Lantau Island is twice the size of Hong Kong Island and the largest among some 256 islands within the Hong Kong Territory.
The quickest and most direct way to travel to Lantau Island if using pubic transport is by Ferry. The ordinary ferry takes about an hour however the fast ferry takes only 40 minutes. Both depart from Central Pier # 5 quite regularly and are noted as the Mui Wo Service. Take care though to note the weather forecast as during monsoon season ferry services can be cancelled.
After researching what we wanted to see on the Island it became clear that the taxi service there is quite limited and so getting around to see everything on our own would be an issue. We decided the best option would be to join a guided tour for the day. As you can see from the picture below when we arrived on the Island there were no taxi’s waiting at the ferry terminal.
Our first stop on the tour was Cheung Sha Beach. Whilst the longest beach on the island (around 3km) it’s not the most spectacular but definitely one of the easiest to access by road. It’s patrolled during the peak season and has a large shark netted area. It was quite pretty, however, we’re quite spoilt when it comes to beaches in Australia.
We then continued on to the fishing village of Tai O. This little village has an interesting history, from being a popular hiding place for pirates and smugglers to a hotspot for illegal immigrants. Historically it has been known as a fishing village and a producer of salt, today it is more about tourism. As we walked through the village it was hard not to be overwhelmed, I’ll let the pictures below explain.
The village is located mostly on the banks of the river, so the houses are on stilts, not sure how safe I’d feel living in one during monsoon season! We boarded a small boat and enjoyed seeing such a unique community going about its normal day.
Before leaving Tai O we visited Kwan Tai Temple, made a ‘wish’ and donated to the temple before heading off to the highlight of our trip, the Giant Buddha.
Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha, located near Po Lin Monastery. It symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. Another advantage of taking our tour was that the bus deposited us at the ‘rear’ of the statue meaning we avoided having to climb the 268 steps otherwise required to get to the top. The view overlooking the Monastery and surrounding mountains was spectacular.
Once we’d had a look around we then explored the Buddhist Po Lin Monastery. It’s a fairly large place and the architecture was really impressive. We had one of the best vegetarian meals we’ve ever had for lunch, it was incredibly fresh and I’m assuming because they’d been told to expect us as a tour group the service was really efficient and friendly.
The view of the Giant Buddha from the Monastery was amazing, highlighting all those steps we were so happy to avoid!
Definitely a wonderful day trip not to be missed in Hong Kong.
Note: Unfortunately during our time in Hong Kong the Ngong Ping Cable Car was closed undergoing maintenance. Our research indicates that most of the guided tours such as the one we went on usually incorporate the Cable Car as part of the experience.