Misty mountains on Lantau Island
Lantau (大嶼山 Dàyǔ shān) is the largest island in Hong Kong.
With the opening of the Lantau Link, a road and rail connection between the airport and central Hong Kong in 1997, Lantau Island is now firmly connected to the mainland of the Kowloon peninsula. The new airport at Chek Lap Kok has led to the establishment and rapid expansion of a new town, Tung Chung, and the improved transport links have brought further development in the shape of Disneyland, a cable car to Ngong Ping monastery, and an entire new road to southern Lantau. Sizeable sections of Lantau Island are declared country parks, though the island seems poised for more development.
Discovery Bay is a resort-style residential district located in Lantau Island, Hong Kong approximately 30 minutes by boat from Central District or 10 minutes bus by from the nearest MTR metro station (Sunny Bay). It is home to approximately 15,000 people, including a large portion of expatriates.
From the airport
Lantau Island is adjacent to Hong Kong International Airport, the airport island is linked by two short bridges. The best way to Lantau from the airport is either by taxi, by bus, or by foot. There is no train service from the airport to Lantau, although there is an indirect service with the Airport Express train and the MTR via Tsing Yi. The premium charged by the Airport Express train for this trip will likely make it more expensive than a taxi if there are two or more people travelling.
Taxis from the airport to anywhere in Lantau are relatively fast and pleasant, but only light-blue taxis are allowed on the island. Ask at the reception desk at the airport taxi stand to call for a light-blue car for you. The more common red and green ones are prohibited to go to Lantau.
Alternatively, there are frequent buses that travel towards Tung Chung MTR station, including S1 and S64 from the airport terminal. Although you can use the A35/N35 for travelling to Mui Wo directly from the airport, the frequency of this particular route is sparse. It's usually better to change on to local buses at Tung Chung MTR interchange, where you can find buses to most destinations across Lantau island.
It's a about a 5km walk from the airport to Tung Chung. The main (northern) bridge is a highway that doesn't allow pedestrians, but there is a nice walkway over the southern bridge from the airport to Lantau.
The Tung Chung MTR line is the fastest way to get to Lantau if you are going to the north of the island. The Tung Chung line also connects with special rail services at Sunny Bay that take visitors directly to Disneyland. The trip to Tung Chung takes around 25 minutes all the way from Hong Kong station and costs $18-20.50. Children 11 years and under enjoy a 50% discount.
The obvious way of getting to the island is to take a ferry. Ferries depart from the Outlying Islands pier in Central, to the west of the Star Ferry terminal. The largest operator is the New World First Ferry.
- Discovery Bay: Pier 3, $31 (fast only), every 10-30 minutes.
- Mui Wo: Pier 6, $13.00 (slow) / $25.50 (fast), every 40 minutes.
Ferries to the island, as well as buses, impose a 50% surcharge for travel on Sundays and public holidays (with the exception of services to/from/within Discovery Bay, Disneyland and the airport). It's cheaper, and less crowded, to visit during the week or on Saturdays.
Since the opening of the Lantau Link, a number of buses also cross over to Lantau, although they are considerably slower than the MTR and less scenic than the ferries.
The local bus timetable in Lantau island is available online. http://www.newlantaobus.com/nlb.html
There is an extensive bus service from the rest of Hong Kong to the airport and Disneyland.
Whilst you can drive your car onto Lantau, the road system is limited and much of the island is zoned as a country park and is off limits to normal vehicles. If you really want to see Lantau you should get out of your car. The Disneyland is however still accessible by car and connected by the Lantau Link expressway.
Situated on the north-eastern coast of Lantau Island, Discovery Bay is accessible by 24-hour ferry from Central District in Hong Kong Island or by buses from Tung Chung new town, Sunny Bay MTR metro station or from the Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok.
Timetables for bus and ferry services:
Sunrise over Lantau Island
By bus or taxi
On Lantau you can travel by bus and taxi; note that seemingly short distances on a map (eg. Tung Chung to Ngong Ping, less than 6 km by cable car) can take a while (in this case over 40 min!), due to the twisty mountain roads and their circuitous routes.
