Hong Kong is famous for many things: diverse food, bustling markets, fascinating history, tiny hotel rooms… However, there’s a whole other side to the special administrative region just next to Shenzhen, and that’s what I fell in love with on my third trip to the Pearl of the Orient. Outside the main city are a number of islands and peninsulas with ample hiking and outdoor sightseeing opportunities. In addition to the stunning Sai Kung Park which I visited during my first few days, I also made a day trip to Lantau Island to see a few classic sights: the Tian Tan Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, and Tai O Fishing village. There are so many things to do in Hong Kong — it was tough to decide how to spend my time!
When I went to Hong Kong, I knew at once I wanted to write a story set there.” – Paul Theroux
Getting to Lantau Island
Getting to Lantau Island is easy: take the metro. There are other options, of course. You could take a cab, or a bus, or even the ferry. But the metro is quick, easy, and cheap, and it gets you straight to Tung Chung, which can serve as the jumping off point for any of the below attractions.
- Take the Tung Chung (Orange) Line to Tung Chung Station.
Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
At 34 meters tall and over 250 metric tons, the Tian Tan Buddha looms over all who approach it. The grandeur of the deity is aided by the steep ascent — 268 steps straight up the side of the hill.
The views from the top are stunning, and the Po Lin Monastery just below is an added bonus. Spend a couple hours walking the grounds, nomming vegetarian temple food, and enjoying the (relatively) fresh air. Just before you go, spend a few minutes strolling through Ngong Ping village. It’s touristy and modern but is charming and well worth a look.
- Take the cable car from Tung Chung Station
- Take bus #23 from the Tung Chung bus depot (located across the street from the long-distance buses next to the metro)
Tai O Fishing Village
Down a harrowing mountain road lies the quaint little fishing village of Tai O. Compared to the frenetic urban hive that is Hong Kong, Tai O is a place which seems lost in a different time, when life moved at a slower pace and people lived off the land around them. Its narrow alleys and canal-side alcoves make for an enchanting stroll — you never know what you’ll stumble across.
Perhaps my favorite thing to do in Tai O is watching the day-to-day life of its residents. There are so many little nooks and crannies to explore, and the people are friendly and welcoming.
No day trip to Lantau Island would be complete without some of Tai O’s seafood, as most is caught fresh and prepared by any number of food stalls in the market area. My favorite? The cheesy grilled lobster. So freaking delicious!
- From Ngong Ping, take bus #21 to Tai O
After a Day Trip to Lantau Island
After your day, consider taking the ferry back to the Central District and having a tasty dinner at one of the many restaurants there. Hollywood Road and the SoHo area are chock full of fancy little eateries, bistros, and even the odd brewery for those craving some comfort food. Even though Alisha and I missed the last ferry and had to take the metro back, we thoroughly enjoyed our burritos!
- From Tai O, take bus #1 to Mui Wo Ferry Terminal, then take the ferry to Central. *Just be sure to check the bus times and ferry times so you don’t miss the last departure like we did* 😉
There you have it! An awesome day trip to Lantau Island, which is just waiting for you to explore it. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below.