Why visit Lantau Island? Well, as soon as you step into the teeming streets of Hong Kong, you experience chaos, cacophony and a crowd. A skyscraper-dominated cityscape greets the eye. You hear the honks from ferries crowding the harbour side waterways and ding-ding of double decker trams rattling through the streets. The aroma of street food assaults your senses and the people rushing in and out of glitzy shopping malls with shopping bags in their hands push you aside.
Hong Kong is a popular Asian metropolis. Every year around 55 million visitors arrive to lap up the hustle, bustle and dazzle. But to those in the know, there is another side to this chaotic frenzy of fashion and contemporary life on Lantau Island.
Escape to Lantau Island
Lantau Island is a side of Hong Kong most visitors don’t get to see. It’s where mountains sweep down to the rugged coastline. The glistening waters and pace of life is much slower.
Hong Kong’s 260 outlying islands is a best-kept secret.
One in particular, Lantau Island, which is the largest of the lot, offers many attractions from spectacular natural landscapes to distinct cultural experiences.
All of this is within an hour of the city’s heaving downtown.
From my earlier visits, I had explored almost all of Hong Kong’s well-known sights but never had an opportunity to venture to Lantau Island.
Attractions on Lantau Island
So during my recent visit to Hong Kong, I sign up for a tour to experience a few of Lantau Island’s charms.
These days, Lantau Island is becoming pretty popular with tourists too.
Lantau Island is mostly natural parkland with theme parks, tourist sites, hiking trails, seashores and beaches.
With a population of only 60,000, Lantau Island is a hideaway from the urban crowds of Hong Kong. If you want to get away from seven million people crammed into a small space, Lantau Island is the place to go!
A major attraction for travel to Lantau Island is the 5.7 km 20-minute journey from Hong Kong Island on the Ngong Ping Cable Car. The cable car ride offers breathtaking bird’s eye vistas of the surrounding landscape.
Lantau Island Buddha
On Lantau Island, a giant bronze figure of Lord Buddha dominates the skyline. This gracious statue is located in Ngong Ping Village and is the key drawcard for visitors to Lantau Island.
The Lantau Island Buddha is possibly the tallest outdoor statue of Buddha in a sitting position. Locally known as Tian Tan Buddha, it faces north towards China and sits 26.4 metres atop a lotus throne. The total height from the base is an impressive 34 metres.
There are 268 steps from the ground to the three tier podium where it rests. Close by is the Po Lin Monastery, a historic Buddhist sanctum, regularly frequented by pilgrims from all over the world.
After browsing the Buddhist world, I move to the nearby Tai O Fishing Village.
Tai O Fishing Village
The village has been the home of the Tanaka people, whose livelihood for generations has been fishing in the surrounding waterways.
Their houses built on stilts are interconnected, symbolising a tightly knit community.
Boating through the waterways provides a closer view of these dwelling dens and the quaint lifestyle of their occupants. While voyaging past the housing structures, if you’re lucky, you might spot pink dolphins dancing in the water.
The best way to end the tour is by dining at the Tai O Heritage Hotel, which was once a police station. It’s now a nine room boutique hotel. With history and heritage as my dining companion, I enjoy a delicious meal and leave the shores of Lantau Island with a promise to return
Discover Hong Kong
Getting There – Fly Cathay Pacific direct to Hong Kong
Accommodation – Stay at the conveniently located ibis Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan Hotel provided with free WIFI anywhere in the hotel.
Airport Service – The Airport Express, one of the world’s leading Airport railway systems offers sure links between Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and Hong Kong’s Central business hub.
Getting Around – Metered taxis are cheap and safe to use but the efficient underground rail system (MRT) is the best option when getting around Hong Kong. The stations are well signposted. Another option is to take the double-decker tram, which operates on Hong Kong Island only.
More Info – See www.discoverhongkong.com