From the showstopping Big Buddha to scenic mountain hikes and fishing villages with houses on stilts to Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island is a must-visit destination for travelers to Hong Kong.
This island is a fun, jam-packed-with-goodness destination located just a short ferry ride away from Hong Kong. With the abundance of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and exciting activities to explore, it’s no surprise that Lantau Island is one of the most popular tourist spots among travelers who find themselves in the Hong Kong area.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day trip or one that keeps the excitement going until the very last drop of daylight, Lantau Island is going to be a memorable one.
My goal is to share with you the exact itinerary that I did when I visited Lantau Island for the first time years ago. I promise it’s jam-packed with local sights and culture at every turn, featuring some of the island’s top attractions!
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What Is Lantau Island Known For?
Lantau Island is the largest island in Hong Kong, located in the southwest of the territory. It is known for its beautiful natural landscapes, including mountains, beaches, and forests.
The history of Lantau Island dates back to ancient times, originally inhabited by the indigenous Tanka people, who lived off the land and sea.
During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Lantau Island was a relatively isolated and impoverished area. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it began to be developed as a hub for agriculture, fishing, and trade. In the 1980s, the Hong Kong government began to develop Lantau Island as a tourist destination, and it has since become a popular spot for both local and international visitors.
Lantau Island is known for its many attractions, including the Tian Tan Buddha, a massive bronze statue of the Buddha that sits atop a hill on the island. Hiking lovers will enjoy the many popular hikes on the island, such as the Wisdom Path or Lantau Peak.
The island is also home to the Hong Kong Disneyland theme park and the Hong Kong International Airport, as well as a number of charming fishing villages, such as Tai O, where traditional stilt houses are still used by local residents.
As you can already tell, Lantau Island offers many attractions worth a day trip! We’ll be diving into each of them a lot more below so you can plan the perfect day trip to Lantau Island.
Lantau Island: Essential Travel Tips
- Don’t forget to pack your trusty Octopus Card for easy transportation and quick purchases.
- If you plan on using the internet for Google Maps, and even random internet searches when there’s no WiFi around, I’d highly recommend picking up a Hong Kong prepaid SIM card. I did HK without a SIM card (just used T-Mobile’s free international roaming) and while Google Maps worked fine, even basic Google searches would take ages to load.
- Make sure to download Google Maps and Google Translate on your phone. That way, you can check bus/train schedules, access maps, navigate to your stops on foot, and read food menus easily.
- Lantau Island is quite large by Hong Kong standards, but it’s definitely not as populated as Hong Kong Island. Therefore, you shouldn’t expect the island to be littered with taxis. If you’re not able to catch a taxi to wherever you want to go, opt for the bus. The bus network is extensive!
- The best time to visit Lantau Island is from October to December when the weather is cool and dry. After January, the weather tends to get a bit more rainy and overcast. Summers are warm and sunny, but there could be occasional tropical storms.
- The weather in Hong Kong can be quite unpredictable during certain seasons, and rain is not uncommon. Make sure you pack a travel umbrella when visiting.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a packable puffy jacket or packable windproof rain jacket – because Lantau Island is, well, an island, it can get windy and breezy during certain seasons!
- Get an early start on your Lantau Island day trip–there’s a lot to see! Because the cable car opens up at 10am, work backward to determine what time you should leave your home base. If it takes 1 hour to get to Tung Chung, leave your hotel/accommodation around 9am.
- Don’t forget to bring some light snacks with you, along with some water. There will be lots of chances to eat at food establishments throughout the day on this day trip.
- There are a lot of wild animals–don’t bug them and they won’t bug you!
Lantau Island Day Trip Itinerary
Take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
To kick off your Lantau Island day trip, we’ll start by going in the direction of Big Buddha. The most iconic way of getting there? Taking a glass-bottomed cable car up there!
The Ngong Ping 360 cable car is a must-do on any first-timers’ trip to Lantau Island. This 25-minute cable car ride takes you from Tung Chung up to the Ngong Ping Village and Tian Tan Buddha, offering stunning views of the island and the South China Sea along the way.
Once at the top, you can explore the little village, then walk up the 268 steps to the Buddha and learn about its history and significance in Buddhist culture.
You can find more details on how to take the cable car at the end of this post.
Pro Tip: If you buy your cable car tickets with Klook (some options are at a discounted price), you get to go in the exclusive lane which is shorter a lot of the times!
Stroll through Ngong Ping Village
When you arrive at the top after hopping off the cable car, you will first walk through Ngong Ping Village.
