If you’re feeling the urge to escape the Hong Kong hustle, then a day trip to Lantau, Hong Kong’s largest island, is your passport-free ticket to total relaxation. Playing host to a vibrant variety of fascinating corners, Lantau Island offers an escape from the concrete jungle to lush greenery and beautiful beaches.
Tung Chung and Ngong Ping
Alight the MTR at Tung Chung, Lantau Island’s main transport terminus. Here, you’ll find Citygate Outlet Mall, home to a staggering 460,000 square feet of designer discounts from the likes of Kate Spade, Shanghai Tang, and Coach. Continue on past Tung Chung’s main bus station to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car terminus.
With cable cars operating daily, this gentle and visually stunning six-kilometre journey is the perfect way to enjoy panoramic views of Lantau’s lush native flora, along with a pilot ‘s eye view of Hong Kong International Airport. If you’re feeling especially brave, Ngong Ping’s glass-bottomed crystal cabins offer a unique perspective on the passing scenery.
Ngong Ping village’s main attraction is Tian Tan Buddha, also fondly known as the Big Buddha. Perched atop 268 steps, this huge deity is viewable from Macau on a clear day and is an important shrine for Hong Kong’s Buddhist population. Adjacent to the Buddha is the serene Po Lin Monastery, which dates back to 1906 and offers a place of worship for Buddhists making their pilgrimages. The monastery’s on-site restaurant offers simple, yet delicious vegetarian fare.
Another great reason to visit Tung Chung is Lantau’s famous, and now sadly endangered, pink dolphins. Although it is possible to take a small speedboat out to view these majestic marine mammals, Hong Kong Dolphin Watch offers an alternative with a program that follows strict ethical and eco-sensitive tour policies and invests a percentage of profits into conservation efforts.
Board Bus 21 from Ngong Ping and wind your way down mountain roads to Tai O, Hong Kong’s oldest fishing village. Although a major tourist attraction, this rural community has lost none of its rustic charm, a rarity in this skyscraper city. Squeeze through narrow streets between houses balanced precariously on stilts over the tide, and you will discover delicious, traditional street food delicacies ranging from fish balls to egg waffles.
South Lantau Beaches
Depart Tai O via Bus 1 to get a glimpse of yet another side of Lantau. Hop off at Lower Cheung Sha for a swim and a bite to eat at South African beachfront diner, The Stoep, or head along the coast to Pui O for expert cocktails and scrumptious food against the rhythm of live DJs at the surf shack-themed Mavericks beach bar. Your dining companions for the evening? Lantau’s famous wild buffalo!
Your final stop is Mui Wo. This charming rural town is wrapped around a picturesque natural bay and offers safe and clean water for swimming, along with changing facilities, barbecue pits, and lifeguards throughout the high season.
There’s an abundance of eating and drinking options as well, ranging from the newly opened Café Isara with a fiery Thai fusion menu in a relaxed beachside setting, to Bahce Turkish restaurant, renowned throughout Hong Kong for its authentic Middle Eastern cuisine. Located pierside, The China Bear makes for the ideal spot to enjoy a beer while waiting for the ferry back to Central that will whisk you back to reality—at least, until next time.