Road and catch buses 3M, 11, 23, or 34 to Tung Chung Town Centre (much higher frequencies).
- Or walk for another 2 km to Tung Chung Town Centre.
Fat Mun Ancient Trail – Ngong Ping to Shek Mun Kap
We hope you find this guide to the Fat Mun Ancient Trail helpful. It really is a peaceful and beautiful trail that monks and pilgrims have used for decades!
The trail is a reminder of the rich Buddhist heritage of Hong Kong and takes you on a journey through some of these hidden or lesser-known gems of Lantau Island. Of course, there are other known monasteries in Hong Kong such as the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Shatin or the Tsz Shan Monastery near Tai Po.
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