Lantau is the largest of Hong Kong’s islands and is almost double the size of Hong Kong Island itself. It is located 10km west of Hong Kong Island and is about 25km in length. Since 1997 when the Lantau Link was completed to serve Hong Kong International Airport on the flattened island of Chek Lap Kok, it has been connected to Kowloon and the New Territories by a series of bridges, roads and railway. Although considerable development has taken place along a narrow strip of the northern side of the island around the route of the Lantau Link with the construction of Hong Kong Disneyland, the private residential development of Discovery Bay and Tung Chung New Town, most of the island remains largely rural and unspoiled. The island is dominated by dramatic hills and peaks and spectacular scenery, picturesque coastline with some excellent beaches, temples, monasteries, traditional fishing villages and wonderful hiking trails. The population of Lantau is just over 105,000 (2011 census) but almost 85% of this is concentrated in the newly developed and fast growing towns of Tung Chung and Discovery Bay in North Lantau.
GETTING THERE – There are several routes and methods of transportation for reaching Lantau. The most suitable for visitors to the island really depends on the nature of the visit and which parts of the island it is intended to visit. Transportation can be summarised as follows;
Ferry from Central Pier 6 on Hong Kong Island to Mui Wo.
Ferry from Central Pier 3 on Hong Kong Island to Discovery Bay.
Inter-Island ferry from Cheung Chau and Peng Chau serving Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan.
Kaido ferry from Peng Chau serving the Trappist Haven Monastery and Discovery Bay (Nim Shue Wan).
Kaido ferry from Tuen Mun serving Tung Chung, Sha Lo Wan and Tai O.
Buses from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories to Tung Chung and Disneyland.
Buses from HK International Airport to Tung Chung and Mui Wo.
Within Lantau there is an extensive network of routes and Discovery Bay has its own bus services.
More specific details of these services to specific locations on Lantau can be found in the "Getting To/From" sections below.
MUI WO – Before the development of Tung Chung New Town and Discovery Bay, Mui Wo was Lantau’s largest town and only transport hub, with a population of around 8,000 in the town and surrounding area. It is situated in a scenic location at the foot of the Lantau hills on the edge of picturesque Silvermine Bay on the southern coastline. This is where ferries from Central arrive and many visitors use the connecting bus services to visit attractions in other parts of Lantau.
Mui Wo waterfront near ferry pier
For visitors who want to spend some time in the area Silvermine Beach just to the north of the ferry pier has clean sands with showers and toilets. Up in the hills behind the Silvermine Beach Hotel is Silvermine Waterfall with gardens and pavilion (there are direction signs from the waterfront near the hotel), Silvermine Cave (now closed and formerly a old silver mine it houses a colony of over 100 bats) and Man Mo Temple. Closer behind the hotel on Butterfly Hill is an old 19th century watch tower once used for coastal defence and as a refuge.
Silvermine Bay and Silvermine Beach Resort (formerly Silvermine Beach Hotel)
Silvermine Waterfall, seen here during a dry November
There are some excellent hiking trails and countryside walking paths in the area and Mui Wo is the starting point for the 70km circular Lantau Trail which climbs across Lantau’s central peaks before sweeping down and skirting the hills above the southern coastline. There is also a popular trail leading north around the bay and then steeply up and over the hills to the tranquil surrounds of the Trappist Haven Monastery and continuing around Nim Shue Wan to Discovery Bay.
Mui Wo is the starting point for the 70km Lantau Trail. Above is the start of the 6.5km Stage 2 at Nam Shan
Mui Wo has a good range of shops, pubs and restaurants and there are banks and cash machines. Close to the ferry pier is a McDonalds fast food restaurant, 7-11 convenience store, China Bear pub and Mui Wo Cooked Food Market where there are several seafood restaurants.
