21°C Fine
Uniquely HK

Feature Story

Wondrous Lantau: When Men meets Nature!

We explore Lantau’s attractions and its harmony between man and mother nature!
 
For centuries, Hong Kong’s largest island, Lantau, was remote and sparsely inhabited, save for the occasional fishing village. Getting there took an effort and the mountainous nature of the island limited easy movement. All that changed when the 1980s Hong Kong Government, then still under the British, chose the island of Chek Lap Lok, just off Lantau, as site of the new airport – to replace the iconic but terribly overcrowded Kai Tak Airport.
 
Today, Hong Kong International Airport, opened in 1998 – along with the truly impressive supporting cast of transport infrastructure that connects it to the city – is arguably the crown jewel of Hong Kong’s built environment, a city already known for its modern and ultra-efficient infrastructure. The Airport Express, a super-efficient train service from the city, runs beside a specially constructed express motorway, via three architecturally stunning bridges and tunnels through a mountain and under the harbour – and that’s before one considers the vast reclamation that created the airport itself, or the whole new satellite city of Tung Chung, and a new urban district, West Kowloon.
 
The transformation was completed with the arrival of Disneyland – on the other side of Lantau, connected by its own branch line of the MTR (subway)  – and then Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, a stunning attraction in its own right, which since 2006 has lofted visitors effortlessly to the Big Buddha, and beyond. 
 
Despite the development, Lantau remains largely unoccupied and green, its varied expanses of natural beauty still untouched, making it a fascinating place to visit and an example of how nature and man can co-exist in harmony.
 
Be sure to set aside a day or more to visit Lantau and enjoy all its beauty and man-made wonders. 
 
Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
One of Hong Kong’s top attractions, the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is also the link to other tourist attractions on Lantau. Named one of the ten best cable car rides in the world by CNN, the trip offers breathtaking views of Lantau Island and the South China Sea. For a little extra, you can board the Crystal cabin with a glass bottom to enhance your ride experience. The ride passes through a sea channel before steeply ascending the mountain. The trees below resemble a never-ending field of broccoli heads, a waterfall or two glimmer in the distance and the spectacular vista of the airport below is in full view. Off in the distance you can see partial installments of the latest infrastructure showpiece, the Hong Kong–Zhu Hai bridge, a 42km engineering marvel across the mouth of the Pearl River, connecting Hong Kong to the whole of the Western Pearl River Delta. Even at 25 minutes, the ride is over too soon, so enchanting are the views.
 
Ngong Ping Village, Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
The cable car carries visitors to one of Hong Kong’s major attractions: the trio of the Big Buddha, adjacent Po Lin Monastery, and the enchanting Ngong Ping village. Visitors can stroll through the culturally themed village, its main street bustling with more than 20 souvenir shops, arts and crafts, and a variety of eateries. Three minitheatres offer frequent showings of Walking with Buddha, a highly stylised multimedia presentation of Buddha; the Motion 360 which offers a fun virtual, sightseeing tour; and Stage 360 which stages live demonstrations of Hong Kong martial arts movie making.
The iconic Big Buddha is just adjacent. At 34 metres high, it is one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. Climb the 268 steps to get a close-up view of the massive figure. The adjacent Po Lin Monastery is an important Buddhist monastery in Hong Kong. Visitors can tour its pleasant garden, visit the Grand Hall which houses over 10,000 Buddha statues, and enjoy a vegetarian meal. 
From the village, you can book bus tour packages or just take a public bus to visit the ancient fishing village of Tai O where fishermen still live on stilt houses over the water, and where its heritage and culture are still preserved. Visitors flock to purchase local handmade food products including shrimp paste, XO sauce, salted fish and dry seafood. Or try out street food such as Chinese egg waffles – after waiting in line, or have a meal at the beautifully renovated Tai O Heritage Hotel. 
 
A few minutes away by bus are Cheung Sha and Pui O beaches where long stretches of soft sand welcome visitors. Besides swimming or enjoying the beach, clam digging during low tide is highly popular with locals and worth trying if you come prepared. 
 
Lantau’s beauty doesn’t stop there: the island is dotted with hiking trails, hidden waterfalls and mountain streams; along the way you can spot wildlife such as wild cattle, black-eared kites and myriad butterflies.
 
Citygate Outlets
Bargain hunting for brand-name products is always popular in Asia, with many countries building bigger and fancier outlet malls. Well, who doesn’t want to buy authentic, designer-branded products at bargain prices? In Asia’s shopping mecca, Hong Kong’s largest and most wellknown outlet mall – Citygate Outlets, open since 2000 and located in the heart of Tung Chung, close to the airport, competes with the best of them.
The 43,000-square-metre indoor, air-conditioned outlet mall, centrepiece of the large Citygate complex, has the look and ambience of a modern high-end shopping mall. The key to a good outlet is first and foremost the quality of the brands and their offerings. For Citygate, some 90 international brands are represented here, many offering deep discounts on quality products. Recent additions, which include Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, Juicy Couture complement an already stellar line up of existing tenants such as Armani, Nike, Bally. The mall also features several regional and international restaurants, and a fourscreen cinema complex. 
 
Access to the mall is easy and convenient, whether by MTR, bus or ferry. And given its proximity to the airport and Ngong Ping 360, shoppers can combine a shopping trip with a sightseeing visit before boarding departing flights. The mall provides storage lockers to keep your luggage safe while you shop. 
 
A second phase expansion to be completed in 2018 will almost double the building area, allowing the mall to attract substantially more high-end bargains, further cementing its position as one of Asia’s top outlet attractions.

Comments

Add your comment


Please enter the Verify Code