If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently had the opportunity to travel abroad for work. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to make sure to share some of the places we visited, including some of the lessons we learned along the way.
The second city we visited during our trip was Hong Kong. while, we spent most of the week working, we had the weekend to explore the luscious, green city. I absolutely fell in love with Hong Kong while we were there. To give a comparison to a well-known city, I think Hong Kong is almost a mix between San Fransisco and NYC. The landscape, specifically the green hills, remind me of San Fransisco while the metro systems (the MTR) and the shopping reminds me of New York City.
On Saturday of our trip, we decided to go see one of the most iconic places in Hong Kong, Lantau Island.
Tian Tan Buddha
One of the most well-known landmarks in Hong Kong is the Tian Tan Buddha statue and the Po Lin Monastery. Located right next to each other in Ngong Ping, these two landmarks were absolutely stunning to witness. The Tian Tan Buddha (aka. Big Buddha) was built in 1993 and is over 110 feet tall. As soon as we got within eyesight of the attraction, the magnitude of the statue was apparent.
How to get there: There are a couple of different way to get to Ngong Ping, but the fastest and definitely the most scenic way is through a cable car. Take the metro (MTR) to the Tung Chung station where you can catch the cable car. There are two different options for the cable car – the Crystal Cabin and the Regular Cabin.
We opted for the Crystal Cabin which has a glass floor that allows you to see everything as you head towards Lantau Island. I was nervous about taking this car and thought I would get extremely scared, but it was actually very peaceful and I loved being able to the see the greenery of the island and when we were over the water. Another great reason to take the Crystal Cabin is that the line was a lot shorter going both over to Lantau Island and back from the Big Buddha. I would imagine that we saved over an hour of waiting total (mainly on the way back) because we took the more expensive cabin.
Insider Tip: Buy your cable car ticket ahead of time to save time once arrive. We bought our ticket from the concierge at the Mandarin. It ended up costing us the same, as if we would have bought it at the ticket counter, but we didn’t have to wait in a long line. Or you can book it online through the Ngong Ping 360 website.
Once you are in Ngong Ping, you will have to walk about 10 minutes through an adorable little shopping village. To reach the top of the Buddha statue, you will have to climb about 200 or so stairs, but let me tell you – the view from the top is absolutely worth it.
Insider Tip: Beat the heats and crowds by taking one of the first cable cars of the day. We arrived about 45 minutes after the cable cars opened and there was a decent crowd, but only an hour later and the place was packed! And the afternoon was even more crowded….If you can swing it, I would totally recommend getting there early and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.
Tai Po Fishing Village
After trekking up the stairs to Big Buddha, we were looking for something quiet and peaceful to do. The concierge at our hotel recommended we check out the tiny fishing village of Tai Po on Lantau Island which was a quick journey away from Ngong Ping (where Big Buddha was). Not only were the views spectacular, but the city itself was picturesque and seemed so quiet (even with the large amount of tourists descending on the small town).
How to Get There: Using your Octopus (MTR/metro) card, take bus 21 from the Tian Tan Buddha stop to Tai Po. They made 2 or 3 stops prior to reaching Tai Po, but it could not have been easier – and the bus was air conditioned the whole time – a good way to cool down from the heat.
Insider Tip: The bus drops off right outside of the city center and there are one or two boat operators there. Take a walk around the town (it’s very small – you can probably walk all of it in less than 30 minutes) to find the best deal for the boat ride (we ended up going with an operator off the canal). We paid 20 HKD for individual seats on each side of the boat – totally worth it.
Insider Tip: Find a cute little cafe on the canals of Tai Po and enjoy a drink or meal. We didn’t realize there were places to sit, relax and enjoy the views until we took the little boat tour. Starting from where the bus drops you off, walk towards the town center and over the bridge of the main canal – off of one of the smaller roads in town, was a line of cafes – sit down and have a drink or two. (The picture above and below show the view of the cafe we went to from the street view.) If all else fails – take the 30 minute boat ride around the city and discover a little cafe that you want to take in the city from.
Have you ever been to Lantau Island? What was your favorite experience there?