GETTING TO/FROM MUI WO –
FERRIES - from Central Pier 6 on Hong Kong Island take either 30 minutes on the Fast Ferry (catamaran) or 50 minutes on the Ordinary (double-deck) Ferry. Although taking a longer journey time the Ordinary Ferry is much more spacious, offers excellent views of the Victoria Harbour and several outlying islands on the journey and on the “deluxe class” top deck has a sun deck at the rear. Ferry fares increase by 50% on Sundays and Public Holidays. The timetable and fares can be viewed here;
Mui Wo can also be reached by Inter-Island ferry from Cheung Chau and Peng Chau. Timetable and fares here;
and kaido ferry from Discovery Bay. However, since September 2012, weekday sailings have been reduced from five daily round trips to just two, although the weekend and public holiday schedule of nine round trips will be maintained. Timetable and fares here;
BUSES – Mui Wo Bus Terminus is outside the ferry pier and many services are timed to coincide with arrival of the ferries. The single deck buses are operated by New Lantao Bus Company. Although relatively inexpensive, fares increase by 50% on Sundays and Public Holidays. There are services from Mui Wo to Ngong Ping (for the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping Village and Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Terminus), Tai O, Tung Chung and Hong Kong International Airport. Timetables can be viewed here;
Service 2 – Mui Wo to Ngong Ping (approx 40 mins)
Service 1 – Mui Wo to Tai O (approx 15/20 mins)
Service 3M – Mui Wo to Tung Chung (approx 50 mins)
Service A35 – Mui Wo to Tung Chung and Hong Kong International Airport (approx 65 mins)
MUI WO ACCOMMODATION –
SILVERMINE BEACH RESORT – 128 room 3 star hotel right on the beach about 10 minutes walk from Mui Wo Ferry Pier. Tel - 2984 8295. Heavily discounted rates for long stay packages are available here. The hotel was formerly the "Silvermine Beach Hotel", which was sold in April 2011. The hotel closed on 31st August 2011 and reopened under its new name on 9th September 2011;
MUI WO INN - also on the beach, a short distance from the Silvermine Beach Hotel is a small 15 room hotel with clean and well equipped rooms.
Address – 14/15 Tung Wan Tau Road, Silvermine Beach, Mui Wo, Lantau Island.
Tel – 2984 7225
SEAVIEW HOLIDAY RESORT - 11 Tung Wan Road, Mui Wo, Lantau Island. Tel 2984 8877
BRILLIANT HOLIDAY -Holiday Lets. Address - Shop KC, Lower Deck, Mui Wo Ferry Pier. Tel - 2984 2662.
MUI WO FERRY PIER ACCOMMODATION KIOSKS – rent out flats and rooms in Mui Wo and surrounding area and have books displaying photos of mainly budget accommodation to choose from.
Tel – 2984 8982
NGONG PING – is a plateau high in the western Lantau hills in the shadow of the towering Lantau Peak, Hong Kong's second highest mountain. Ngong Ping has become one of the most popular visitor destinations in Hong Kong since the Tian Tan “Big Buddha” statue was erected in 1993. It flanked by by hills, trees, temples and shrines and overlooks the coast in one direction. Despite the extent of development which has taken place in recent years it is still a wonderfully scenic location.
Ngong Ping is set in scenic surroundings
The Po Lin (“Precious Lotus”) Monastery was built in 1906 by Buddhist monks. At the entrance to the monastery is large triple arch white stone Pai Lau adorned with three pagoda statues leading to a wide approach pathway lined with bauhinia.
The old Pai Lau which was renovated during construction of the new Ngong Ping Piazza.
A new Pai Lau in traditional Northern architectural style has been constructed about 150 metres away at the entrance to piazza near Ngong Ping Village. Ngong Ping Piazza which links Ngong Ping Village with the other tourist attractions at Ngong Ping including the "Giant Buddha", Po Lin Monastery and Wisdom Path was completed in July 2010 as part of a programme to enhance public facilities at Ngong Ping. The piazza, which was almost two years in construction and cost some HK$77.5 million, harmonises with the religious setting of the surrounding environment and includes a new 14.1 metre tall, 19.1 metre wide Pai Lau, 122 metre long Bodhi Path flanked by statues of the "Twelve Divine Generals", Di Tan with four lotus ponds around the perimeter and 1,980 sq metre Chinese landscaped garden.
Bodhi Path at Ngong Ping Piazza
Steps leading from Di Tan Square to the "Giant Buddha"
Along the path from the piazza to Po Lin Monastery is a 4.1 metre cauldron seated on a pedestal. The cauldron was erected in 1998 and commemorates the end of British sovereignty and return of Hong Kong to the motherland a year earlier. The cauldron is engraved with the pattern of the Bauhinia, the national emblem of Hong Kong. The cauldron was originally located in Di Tan Square but was moved to its present location during construction works for the piazza. Just beyond is the two storey Welto Temple where visitors are greeted by the smiling Maitreya Buddha with Welto Bodhisattva behind. This temple acts as a sentinel for the main temple, Hall of Great Hero, beyond.
Cauldron commemorating the reunification of Hong Kong with China and Welto Temple beyond.
Separating these temples is a colourful courtyard with pavilions, flowering trees and lotus pond. The Hall of Great Hero was completed in 1970 and is protected by a pair of stone lions. Steps lead up to the main hall where three large Buddha statues sit. These are Sakyamuni Buddha (the present Buddha), Healing Buddha (the past Buddha) and Amitabha Buddha (the future Buddha). There are also two attendants on either side of Sakyamuni Buddha.