The major bus interchange in Lantau locates nearby the Tung Chung MTR Station. New Lantao Bus serves numberous of bus routes which connects to most of famous attraction and villages along the Lantau Island. Some bus routes travelling within south Lantau region, connecting places including Tai O and Mui Wo.
There is at least one bicycle shop in Mui Wo (just opposite the main bus station), where you might be able to rent or at least buy for cheap.
If you are not going too far, there are generally convenient footpaths all over the island. For example, there are paved paths all around Mui Wo to some of the villages, many of which are within a 30 minute walk or less. Even if you are traveling a bit far, walking can be a healthy and enjoyable option. To walk from Mui Wo to the airport is about 3-4 hours.
By cable car
Ngong Ping 360  is a spectacular 5.7km cable car journey between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping on Lantau Island, which is easily accessible from Tung Chung MTR station. Be aware that there have been some technical difficulties, with the cable car closed and people having to wait for several hours. More information in the Ngong Ping 360 section below. A single trip costs $63 ($96 round trip) on normal days and $74 ($107 round-trip) on special days. The cabins glide over the South China Sea and the verdant mountainous terrain of the North Lantau Country Park for 20-25 minutes and provide some of the best panoramic views in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong International Airport and the Tian Tan Buddha Statue.
Watch out for people trying to sell you tickets outside of the station. The lastest trend was to sell you a single tour on the cable car and an all-day pass for the Lantau bus system. While it might be nice to take the cable car up to the Buddha (the line for the cable car can be long), and the bus back, the all-day pass for the bus is probably a waste of money.
Gateway to Hong Kong Disneyland
- Hong Kong Disneyland, Tel.+852 1 830-830 . Asia's second Disneyland was opened in September 2005 and features some of the Disney favourites. The park is accessible via the MTR. Change at the Sunny Bay station on the Tung Chung MTR line for the Disneyland Resort Line. It has four themed areas: Main Street USA, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. On weekdays tickets are $295 for Adults and $210 for children. Being relatively new, there are fewer rides than the other Disney theme parks. A few rides have a slightly different take on them, but there is little unique here. Some rides, such as Buzz Lightyear, are simply identical to other parks. If you get there at opening time on a weekday, it would be possible to do all the rides and shows by mid-afternoon. English speakers are well catered for, with all attractions narrating in both English and Cantonese. The Jungle River Cruise, however, which depends so much on the English language delivery of the guide doesn't fare well. There is a choice of Cantonese and American "cuisine" around the park. The Fantasyland Banquet Hall offering the broadest range of food types and kids meals to keep everyone happy. Meals around $55. There are a plenty of drinking fountains in the park. Bring a water bottle to fill, or pay a bottle in the park. On weekends and holidays the tickets are $350 for adults and $250 for children. Children under 3 are free. Visit on weekdays to avoid the crowds.
- Inspiration Lake Recreation Centre (迪欣湖), also called Inspiration Lake. It consists of the largest artificial lake in Hong Kong, also 1500 metre jogging trail. It is situated in Penny's Bay, a 15-minutes walk from Disneyland Resort MTR station.
- Ngong Ping 360  - Hong Kong's newest tourist attraction combines a spectacular 5.7 km cable car journey that takes in an impressive cultural themed village and the Tian Tan Buddha. At the themed village there are a couple of attractions. The Walking with Buddha attraction gives an interesting introduction to Buddha, and has different stages, with headphones giving the narration in a variety of languages. The Monkey's Tail is simply a silent animated movie, with a simple moral. A little trivial overall. Combined tickets can be bought to cover all three attractions. There are about 10 restaurants in the village, serving a variety of food, all a little on the expensive side for what they are. There are some other restaurants in the true village, beyond the themed section. The cable car station is adjacent to the Tung Chung MTR. Note that there are often lengthy queues to go up the mountain, especially on weekends - if the queue extends downstairs, expect a two hour wait. To avoid you can take a bus up the mountain and the cable car back (queues are much shorter, especially if buying the Crystal Cabin). Alternatively, buy a guided tour or the Journey to Enlightenment package, both of which bypass most of the queue for the cheaper tickets.