This cultural village is home to a range of souvenir shops, restaurants, and mini attractions, including 3D backdrops you can pose with and other random photo spots that kids will love.
If you’re hungry for a snack or even breakfast, now would be a good time to sit down and grab some food before moving on to the next attraction.
If it’s a chilly day, pick yourself up a warm Vitasoy soymilk from the snack shops or outdoor vendors. This is where I first tried warm soymilk (my mom said she loved these as a kid when she lived in HK) — I was hooked after the first sip!
As you walk through the village, you will eventually get to Ngong Ping Piazza where you may run into some Chinese cows/water buffalo! This is the base of your trek up to the Big Buddha itself.
Once you’re done taking pictures of the super postcard-perfect archways and surroundings, it’s time to muster up some energy to walk up a couple hundred steps!
See Tian Tan Buddha
Next up is the Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, which is one of Hong Kong’s most iconic landmarks.
This giant bronze statue stands at a height of over 100-feet tall (34 meters) and is the world’s tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha. Walk up the 268 steps to the Buddha and learn about its history and significance in Buddhist culture.
This walk is pretty incredible because of the sheer size of the statue. The closer you get to it, the larger it gets!
Once you reach the top, take a couple of breaths while taking in all the views of your natural surroundings.
At the top, you will have the opportunity to visit a small museum underneath the Buddha for an extra fee that includes a meal at the nearby Po Lin monastery.
You’ll also find six statues that surround the Big Buddha statue. These are “The Offering Of The Six Devas”, and you can see them holding flowers, incense, a lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha.
Visit the Po Lin Monastery
Located next to the Tian Tan Buddha is the Po Lin Monastery is a popular little stop for both tourists and locals.
Founded in 1906, this Buddhist monastery is home to over 100 monks and is known for its beautiful gardens, traditional Chinese architecture, and peaceful atmosphere. Visitors can take a tour of the monastery, attend a traditional Buddhist ceremony, or simply enjoy the serene surroundings.
The monastery also has a vegetarian restaurant on site, where you can sample delicious Buddhist-style dishes. The Wisdom Path is also located here!
Walk along the Wisdom Path
After visiting the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, take a short walk along the Wisdom Path. This peaceful trail is lined with 38 wooden pillars, each inscribed with a verse from the Heart Sutra, an important text in Mahayana Buddhism.
The trail winds through the forest, offering beautiful views and a chance to relax and reflect.
Explore Tai O Fishing Village
Tai O is a traditional fishing village located on the western coast of Lantau Island. Known for its picturesque stilt houses and quaint streets, Tai O is a great place to experience a different aspect of local culture and a slower way of life.
To get there you can either take bus #21 from Ngong Ping to Tai O or take a taxi over. Either will get you there in about 15 to 20 minutes.
You can take a boat tour of the village to see the houses and fish farms up close, or explore the streets on foot and try some of the local seafood at one of the many restaurants. You’ll also find shops catering to tourists at Tai O, especially those selling dried fish and shrimp paste.
And if Tai O Bakery happens to be open during your visit, do not miss your chance to try some of the best Chinese donuts on the island! It’s eggy, fluffy, and sugary goodness.
Tai O is also a popular spot for boat trips to see the pink dolphins that live nearby. If you’ve got time for one of these trips, you can find tour operators clustered around either side of the main bridge in the village. The most popular tour operator is Tai O Boat Excursion Limited, located on the south side.
And if you’ve worked up an appetite at this point, Tai O has a wide range of local restaurants, so now would be a good time to get in a real meal before heading back to the city!
Head back to the city
To leave Tai O, you can take the bus from Tai O to Tung Chung and hop back on the MTR.
If you want to take the cable car back down, just take the bus back to Ngong Ping and head for the cable car stand. Please note that the cable car hours are from 10 am – 6 pm.
Other Things To Do On Lantau Island
Not feeling one of the stops on our itinerary or finding yourself with more free time than you thought? Here are a few other things you could do on Lantau Island — some will require a whole additional day to get to (like Hong Kong Disneyland)!
Take a hike to Lantau Peak
Hiking Lantau Peak is a great way to experience the beauty of Lantau Island. Lantau Island is graced with Hong Kong’s second and third-highest mountains – Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak – as well as a variety of other (much easier) coastal paths.
The hike to Lantau Peak, though, offers spectacular views of the surrounding area and is one of the most popular things to do on Lantau Island, especially if you’re a hiking enthusiast!