Steps leading to the Hall of Great Hero in the main temple at Po Lin Monastery
Until recently there were a number of smaller temples at the rear of the main hall but these have been demolished to make way for a new 5-storey Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, expected to open to the public in mid-2014. The Po Lin Vegetarian Restaurant is situated at one side of the courtyard and meal tickets can be bought at the entrance or as a combined ticket inclusive of entry to the Big Buddha exhibition halls. Po Lin Monastery is open daily 9am to 6pm and entry is free. More information about Po Lin Monastery can be found at;
A path alongside the monastery and past the Tea Gardens Restaurant leads to the Wisdom Path, opened in 2006. This is an outdoor replica of the Heart Sutra and comprises 38 vertical wooden beams which together form the symbol for infinity. Each beam has a portion of a 260-word prayer inscribed on it. Entry is free.
The Tian Tan Buddha Statue (“Big Buddha”) was completed in 1993 having been cast in 202 bronze sections in mainland China by satellite and rocket manufacturers China Astronomical Industry Scientific and Consultative Corporation. It was transported over a period of three years to Lantau, where it was assembled. It stands 26 metres high on a circular three-tier podium. The hollow statue is claimed to be “the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue”. To reach the Buddha involves climbing some 268 steps to the lower tier of the podium. There is a less steep access road leading to the car park just below the lower tier, from where access to the Buddha podium is by either wheelchair ramp or a short flight of steps. However, the access road and car park are accessible only to tour coaches and authorised vehicles, but not taxis.
"Giant Buddha" Tian Tan Buddha Statue
On the podium lower tier sit bronze Bodhisattva statues making offerings to the Buddha. The panoramic views from the podium are outstanding when the area is not shrouded in mist.
Bodhisattavas make offerings to the "Big Buddha"
There is a small museum and exhibition halls inside the statue on the upper tiers of the podium. The Buddha statue is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Admission to the Buddha is free but there is a charge of HK$78 to visit the exhibition halls and this includes a meal in the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. For an extra HK$40 visitors can sample the “De-luxe” Meal. In addition to the vegetarian restaurant there is the Deli Vegetarian Cafe offering snacks.
Vegetarian Restaurant, Po Lin Monastery
Ngong Ping Village is a another recent addition to the attractions of Lantau, having opened in 2006 at the same time as the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car system. It is a highly commercialised culturally themed village in traditional Chinese architectural style just a short walk from the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha Statue. The village has gift shops, restaurants and café’s, Ngong Ping Tea House with scheduled daily tea ceremonies, "Walking with Buddha" multi-media show, occasional street entertainment and is also home to the Ngong Ping Nature Centre, a Lantau country park visitor centre. The "Monkey's Tale Theatre" audio-visual attraction closed in late 2013 and is being replaced by a new XD Theatre attraction during 2014.
Ngong Ping Village
Ngong Ping Village is also the location of the upper terminus of the NGONG PING 360 CABLE CAR linking the village with Tung Chung (see “Tung Chung” for more information). The village is open Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm, weekends and public holidays 9am to 6-30pm. Admission to the village is free but there is an entry fees of HK$36 for the “Walking with Buddha” attraction.
The 5.7km Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car system links Ngong Ping to Tung Chung
Ngong Ping Sewage Treatment Works, located next to Ngong Ping Village and commissioned by the Drainage Services Department in 2006, serves a population of 40,000 including residents of Ngong Ping and tourists. The plant treats about 450 cubic-metres of sewage a day and consumption of reclaimed water from the plant is about 140 cubic-metres a day. It has an information centre with small exhibition which is open to the public (free admission) on Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 12-30pm and 1-30pm to 4-30pm. It is closed on Mondays, New Year's Day, the first three days of Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (Dec 26th).
There are a number of popular hiking trails and walking paths leading from Ngong Ping. These include a picturesque walk down the Tung Chung Valley alongside forested hills, streams, pavilions and shrines through ancient Tei Tong Tsai Village and Po Lam and Lo Hon monasteries. There is the opportunity to visit Tung Chung Fort on the way. The walk is along concreted paths and is signposted from just beyond the Tea Gardens Restaurant. To walk to Tung Chung Town Centre takes about two hours but the walk can be shortened to about 90 minutes once Tung Chung Road is reached where buses to Tung Chung and Mui Wo are available. A walk with a difference is the Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail, which includes a short section of the Lantau Trail, and starts at the path leading off the service road just below the cable car terminus at Ngong Ping Village. This is a spectacular walk along the mountain tops under the path of the cable car and alongside the cable car towers and angle station. Construction of this trail in the mountainous terrain was a major challenge and six mules were brought in from Canada to assist in transporting materials. The trail comprises concrete paths, steps and timber boardwalks. There are some steep sets of steps to climb approaching some of the cable car towers and on valley sides and there are some undulating sections but much of the trail is level until reaching the rapid descent via steps down from Tower 3 to Tung Chung Bay. Allow 3 hours to walk to Tung Chung Town Centre by this route although again the walk can be shortened by taking a bus from Tung Chung Road near Tung Chung Fort or Yat Tung Estate.