Tian Tan Budda - The largest seated Buddha in bronze
- Tian Tan Buddha (天壇大佛), Ngong Ping. At over 250 tonnes and 34 metres in height, this is the largest, seated, outdoor bronze Buddha statue in the world. Open 10AM to 6PM, access to the Buddha itself is free, although entering the museum inside during busy times requires a meal ticket for the vegetarian restaurant; a snack costs $23 while full meals are $60 (normal) or $100 (deluxe). Less direct alternatives to the cable car are bus #2 from Mui Wo ferry pier or bus #23 from Tung Chung (both $17.20/27 on weekdays/Sundays).
Wisdom Path, near the Po Lin Monastery
- Po Lin Monastery (寶蓮禪寺), Ngong Ping (below the Tian Tan Buddha). The monastery was founded in 1906 by three monks from Jiangsu province. The main temple building houses three bronze statues representing the Buddha of the past, present and future. It is 25 minutes away by cable car from Tung Chung town centre .
- Tai O (大澳). A traditional fishing village with houses built on stilts over the sea. Tai O also called "Eastern Venice". There is a direct bus from Mui Wo ferry pier or Tung Chung MTR station.
- Discovery Bay. As a residential district, Discovery Bay is not really a major tourist destination. However, it boasts a 400m beach, a golf and marina club for members and guests, meaning that the area attracts daytrippers. It also holds a number of festivals, including most notably, Dragonboat races at the beach in May/June and a multi-cultural festival in November.
The beach past Silver Mine Beach
- Mui Wo (traditional Chinese: 梅窩, Pinyin: Méiwō, lit. "plum nest") is a rural town on the eastern coast of Lantau Island. The main beach in Mui Wo is known as Silver Mine Bay (銀礦灣). There are fast and slow ferry services from Central to Mui Wo. Central - Mui Wo Ferry The fast ferry costs $25 and takes 30 minutes. The slow ferry costs $15, takes 50 minutes and you can go outside. The 3M bus takes you from Tung Chung to Mui Wo. There are a number of temples and old buildings. There is also a waterfall, an old mining cave (sealed off) and numerous hiking trails. Close to the Ferry Pier there are three bicycle rent shops where you rent bikes from between $30 to $150. At the beginning of Silver Mine Beach there is also a place to rent bicycles.
- Chinese White Dolphins. In the waters just off Tung Chung on Lantau Island, live the Chinese White Dolphins . These dolphins are naturally pink and live in the wild, but their status is currently threatened, with it current population estimated to be between 100-200. Take a boat trip with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch  to see these pink dolphins, and if you're lucky you can watch them jumping and playing.
Cheung Sha beach which is about a 20 minute bus ride away has windsurfing and canoe rentals.
- Hikers may wish to try the 70-km Lantau Trail, which does loops around the island. The full route would take several days but is divided into a dozen stages, some of which take less than an hour.
- Citygate Outlet - Located right next to Tung Chung MTR Station, the Citygate is a rare outlet mall with tonnes of mid-priced brands, some of them being Adidas, Esprit, Giordano, Levi's, Nike, Quiksilver and Timberland. Prices are generally lower, but the greatest savings are to be had during the end of season sales.
- Swim at Silvermine Beach in Mui Wo or at any of the other beaches around the island.
Special events and festivals:
- Dragonboat races (around May/June)
- Halloween Festival (October)
- Multi-Cultural Festival (usually in November)
- Golf (at the Discovery Bay Golf Club, a 27-hole golf course open primarily to members, but also guests during weekdays)
- Boating (at the Discovery Bay Marina Club)
- Hiking (a number of hiking trails lead to other parts of Lantau Island)
At the heart of the community lies the commercial centre, DB Plaza, where residents and visitors gather for socialising or functions. As a residential district, most shops serve residents' needs - including supermarkets, banks and chemists; but there also exist a sizable number of independent and novelty shops including:
- Oasis-HK (a lifestyle/homeware shop )
- The Stoep, 32 Lower Cheung Sha Village, tel 2980 2699. Beachside restaurant with a good western menu and also specialises in serving South African dishes. Although the food is not the main attraction, the location of this restaurant makes it one of the best places to eat and drink in Hong Kong. Booking a table is advisable at weekends and Public Holidays.
