Travel period Feb 2014
Lantau Island is the largest outlying island, and a melting pot of local culture. It is home to Hong Kong’s most famous landmark such as Tsing Ma Bridge, Po Lin Monastery and Cable Car.
With enchanting beaches and quaint fishing villages crafting its shores, ancient monasteries and temples nestling among its lush mountains, Lantau is truly a picturesque getaway from the metropolis.
Getting to the Island
We went to Lantau Island late in the afternoon. In order to get to Lantau Island, you will need to ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, which takes you from Tung Chung up to the Big Buddha. MTR: board the Tung Chung Line train from Kowloon Station going to Tung Chung Station (the last station). Ngong Ping Cable Car station is just a 5 minutes’ walk away from Tung Chung Station exit B.
The queues for the cable car are long. Fortunately we had our own tour guide so that also bumped us to the front of the line which is totally worth it.
Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
Ngong Ping Cable Car connects downtown Tung Chung and Ngong Ping on Lantau Island. Adopting a safe and reliable bi-cable ropeway, the cable car is first-of-its-kind in Hong Kong. This is the recommended way to get to the island.
I was so excited as we approached the front of the line and in a way a little more entertaining as you anticipate each cable car approaching.
The journey begins from Tung Chung, crossing Tung Chung Bay to reach the angle station on Airport Island and turning 60 degrees towards North Lantau. The ride itself takes about twenty-five minutes and took us over some of the island’s most beautiful scenery.
During the ride we were greeted by a magnificent view of the valleys and the vast mountain ranges, the reservoirs and the sea, the Chek Lap Kok Airport and the complexes of high-rise buildings just going up in Tung Chung.
There are three types of cabin you can choose from; Standard cabin, Crystal cabin – which has a transparent glass bottom and Private cabin – which give you queue-free ticketing service and priority boarding.
Ngong Ping Village
Alight from the cable car cabin and you will arrive at Ngong Ping Village. This picturesque open-air village is a culturally themed village designed and landscaped to integrate into the scenic nature of Ngong Ping. Many said this is the spiritual home of the Tian Tan Buddha.
The Tian Tan Buddha
The extraordinary Tian Tan Buddha statue sitting 34 meters high and facing north to look towards mainland China, this majestic bronze Buddha is truly a staggering site to witness.
It is a statue of Amoghasiddhi Buddha who represents the wisdom of perfect practice and overcoming the poison of envy. He is shown with his right hand raised to deliver a blessing to all.
There are 268 steps leading up to the Big Buddha from the Po Lin Monastery below. Apparently, there are plenty of wide landings to give you space to enjoy the view of the town below.
If walk up not your thing then there are plenty of buses going that way. We joined an organised tour on this day, so the bus was organised for us to go up instead of walk up.
There are six smaller bronze statues around the base holding up their offerings. These are known as ‘offerings of the six Devas’. The offerings and their symbolism are flowers (charity), incense (morality), lamp (patience), ointments (zeal), fruit (meditation) and music (wisdom), all requirements for entry to nirvana.
From the base around the Big Buddha there are spectacular views of the sweeping mountain and the sea below. We were given half an hour to wander around and admiring it from all angles.
Unfortunately, photos are often hazy due to the smog levels in Hong Kong. On the day we went it wasn’t clear, fog and clouds are slowly rolling in, obscuring parts of the Buddha’s head. However, the fog serves only to make the Buddha seem all the more mystical.
There’s a temple and museum inside the Big Buddha, we walked through it and gained more information about the construction of the Tian Tan Buddha statue.
Po Lin Monastery
Po Lin Monastery is a Buddhist monastery, located on Ngong Ping Plateau, on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. It is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed ‘the Buddhist World in the South’.
The formal gate to Po Lin Monastery is very impressive and you are able to enter through the gate to the temple. The Main Shrine Hall shows the Buddhas of Three Worlds, Buddha Sakyamuni, Buddha Bhaisajyaguru – Master of Healing and Buddha Amitabha – The Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life.
Outside the monastery, worshipers be able to light incense and bow to the four directions, and offering prayers.
Tai O Fishing Village
Once we saw all the sights at Ngong Ping, we took a bus down the mountain to the village of Tai O. Tai O is a traditional fishing village in the West coast of Lantau Island. It is a quaint and picturesque village, with the traditional stilt houses predominant of the old Southern Chinese fishing villages.
Set on the coast framed by the mountains, with tiny shops and shrines dotted throughout, this humble village is still popular for its dried seafood and traditional way of life.
The market is a feast to the eyes, we stroll through the alley lined with stalls selling various dried seafood and vegetables.
Located within the centuries-old fishing village of Tai O, there is a showroom stars relics of the local community’s intriguing past, including fishing tools and dismantled old structures.
As the sun was setting down, we made our way to return to the city with a ferry ride from the island. It was a delightfully different way to view Hong Kong and Lantau.
We really enjoyed our day at Lantau Island. The whole experience was both educating and stimulating, including cultural learning and views of beautiful landscapes.
Note: The information provided in this post was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service.
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