A number of scenic trails lead from Ngong Ping including this path along the Tung Chung Valley which passes Po Lam Zen Monastery at Tei Tong Tsai (seen here) and Lo Hon Monastery
GETTING TO/FROM NGONG PING –
CABLE CAR - Ngong Ping Village is the upper terminus of the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car service, linking the village with the town of Tung Chung near Hong Kong International Airport. The spectacular ride 5.7km ride across Tung Chung Bay and of Lantau Island takes 25 minutes. Operating hours on Monday to Friday are 10am to 6pm, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays 9am to 6-30pm.
Tung Chung Cable Car Terminus is located about 3 minutes walk from exit B of Tung Chung MTR Station, behind Citygate Outlets mall.
From Hong Kong International Airport, Tung Chung Cable Car Terminus is served by shuttle bus S1 (jointly operated by Citybus and Long Win Bus) from Cheong Tat Road outside the Terminal 1 Arrival Hall. The bus operates at about 5-minute frequency and the journey to the cable car terminus takes about 15 minutes.
The cable car service closes for scheduled servicing on several days a year and latest information can be found on the Ngong Ping 360 website;
Service 2 – Ngong Ping to Mui Wo (appx 45 mins)
Service 23 – Ngong Ping to Tung Chung (appx 55 mins)
Service 21 – Ngong Ping to Tai O (appx 15 mins)
NGONG PING ACCOMMODATION;
HONGKONG BANK FOUNDATION SG DAVIS HOSTEL - is run by Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association and has dormitory and double-room accommodation for both YHA members and non-members. Bookings can be made up to 3 months in advance. The hostel is located near the “Big Buddha” just beyond the Tea Gardens Restaurant. For further information and bookings contact Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association on (852) 2788 1638 during office hours Monday - Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6-30pm or e-mail email@example.com. Phone number of the hostel is (852) 2985 5610. Reception open 7am to 10am and 4pm to 11pm. The hostel is also a member of Hostelling International through whom bookings can also be made;
TAI O – located on the north-west coast is a popular destination for visitors many of whom combine a visit here with a visit to Ngong Ping, a short distance away. Tai O has a population of 3,000 and is a traditional stilted fishing village which once had a thriving salt industry. It was also notorious as a smuggling port for goods and illegal immigrants from mainland China as recently as the early 1990’s. Part of the village is built on a tiny island connected by an iron “new bridge” (Tai Chung Bridge) which replaced the old hand pulled ferry over the canal in 1996. There are proposals to build new twin bridges in the village, further along the canal at Po Chue Tam and Yim Tin and a design competition , which concluded in April 2013, resulted in over 120 entries being received.
Entrance to Tai O's "new" bridge
The village still has a sizeable fishing fleet and the smell of dried and fresh fish is evident everywhere. It also has two remaining shrimp paste factories and paste can often be seen laid out to dry on wicker plates in the sun. In the 1960's there were about ten shrimp paste factories and from the 1950's the paste began to be exported as far away as the UK and USA to meet demand but the trade has since been in steep decline. In 2013 a new law banning trawling in local waters cut off the year's supply of shrimp, which had traditionally been bought by the factories from local fishermen during June to October. One of the two remaining producers, Cheng Cheung Hing Shrimp Paste Factory, established in 1920, has consequently moved production to the mainland cities of Yangjiang and Taishan in Guangdong with only the final processing carried out at the Tai O factory. Although fire destroyed part of the village in 2000 there are still many stilt houses lining channel through the village and the narrow streets with tiny tin shacks are fascinating to explore. On crossing the bridge walking through the village to the east leads to the Yeung Hau Temple and a little further on there is a pavilion with views over the sea approach to Hong Kong International Airport.
Yeung Hau Temple, Tai O
Walking to the west leads through a mix of tin shacks and more modern dwellings, past the Cheng Cheung Hing Shrimp Paste Factory to a jetty at the harbour entrance. Although some of the salt pans remain these have been idle since the late 1960’s are dried out and overgrown and a new promenade has been built around them.
