Organised by
Funded by

Previously known as Tai Hai Shan, Lantau Island is the largest island in Hong Kong with an area of 147.16 square kilometres. It was sparsely populated in the past where many religious bodies had their retreat centres set up. Lantau Island also used to have tea gardens, cattle houses, tungsten mines, rice fields, etc.

Roam around Lantau Island and you will be surprised by the large amount of traces from the past that can be discovered. Today, salt pans have turned into mangroves; farming and fishing tools are put aside and no longer used; village houses are gradually left abandoned. Over the years, Lantau Island has seen drastic changes. Nevertheless, has the way we ‘travel’ around Lantau Island changed over time?

Silver Mine Bay: Cheung Fung-oi; 1955; The University of Hong Kong Libraries. Special Collections


Stone Circle at Fan Lau

Prehistoric Times

The Stone Circle at Fan Lau is a trace of humans in the New Stone Age. Ruins from the Neolithic period were also found in Tung Wan, Shek Pik.

Rock carving

Patterns similar to those of the ancient Bronze Age were found on the rock carving in Shek Pik.

Information: Antiques and Monuments Office Website; Outlying Islands Declared Monuments List

Mui Wo
Source of Image: Vivien Cheng; 1970s

Song Dynasty
960 - 1279

Lantau Island was named Tai Hai Shan in ancient times, first recorded in Yudijisheng written by Wang Xiangzhi of Southern Song Dynasty: ‘Tai Hai Shan is located in the sea of Dongguan County with 36 islets, where residents made a living by fishing and salt production.

In the final year of the Southern Song Dynasty, invading Mongols conquered Lin’an, the capital city of Song. The last two emperors, Zhao Shi and his younger brother Zhao Bing, were said to have fled to Hong Kong and stayed in Mui Wo.

Information: IU Kow-choy; Place Names and Local History of Hong Kong (Part Two) – New Territories

Sha Lo Wan

Ming Dynasty
1368 – 1644

Between the Song and early Qing Dynasties, incense trees were widely planted in Sha Lo Wan on Lantau Island for manufacturing a popular incense called ‘Guan Xiang’, which is the solid form of agarwood sap. Research has shown that Guan Xiang produced in Sha Lo Wan at that time had a very high quality.

Information: So Man-hing;《坐言集》 之 香港前期經濟

Chicken Wing Bluff Fort (Fan Lau Fort)

Qing Dynasty
1636 – 1912

During the Qing Dynasty, the ‘Great Clearance’ issued in the first year of Emperor Kangxi (1662) led to a plunge in the population of Hong Kong. This forced salt manufacturers to relocate, seriously impacting the salt industry along the coast of Lantau Island. In 1669, the Qing government announced the restoration of the previous borders.

Information: Fan Wing-chung;《香港—清初遷界與復界》

Following the border restoration, Lantau Island and the South China coast were often invaded by pirates and opium smugglers. In view of this, the Governor of Guangdong ordered the construction of a fort at Fan Lau at the southwestern tip of Lantau Island, also known as the ‘Chicken Wing Bluff Fort’, where troops were deployed. It then became a military stronghold for defending the Pearl River Estuary.

Information: Antiques and Monuments Office website; Outlying Islands Declared Monuments List

South Lantau Obelisk


The Qing and British governments signed the ‘Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory’. The New Territories including Lantau Island were leased to Britain for 99 years.


The British army erected the South Lantau Obelisk and the North Lantau Obelisk in Kau Ling Chung and Tai O respectively, indicating boundaries of the lease of the New Territories.

Pui O: Choi Sin-yu; 1960; The University of Hong Kong Libraries. Special Collections


Po Lin Monastery in Ngong Ping that was built in 1924
Source of Image: Vivien Cheng; 1970s

1900s – 1950s

Tai O and Mui Wo were relatively busier and more densely populated, therefore water transportation to Lantau Island mainly concentrated at these two places at that time.

Information: Fan Wing-chung;《香港—清初遷界與復界》

As Lantau Island is far from the city’s hustle and bustle, many religious bodies were attracted to set up retreat facilities there, including the Po Lin Monastery in Ngong Ping and monasteries around Ling Wui Shan, retreat camp site in Lantau Mountain Camp in Sunset Peak, and the Trappist Haven Abbey of Our Lady of Joy in Tai Shui Hang.

Source of Photo: Ng Ba-ling; The University of Hong Kong Libraries. Special Collections; 1968

Trappist Haven Abbey of Our Lady of Joy (Tai Shui Hang, Discovery Bay) was founded in 1950.

Shek Pik Reservoir was built in 1963


Due to shortage of fresh water in Hong Kong, the government built the Shek Pik Reservoir on Lantau Island in 1963 (the largest reservoir in Hong Kong at that time). This large-scale project also initiated later development of the land transportation network on southern Lantau Island.

In addition, with part of the water source being diverted to the Shek Pik Reservoir, agricultural activities in Mui Wo began to shrink. Farmland were gradually left abandoned.

Information: Kam Shui-yung & Yau Yat, Century-old Mui Wo

Source of Photo: Information Services Department, 1984

1970s – 1990s

Lantau Island grew into a popular destination for local trips. People mainly took ferry to Mui Wo and travelled to other attractions subsequently. In addition to day trips, camping, youth hostels, monasteries, holiday houses, etc. were some options for those who preferred to spend a night on Lantau Island.

Source of Photo: Information Services Department, 1984


With a total area of 56.4 square kilometers, Lantau South Country Park has become the largest country park in Hong Kong. In August 1978, Lantau North Country Park was built, occupying an area of 22 square kilometres . Both country parks serve to preserve the natural environment while offering recreational facilities to citizens.


The 70 km long Lantau Trail opened. It is divided into 12 sections.

The Chek Lap Kok International Airport that was built in 1997


The Hong Kong government launched the ‘Hong Kong Airport Core Programme’, which was also dubbed the ‘Rose Garden Project’. It covered 10 core infrastructure projects: land reclamation in Chek Lap Kok for construction of the international airport, building of the Lantau Link, North Lantau Highway, Tung Chung New Town, etc.

Tsing Ma Bridge that was completed in 1997


The new airport in Chek Lap Kok was completed. Citizens can travel to Lantau Island by land via the cross-sea bridge and the Lantau Link.


The Tung Chung New Town was completed. In 2006, its population exceeded 80,000.



Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005

The form of tourism on Lantau Island has become more diversified. More attractions targeting international tourists can be found, such as the Hong Kong Disneyland, Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, etc.

Season of Silvergrass on Sunset Peak


Silvergrass on Sunset Peak gained popularity following the release of an album cover featuring the plant. Since then, many visitors flock to Sunset Peak for the blooming silvergrass every year in autumn.


Under the COVID-19 epidemic, there was a significant increase in the number of local tourists visiting the countryside, bringing impact to the natural environment.