Ascending from the ferry pier at Mui Wo, it’s a moderate two-hour trek up along Ngong Ping Plateau before reaching the summit. The trail winds its way through verdant forests and stunning mountain vistas, offering plenty of photo opportunities along the way.
Atop Lantau Peak lies an altitude marker where hikers can take in panoramic views of neighboring islands such as Cheung Chau and Lamma Island.
Nei Lak Shan Country Trail
The relatively easy 3.1-mile (5km) trail takes about two hours to complete and is very suitable for families and beginner hikers. Starting at the arch of “East Mountain Teaching” (the beginning of the Ancient Gateway), the trail takes you through dense vegetation as you overlook Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak.
Expect lots of scenic spots along the way!
To get to the trail, start in Ngong Ping. Follow signs for the YHA Ngong Ping SG Davis Youth Hostel. Walk past the hostel and walk 10 minutes more to reach the entrance of the country trail.
Hong Kong Disneyland
If you’re a Disney lover or traveling with kids, a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland is a must-do on Lantau Island.
Located in Penny’s Bay, this theme park is the first Disneyland in China and offers a range of classic and new rides, shows, and attractions. The park is divided into seven themed areas, including Main Street USA, Adventureland, Toy Story Land, and Tomorrowland.
Some of the park’s most popular attractions include the Mystic Manor, a dark ride through an enchanted mansion, and the Iron Man Experience, a 3D motion simulator ride based on the Marvel superhero. The Lion King live production show is pretty amazing too!
And personally speaking, the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars takes the cake in terms of the most exciting ride in the park.
While this Disneyland is a ton smaller compared to the parks in Anaheim, California or Orlando, Florida (it wouldn’t really be fair to compare them at all), this park is the perfect size for one full day!
Obviously, since Disneyland is a full-day ordeal, you’ll need to come back on a different day to fit this in.
Shopping at Tung Chung’s Citygate outlet mall
Tung Chung’s Citygate outlet mall is a shopping destination located in the Tung Chung neighborhood on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. It is a large, modern mall that features a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
At the Citygate outlet mall, shoppers can expect to find a range of international and local brands, including fashion, beauty, home decor, and electronics. The mall also has a number of dining options, ranging from fast food to sit-down restaurants. There are also a number of cafes and coffee shops where visitors can relax and take a break from shopping.
Mui Wo is a little town located on Lantau Island, known for its charming and laid-back vibes, beaches, and hip cafes/restaurants! It is a 30-minute boat ride from Central Pier, making it a good alternate starting point to Tung Chung for a Lantau Island day trip.
Here are a few things to do in Mui Wo:
- Go hiking: The area around Mui Wo is home to several hiking trails, including the Lantau Trail, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and sea.
- Go to Silvermine Bay Beach
- Visit the Mui Wo Silvermine Waterfall
Discovery Bay is a residential and resort area located on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. It is known for its beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere, providing a welcome escape from the busy-ness that’s typically found on Hong Kong Island. Here are a few things to do in Discovery Bay:
- Visit the beaches, including Tai Pak Beach and Siena Beach
- Go hiking: Discovery Bay Nature Trail and the Discovery Bay Country Park both offer beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and sea.
- Play golf: The Discovery Bay Golf Club offers a challenging 18-hole course with stunning views of the sea.
- Go shopping: The Discovery Bay Plaza and the DB North Plaza are popular shopping destinations in the area, with a range of stores, restaurants, and cafes.
- Do watersports: Discovery Bay is a great spot for watersports, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and windsurfing.
If you’re looking for food, there is a seafront boardwalk near the ferry pier at Discovery Bay, lined with a mix of Western and Asian restaurants.
Hit the beach
The south coast is best known for its beaches!
Lantau Island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Hong Kong, and a beach picnic day or sunset stroll along the sand is the perfect addition to any Lantau Island day trip.
Some popular beaches on the island include Pui O Beach, Tong Fuk Beach, and Cheung Sha Beach. After your beach day or your sunset stroll, you can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many seafood restaurants on the island before heading back to the city.
Take the kids to Noah’s Ark Hong Kong Theme Park
Noah’s Ark Theme Park is a smaller and quieter attraction (compared to Disneyland) that’s a great theme park alternative.
This theme park is actually located on a small island adjacent to Lantau Island and is connected by another big bridge.
This attraction offers a unique take on the legendary story of Noah’s Ark, with more than 60 rides and attractions spread out over 45 acres of land. Visitors can explore eight different themed areas, including ‘Noah’s World’, which features replicas of animals from the original ark, as well as ‘God’s Blessing’, which has an impressive Ferris wheel and other thrilling rides.
