Any good trip to Hong Kong requires a trip to Lantau Island. Inevitably, you’ll probably spend some time there due to the airport location, so you might as well make a day of it! There are some fantastic spots around the island that are unique and definitely worthy of a visit!
I spent a few days in Lantau Island visiting my aunt who lives there in a small village called Tong Fuk. Her husband is a pilot and my cousin goes to school in Discovery Bay (an ex-pat community nearby). We certainly had the local’s perspective during the trip that balanced out all the touristy things we inevitably had to do!
First start the morning off with breakfast in the airport. It sounds cheesy, but there is some great food at the shops in the concourse outside security in Terminal 1, and many of the restaurants (somehow) boast Michelin stars. I had just the craziest culture shock while I was there as Hong Kong breakfast doesn’t remotely resemble a Western breakfast and I didn’t even know where to start. I learned that you can have noodles for breakfast, but not rice. They don’t serve rice until lunch. Unless its congee, which is like rice porridge. That’s fine.
Afterward breakfast, head on over to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car station to buy tickets to see the Big Buddha on the mountain. During peak tourist seasons, this line can be quite long so be prepared. The cable cars are totally worth it though and the views of the bay and the island are incredible. If you’re the more adventurous type, you can also hike up the mountain. My cousin (track star in training) has done this and it took a few hours.
Near the entrance of the cable car line is a shopping mall where we parked our car. Before we grabbed tickets, we popped into a local market to see all the exotic produce, meats and seafood for sale. I recognized about 10% of the items for sale. Really incredible the diversity in cuisines!
The cable car ride is about 25 minutes and takes you over the bay (you can opt for a car with a see-through bottom!) to the small village of Ngong Ping. At the entrance of the cable car station is a small tourist district at the base of the Tian Tan Buddha mountain. At the top of a large staircase is a giant bronze Buddha that overlooks the island. Nearby is Po Lin Monastery, an active Buddhist temple with ornate gold decorations, fresh fruit offerings, chanting monks, and loads of burning incense. If you’re lucky, you might also see a wild cow walking around the street.
After the Big Buddha, walk back to the village and catch Bus 2 to Tai O village at the bottom of the mountain. It’s a small fishing village built seemingly, precariously on the edge of the water. We spent the afternoon walking around visiting small temples, and sampling local specialties like egg waffles and Chinese donuts. For $20HK, we negotiated with a fishing boat captain for a tour (ask around for the best price), and did a short tour through the canals and out into the bay. Although we didn’t see any, there are sometimes dolphins out in the open water.
After Tai O, it’s off to the Lantau beaches for some relaxing (although, the water isn’t too clean) or the hills for some hiking, you might even stumble upon some small temples nestled into the cliffs. There’s an adorable section of beach with a few restaurants on it (The Stoep, The Beach House)—perfect for a relaxing dinner while watching the sun set.
Depending on your itinerary, Crystal Jade in the airport is also delightful spot for dinner—highly recommend the Shanghai noodles—or the shops in Discovery Bay (we had Thai at Koh Tomyums). Discovery Bay is a large ex-pat community (also home to Disneyland China) and ferry dock for getting to more adventures on the Hong Kong mainland!
Of all my Asian travels, Hong Kong has been my favorite destination. I loved the beaches, the weather, the diversity of cuisines and the big city vibes. Lantau Island was such a positive first impression of the country, and I would 110% jump at an opportunity to go back to take advantage of the beautiful hiking trails and beaches.
Lantau island is the perfect day trip from the busy Hong Kong city. If you’re interested in other nearby adventures, check out my post for 24 Hours in Macau—another great day trip from Hong Kong!