Lantau Island Is The Ideal Hong Kong Weekender Away From The City
It’s no secret Hong Kong is a buzzing super-city. Home to more than seven million people crammed into Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, it’s brilliantly hectic, busy, and can be difficult to catch a break. But it isn’t all buildings and business in Hong Kong.
Did you know 60 percent of the land is rural? Did you know about the surrounding islands? Only a short ferry ride away, Lantau Island, the biggest of them all, is where it’s at for a weekend getaway from the buzz of the city.
You may know the island as being the location of Hong Kong International Airport, but there’s far more to it than being a transit hub. You can visit old fishing villages, climb one of the highest peaks in Hong Kong and work on your tan, all in one weekend. Lantau takes some beating because it has just that and tons more.
Po Lin Monastery And The Big Buddha
One of Hong Kong’s postcard attractions, you check out this key site in HK and head to the Tian Tan Buddha (aka, Big Buddha) when on Lantau. One of the largest sitting buddhas in the world, it’s best to get here early and get your selfie before the hordes arrive.
Po Lin Monastery, you’ll be happy to know, sits opposite the Big Buddha. This century-old complex is an important Buddhist site, and is full of statues, shrines, prayer halls and courtyards. It’s worth taking a wander to see what this working monastery contains. This place is a big deal to Buddhist worshippers so remember to be respectful.
Take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car from Tung Chung to get there. You’ll take in epic views of Lantau on your way.
Adult tickets are HK$210 (AU$36) return.
Sunset Peak is Hong Kong’s third-highest peak and makes a top-notch half-day hike, reaching around 730m high.
Be warned before you start: if you hike to Sunset Peak from Mui Wo, the walk is almost immediately uphill, and stays that way for a couple of hours. That being said, the path is marked out with plenty of signs along the way. Trust us, it’s definitely worth the (hard) work.
As you make it out into the open there is little shade, but that’s when you start to see the epic views. On one side you have Discovery Bay by the South China Sea and the other, Hong Kong International Airport. Also keep an eye out for century-old stone huts built by British missionaries.
Keep walking and you’ll make it to Sunset Peak in about three hours, encountering the stunning views over Lantau Island. Take snacks, plenty of water and a hat.
Perhaps even more enticing Lantau Peak towers over Sunset Peak, rising to 934m – it’s the second-highest peak in Hong Kong.
The sunrise views from Lantau Peak are incredible, but if you tackle it during the day you’ll still have a great walk through rolling hills with sightlines out the twisting coast of the Lantau Island.
The walk takes about two hours to the top and is a challenging climb, but definitely worth the time.
The sleepy coastal town of Mui Wo often flies under the radar for most weekenders but this is why you’ll love it. Mui Wo doesn’t have all the fuss like Lamma Island has, it has a laid-back local feel to it.
Live like a local and buy your food and drinks from the store or market and use the outdoor BBQs on Silvermine Beach. If you’d rather buy than BBQ, walk to China Beach Bar, almost hidden away at the end of Silvermine Beach. The place is an old concrete building but has good food, drinks and vibes.
Mui Wo is a good spot to base yourself if you want to explore Lantau Island over a few days.
Tai O Fishing Village
Throwback yourself back in time at Tai O, a fishing village on Lantau Island. As they have done for generations, the people here build their houses on stilts over the water.
The village is definitely a popular attraction, but far less in the thick of it than the main areas of Hong Kong. Wander the chilled-out town, and check out the market. There’s also a number of places to get a seafood feed.
Pro tip: You can often see endangered pink dolphins in the waters surrounding Tai O.
There are fewer big attractions in Discovery Bay – but if you’re all about checking out local haunts that probably doesn’t matter. Locals and visitors flock here for one of two reasons: the beaches or the shopping. While it might be convenient, the prices are better elsewhere in Hong Kong, so sitting beachside is a much better idea.
If you do want to check it Discovery Bay out, head to Tai Pak Wan beach. Take your time in the sun before heading to the neighbouring restaurant precinct, where you can eat overlooking the water. Fair warning though, this area is also popular with families with children.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Speaking of kids… We know you’re not 10 years old anymore but who doesn’t still have a big kid inside? Head to Hong Kong Disneyland, located on Lantau Island, to have fun on Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Mountain, geek out over Marvel superhero experiences, or eat Disney character-themed dim sum. For HK$619 (AU$108) you can get your ticket and relive your childhood.
Also check out our guide to 48 hours in Hong Kong for more.
(Lead image: Hong Kong Tourism Board)