*Trip to Hong Kong sponsored by Finnair Holidays
Typhoons arrived a little earlier this year and I had to spend one day in my hotel room before exploring the magnificent city of Hong Kong around me. Lucky I was staying in my favourite hotel in all of Hong Kong; Hotel Icon.
At the end of my stay, I had a day trip on Lantau Island, which was part of my adventures with Finnair Holidays.
Lantau Island is the largest Island in Hong Kong, probably best known for Hong Kong International Airport. Lantau is covered in secluded beautiful nature and peaceful hiking trails from mountains to the ocean. Some famous places to visit on the island are Ngong Ping and Tai O villages.
The ferry ride from Central to Lantau during a typhoon was more of a roller coaster, but lucky most of us passengers mainly found it amusing.
The day trip can be booked as a part of your Finnair Holiday or directly from GetYourGuide. We were a group of about 15 travellers from solo travellers to couples and families.
I was picked up from the hotel early in the morning from where a bus took us to the ferry. Ferry took about 30 minutes and then we hopped on another bus again.
Our first stop on Lantau was Cheung Sha Beach, which I have no photos of as we got a good typhoon rain first in the morning.
Next we headed out to the historical Tai O fishing village, which is best known from old Cantonese movies and some Anthony Bourdain travel shows.
Tai O Fishing Village
Tai O Fishing Village is a glimpse into the proper traditional way of life in Hong Kong and shouldn’t be missed when exploring Lantau Island. Some call Tai O the Venice of Hong Kong because of it’s canals but other than that the vibe is definitely nothing like Venice. The first thing you will probably note is the not so inviting scent of fermented fish products.
Tai O was actually the busiest harbour in Hong Kong for over 200 years, but these days it’s far different from the busy city we all know Hong Kong to be. Fishing is unfortunately no longer such a profitable livelihood, so while there are still locals running after the best quality fish products, there are also tourists roaming around Tai O. The tourism is growing gradually in a sustainable way, so apparently the locals are pleased with it for now. There are still over 2000 people living in Tai O, making a living by the sea.
If you hop on a little boat ride around the village, note that Tai O is one of the very rare places in the world where the luckiest ones may spot wild pink dolphins – yes they are real. Like unicorns. I’ve been to the village three times and haven’t spotted any magical sea creatures yet, other than the dried blowfish I bumped into last time.
Most Lantau Island tours will include a trip to Tai O, but you can also reach the village with a bus from Tung Chung. To get to Tung Chung, you can take the MTR from the city.
Vegetarian lunch at Po Lin Monastery
Close to the famous big buddha is Po Lin Monastery, where we got to enjoy a delicious vegetarian lunch. I of course got lost on the way as I spotted some cute stray dogs on the way and was totally distracted. Some of them didn’t exactly want to make friends with me, but I tried.
The vegatarian lunch is served in a little restaurant inside the monastery, so it’s no fancy dining but a proper tradional experience. And there’s a lot of food. The meal is served in the traditional Hong Kong way where they bring big bowls in the middle of the table and everyone can taste a bit of everything – which I wish was the tradition in every country to be honest!
Ngong Ping Village & Tian Tan Buddha
Tian Tan Buddha is one of the biggest bronze buddhas sitting outside. The big Buddha is located in the artificial village of Ngong Ping. A visit to Tian Tan Buddha is also part of probably all Lantau Island tours. If you wish to travel on your own, get the cable car up from the MTR station of Tung Chung and enjoy some breathtaking views along the way.
Ngong Ping is an artificial village with souvenir shops and Starbucks, so it’s not exactly my favourite place itself. But it’s home to Tian Tan Buddha and the monastery, which are worth seeing and traditional as they should be. A tour or not, make sure to experience the Ngong Ping cable car back down. It takes 45 minutes and the hights might not be for everybody, but the view is worth opening your eyes for.
To get to the big buddha, your tour bus can either drive up or you can take the stairs and spot some local buddhists praying on every step, among the selfie clicking tourists. Tian Tan Buddha is open to the public daily between 10-5.30pm. The entrance is free unless you wish to go inside the Buddha too.
Don’t miss these when visiting Lantau Island:
- Tin Tan Buddha
- Tai O:n Fishing Village
- Cheung Sha Beach
- Po Lin Monastery
- Hiking trails
Have you ever been to Hong Kong?