Though threatened with continual development and urbanization, Lantau Island still stands out as Hong Kong's giant nature preserve with something like 50 percent of the area still public country parkland of wooded hills and often empty beaches and shoreline.
It is Hong Kong's biggest island, and there are great places for tourists such as Hong Kong International Airport, Disneyland Hong Kion, good sized hiking peaks and nature parks, villages and small towns for cultural experiences, resorts, hotels, and other places.
With now about 130,000 people living on it, it is still sparsely populated compared to the 1.4 million people who inhabit Hong Kong Island. It is still a wonderful place to go to escape from the concrete and urban crowds of Hong Kong.
What is Lantau Island?
- Area: 147 square kilometers (57 square miles)
- Recommended stay: 2 days
It is the largest of the islands of Hong Kong. It is about twice the size of Hong Kong Island, but it has about 1/10th of the population. The area near the airport is a rapidly expanding small city that is encroaching on the natural areas, farms, and countryside.
Transportation between the populated northern side of Lantau and the rest of Hong Kong and Macau is convenient, but a ban on private vehicles and circuitous roads makes travel to the rural southern and western sides and the parklands in the east more difficult. But as it is, most of it is still a quiet and more natural setting and is a wonderful place for bicycle riders, pedestrians and hikers.
Who Enjoys Lantau?
Children, adults, nature lovers, hikers, mountain bikers, campers, surfers, people who like seafood, people who like little Cantonese villages, and people who like thrill rides can all find something to do and enjoy in Lantau.
It is mainly a relaxing place to get away from the urban crowds, enjoy some countryside and sea, and a simpler, slower way of life.
What are Lantau Island's Main Highlights?
On the large island, there are many good places to go and visit. But these are the main highlights:
Natural and scenic
- Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
- Lantau Peak
- Sunset Peak
- Pui O Beach
- Hong Kong Disneyland
- Noah's Ark
Our Suggested Hong Kong Island 2-Day Tour Plan
For an optimal two day visit during your stay in Hong Kong, we recommend seeing these highlights and doing these things as priorities in this order in a tour over two days. You'll experience the island's best scenery, nature, culture and experiences for a varied and enjoyable visit.
Day 1 for Scenic Countryside Excursions and Outdoors
- Morning: MTR over Tsing Ma Bridge to Tung Chung Station
- Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
- Lantau Peak and/or Sunset Peak
- Lunch: Pui Wo or Mui O. Pui O is quaint, far less and has beachside restaurants and little restaurants in the village.
- Pui O Beach if the weather is good.
- Overnight accommodations in a local hotel
Day 1 - Morning Arrival
Go to Tung Chung's Ngong Ping cable car: To start the day optimally, avoid the morning rush hour crowds and traffic. So go after 8:30, and try to be there when it opens around 10 am on weekdays and 9 am on weekends and holidays.
Chinese crowds arrive around 11, and the line can get very long. So to avoid the lines and the pushy crowds, try to be there before the gate opens and definitely avoid the busy holidays and weekends. Try to purchase your tickets directly online or through agents before you go.
Transport: For public transport, we recommend taking the MTR to Tung Chung Station. It will take you about 5 minutes to walk over to the cable car from Exit B. If you take the train, you get the added bonus of going over Tsing Ma Bridge. See the Transport information below.
China Highlights' agents can help with purchases and private transport. We can facilitate a whole tour of Lantau and the region or accommodate you in assisting your Hong Kong visit in other ways according to your plans. We take care of the tickets and transportation.
Get an Octopus card: Hong Kong is fairly unique in the world because you can purchase a card that you can swipe to pay for MTR and bus fares, and it might also be used to pay for many other things such as purchases at supermarkets, convenience stores, and restaurants.
The card allows people to travel without standing in line to buy tickets. Cardholders simply swipe their cards and their fares are deducted electronically. You can buy these at the MTR station ticket windows and then use them for more convenience to pay for things in the park.
No ID is required to buy one, and you can add money as you wish and return the card to a station window for some money back.
Morning - Enjoy the Peaks
Ride the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car: The ride takes about 25 minutes. Hopefully, by getting your tickets beforehand, you're waiting time will only be a few minutes. It is the longest bi-cable system in Asia.
Ngong Ping Village: The cable car station is at Ngong Ping Village. Entertainment, tea houses, and food outlets are available.
Hike up Lantau Peak: If you are fit, a hike up Lantau Peak is a memorable adventure. But be careful if it is a rainy day since the rocky steps are slick. The rocks are also sort of unstable. It is a fairly hard stair climb for an hour. For more information, see the Lantau Peak section of Lantau Island Hiking Guide.
However, you don't need to go all the way to the top to enjoy the mountain. You can stop along the way, enjoy the views and turn back. Alternatively, you can walk the Lantau Trail to Pak Kung Au in about 2 and a half to 3 hours. Pak Kung Au has a little bus station where you can catch the 3M to Pui O and Mui Wo or catch a taxi. Since you are going downhill, the walk down might not prove so strenuous. Pak Kung Au is in between Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak.
