Originally I was planning this post to be about Lantau & the other outlying islands, however while I was writing I realized that Lantau has so much to share and definitely deserves a post of it’s own! Hong Kong is made up of more than 260 islands, Lantau being the largest and home to the famous Big Buddha, Hong Kong Disneyland, and the airport. It’s very easy to get to, connected by the Tsing Ma bridge, multiple ferry ports and the MTR. Although the skyscrapers are only a few miles away, the island is a green nature escape.
Sean & Kristyne’s Ultimate Hong Kong Itinerary: Part 3
Big Buddha, Po Lin Monestary & the Wisdom Trail
Starting off with one of Hong Kong’s top attractions, a visit to the Big Buddha is definitely a must-do. The best way to get to Ngong Ping to see the Buddha, is to take the cable car gondola’s up the mountain. I recommend you pay the few extra dollars and take the cable car with the glass bottom! #treatyoself The ride is very scenic and it’s so cool to look out below. Shout out to Sean’s mom who conquered her fear of heights and took the glass bottom cable car.
At the top you arrive in Ngong Ping village, which is essentially a row of gift shops and restaurants. It’s a bit touristy, but you’ll get your first glimpse of the Big Buddha on top of the hill. Walk through the village to the entrance of the Po Lin Monastery. One of the first things you may notice are the cows that are roaming around. They roam free all over the monastery and are a bit mischievous. On our last visit, while we were walking on one of the trails, we came across a cow which was knocking the lids off each of the garbage cans and snacking away.
Along the entrance to Po Lin Monestary, you will see the Twelve Divine Generals that protect the monestary. These 12 statues all correspond to zodiac signs and times of the day. Sean, Gail (Sean’s mom) and I are all the year of the Dragon, represented by the General Pajra. Sean’s dad, Paul, who is the year of the Rabbit is protected by General Muakura.
As it’s name suggests, the Big Buddha (aka Tian Tan Buddha) is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. Not only is it huge – over 110 ft tall – it’s size is emphasized as it sits on top of a mountain. You need to climb a few flights of stairs to get up to the statue… 268 to be exact, but who’s counting.
The Big Buddha is free of cost, but at the entrance you can purchase a meal ticket to get a vegetarian lunch cooked by the monks of the Po Lin monastery. Do this! It’s great traditional food and you really get to experience the culture.
After hiking those steps to the Big Buddha and enjoying a Chinese vegetarian lunch, you need to explore all of the buildings around the monastery. The monastery was built in 1903 by three monks. Most you can to go in, but you need to remember although it’s open to tourists, it’s still a sacred religious place. The buildings are absolutely beautiful – colorful and ornate.
The wisdom trail is only about a 10-15 minute walk away from the Big Buddha, but as it’s off the beaten trail, it’s often missed. This is one of my favorite parts about visting the Big Buddha – you are completely surrounded by mountains and you forget you’re so close to a major city. If you have time, there is some fantastic hiking trails that start there as well.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Lantau also is home to Hong Kong Disneyland – and who doesn’t love Disney! My parents bought Sean and I tickets for Christmas last year so we went earlier this year and had a great time. We took the MTR to Lantau, and then took the special line that goes directly to the entrance of the park (super convenient). The train is so cute – it’s completely decked out in Disney images and characters.
The park is not huge – we were able to do the whole park in just over half a day, but we had the best time. Highlights: the Lion King live show, the Mystic Manor ride, and of course me beating Sean on the Buzz Lightyear lazer ride.
Hong Kong has this area called “Discovery Bay”. Sean and I took a ferry there with Bailey over the summer for a beach day. You get off the ferry and your first thought is “Where am I?!?” In a secluded section of Lantau island you will basically find a Florida golf community.. with souped-up golf carts that go like 25 mph (Sean was very jealous). Apparently Discovery Bay started off being built as a massive resort back in the 70’s, but the developer ran out of money and it was eventually turned into a residential community. The whole resort vibe is still holding strong.
We had a great day at the beach and finished off having dinner on the D’Deck. We ate outside and were able to see the 9PM fireworks that went off at Disney on the other side of the island. Unfortunately I think I only snapchatted that day and didn’t save the photos.
Tai O Fishing Village
Tai O is a fishing town more than 3 centuries old. Most of the historic setting is still in place, which makes it very nice to visit and get a feeling of the real, traditional and almost rural parts of China/Hong Kong.
Sean took a trip there with Joe, Eric and Pete when they came to visit in June. Apparently one of the biggest tourist attractions is a “pink dolphin watch” but I guess there are only 300-500 white dolphins left, so a sighting is quite rare. Tai O is still an active fishing village, so of course you get the lovely sights and smells of dried fish.
Wow, so that post ended up being much longer than I intended… thanks for hanging in there and making it through 🙂 Hope you enjoyed!
Viva Hong Kong! Part 1: HK Island Ultimate Travel Guide
Viva Hong Kong! Part 2: Kowloon side fun!
Until next time!