For traveling families that visit Hong Kong, taking a day trip to Hong Kong’s largest outlying island, Lantau is recommended. Apart from Disneyland Hong Kong, the island Lantau is famous for its untouched nature, luscious green valleys, and the giant outdoor Buddha statue.
This island of fishing people, Hong Kong’s largest, has grown into a tourist hub with the Tung Chung New Town, Lantau Link, Ngong Ping 360, and Hong Kong International Airport.
To get to Lantau from Hong Kong, the best and fastest method is to take the Tung Chung metro line to the island. Subways in China are well organized, clearly labeled and color coordinated so one shouldn’t feel any anxiety if this is their first time traveling. If worst comes to worst travelers can always try to ask someone for help.
There are plenty of interesting ways to get around while in Lantau. We felt it would be pertinent to list some of these methods here, both for water and land transportation.
It is important for travelers to know the three types of taxis available in Hong Kong. The taxis are color coded according to their service areas. The red taxis travel the urban areas. The green taxis service the New Territories. Finally, all Lantau Island taxis are blue. These blue taxis take travelers anywhere on Lantau Island as well as to the Hong Kong Airport and Hong Kong Disneyland.
New Lantau Bus
For bus services, the New Lantau Bus provides island transportation. There are many bus routes, nearly all of which end at Mui Wo pier and Tung Chung. Depending on the destination, fares can range from three dollars to forty-three dollars.
Travelers seeking a relaxing transportation method can enjoy a cable car. One such cable car is the Ngong Ping 360, a gondola lift operated by the MTR. This cable car runs over Tung Chung Bay between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping. The Cable Car now offers Crystal Cabins with see-through floors.
Permits for Dangerous Roads
Lantau Island has many dangerous roads, particular in the southern areas. Those with vehicles need a temporary permit to travel these roads. These have a strict use time limit of eight am – seven pm, and are only available on the weekdays.
What to See
Ngong Ping Plateau
The Ngong Ping Plateau is a great stop with access to a lot of interesting sights. Visitors can find the Po Lin Monastery here and enjoy its famous vegetarian restaurant, the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. The best way to get there is to take the Ngong Ping 360 from Tung Chung.
Once travelers get off the cable car, they can explore the tourist street in Ngong Ping Village. Here, visitors can enjoy some familiar favorites like Starbucks before heading out to explore.
This 34-meter tall statue is a sight to behold on the island. The Giant Buddha, also known as the Tian Tan Buddha, is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. Interestingly, this statue is the only one of the five that faces north, while all other others face south. The statue sits on a lotus, which sits on a three-platform altar, and is surrounded by six bronze statues offering gifts to the Buddha, called “The Offering of the Six Devas,” which symbolize the Six Perfections.
Travelers can explore the three floors under the statues. These levels, called the Halls of the Universe, of Benevolent Merit, and of Remembrance, feature relics. One of these relics is the supposed cremated remains of Gautama Buddha, which can only bee seen by those who purchase an offering for the Buddha.
To see the Buddha up close, travelers need to climb 268 steps or drive up the winding road for the disabled. The journey is well worth it as travelers can get fantastic views of the island.
Tai O is a fishing town in the northwest part of Lantau Island. This place features stilt houses or homes on the water that tourists come from all over the world to see. Tai O is a historic town, existing for over three centuries, and one can see living history with the townsfolk’s use of traditional fishing boats, though fishing is dying out in the area. Travelers can move through the town’s narrow footpaths and alleyways and experience the interconnected community of the area.
Visitors can try salted fish, a traditional Chinese dish, or shrimp paste. Adventurous travelers can try the local dried seafood, like fish skin or stomachs. They can also explore the Tai O Market and bring back a souvenir. Tai O is mostly a relaxing, tranquil place where travelers can rest after a long day or between other locations of interest.
For a fee, some residents can take groups out on boats for a sea trip. Travelers can see rare Chinese white dolphins and other aspects of sea life.
Tai O is home to several temples dedicated to various gods and figures. While in Tai O, we saw two of these temples, the Kwan Tai Temple and the Hung Shing Temple.
The Kwan Tai Temple is a place of worship for the locals of the island. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1488, this temple is in the center of the village of Tai O. The temple is elaborately decorated, dedicated to the god Kwan Tai, of War and Righteousness.
Hung Shing Temple was built in 1746 by villagers. Many locals in Tai O worship sea gods, especially since Tai O is based on the water, and Hung Shing is dedicated to a sea god.
Shaolin Kung Fu Performances
Shaolin Kung Fu is one of the oldest styles of Chinese Martial Arts. It was first practiced in the Buddhist Shaolin Temple. When we visited, we saw an incredible Shaolin performance, and we have a video of it at the end of this article.
Travelers looking to enjoy the scenery can enjoy one of Lantau’s many national parks and trails. The most famous of these is Lantau Trail, featuring natural stone steps and dense woodland.
Tung Chung Fort
History buffs will love visiting Tung Chung Fort. This fort, built in 1817, helped hold back the opium trade and defend against pirates. In WWII, the Japanese army occupied this fort, and in 1979 it was listed as a historical monument of Hong Kong. Visitors can see its six old cannons.
Trappist Haven Monastery (Our Lady of Joy Abbey)
Roman Catholic monks live in the Trappist Haven Monastery, officially known as Our Lady of Joy Abbey, at Tai Shu Hang to this day. The Trappist congregation was established in the nineteenth century and is still going strong. This monastery is known for its Trappist Milk, though the factor is today location at Castle Peak, Yuen Long. Visitors can see free roaming feral cattle, the descendants of the animals released after the onsite dairy farm closed.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Hong Kong is in a sub-tropical climate, which is hot and frequently humid. We suggest that parents pack plenty of light clothes that can easily be layered as well as comfortable walking shoes and umbrellas.
- Many of Lantau’s must-see locations are outdoors, so we suggest parents pack sunscreen, sunglasses, bug spray, and plenty of water.
- Parents of kids with temperature sensitivities should visit during the cooler seasons.
- Many of these attractions have tours. We suggest signing up for these and purchasing tickets ahead of time.
- The Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant is cheap, and kids can often eat for free. The bathrooms are out the back of the restaurant.