Our exploration of Hong Kong’s Lantau Island began with a visit up to the iconic Tian Tan Buddha. Having checked out the incredible scenery from the top and getting a closer look at the Big Buddha, we went to explore the rest of the island. Just down from the Tian Tan Buddha, you’ll find Po Lin Monastery. We began here, before catching a bus to another part of Lantau Island to see both Tai O fishing village and also to visit Cheung Sha beach.
Po Lin Monastery, Lantau Island
When you climb down from the Tian Tan Buddha, you’ll come across the striking building of Po Lin Monastery. You can buy tickets for the Monastery’s popular vegetarian restaurant, so we both paid for a meal and upgraded to sit within the restaurant.
Po Lin Monastery has been deemed ‘the Buddhist World in the South’. It’s currently home to various monks, and boasts Buddhist typography and a garden. The monastery is composed of various structures. The first temples are new, and the originals are towards the back.
Po Lin translates to ‘precious lotus’ – the lotus flower is a significant symbol in Buddhism, standing for purity. One of the most recent buildings of Po Lin Monastery is the Hall of the Ten Thousand Buddhas. It’s very elaborate and impressive to look at, decorated with a myriad of colours. Inside, there’s a shrine hall, the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Buddhist relics, a meditation hall, and much more. How impressive are these gold Buddhas?
Outside, there are some great views across to Tian Tan Buddha.
If you’re feeling hungry like us, get your tickets to the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. It’s a pretty impressive meal. Firstly you get plenty of herbal tea, and an interesting soup. We were then treated to spring rolls, lemon beancurd, delicious fried vegetables, and rice. It was tasty and enough to fill a gap! The idea at the restaurant is that vegetarian meals clean your insides in the tranquility of a monastery.
Ngong Ping Village, Lantau Island
We walked back past the Big Buddha to Ngong Ping Village to find the bus to take us to our next stop, Tai O fishing village. We made some new pals along the way. How funny to find cows just relaxing in the village among the hubbub of visitors.
You may spot a couple more attractions en route in Ngong Ping Village. Here’s a Bodhi Wishing Shrine. Whereas many people go to the Trevi Fountain in Rome to make a wish, in the East it’s a little different. You can write a wish on a small wooden plaque and hang it in temples.
You’ll also see the Blessing Drums. There are eight of them, each with words of blessings like happiness, peace, success, and so on. The idea is to take a picture with each of the blessing drums.
Tai O Fishing Village
From the bus station in Ngong Ping Village, we took the number 11 bus to Tai O fishing village. It’s a pretty fifteen minute bus journey to the village that takes you along scenic Lantau Island.
Tai O is a village that’s home to a group of fishermen known as Tanka people. For years, these fishermen have built their houses on stilts on Lantau Island. Each house is interconnected to create a unique community that live directly on the tidal flats. A typical ancient Southern China fishing village, Tai O is one of the few places where you can see one in Hong Kong.
There are beautiful surroundings with the mountains and South China Sea. In Tai O, you’ll find a seafood market and a harbour as well as the traditional stilt houses.
We chose to take the last boat of the day around the harbour and the stilt houses for a better view. It’s a small fee, but a good chance to relax and take in the scenery.
I loved all the colourful flags across the stilt houses and houseboats. They make the boat ride quite the spectacle.
Once the boat takes you through the stilt village of Tai O, you head out to the harbour and the sea. If you’re lucky, you may get to see an endangered pink dolphin, some of which inhabit the area. Sadly we didn’t spot one, but I can only imagine how cool that must be.
We only needed around an hour in Tai O. There’s not a huge amount to see, but it’s worth a visit to get a little more culture. With the afternoon ticking on, we wanted to fit in some beach time. We headed back to the bus station and caught the bus to our next stop, Cheung Sha Beach.
Cheung Sha Beach, Lantau Island
It took us around twenty minutes on a packed out bus to reach Cheung Sha Beach. The bus conveniently dropped us just on the road past the beach, so it was easy to jump down on to the beach.
I was never really aware that Hong Kong had such beautiful beaches on offer. In fact, there are around fifty beaches in Hong Kong – all different to the iconic skyscraper landscape images you commonly see of the city. I’d seen pictures during my travel research and was surprised to see such beautiful, dramatic beaches. It’s truly poles apart from the chaos of Hong Kong’s markets and hectic central district.
Cheung Sha Beach is one of Hong Kong’s longest. It’s perfect for taking a dip to cool off, or sunbathing on the sand. It’s all framed by the lush, tropical mountains with a very dramatic feel that reminded me a little of Hawaii.
Cheung Sha Beach on Lantau Island is often considered one of Hong Kong’s best beaches. It’s pretty desolate with just a few other visitors around. This makes it super relaxing. There is also a lifeguard duty until around 6pm. On the lower end of the beach, you’ll find a few shacks selling fresh fish and beer, as well as changing facilities.
It’s a wonderful beach that makes you feel a million miles away from the city. We took a dip in the ocean and relaxed for a while. It’s incredibly peaceful, with just the occasional school of fish jumping out of the water to break the silence.
We walked along the beach to find the surprising view of a cow taking a casual walk along the shore. It’s certainly the first time I’ve ever seen a cow on a beach!
As the sun began to draw in, we walked back to the bus stop to get back to the MTR. From there, it was back to Mong Kok to get ready for another crazy Hong Kong night.
An Evening in Hong Kong
Having had such a fun time in party street Lan Kwai Fong the night before, we wanted to go back. We brushed off the sand and got ready for another night out. I spotted the below on our way to Mong Kok station.
I know it’s inhumane keeping pets in small cubes, but oh my goodness they’re such adorable puppies. Hopefully keeping pets cooped up will become a thing of the past in Hong Kong.
We reached Lan Kwai Fong and had to grab some food. Conveniently, Butao Ramen was conveniently opposite where we got out of our taxi. (One important thing to note is that Hong Kong is only of the only cities where regular taxis are cheaper than Ubers). We went in and I had the most delicious spicy chicken ramen. I’m still dreaming about it now.
After dinner, we hit up Ce La Vi, a rooftop bar in Lan Kwai Fong. We initially visited in the belief that they too had a Ladies Night on a Thursday. Turns out this is no longer the case, but it’s a cool rooftop bar anyway. Come if you like pricey yet tasteful cocktails, impressive rooftop views, and an expat touristy vibe.
Afterwards, it was back on to the street of Lan Kwai Fong. If you’re concerned about pricey drinks, fear not. Many people simply drop into the 7/11 at the top of the street for cheap drinks. There are even bottle openers attached to the railings outside. We drank some 10% concoction of a Japanese drink, and it was really tasty.
It’s such a fun street to hang out on. We made friends and partied the night away. Hong Kong has some of the best nightlife I’ve experienced.
Here’s Lucy and I – posing outside the aptly named Tipsy Bird.
Another wonderful day in magical Hong Kong.
Have you visited Lantau Island? If so, what did you get up to? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below.