When you think of Hong Kong, your mind won’t conjure images of nature walks, sandy beaches and sunscreen. To be honest, Hong Kong’s dense population and towering skyscrapers make it an ideal poster boy for everything that is wrong with the way we treat the environment!
We too felt the same way and when we saw images of the Lantau islands on the country’s web page and brochures; it was hard not to dismiss as some touristic propaganda.
Intent on enjoying our hotel and the shopping, we made our way to Hong Kong but still decided to give Lantau a shot, not because the destination was on our bucket list but mostly to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while.
Just like discovering another layer to a set of Russian dolls, our Lantau Islands experience surprised us and consolidated Hong Kong’s image as a versatile destination. We don’t think you should make it the main focus of your visit, but a stop to one of the islands will add a different flavor to your trip and provide some respite from the brick and steel Hong Kong is known for.
Lantau is something of a environmental and spiritual alternative to Hong Kong, and it’s massive bronze buddha is, arguably, its main centerpiece and a stunning ode to the Buddhist faith. Tradition runs deep here in a country where every skyscraper is designed according to the tenets of Feng Shui and the Giant Buddha is a visual representation of Hong Kong’s other side. Seeing it’s massive form from Ngong Ping’s 360 vision cable cars is worth the trip to Lantau in itself. The 25 minute cable car trip provides a stunning view, complete with forests and the deep blue of the south China sea which could fool you into believing you were visiting some far flung tropical island. The cable ride is something you must experience and if you do decide to go, the rewards are well worth the dizzying heights.
Hong Kong doesn’t have a reputation as being a kid friendly destination. Sure most of the hotels we’ve visited have specially trained staff that offer activities for the little ones but they can only keep them entertained for awhile. So If your kids are getting bored of spa treatments and shopping you can give yourself a bit of respite by visiting the Disneyland resort on Lantau.
If you want an absolute counterpoint to your conception of Hong Kong, then we suggest you visit the Wisdom path. There is a simple serenity about the place which makes spending any amount of time there poetic. 38 timber columns, each inscribed with a buddhist sutra, are carefully arranged in the symbol infinity and stand in relative silence as the site does not attract as many crowds as the big Buddha. The experience is surreal and is bound to bring out your poetic side as you stare at the columns surrounded by the lush vegetation.
Branching from the path is a trail to Lantau peak which gives onto a beautiful view of the south China sea.The tranquility and the view will leave you questioning which side of Hong Kong you prefer and which one will stay on your mind when you leave.