Lantau Island, is the largest island in Hong Kong, lies at the mouth of the Pearl River. Its mountainous interior includes 934m-high Lantau Peak, known for its sunrises, and the area can be traversed by hikers on the 70km Lantau Trail from Mui Wo (Silver Mine Bay). It is a wonderful place to go to escape from the urban crowds of Hong Kong. Download Map here.
Things To Do in Lantau Island
#1 Take a ride on Ngong Ping Cable Car
Ngong Ping Cable Car is the gateway to start your Lantau adventure! Have a “soaring” experience and look at Tung Chung, Tai O and other hidden sides of Lantau with a bird’s eye view!
The journey begins from Tung Chung, crossing Tung Chung Bay to reach the angle station on Airport Island and turning 60 degrees towards North Lantau. You will be greeted with the vistas of the distant and vast South China Sea and the rolling greens of North Lantau Country Park. At the comfort of the cabin, enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the Hong Kong International Airport, verdant, mountainous terrain of Lantau Island, the Big Buddha and the 360-degree view of Ngong Ping Plateau.
#2 Explore Ngong Ping Village
Begin your Lantau day-out from Ngong Ping Village and explore the island attractions! Indulge in the wide array of entertainment facilities offered by Ngong Ping Village, either you treat yourself to the wide array of international food choices or shop from the handpicked souvenirs, trendy merchandises, exquisite art and cultural pieces or have an unlimited photos at the Bodhi Tree.
Bodhi Tree means “Tree of Awakening”. Visitors came here to take photos or some believers also hung their cards with wishes. Legend has it that the higher your placard is hung onto the wishing tree, the more likely it is for your wish to come true. The “Bliss” and “Health” blessing drums under the bodhi tree are great photo spots. Although you cannot throw you own placard onto the tree, you can still experience the Hong Kong tradition and bring your memory home in a picture.
#3 Learn more about Hong Kong’s traditions and culture
A number of world-class cultural heritage sites are situated right next to Ngong Ping Village. You will find a wealth of cultural and religious features in the area – historic architectures, landscaped gardens, sculptures and relics.
The Big Buddha, also known as Tian Tan Buddha, is the second largest bronze seated statue of Buddha Shakyamun (Siddhārtha Gautama), the most iconic attraction of Lantau sitting next to the Po Lin Monastery. You have to climb 268 steps to reach the Buddha, though the site also features a small winding road for vehicles to accommodate the handicapped.
Walking into the area of the statue, you will first see six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” surrounding the Buddha. They are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha to symbolise the Six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary for enlightenment.
Trivia: The statue is 34 metres (112 ft) tall, weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons), and was constructed from 202 bronze pieces. In addition to the exterior components, there is a strong steel framework inside to support the heavy load. Reputedly the figure can be seen across the bay from as far away as Macau on a clear day. The Buddha’s right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction, while the left rests open on his lap in a gesture of generosity. He faces north, which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south.
#4 Enjoy Hiking
Indulge in the fun of Hong Kong’s countryside and enjoy the different views as you choose to hike on the different trails. The 70-kilometre Lantau Trail is divided into 12 Sections. The Lantau Trail has good visitor facilities along the way, and the route is well marked. There are information boards and maps at junctions between each Section. Distance Posts 500 metres apart help hikers know exactly where they are. At each turning, route signs give clear instructions about directions, place names, and the distances and times for hiking between various places.
When you get to Ngong Ping, you will see the Big Buddha — walk to your right. There are signs for the Wisdom Path but I didn’t see any for the Lantau Peak right away. Just stay to your right and you will eventually go on a smaller path into the woods – then come to the large wooden entrance to the trail.
You could start the hike from Big Buddha and end at Pak Kung Au, but the Pak Kung Au/east face of Lantau Peak is slightly easier for an ascent as the path alternates between steps and flatter walks around contours or over saddles, so you do get a break. The path on the Big Buddha/west face of Lantau Peak is mostly stairs; better for going down than up in my opinion. Do not attempt if you suffer from stair rage.
No matter you are going up or descending; do consider your physical strength and the supplies you bring with you. I would suggest at least a bottled water, light snack – and extra cloth if its warm outside.
How to maximize a day trip in Lantau?
Po Lin Monastery opens at 8 am and Big Buddha opens at 10 am daily. On the weekends, the cable car opens at 9 am but there is often a queue before it opens. Here is what I would suggest:
If you have limited time, I would suggest Tour Po Lin Monastery first. Then tour Big Buddha Statue as it opens at 10 am. Then if you still got the energy hike up to section 1&2 of Lantau Trail. The hike is easily accessible, spectacular half-day excursion that you shouldn’t miss if you are looking for an escape from concrete jungle of Hong Kong. Do not spend too much time at “Ngong Ping Village” (near cable car terminus). It is a tourist trap full of gift shops; but still depends on how you manage your time.
Remember that taxis are generally in short supply on Lantau especially on weekends according to locals/drivers. So don’t count too hard on getting a taxi. If they’re there, great, but it’s not reliable. It’s still best to ride on a cable car, it takes 20-25 minutes only.
There is no entrance fee to Big Buddha. There is a deliberately misleading entrance which suggests that you need to buy tickets, but this is in fact a scam – if you read the small print what you can buy there is ticket for a vegetarian lunch at the monastery.
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