Though tourists from around the world visit Hong Kong to experience the activity of this oriental concrete jungle, at least one day in their itinerary should be reserved for an exploration of a uniquely spirited Lantau island.
In fact, bot tourist and locals find it to be a breath of fresh air (in every sense possible).
Hong Kong is becoming more urbanized as we speak, but this mountainous landscape will always be graced with acres of green forests. It represents the most western part of Hong Kong – it takes you on average one hour to arrive there from the city center (if you’re taking the bus, at least; by car you can get there in less than 45 minutes). Sounds too long? Trust us, it’s worth it.
Staggeringly high mountain peaks; miles long views; marvelous beaches; exclusive restaurants; iconic Hong Kong sights. Lantau island truly has a bit of something for every type of tourist, as well as a local who’s looking to escape the city noise.
TRAILS FOR ADVENTURERS
At the heart of this island, you can take a stroll down the Lantau trail and discover all the hidden Hong Kong gems, its rural villages, striking waterfalls and numerous beaches. There are 12 sections on this trail which differ in difficulty, so be ready for a bit more tiring, but highly rewarding walk. Lantau trail takes you to Sunset Peak, which is probably most popular for its one-of-a-kind view of fog-covered hills.
If you take this trail to the north-west, you will at some point step onto the Wisdom path where you can come across a series of 38 upright monuments. On them, you will find Heart Sutra verses, that is, prayers reversed by Buddhists, Confucians and Taoists. The best part – from here you’re just a short walk away from Lantau’s most famous sights.
Let’s see what they are.
NGONG PING FOR EXPLORERS
If you’ve arrived in Hong Kong to explore the Oriental architecture and experience the atmosphere around some of their most iconic sights, pay a visit to the Ngong Ping Village. Don’t let its size trick you into believing it has nothing to offer – this Hong Kong jewel is the epicenter of Lantau life.
Walking the streets of Ngong Ping Village you will be surrounded with authentic Chinese architecture that never seizes to amaze visitors from the West. Pay a visit to some of the shops to pick up a souvenir or two, and then take a break in one of its traditional restaurants and tea houses.
Although it takes 268 steps to see Tia Tian Buddha, none of the visitors misses out on the opportunity to see up close the outstanding 112 ft-tall statue. This bronze wonder which sits atop the Ngong Plateau is surely one of the largest seated Buddha statues in the entire world.
Unchanged by the winds of time, Po Lin Monastery attracts countless tourist from around the globe, but it is still densely crowded with locals and Buddhists who frequent it to worship and light incense. Also, it offers exquisite Buddhist Vegetarian food, typical of that eaten by the monks. Normally, everything you can get at one of the outdoor tables or the deli/snack shop conforms to Buddhist Vegetarian principles – food plates you pick up will be filled with vegetables, oysters and bean products.
Once you snap a few pics in front of the world-famous Hong Kong sights, its time to stroll down the Ngong Ping cable car that takes you from the village, away from the crowd to unspoiled countryside.
BEACHES FOR ACTION AND RELAXATION
Silvermine Bay Beach is a sandy attraction on the eastern side of the Lantau island. Not only is it known for its pristine nature where you can take a break from the noise, it is a home to Mui Wo, a quiet rural town known for its mouth-watering seafood dishes. These include fresh, steamed mussels, deep fried squid and any other fish that swims the surrounding waters.
On the southern side of the island you will find the longest Hong Kong beach, stunning Cheung Sha beach. It offers seclusion from stress, but also a number amenities where you can rent paddle-boards, kayaks or surfing equipment. Finally, if you hear your stomach growling, visit a local Lantau restaurant to sit on the terrace overlooking the ocean. Here, not only can you taste some of the most famous national dishes, but you can enjoy British cuisine – locals love the fact that from time to time they can indulge themselves in European culture, while tourists appreciate a scent of home.
CAN IT BE DONE IN A DAY?
Our advice is – wear your most comfortable shoes!
Hong Kong area boasts extremely well-organized public transport network, so it’s possible to travel from one point to the other in no time. Still, if you’re more of an adventurous type, then we suggest you explore the secluded mountain trails that can take you anywhere from rural villages, hidden waterfalls and wide fields, to beaches or mountain peaks.