Just a brief ride with the MTR from Hong Kong Central but Lantau Island seems like a different world. The urban jungle’s madness is entirely replaced by the calm of lush mountains. There were neither skyscrapers nor crowded streets; only a magnificent Buddhist architecture rising from the sea of fog.
While the rest of Hong Kong busies itself with high-rise developments, Lantau Island seems to “take things slow”. Except for its northeastern part, the island was still covered largely by mountains and dense forests. The green dominates here and the only bursts of colors come from the remote Po Lin Monastery and the bucolic villages along the coast.
1. Po Lin Monastery
Tucked between the lush mountains of Ngong Ping Plateau, Po Lin Monastery is the place to seek solace to the soul. It is dedicated to Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, and is one of the most important sanctums in Hong Kong. The monastery is also known for its beautiful architecture which features colorful Buddhist iconography. From the intricate decorations to the imposing statues, visitors will be amazed by the colors of the “Precious Lotus” (literally translated from Po Lin).
A stone’s throw away from Po Lin Monastery is the Tian Tan Buddha – Lantau’s most prominent feature. Completed in 1993 after three years of construction, this 34 meters high statue represents the harmonious relationship between man and nature, as well as between the people and their faith. The statue seems rising from the forest, with the Buddha’s right hand is raised, symbolizing the blessing to all.
- The cable car Ngong Ping 360 is probably the most convenient way to reach Ngong Ping. It departs from Tung Chung Station and takes only 25 minutes to reach the plateau. Another advantage of the cable car is that it offers an aerial view of the entire island.
- There are two types of cars: the Standard Car and the Crytal Car of which floor is made of transparent glass.
- Among the most popular activities in Hong Kong, the queue for “Ngong Ping 360” is pretty long. Depends on your luck, you might get in the car in less than one hour. Please note that booking the ticket online does not grant you immediate access to the cable car.
- If you are not a fan of the cable car, you can take Bus 23 from Tung Chung Station. This option takes approximately one hour.
2. Tai O Fishing Village
Framed by the coast on one side and mountains on the other, Tai O in Lantau has long been the safe haven for the fisherfolk known as the Taka people. The village used to be a bustling trading and fishing port, but business declined as young people started moving out. And tourism has then become the new life source of Tai O.
Dubbed as “Venice of Hong Kong”, Tai O is popular for its historic setting which consists of hundreds of stilt houses. These unusual structures are set above tidal flats and linked together, forming a tightly knit community that literally floats on the water. The village is also known for its lively market in which local delicacies such as giant cuttlefish, salted fish, dried puffer, or homemade shrimp paste are on sale. Though the pungent smells might be slightly overwhelmed, they reflect the fishing heritage of the “Fragrant Harbour”.
- Tai O is accessible by Bus 21 which departs hourly from Ngong Ping. Alternatively, you can take a taxi. It only takes 10-15 minutes and costs about HK$ 50.
- It’s possible to take the Bus 11 from Tung Chung to Tai O. But it’s a lengthy journey.
19 thoughts on “Lantau Island: A Different Hong Kong”
Good to see you again! I miss HK it’s been awhile since the last time. Interesting photos and first time to see a puffer fish in the fish market.
Me too! I have only heard of puffer sushi, but have never known about dried puffer. That’s why I wonder whether it is edible. By the way, nice to see you again, Vinneve 😀
Pls check my latest posts when you get a chance. 👍🏼
For sure! 🙂
Thanks a lot 🙂
There is some good walking to be had there too. Out of Hong Kong’s four long trails, the Lantau Trail is the one I walked the most.
Wow! How long did it take you to complete the trail? I remember seeing a group of hikers when I was in the cable car. They were a bit confused because of the thick fog. And I wondered how long they needed to reach Ngong Ping 🙂
That cable car maintenance trail is a real stair-master, it’s stairs all the way up! As for the Lantau trail, the whole thing is 70km, but it’s split into 12 sections. I think I walked it all over a three-day weekend once – I especially liked the sections heading into and then starting from Tai-O, they’re pretty quiet, (and quietness is a luxury in Hong Kong).
Wow! I did not know that the Lantau trails is that long. I agree, quietness is indeed a luxury things in Hong Kong. I live in a busy city, but I was overwhelmed by the noise and the crowd in Kowloon 🙂
Glad to read this. Tung Chung my home since 2006, you miss out walking trials of Lantau island in the post and
Oh, I think I saw that walking trail from the cable car 🙂 It looks like a long distant walk, but the view must be spectacular, especially on a sunny day.
When you are free you can browse some of my old posts i shooted some amazing pics of sun set and many others too on this trails. It is the ome tough lap. I walked there more than 30 times in past 2 decades its fun and tiring for sure. Its amazing in one word.
You can visit my old pages of past years for more details some times when free. Cheers.
It’s wonderful that this peaceful haven is so close to the frenzy of Hong Kong. Such a treasure for the residents of Hong Kong.
Exactly. To be honest, I didn’t expect to see much green spaces in Hong Kong. I thought the city is just a concrete jungle, like other Asian metropolis. But Lantau has proved me wrong 🙂
I so enjoyed this brief visit to Lantau. Your photos are beautiful. I went to Lantau in 1978, before the Buddha, and before the local transit connection, and before I knew anything about photography tho I did have a camera of sorts. One went by ferry. I hiked from one side of the island to the other, passing by Po Lin though not going inside. It looks as though it’s had a facelift. I think I’d like to go back and see this newer version of the island, and especially Tai O.
Wow, it must be a lengthy trip 🙂 Even with cable car, it already took me over 25 minutes. I remember seeing many short mountains on the way. But I guess the view was so different in the 1970s. Much greener, I assume. And there was no airport.