Tai O's famous stilt houses line the canal
The village has been in decline in recent years and is becoming more dependant on tourism as its population ages and young people move away. Over half its population are over 55 and over 22 per cent are over the age of 75. However in June 2009 plans were announced for a revitalisation scheme which would see the establishment of a nature trail with mangroves, wetland and woodland areas which visitors can explore by hand-pulled ferry. The hand-pulled ferries were a familiar site in the village before construction of two river bridges in 1996. The historic police station, located on a hillside alongside the harbour entrance, has been splendidly renovated to its former glory and turned into a 9-room boutique hotel, The Tai O Heritage Hotel, opened March 2012. The hotel has an interpretation centre open to the public and there are also daily guided tours. Plans also include a folk museum to be housed in rebuilt stilt houses, a salt-pan demonstration area, new entrance plaza to the village at Tai O Bus Terminus, youth hostel, campsite and river wall to prevent flooding. Some of this work commenced in mid-2010 but by early 2014 little progress had been made. These plans follow government plans announced in 2008 to restore 3000 sq metres of salt pans and restore the local art of salt making. There are also plans for twin footbridges at Po Chue Tam and Yim Tin, near Yeung Hau Temple and a design competition for the bridges was launched in November 2012. At 5 Wing On Street in between the bus station and the new bridge is the interesting Tai O Rural Committee Historic and Cultural Showroom. The museum, in a building formerly occupied by a salt warehouse, plastic processing factory and co-operative grocery, opened in 2004 and has an exhibition of local costumes, implements, antiques and relics illustrating local traditions and the history of the area. Entry is free and the museum is closed on Mondays. A new, larger museum is being planned by the Rural Committee on the same site as the existing museum as part of an expansion of tourist facilities in Tai O. There are plans to construct a viewing platform connecting the building with a pumping station on the opposite side of the street which would allow visitors to watch the sunrise and sunset over the creek. Further along Wing On Street at number 54 is Tai O Culture Workshop, a folk museum founded in 2001 by local villager and historian Wong Wai-king who is the curator and has written a book illustrating the history of Tai O. The museum's launch was achieved with the assistance of a HK$210,000 donation from an international charity. The museum located in a 100 year-old building (visitors need to beware the extremely low ceiling) shows how people lived a century ago by producing salt and fishing. The museum receives no external funding and is funded mostly through sales of postcards and books. The museum closed and many of the exhibits were severly damaged by flooding during Typhoon Hagupit in September 2008 but after painstaking restoration work the museum reopened in late-December 2008. However, the museum is expected to finally close before the end of 2016 as the building owner has applied to redevelop the building, which has become increasingly difficult to maintain owing to age, and the founder has announced her intention to retire. It is hoped that the government may consider opening a public museum in Tai O for the artefacts. Visitors strolling along Kat Hing Street can experience some of Tai O's local culinary delicacies which include shrimp paste, shrimp sauce, salted egg yolks, Tai O Doughnuts and Husband Cake.
Salted egg yolks are a local delicacy
Chinese White Dolphins (“Pink Dolphins”) inhabit the waters off Tai O in a marine park and short trips along the canal in motorboats or kaidos and a short distance offshore to view the dolphins are available from the harbourside next to the bus terminus and near the new bridge. Tours are also offered by Hong Kong Dolphinwatch on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays starting from the Kowloon Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.
There is a viewpoint for observing the dolphins on the coastal hillside at Fu Shan with tourist direction signs pointing the way to this site from the Shaolin Wushu Centre on Shek Tsai Po Street.
There are a number of popular walks from Tai O including the 3 to 4 hour walk along the coastline to Tung Chung which passes rugged coastline, bamboo forest, tiny traditional villages and has panoramic views over Hong Kong International Airport. By taking the short diversion off the main path to Sha Lo Wan Pier there are fine close-up views of planes taking off or landing. To get to the start of the walk head east along Kat Hing Street after crossing the new bridge and this leads to a wooden footbridge across the canal. Cross the bridge to the stilt houses and follow the path on the left which leads along the canal side and then along the coast. The path is earth and loose stone at first but after about 2km the walking is along concrete paths all the way to Tung Chung. The walking is fairly easy and the walk can be shortened by taking a bus on reaching Tung Chung Road.
GETTING TO/FROM TAI O -
Service 21 – Ngong Ping to Tai O (15/20 mins)
Service 1 – Mui Wo to Tai O (appx 45 mins)
Service 11 – Tung Chung Town Centre to Tai O (appx 60 mins)
There is a daily kaido ferry service between Tai O, Sha Lo Wan, Tung Chung and Tuen Mun. The ferry berths alongside the promenade next to the bus terminus at Tai O (it does not call at the pier at the harbour entrance). This is a scenic ride along round the north west coast headland and through the narrow channel between Hong Kong International Airport and Lantau Island. From Tai O the ferry takes approx 20 mins to Sha Lo Wan, 30 mins to Tung Chung, 50 mins to Tuen Mun. For the 2pm, 4pm and 6pm sailings from Tai O on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays same-day advance tickets must be purchased from outside the entrance to Tai O Rural Committee Offices on Wing On Street, from 1pm onwards. The service is operated by Fortune Ferry Company and the timetable can be viewed at the link below; (the page opens in Chinese – click the second heading on the left side of the page for the timetable which appears in English);
Fortune Ferry's Tai O - Sha Lo Wan - Tung Chung - Tuen Mun service takes a scenic route along the northern Lantau shoreline and past Hong Kong International Airport
TAI O ACCOMMODATION;
ESPACE ELASTIQUE - B&B accommodation on top floor of a cafe/gallery
Espace Elastique, B&B at Kat Hing Street, Tai O
SOLO LODGE GUEST HOUSE - Two 2-bedroom houses accommodating up to 4 people and one 2-bedroom guest house accommodating 4-6 people. Kitchen facilities, BBQ, bicycle, cot. Rates from HK$300 up (1- bedroom Sunday to Friday) to HK$900 (2-bedrooms Saturdays and public holidays). Owners also operate Solo Cafe. Reception - 86 Kat Hing Front Street, Tai O.