If you have the energy, you might want to continue on and walk the Lantau Trail up towards Sunset Peak and see some views, but walking a full round trip from Pak Kung Au to the top of Sunset Peak and back to the bus station takes about 3 to 5 hours depending on your condition and how long you stop along the way. Try to save your time and energy for the afternoon.
If you decide to just stay in the Po Lin Monastery area, you can catch Bus 2 from the bus station down to Pui O and Mui Wo.
Have lunch: You can have lunch at Pui O or Mui Wo. If you want to go to the beach, go to Pui O. Its beach is much better than Mui Wo's beach and has beachfront cafes and restaurants.
Mui Wo is a bigger and more developed tourist town.
Afternoon - Enjoy the Restaurants/Beach/Sightseeing
Both Mui Wo and Pui O are good places to relax, stroll around, and sightsee. At Pui O, you can rent surfboards if the waves are up. You can also go on the water in canoes and small boats. It is a nice sandy beach and cleaner than Mui Wo's beach.
Both towns have water buffalos walking around in them. Don't be afraid of them, but don't purposefully spook them either.
Dinner: There are many more restaurants to choose from in Mui Wo than Pui O. You can find accommodations for the night in either town.
Day 2 Option 1 - Disneyland Hong Kong
If you really want to go to Disneyland, then we recommend you make it a full day trip.
- Hong Kong Disneyland (full day) See Disneyland below for the full day tour plan.
China Highlights' agents can help with purchases and private transport. We can facilitate a whole One-Day Hong Kong Disneyland Visit as per the described Tour Plan or accommodate you in other ways according to your plans. We can take care of the tickets and transportation.
Public transport: At the end of the day at Disneyland, you can use the MTR to go back.
Day 2 Option 2 - Noah's Ark/Olympic Trail/Mui Wo
For a more varied experiences, especially suited for someone who wants more outdoor and local culture experiences, for older adults, or for families with small children, we suggest:
- Noah's Ark Theme Park (half day)
- Lunch or dinner on Ma Wan Island
- If there is time and you want to hike more: Olympic Trail to Mui Wo. A late afternoon/evening walk catching the sunset is especially beautiful if the weather is good.
- Take the Star Ferry back to Central
Ma Wan Island and Noah's Ark Theme Park are gentler, smaller, and quieter attractions better suited for small children and older adults than Disneyland. This small island is adjacent to Lantau and is connected by another big bridge.
The huge Ark replica is interesting as is the view of Tsing Ma Bridge (from below). There is a small hill to hike that has excellent scenery including another huge bridge, free gardens, museums, small parks and public beach.
The beach is clean, has lifeguards and public facilities, and it is better suited for small children than Pui O's beach or Mui Wo's beach. The waves are gentler, and it is quieter.
Dining: Noah's Ark Harvest House is known for their excellent seafood buffets and children friendly atmosphere. There is also a selection of assorted cafes and restaurants along the beachfront.
Olympic Trail: This is a well paved walking and biking path down to Mui Wo. If you do the walk in the late afternoon or evening, you can be rewarded with beautiful sunset views over Mui Wo. You could have dinner in Mui Wo.
Transport: Board a ferry back to Central. We recommend the slow ferry. It takes about an hour, but the excellent scenery and relaxed ride is a good way to rest, unwind, and be refreshed. The fast ferry will get you back in about 40 minutes. See Transport information below.
Hong Kong Disneyland
Disneyland Hong Kong is a fairly small but popular theme park attracting about 8 million visitors a year as of 2019, and they are adding new facilities.
This theme park is part of the Disneyland chain of amusement parks and is mainly designed for children and adults who like thrill rides. Its small area makes it mainly suited for a day visit.
- It has seven theme lands: Main Street, USA, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland.
- Three big, plush hotels/resorts provide luxury overnight accommodations and entertainments.
- For fast transport, a special MTR Line connects it to the MTR metro system.
Po Lin Monastery
Po Lin Monastery: It is a Buddhist worship area and tourist area with one of the world's biggest metal Buddhas.
- Tian Tan Buddha is one of the world's largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statues.
- It has a popular vegetarian restaurant.
The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
- The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is a visually spectacular 5.7 kilometers bi-cable elevated car.
- It provides quick access in 25 minutes from the MTR Tung Chung Station to Lantau Peak, the Lantau Trail hiking path, the parkland areas, and Po Lin Monastery.
- The ride provides breathtaking vistas of the contrasting often deep blue sea and lush green mountainsides.
Tai O (a Tiny Village on Stilts)
- Tai O is a real, ancient Chinese Hong Kong village on the western extreme of Lantau Island.
- A community of fishermen with seafood restaurants
- Known as a village of houses built on wooden stilts in the water
Tsing Ma Bridge
- Tsing Ma Bridge is the world's 11th-longest span suspension bridge.
