If you’re a nature lover like me, you might want to spend a day or two on Lantau Island during your trip to Hong Kong. Despite the proximity with the big city, the Island is incredibly calm. There are beautiful beaches, forests, mountains and several activities to do on the Island. I loved the contrast with the huge buildings and super busy streets of Hong Kong! Although it is pretty touristy.
|TOP THINGS TO DO:
Climb the 268 steps to Tian Tan Buddha
Also called Big Buddha, Tian Tan Buddha sits on top of a 26.4-metre lotus, is 34 metres high, including the base, and weights 250 metric tons. Erected in 1993, it took 12 years to complete. Climb the 268 steps for a closer look at this impressive statue, and to enjoy the breathtaking views on the Lantau Peak and the sea.
Tian Tan Buddha faces north, which is apparently unique among all the great giant Buddha statues, since all others face south.
The best time to visit the Big Buddha is in the morning, because the area is less crowded and it’s easier to get good front pictures of the statue (in the afternoon, the sun falls behind the statue and you’ll only get pictures of shadows).
Visit Po Lin Monastery and grab a vegetarian lunch
Founded in 1906, the Po Lin Monastery is a 5-minute walk from the Tian Tan Buddha’s staircase You can take a look inside the Monastery, which is beautiful. Remember that, to many people, this is not just a tourist attraction but also a sacred space!
While there are numerous options in Ngong Ping Village, the Po Lin Monastery has a restaurant that offers delicious vegetarian meals.
Walk to infinity on the Wisdom Path
From Po Lin Monastery, follow signs to Tea Garden entrance and walk along the trail for about 15 minutes. At some point, you’ll reach that sign with Chinese characters; follow the paved trail under it, you’re almost there!
Wisdom Path is a small paved trail that follows 38 wooden steles, arranged in a ∞ pattern, which represents infinity. Each wooden stele contains Chinese verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra, one of the world’s best-known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists.
Wisdom Path offers beautiful views of the South China Sea. It’s a relaxing walk before the hike to Lantau Peak.
Hike Lantau Peak Trail
Lantau Peak (Fung Wong Shan) is the second highest peak in Hong Kong (934 m above sea level). The highest peak in Hong Kong is Tai Mo Shan (23 metres higher). Hiking to the top was by far my favorite activity on the island, even though it was not easy. I planned on going on the Island to see the Big Buddha and didn’t know about the other activities to do there. I’m really glad I learned about Lantau Peak Trail, but I was far from being prepared to hike and didn’t have my usual gear. But I did it anyway and I did not regret it! The 360-degree view up there is stunning!
I started the hike in early afternoon, which is really not the best time (too hot and wet). When I left my hostel in the morning, it was raining, so I didn’t bring any sunscreen; such a rookie mistake! Luckily, I had at least an umbrella, which helped me cover my shoulders and head from the big burning sun. So I was there, hiking to the top, with my umbrella and my purse, and not enough water… It was hard, and I was so hot! When I arrived at the top, I was so proud though!
Some hikers start the hike before dawn to catch the sunrise at the top. If you’re planning to do that, you can spend the night at the Youth Hostel near Ngong Ping.
Wander in Ngong Ping Village
If you didn’t stop at Po Lin Monastery’s restaurant, here’s your chance to grab a little something to eat. There are many restaurants in the Village. After a good hike to Lantau Peak, on a hot day of June, I was really happy to buy ice pops there!
Even though the village seems old because of its traditional style, it was built for the mass of tourists visiting the Big Buddha and the Monastery. Don’t be surprised, it’s fake and commercialized, but it’s still nice to wander here. There are souvenir shops on Main Street and audio-visual attractions about Buddha’s legends.
Click here to see a map of the village’s attractions.
Experience Ngong Ping Cable Car
I didn’t get the chance to try the Cable Car during my trip on Lantau Island (I actually didn’t know about it before I went on the Island), but it seems like a nice thing to try.
It’s a 25-minute ride on the cabin of your choice: either the Standard cabin or the Crystal cabin, the ladder being equipped with a glass bottom.
On the Cable Car’s website, you can buy package that includes coach transfer between Tung Chung, Tai O and Ngong Ping, a visit to Tai O Fishing Village with a boat excursion, and a visit to Po Lin Monastery, the Big Buddha and Ngong Ping Village. That’s a great option if you don’t feel comfortable travelling alone.
HOW TO GET THERE
- MTR + bus — Take MTR to Tung Chung Station, then follow signs towards Exit B. It takes about half an hour to get from Central, Hong Kong, to Tung Chung Station. Go to the bus terminus next to the MTR station and take bus 23 and get off at Ngong Ping bus terminus (the bus journey takes about 50 minutes). That’s the easiest and cheapest way to get to Ngong Ping Village.
- MTR + cable car — Take MTR to Tung Chung Station, then follow signs towards Exit B. It takes about half an hour to get from Central, Hong Kong, to Tung Chung Station. Go to Tung Chung Ngong Ping Cable Car terminal, right next to the MTR Station (2-minute walk) and take a 25-minute cable car ride to the Ngong Ping terminal. That’s the fastest way to get to Ngong Ping Village, but it’s more expensive. The view from the cabin is amazing! The Cable Car service was suspended for approximately 6 months from the beginning of 2017 for the Rope Replacement Project. Click here for more information about Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car or to book your trip.
- Ferry + bus — From Central Pier 6, take a ferry to Mui Wo (you can choose between the regular ferry, which takes 50–55 minutes, and the fast ferry, which takes 35–40 minutes). Then, take bus 2 and get off at Ngong Ping bus terminus (the bus journey takes around 40 minutes).
Other attraction on the island:
- Hong Kong Disneyland
There’s also an official Disney Land theme park on Lantau Island! Hong Kong Disneyland lies on the northeastern part of the island, approximately two kilometres from Discovery Bay. The park has its own metro stop, before Tung Chung station. If you plan to visit Disneyland and also want to see other attractions on the Island, you’ll need more than a day.
- Ngong Ping Rescue Trail (5.6 km one way)