The park also features exciting live shows, interactive games, shopping arcades and beautiful gardens that are perfect for photo opportunities.
If you’re looking for a place to dine, Noah’s Ark Harvest House is known for its excellent seafood buffets and family-friendly atmosphere.
How To Get To Lantau Island
Getting to Lantau Island is easy, with several transportation options available.
In short, the MTR runs to Tung Chung, as do lots of buses from the city. From Tung Chung, you will cable car your way up to start your day trip itinerary. Or, you can take a ferry from Central to Mui Wo or Discovery Bay. Another ferry also runs between Tuen Mun, Tung Chung and Tai O.
We’ll dive into these a bit more below.
MTR + Cable Car
If you are staying on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon, the easiest method of transportation to Lantau Island is to take the MTR and cable car up to the Giant Buddha.
The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) provides direct train service from the city center to Tung Chung Station on Lantau Island. You will take the train from wherever you are to Tung Chung Station.
Get onto the Tung Chung line (the orange line) and take it all the way to the last stop. From Central Station, it will take about 45 minutes to get there.
Once at Tung Chung Station, you will then need to get to Ngong Ping, which is where the Big Buddha is located. You will take the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car which offers breathtaking panoramic views over the South China Sea.
You can choose from either a regular cable car or a glass-bottomed one (standard vs crystal).
Cable Car Costs: Round Trip
- Adults: $360 HKD (about $40 USD)
- Kids ages 3 to 11: $235 HKD ($30 USD)
- Senior (Hong Kong residents aged 65 or above): $280 HKD ($36 USD)
- Same prices for standard/crystal.
Cable Car Costs: One Way
- Standard: $160 HKD ($20 USD) – cheaper for kids/seniors
- Crystal: $200 HKD ($26 USD)
Pro Tip: If you buy your cable car tickets with Klook (some options are at a discounted price), you get to go in the exclusive lane which is shorter a lot of the times!
Cable Car Alternative: If for some reason you are not interested in taking the iconic cable car, you can always opt for the bus option to get from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping. The bus (#23) will go up/down a winding road to get you to Ngong Ping in 45 minutes (Cost: $17 HKD / $2 USD one way).
An alternative to taking the MTR and cable car (or bus) is to take one of the traditional ferry services that run between Mui Wo and Central Pier on Hong Kong Island.
From Central Pier, you can take a ferry to Mui Wo village at Pier 6 or Discovery Bay at Pier 3. While these are both more residential neighborhoods, you will be on Lantau Island at these points. From either, you can catch a bus to Tung Chung or other parts of Lantau Island.
With the ferries, there are two options–a fast one and a standard one. The cost is $14.5 HKD for a standard class ticket (takes about 55 minutes). The fast ferry (takes about 40 minutes) costs about $29 HKD. Prices are higher on both types of ferries on Sundays and public holidays.
Want to head to Tai O first? Fortune Ferry Company Limited operates between Tuen Muen (in Hong Kong) and Tai O (on Lantau Island). This is a great option for those who want to reach the fishing village first, without having to visit the cable cars or the Big Buddha area. The ride takes around 50 minutes (on the fast ferry) with stops at Tung Chung and Sha Lo Wan on Lantau Island.
Visitors can also opt for private transportation such as taxi or rideshare services which are easily available from wherever you are in Hong Kong.
Where to Stay on Lantau Island
If you wanted to do everything that Lantau island offered without having to go back and forth from Hong Kong Island on multiple days, booking an overnight stay or two on Lantau Island would be a smart move.
Some of the best accommodation offerings on Lantau Island include the ones close to Tung Chung an the ones close to Hong Kong Disneyland!
Hotels near Tung Chung
Four Points by Sheraton Hong Kong, Tung Chung – a 5-star hotel with free bikes, complimentary shuttle, and a killer breakfast buffet (costs extra though).
Novotel Citygate – a 4-star hotel that features spacious accommodations located just a short walk from Tung Chung MTR and Ngong Ping 360. They offer free shuttle services to Hong Kong International Airport.
Hotels near Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel – this 400-room hotel combines the splendor of a vintage seaside resort with the magic of Disney. It features elegant accommodations with modern amenities as well as 2 themed pools and a Mickey maze. You may also get a chance to meet your favorite Disney characters at this hotel!
Disney Explorers Lodge – Disney’s explorer-themed hotel with Polynesian/African vibes!
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