Lantau Island is a fantastic little patch of green nature in Hong Kong. In fact, you might be surprised how much greenery there is in and around the city — hiking and trees are never far away. I took the gondola from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping, a small touristy village of ice cream shops and souvenir shops (no one lives there). Here’s a shot on the way up:
The tourist office gave me directions to Lantau Peak and said it would take about 1.5h. I bought an extra bottle of water at 7-Eleven and headed out. Past the Wisdom Path is where the trail begins.
On the way to the trailhead I went past Big Buddha. I think it is billed as “the largest outdoor bronze seated Buddha in the world.” That’s a lot of specifications. I am the most famous American fantasy novel author who plays Ultimate Frisbee and lives in Munich. Anyway, one can climb up almost all the stairs to the base of the Buddha for free. To go inside where there is some kind of museum, you have to pay (sort of). They are very clever, since paying to see a holy monument is probably prohibited. Instead, you must buy a lunch at a nearby restaurant to enter the Buddha (for overcrowding reasons). I didn’t hear any rave reviews about the museum, so I saved my HKD. But it was very cool to see, especially from above with my 70-300mm zoom lens (after I was on the Lantau Peak trail):
Continuing along the trail there is a fantastic view of a reservoir with turquoise-blue water:
I should point out that at this point, I was damn hot. The trail is basically just stairs built out of stone for 90% of the way. The ~500m climb from Ngong Ping to Lantau Peak is akin to walking up stairs to the roof of a tall skyscraper, only you don’t have air conditioning. The day I hiked, it was well over 30C, very humid, and full sun. Here’s a short video showing just how hot I was — I could barely talk properly. The clouds near the peak saved me from losing another 0.5L of water through my pores:
At least I was nearing the top. Just a few more rises to go along the ridge…
Finally I made it, and was greeted by fantastic views of Ngong Ping, Big Buddha, the reservoir, and the Hong Kong Airport. There is a storm shelter up there too, in case you are caught in bad weather; though I would strongly suggest to avoid being up there during a thunderstorm.
After ten minutes enjoying the view, I headed down. At Big Buddha I bought a 700mL Powerade, which I finished in about 5 minutes. I drank another 500mL bottle of water at the 7-Eleven in Ngong Ping. And this was after consuming almost a liter of water during the hike itself. The clerk declined to let me lay down in one of their freezers. D’oh!
Overall, it was a fantastic experience, although I like to push myself. I would recommend this day trip to anyone; just fine-tune your itinerary based on your fitness AND the temperature. i.e. Skip hiking to the Peak if you’re there with small children and it’s 30C+… there’s plenty more to do around Ngong Ping that’s not so extreme!
Getting to Lantau Island:
- Take the Tung Chung Line to its terminus at Tung Chung Station.
- Walk to the Ngong Ping 360 gondola station, and buy a cable car ticket.
- You can save if you bundle your ticket with attractions in the (tourist trap) village of Ngong Ping.
- Walk to the Big Buddha and other points of interest like monasteries.
- If you are up to it, hike Lantau Peak (approx 1.5-2h up, 1h down; ~500m vertical climb).