Phone - (852) 9349 9147 (Chinese), (852) 9153 7453 (English)
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
TAI O HERITAGE HOTEL - 9-room boutique hotel, opened March 2012, in magnificently renovated historic old colonial police station. Developed by Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation and operating as a non-profit making social enterprise. The two-storey main block, outhouse extension, bunkers, cannons and guard towers have all been restored to their original appearance. Hotel also has a Heritage Interpretation Centre, open to the public;
Tai O Heritage Hotel, opened 2012, is located in the magnificently renovated colonial old Tai O Police Station on a hillside at the harbour entrance
TRAPPIST HAVEN MONASTERY – founded in 1956 by Cistercian monks from mainland China the monastery is located at Tai Shui Hang on the north-east coast of Lantau half-way between Mui Wo and Discovery Bay. In 2000 it changed its name to the Roman Catholic “Our Lady of Joy Abbey” but is still commonly referred to by its former name. The monastery is home to about 34 monks, priests and brothers who are sworn to a vow of absolute silence. The abbey sits alongside a wooded ravine and stream in a picturesque and secluded setting. Visitors can enter the chapel which is reached by crossing a bridge over the ravine and a sign at the entrance to the bridge requests visitors to “speak in low tones”.
Footbridge over a picturesque ravine leading to the chapel
The chapel with its distinctive pastel green roof is bright and airy inside with a wooden balcony at the rear. The monastery is famous for its “Trappist Dairy” brand of milk. The dairy herd which was originally located here was moved to Yuen Long in the north-west New Territories and the milk now comes from the mainland and is bottled in Yuen Long. On some of the trees lining the road from the monastery down to the ferry pier are numbered crosses with images of Christ.
Trappist Haven Monastery Chapel
GETTING TO/FROM THE TRAPPIST HAVEN MONASTERY-
FERRY– There is a kaido ferry service from Discovery Bay (Nim Shue Wan) and Peng Chau to the monastery pier from where the monastery is about 10 minutes (uphill) walk. Departure times for services to the monastery are;
From Peng Chau, 10-15am*, 11-20am, 12-10pm*, 12-20pm, 4-15pm, 5-00pm
From Discovery Bay, 8-00am, 9-20am, 9-40am*, 11-15am*, 10-30am, 2-35pm, 2-45pm*, 3-45pm**
From Trappist Monastery, 8-10am, 9-30am, 9-50am*, 10-25am*, 10-45am, 11-30am, 12-20pm*, 12-30pm, 2-45pm, 3-00pm*, 4-00pm**, 4-25pm, 5-10pm
*Sundays and Public Holidays only
** Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays only
WALK FROM MUI WO OR DISCOVERY BAY –
The monastery is situated half-way along a scenic walking trail linking Mui Wo to Discovery Bay. The trail is a concrete path with steps in places. From Discovery Bay the trail follows the coast around Nim Shue Wan and is easy walking. Allow one hour at a leisurely pace to reach the monastery. From Mui Wo Ferry Pier follow the concrete path around Silvermine Bay past the Silvermine Beach Hotel, Seaview Holiday Resort and Silvermine Bay Outdoor Recreation Camp to its very end. The path to Discovery Bay and Trappist Monastery is signed and climbs steeply up a long flight of steps. This section of the walk is fairly strenuous but on reaching a pavilion at the top of the hill from where the monastery is visible the walking becomes easy as the path descends quickly into the valley below. Allow about 70 minutes to reach the monastery from Mui Wo.
DISCOVERY BAY – is a private modern coastal luxury western-style residential development nestled between the hills of the North Lantau Country Park and the sea at Tai Pak Wan (Discovery Bay) close to Hong Kong Disneyland. Since the early 1980’s the town has been developed in a mixture of high rise tower blocks of apartments and low rise houses and blocks of flats. By mid-2008 its population had reached 16,000, being 70% of its planned capacity. There is a central plaza with shops, restaurants and bars and an outside dining area. The town has a 27-hole golf course high in the hills to the west, artificial beach and marina.