- It looks like the Golden Gate Bridge, but it is stouter and heavier looking. Its 1,377 meter (4,518 feet) main span is the heaviest and longest of all the bridges in the world that carry rail traffic.
- The bridge allows quick access between the nearby Hong Kong urban area and the airport on Lantau Island.
Peaks and Parklands
Lantau Peak is the second highest summit in Hong Kong with an elevation of 934 meters (3,064 feet). The climb, starting from Po Lin, takes about one hour. It is one of the best spots to catch the sunrise.
Sunset Mountain is the third highest peak in Hong Kong at a height of 869 meters (2,851 feet). You can start from Mui Wo and hike up the Lantau Trail. This climb takes about 2½ to 4 hours depending on your fitness and conditions. The beautiful sunset is the best reward for your effort.
The Lantau Trail
The Lantau Trail traverses through large country parks, over low mountains that you can hike to the top of, and by good beaches, and it connects with other hiking paths. The hiking paths on Lantau are among Hong Kong's best.
- Three country parks: Lantau North Extension, Lantau North, Lantau South
- Mountains: Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak are Hong Kong's second and third highest mountains in Hong Kong.
- Other highlights: Cheungsha Beach, Tai O, Pui O and Pui O Beach
- Time needed: Hiking the whole trail takes days.
- Rigor: Moderate
Hiking is an excellent way to see the sights. The trail was opened in 1984. The 70-kilometer trail is a loop, starting and finishing in Mui Wo. It takes two or three days to finish the whole route.
It has distance posts marking every 500 meters. There are sign boards and maps at trail junctions and good facilities for hikers. There is a variety of scenery from mountain grasslands to jungles to seashores to villages.
Beaches and Shorelines
Cheungsha Beach is about 2 kilometers long, and it is relatively empty. It is divided into two parts by a headland. The eastern side has a village, beachside restaurants, and a sandy shore for playing in the water. The longer western side has rocky boulders.
Silvermine Bay Beach is a beach that is about a 13 minute walk away from the Mui Wo Ferry Pier. There are lifeguards on duty at the swimming area.
Pui O Beach is a camping spot with wild camping facilities. It is part of Lantau South Country Park that is the largest natural park in Hong Kong with an area of 56 square kilometers (22 square miles).
Learn more about these beaches in Hong Kong's Top 10 Beaches
The Best Time for a Visit
The best time to visit Lantau Island is from October to December when it is cool and dry. Rainy, cloudy weather usually commences in January.
The summers are beautiful, warm, and sunny, but there are occasional tropical storms.
Travel Essentials for Planning a Trip
The island is about 11 kilometers (7 miles) due west of Hong Kong Island.
How to Get There
Flights: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is located off the north coast of Lantau Island. It is very convenient for international travelers wanting to visit Lantau Island.
Rail: MTR's Airport Express links the airport and Central, Hong Kong's business district. It only takes 23 minutes to travel between the two.
The Tung Chung MTR goes from Central to Tung Chung near Ngong Ping. It has a branch line at Sunny Bay Station to Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
Ferries: A slow ferry service is available between Mui Wo and Central's Pier 6 with a transportation time of about 55 minutes. The cost is 14.5 HKD for regular class. The fast ferry takes about 40 minutes and costs about 29 HKD. Prices are higher on both types of ships on Sundays and public holidays.
A 24-hour ferry service connects Pier 3 in Central and Discovery Bay. The transportation time is 25 minutes plus about 10 minutes to walk across the pier.
- Victoria Peak: As the highest peak on Hong Kong Island, it is the best spot to have a bird's-eye view of Victoria Harbour. Half of it is parkland, and the other half is mall.
- Lamma Island: A much smaller but interesting to experience island east of Lantau.
- Noah's Ark Resort: It is a family friendly theme park designed after Noah's Ark especially for children. The hotel provides good accommodations, and the restaurant, beach, and park facilities make it a good family resort.
Touring Lantau Island with China Highlights
If you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of central Hong Kong, Lantau Island is the perfect place to go. Enjoy a delightful and worry-free tour with us.
Our knowledgeable guide will share the interesting stories of the island with you and will lead you to the best spots for taking pictures. Your driver will ferry you conveniently with care.
Here are Hong Kong tours that visit Lantau Island. You can modify these tours for going to the places you want around the region.
- One-Day Hong Kong Disneyland Tour Package: We will take care of tickets and transfers to save your time and energy.
- 4-Day Hong Kong Family Tour: Disneyland Park and highlights of Hong Kong. Tell us if you want to modify the tour plan for various excursions on Lantau or other places in Hong Kong or China.
Tell us what modes of travel and sightseeing options you prefer, and we'll tailor-make a tour for you.
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- Ma Wan Island is a small adjacent island on the eastern side of Lantau connected by a big bridge. It is packed with parks, good restaurants, nice public beach, and Noah's Ark Theme Park.