- The Po Lin Monastery's vegetarian restaurant is well worth a visit for a taste of Chinese vegetarian food, an artform devoted to turning soybean products into very passable imitations of meat and fish. Meals served from 11AM-4:30PM. A regular meal is $70, a deluxe meal is $110, enquire at the Big Buddha ticket booth.
- High Tide Restaurant, 35 Lower Cheung Sha Village, tel +852 2980 3002, open from 11.30am til late every day except Tuesday. Authentic Thai restaurant. Located right on the beach front, you might think you're in Thailand. An ideal place to get refreshments after a lazy day on one of Hong Kong's best beaches.
- 360 Forest Grill & Restaurant Bar - Overlooking the cable car, 360 Forest Grill & Restaurant Bar offers alfresco dining in a peaceful, garden setting; only moments away from the hustle of Tung Chung. 360 Forest’s cuisine features a wide range of a-la-cart grilled meats and fresh sea foods, three course buffet sets, and standard Asian and European dishes. Happy hour starts daily at 3.00. To make a booking, phone: 2109 4360. Email: [email protected]
- China Beach Club, 18 Tung Wan Pau Road, Silvermine Bay (Mui Wo). Head for the beach in the bay and then carry on walking. Serves great food and drinks to the colonial crowd and locals alike. This is a doggie paradise in Hong Kong.
- The China Bear, 3 Ngan Wan Road, Mui Wo. Walk off the ferry and turn left and you will see a cafe/bar next to the sea. If you are looking for a "full English" breakfast, or some western beer, then you have found the right place.
- Café Duvet, ☎ 2987 0996.
- Café de Paris, ☎ 2987 8203.
- Caramba, ☎ 2987 2848.
- Chilli Fagara, ☎ 2987 6222.
- Ebeneezer’s, ☎ 2987 0036.
- First Korean Restaurant, ☎ 2987 9123.
- Fresh Fruit Juice Paradise, ☎ 2987 4768.
- Hemingway’s by the Bay, ☎ 2987 8855, .
- Island Café, ☎ 2987 9311.
- Koh Tomyums, ☎ 2987 0767.
- La Création, ☎ 2987 1829.
- Manta Ray, ☎ 2987 2298.
- McSorley’s Ale House, ☎ 2987 8280.
- Sopranos, ☎ 2987 2915.
- The Flying Pan DB, ☎ 2987 7749.
- Uncle Russ, ☎ 2987 0068.
- Zaks, ☎ 2987 6232.
- ippu, ☎ 2987 2886.
- China Bear, G/F, Mui Wo Ctr, Mui Wo. $41-$100. * China Bear, G/F, Mui Wo Ctr, Mui Wo. priceless.
- Mcsorley's Ale House, Shop G11A, G/F, D Deck, Discovery Bay.
There are some guesthouses (a few of which call themselves hotels) and two hostels on Lantau. Lantau also has 10 campsites. When you get off the ferry pier in Mui Wo, there are some booths were you can rent apartments for the weekend. There are several small cabins for hikers at Sunset Peak which go for $300 per cabin/night (sleeps about six people, but very old). There is also accommodation at Disneyland, at the Disneyland Hotel, and the Disney Hollywood Hotel.
- Silver Mine Bay Hotel, (From the ferry turn right and continue along the water.), . Swimming pool, sauna, beach side. Breakfast included $700.
- Ngong Ping SG Davis Hostel at the Po Lin Monastery, ☎ 2985 5610, . Reservations made at are not always acknowledged upon arrival, but sometimes when you're told they're booked solid you can still get a bunk. At last enquiry, you needed to be a member of the Youth Hostel Association in order to stay. Membership is available online. Dorm bed: $70.
You can take a bus to Tung Chung or the ferry to Discovery Bay or Central. There are also inter-island ferries to Peng Chau and Chung Chau.
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