The only road access to the town is from the North Lantau Highway via a private road and tunnel and no cars are allowed other than some service vehicles which require a permit. The only private transport allowed is bicycles and golf carts.
Cars are not allowed in Discovery Bay and golf buggies are a popular form of transportation
The town has its own transport system operated by Discovery Bay Transportation with a fleet of fast ferries to Central making it a popular commuting town for expat professionals and its buses serve Tung Chung, Hong Kong International Airport and Sunny Bay MTR Station. Taxis are not allowed into Discovery Bay although a poll of residents in mid-2010 indicated a favourable response to allowing taxis to the public transport interchange. No decision has yet been taken as to whether to apply to the Transport Department to allow taxis. The town has something of a Californian feel to it and has many western residents. If staying in Hong Kong for any length of time is worth a visit if only to experience the quirkiness of the place in comparison to the rest of Hong Kong. More information about Discovery Bay can be found here;
GETTING TO/FROM DISCOVERY BAY –
From Central Pier 3 on Hong Kong Island fast ferries make the journey in about 30 minutes. The service operates 24 hours a day with frequencies of about 20/30 minutes from 6am to about 2am then approx at 50 mins intervals. The timetable can be viewed here;
A kaido ferry service operates to/from Peng Chau approx every 30/45 minutes from approx 6am to 10pm. Some of these services also call at the Trappist Haven Monastery Pier. Timetable can be viewed here;
There is also an infrequent kaido ferry service to/from Mui Wo. Timetable can be viewed here;
Both the above kaido services depart from the quayside steps at Marina Drive, Nim Shue Wan (not the main Discovery Bay Ferry Pier).
Discovery Bay has its own bus services operated by Discovery Bay Transit Services Ltd (DBTSL) on three routes;
DB01R – to/from DB Plaza and Tung Chung MTR Station (15 mins)
DB02R – to/from DB Plaza and Hong Kong International Airport (20 mins)
DB03R – to/from Sunny Bay MTR Station (10 mins)
Services on these routes are frequent and a 24 hour service operates to/from the airport. Timetables and fares can be found here;
DBTSL also operate 24 hour local services within Discovery Bay.
AUBERGE, resort hotel at Discovery Bay North opened in early 2013;
TUNG CHUNG – located on the north-west coast of Lantau was until recently a small remote fishing village but from 1992 onwards there has been extensive development with the construction of Tung Chung New Town. The town currently has a population of around 72,000 and along with neighbouring Tai Ho is eventually planned to grow to 250,000. The town has grown rapidly since completion of the North Lantau Highway and Lantau Link providing fast rail and road access from Kowloon to nearby Hong Kong International Airport which opened in 1997 and is home to many airline and airport workers. With a journey time of only 35 minutes by MTR train to central Hong Kong Island it is also within easy commuting distance for many workers in Hong Kong’s financial hub. The town comprises private and government residential high-rise housing blocks with a central shopping area, entertainment venues, restaurants and café’s and is very well served by public transport. The town lies alongside Tung Chung Bay and to the north-west is connected by bridges to Chek Lap Kok, the flattened island on which the airport is built whilst to the south the town is dwarfed by the green hills and peaks of the North Lantau Country Park.
Tung Chung Bay and Yat Tung Estate sit at the foot of the hills of Lantau North Country Park
Part of the Hong Kong Governments Lantau Concept Plan is for ambitious future development the North Lantau coastal area around Tung Chung including theme park, leisure and recreational facilities, country park extension and cross-boundary transport hub. The town centre has two large shopping malls Citygate Outlets and Fu Tung Shopping Centre and a further shopping centre in the Yat Tung Estate on the south-western outskirts. Citygate Outlets next to Tung Chung MTR Station is a popular destination for both visitors and locals and has four floors of designer fashion, sports, accessories, children’s wear and home stores, international restaurants, café’s, fast food outlets, cinema and four-star hotel. In the square outside the mall is a musical “dancing” fountain and opposite Citygate, Tung Chung Crescent has banks, bookstore, convenience store, pharmacist, and hairdressers. Also in the town centre within two minutes walk of the MTR Station and Citygate Outlets is the lower terminus of the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to Ngong Ping.
