Written From… A sweltering hot common room in a hostel in Airlie Beach, Australia
Home to the famous Tian Tan Buddha and the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, Lantau Island is located just west of Hong Kong Island at the mouth of the Pearl River. Boasting mountainous landscapes perfect for hiking, with the summit home to Ngong Ping village and views of spectacular sunrises, taking some time out to head to this small island is a must do when visiting Hong Kong. There are plenty of things to see and do on Lantau Island, so make sure you have the whole day free.
On my recent trip to Hong Kong I was fortunate enough to go over to the Island and experience both the stunning scenery, and man-made temples.
How to get to the island and the summit
To get to Lantau Island you have to get on the MTR’s Tung Chung line to Tung Chung station. From the station, there are two ways to get to the summit You can either hike using one of the two trails, or you can get Hong Kong’s famous cable car, Ngong Ping 360, for the 30 minute scenic ride over the ocean and up the mountain.. With the cable car you can choose to get a basic ticket – single or return which cost me around $210 for a standard cabin – or opt for a package deal where you will be part of a tour taking you around the island so you don’t miss a thing.
Ngong Ping Village
Traditional Chinese Architecture in Ngong Ping Village – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
Once you get to the summit you will find yourself in a small village surrounded by traditional chinese architecture – Ngong Ping Village. The village boasts small shops, including a tea garden that holds regular demonstrations, a store dedicated to chopsticks, and many places to buy souvenirs and get a bite to eat. Take a casual stroll through the village before heading off up to Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.
Tian Tan Buddha – The Big Buddha
Taken From the Base of Tian Tan Buddha – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
One of the main attractions on Lantau Island is the 34 meter tall bronze Tian Tan Buddha. The Tian Tan Buddha, also known as The Big Buddha, was completed in 1993 and sits atop a lotus flower, facing North, looking out over China and its people. To get close to this magnificent statue you will need to climb 268 stairs, where not only will you be able to get a closer look at the Buddha and its interior, but you’ll also get a panoramic view of the island and the ocean below.
Po Lin Monastery
Megan Outside Po Lin Monastery – Photo by Luis Carrillo, taken with Canon EOS 550D Digital SLR Camera
The Po Lin Monastery is located just a bit further back from the Tian Tan Buddha and is a popular tourist attraction and a popular place of worship. You will see many people coming to worship and place incense offerings – please respect those worshipping. Inside the Po Lin Monastery you will find the shrine hall, the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a meditation hall and a scripture library. This monastery was originally founded by 3 monks and was a small place of worship, it has since then grown after the building of The Great Hall and is now seen as a place of pilgrimage for those wishing to worship.
Boasting mountainous landscapes perfect for hiking, with the summit home to Ngong Ping village and views of spectacular sunrises, taking some time out to head to this small island is a must do when visiting Hong Kong.
Abandoned Tea Garden
Inside the Workers House – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
On the way to the Wisdom Path you will pass through a derelict tea garden. Without looking properly you may miss the abandoned tea shop and houses located at either side of the path. This tea garden was apparently opened around 1947 by a British man named Brook Antony Bernacchi after he bought 200 acres of land from a former nunnery. He then built a tea farm and opened a tea garden to give released prisoners a way to earn their own living. This garden was a place where locals would come and enjoy the locally grown tea. Today the area remains eerily derelict – looking into the workers house on the right hand side you can see where beds have been left abandoned. We still don’t know why this tea garden was abandoned, so if you know please drop a comment below.
The Wisdom Path – Photo by Megan Jessica, taken with Panasonic Lumix G7
After walking through the abandoned tea garden you will reach a small wooded area which opens out to the Wisdom Path on the right. The Wisdom path is a small circular route completed in 2005 which encompass 38 wooden beams. These beams, inscribed with the Heart Sutra, were placed into a figure-of-eight to represent infinity. The calligraphic work of the Heart Sutra was given to Hong Kong and its people by Professor Jao Tsung-I in 2002 and was then constructed into the outdoor monument you can walk around today.
Tai O Fishing Village
Tai O Fishing Village – Photo by Aapo Haapanen
This village is home to a fishing community who have built their homes on stilts, above the tidal flats of Lantau Island. This is one of the few places you can still see the traditional stilt houses in Hong Kong. Here you will find a market to walk around and many boats that will take you around the harbour to get a closer look the houses above the water.
I had a fantastic time in Lantau Island and would highly recommend it. Make sure you get there early so you have the whole day to explore as you can easily lose track of time when taking in the beauty of the Monastery or walking around the villages.