Lantau Island is the largest island in Hong Kong. In case you don’t know where it is, you have already stepped onto it the moment you landed at Hong Kong International Airport. More well known for Hong Kong’s airport, Disneyland and the Big Buddha, Lantau is also a great place for hiking and beach lazing.Although I’ve been to Hong Kong several times, I never did take the time to visit the Big Buddha. So in November of 2013 I took the chance for a day trip to see the Big Buddha statue. Getting there is pretty easy. You just have to take the MTR to Tung Chung station. This is the place where you find the Citygate shopping outlets too and you will find many brand name shops here catering mainly to the Chinese tourists.
Take a short walk and follow the signs to the cable car station to buy your tickets. There are several types of ticket packages depending on whether you want the standard cable cars, or glass floor cable cars (crystal cabin), and tickets that combine several tourist stops (Ngong Ping 360). I opted just to visit the Big Buddha and a normal cable car. It gets very crowded at the cable car station and you should come early in the morning to avoid long waiting times (more than 2 hrs is typical).
I couldn’t have picked a worse day to visit. Typhoon Haiyan was battering the Philippines that day and although the eye of the typhoon was more than a thousand kilometers away, it was disrupting the local weather here, and periphery storm systems were bringing strong winds, rain and mist into Hong Kong. One thing to note is that the cable car does not operate when there is a typhoon warning.
After about half an hour, I arrived at Ngong Ping. This is a small theme park village next to the Big Buddha. On that day, most of the stalls were closed (maybe I was too early, or the weather was really bad). I decided to have an early lunch before setting off. As a tourist place, the restaurants are expensive compared to Hong Kong, so if you are on a budget, bring your own food.
The visit to the Big Buddha will take you probably half a day. Besides this, there is Tai O fishing village (which I didn’t visit) where you can go for seafood (at tourist prices). Or you can take the cable car back to Tung Chung and shop at Citygate Outlets.