My Paradise: Spend a Day on Lantau Island, Hong Kong

My Paradise: Spend a Day on Lantau Island, Hong Kong

by Joely Santiago

Lantau Island is Hong Kong’s largest surrounding island. Hong Kong actually has 250 little islands off its coast; most of them are uninhabited. Many of them have beautiful beaches and are occupied with bars, restaurants, and shops. While planning my very short trip to Hong Kong, I knew I’d only have time for one. After a bit of research, I decided it’d be Lantau. The gorgeous terrain and temples made the choice easy. And while I haven’t been to any of the other islands, this one is without a doubt worth your time. I chose exploring the island over visiting Hong Kong Disneyland (which is actually also on Lantau) and have no regrets about my choice.

Ngong Ping 360

I chose Lantau Island after seeing two incredible images on Instagram. The first was of the Tian Tan Buddha and the other was of the incredible views from the Ngong Ping cable car. I don’t have nearly as many photos as I’d like from our visit, but I hope the ones I do have show you exactly why I felt this was an experience I couldn’t miss out on. The car gives you 360-degree views of the ride, during which you can see the magnificent, lush, green mountains and turquoise waters.

The cable car is great for two reasons. It not only gives you the opportunity to take in the spectacular views, but it’s also a really quick and easy way to get to Lantau Island. You catch it from Tung Chung, which you can get to via the metro.

There are three options when it comes to the cable car. You can choose to take a private cabin, a crystal cabin, or a standard one. With a standard fare, you can choose a one way or round trip ticket. You still get a 360-degree view. You just share it with other island-goers. The crystal cabin is the same as the standard, except it has a glass floor, so you can experience a complete bird’s eye view. The private cabin is booked as a round trip ticket and comes with admission to Walking With Buddha.

The ride is about 25 minutes long, with amazing views the whole ride through. The car starts running at 1000, and the last ride back is at 1730.

Ngong Ping Village

Ngong Ping village is where the cable car lands, and it’s a great little area to spend some time. It’s full of shops, eateries and fun things to do. During my visit, there was a cool drum demonstration. Walking with Buddha is a popular attraction for kids; it’s a cute cartoon that tells the story of the man who became buddha.

This area is also full of instagrammable photo spots.

Tian Tan Buddha

For me, the top reason to visit Lantau Island is to visit Tian Tan Buddha. I have a thing for buddhas and temples. They are so special and this was, for me, was a must-see. At 112 feet tall, Tian Tan is one of the biggest seated buddha statues in the world.

Big Buddha is only a short walk from Ngong Ping Village and right next to the Po Lin Monastery (another place worth checking out). It sits atop 268 steps and faces the north. The view from up there is absolutely phenomenal. I was so in the moment I didn’t take any photos, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

The cost to get in was 40 Hong Kong dollars, or about five American ones. The line to get to get to the Buddha wasn’t very long when we went. But it was busy; there were a lot of people walking in and around the area.

Tian Tan is currently undergoing renovations and the buddha and its surrounding area is closed to tourist. If you’re planning a trip to Lantau and want to see the buddha, make sure to check that it will be open when you go.

Po Lin Monastery

The Po Lin Monastery is right next to the Tian Tan Buddha, so I went just because it was right next door. But I’m super glad I did. I really enjoy visiting temples and observing people in their faith.

You get the first glimpse of this as you walk up to the complex. Actually, you smell before you see it. The distinct, powerful smell of incense fills the air. Worshipers light them along the walkway before you even reach the temple gates.

This complex has several structures and temples. All of them are impressive and full of detail. Beautiful artwork hangs from the walls and ceilings and gorgeous sculptures of deities and buddhas fill the buildings. If you’re into these kinds of things, you’ll really enjoy Po Lin.

Wisdom Path

Wisdom Path is not far from Po Lin and Big Buddha (maybe another ten minutes walking), and is another popular place to visit while on Lantau. It’s a short trail located on a hill that’s lined with wooden pillars. The route forms a figure eight, which also represents infinity. The columns are engraved with the verses of the Heart Sutra, a popular buddhist scripture about emptiness.

I was really in the moment here too, so I didn’t take any pictures. The view from the mile-long stroll is also really beautiful.

Tai O Village

Tia O Village was the second place I went to Lantau to experience. I saw a mesmerizing photo of the village and decided that was a place I just had to go to. Getting to Tai O is super simple. From Ngong Ping Village, you can take a bus. I didn’t want to wait because I wanted to catch the cable car back to Hong Kong and we were on a time crunch. So instead, we grabbed a cab.

We arrived at Tai O at around 1500. It seemed like the perfect time, because it wasn’t overly crowded or super busy. It’s a really picturesque town built on top of tidal flats. There are lots of little channels that connect the village, and little boats float and glide along the water carrying fishermen and tourists. Tai O smells like the sea, and has fantastic views of water and mountains and hundreds of little buildings on top of stilts. There are a bunch of tiny shops that sell spices, crustaceans, and other wares, and eateries litter the narrow alleys, filling the air with savory, fishy and sugary smells. I really enjoyed the egg waffles and fish cakes.

Boat tours of the village are available. We opted not take one because we were short on time, but they seem like a really cool way to see and experience Tai O.

Other Attractions

There are quite a few other things you can check out on Tai O if some of these things aren’t for you. Some of the things I wanted to do but didn’t get to are spending some time at the beach, hiking a bit of Lantau Trail, and checking out Discovery Bay.

Getting to Lantau

Taking the cable car is on of a few ways to get to Lantau Island. Taxis are always an option. We missed the cable car back and ended up taking the bus, which is an inexpensive, scenic alternative. The drive was really beautiful, but it did take a REALLY long time. You can also book your visit with a tour group and charters your transport.

Have you been to Lantau? What do you recommend?

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