The cable car ride follows a spectacular 5.7km route across Tung Chung Bay and up and over peaks and across plateaus of the Lantau North Country Park on its journey to Ngong Ping Village close to the Tian Tan “Big” Buddah and Po Lin Monastery. The cable car system opened in September 2006 but was closed following an accident in June 2007 and only reopened on New Year’s Eve 2007. The system has 212 cabins each capable of carrying a maximum of 17 passengers (10 seated, 7 standing) and the journey takes 25/30 minutes. The cable car operates Mon – Fri 10am to 6pm, Sat 10am to 6-30pm and Sundays and Special Days 9am to 6-30pm (list of special days can be found on the official website detailed below. Lengthy queues can form at weekends and public holidays. Pre-dated and timed vouchers are now available from some MTR Customer Service Centres. Tickets sold at the cable car terminus are for same day travel. Full details here;
Tung Chung Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Terminus
Tung Chung Old Village some distance from the new town still remains largely unchanged but rather incongruously sandwiched between the towering Lantau hills and the high-rise apartment blocks. Tung Chung Fort about 25 minutes walk from the town centre, just off Tung Chung Road (opposite the Yat Tung Estate), dates back to the 12th century but was rebuilt in 1832 and refurbished in 1988. It was built to defend the island against smugglers and pirates but abandoned when the New Territories were leased to the British in 1898. It was later occupied by the Japanese in World War II and subsequently used as a police station and until quite recently a school. It is possible to walk along the top of the walls which are still intact and on the north wall are six cannons whose once unobstructed view out to sea is now completely obstructed by the Yat Tung Estate. The fort has exhibition rooms which reopened in early 2008 after refurbishment. Admission is free and the fort is open daily (except Tuesday) 10am to 5pm.
Tung Chung Fort
Tung Chung Battery, built in 1817 on the edge of Tung Chung Bay was only discovered in 1980 and was a much smaller fort. All that remains of the ruins is a wall and gun emplacement. The Airport Trail, a short scenic walking trail starts across the road bridge to Chek Lap Kok from Shun Tung Road and leads to Scenic Hill with views over the coast and airport and along the eastern coastline of Chek Lap Kok. There are several hiking trails leading to and from Tung Chung including the Tung Chung Valley walk to Ngong Ping, coastal walk to Tai O and Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail.
GETTING TO/FROM TUNG CHUNG –
TRAIN – Tung Chung MTR Station is the terminus of the Tung Chung Line which begins at Hong Kong Station on Hong Kong Island and also serves Kowloon Station. Trains operate at up to 10 minute intervals from approx 6am until almost 1am. The journey from Hong Kong Station takes about 35 minutes or from Kowloon Station about 30 minutes and interchange stations at Sunny Bay (for Disneyland Resort), Lai King and Nam Cheong mean almost all parts of the rail network can be easily accessed.
BUS – There are frequent services from Tung Chung Town Centre to Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Major routes are;
E11 (Citybus) – to Causeway Bay (Tin Hau MTR Station) via Sheung Wan, Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai
E21 (Citybus) – to Tai Kok Tsui (Island Harbour View via Sham Shui Po, Mongkok and Prince Edward)
E22 (Citybus) – to Lam Tin (via Kowloon Tong, Wong Tai Sin and Diamond Hill)
E42 (Long Win) – to Sha Tin
There is a frequent circular shuttle bus service service S1 jointly operated by Citybus and Long Win between Tung Chung MTR Station, Hong Kong International Airport and Asia World-Expo. It operates every 7/10 minutes from 5-30am to midnight, journey time to the airport is 10/15 minutes and the fare is HK$3.5
Full timetables, fares and route details for Citybus services can be found by entering the route number in the route search box here;
or for Long Win services;
From Tung Chung Development Pier there is also a scenic kaido ferry service to/from Sha Lo Wan, Tai O and Tuen Mun operated by Fortune Ferry Company. For more detailed information on the Tai O to Tung Chung ferry service see HOW TO GET TO;
Timetable can be viewed here;
TUNG CHUNG ACCOMMODATION –
NOVOTEL CITYGATE HONG KONG – Four-star 440 room hotel adjoining the Citygate Outlets Mall next to Tung Chung MTR Station.
OTHER ACCOMMODATION ON LANTAU ISLAND -
PALM BEACH TEEPEE VILLAGE, CHEUNG SHA - Indian-style Teepee's located at a watersports and activities beach resort on Lantau's south coast. Cheung Sha Beach is Hong Kong's longest beach. Teepee's accommodating up to 20 guests available for day and overnight rental. Sleeping bags and mats etc can be provided. Details;
OOH LA LA, PUI O BEACH - Family camp site behind Ooh La La beach restaurant at Pui O on Lantau's south coast. Part of Treasure Island Group which organises corporate team building, outdoor events and activities;
LONG COAST SEASPORTS - Watersports resort at Lower Cheung Sha Village with accommodation in four guest rooms with broadband internet access and well-equipped Safari tents including air-conditioning and some furniture. Activities include windsurfing, sailing, sea kayaking, surfing & bodyboarding, skimboarding and wake-boarding;
YWCA SYDNEY LEONG LODGE - 8 family rooms accommodating up to 2 or 4 people and 19 dormitories for up to 8 people. Suitable for groups of 4 or more as minimum booking numbers apply. Located at San Shek Wan on Lantau's south coast close to Cheung Sha Beach;