Lantau Island: Visiting Tai O And The Tian Tan Buddha
Planning a trip to Hong Kong? If you have a few days be sure to visit Lantau Island!
Before 2014, I had never visited the Big Buddha in Hong Kong on my previous trips. Shame on me! I’ve been to Hong Kong 3 times and I still hadn’t gone to Lantau Island. My friends who I was traveling with had not either so we decided to make a day trip out of it. We planned to visit Tai O, a fishing village, and Ngong Ping Village where the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha are located.
From our hotel in Kowloon, we took the MTR subway and bus over to both. We were staying at the Sheraton right by Victoria Harbour so we took the MTR from the East TST Station and transferred to the Tung Chung line. We took that line all the way west to Tung Chung Station. From Tung Chung Station we took #11 bus to Tai O Fishing Village. The bus comes every hour or so if you’ve missed it, there’s a shopping centre there to kill time. The bus ride to Tai O takes about an hour and if you’re prone to motion sickness be warned, the winding roads made me feel nauseous.
**Helpful tip #1 Have proper fare for the buses. MTRs spit out change but the buses do not. I can’t remember if Octopus cards worked but I had forgotten mine at the hotel.
**Helpful tip #2 There is an outlet mall called CityGate at Tung Chung Station in case you want to go shopping, stop for a snack, or use the washroom while you’re waiting for the buses.**
Tai O, a traditional fishing village
When we got to Tai O, we realized that we were there too early. The days in Hong Kong definitely start later than other cities so not everything was open when we went. Only a few shops were opened but we still explored the area.
Mega fishy. People averse to fish smells may not like it here
Dried fish everything
I loved the older Chinese ladies cycling through the village
Not sure what this place was but I loved the entry
I recommend visiting Tai O later in the day. We left by 11 am and things were finally just starting to open but we were ready to move on. Lucky for us a bakery was opening and we were able to grab freshly made pineapple buns!
I don’t want none unless you got pineapple buns hon
After Tai O, we took a taxi to Ngong Ping Village where the Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery is. It was getting really hot and humid and after the winding roads getting to Tai O, I was a bit over the idea of taking the bus. Luckily for me, there was a taxi at Tai O.
Ngong Ping Village is an interesting place, it’s a culturally themed village built next to the Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha. It looks like an old Chinese village but everything is brand new. There are shops, cafes, and restaurants for all the tourists. We walked through the village quickly with intent to return after we visited the monastery and Buddha statue.
Ngong Ping Village
The grounds at Ngong Ping Village
This statue represents one of the 12 from the Chinese zodiac. I’m a tigerrrrrrrrrr!
Po Lin Monastery
I’ll admit that when I saw the 268 steps to Buddha, I didn’t want to climb up to see him. It was so hot and humid, I didn’t think that I would make it. I had already sweated through all of my clothes. I knew that I would be bummed if I didn’t go so I took my time up the stairs. And to be honest, they weren’t all that bad. If you buy an offering ticket (donation), you can go underneath the Buddha statue and you will see some of his supposed cremains and get a bottle of water and ice cream at the end of your visit. That was my motivation.
He truly is magnificent up close and the views from the top are stunning
After seeing Buddha we had some food at Ngong Ping Village. If you are desperate, there’s a Starbucks and Subway there along with other random restaurants. We picked one and ate an uneventful meal. There isn’t much there so I would recommend getting a small snack and eating closer to Tung Chung Station or waiting to get back to Hong Kong proper.
After experiencing Ngong Ping Village we headed back to Kowloon. At first, we thought we would take the bus back but it was too hot. We didn’t have any shelter under the hot sun at the bus stop either. I told my friends to wait in line for the bus to reserve spots but I was determined to get us a taxi. At that point, I felt like I had a heat stroke and I didn’t care how much it was going to cost. We just had to get back to Tung Chung Station since the MTR is air-conditioned. The taxis don’t come that often so be warned! And that concludes our day trip to Lantau Island.
- I definitely recommend the visit to Ngong Ping and seeing the Big Buddha up close. The views of the surrounding area are stunning and a different Hong Kong experience.
- If you do plan to visit Tai O, go later in the day when all the shops and eateries are open. If I ever go back when it’s less hot, I would love to do some hikes on that side. It’s so lush and quiet over there, such a contrast to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
- Have proper change if you are taking the bus
- Remember taxis are harder to come by unless someone has taken a taxi there
Have you been over to Lantau Island? Do you have any recommendations besides these?
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