Lantau, the largest of Hong Kong’s many islands, is no longer a remote district frequented only by travellers with suitcases and trail runners with neon gear. The island – which encompasses villages such as Mui Wo and Tai O, as well as the new town of Tung Chung – is dynamic and diverse, offering something for everyone. Find your ultimate outdoor adventure, explore Hong Kong’s lesser-known history, plan a serene staycation or finally check out those tourist hotspots you’ve always been meaning to see. If you’re planning to visit this outlying district, here are our recommendations for the best things to do, eat and see while you’re there. By Yvonne Lau
RECOMMENDED: After exploring this massive island, check out some of the other incredible things to do in Hong Kong.
Best things to do and eat on Lantau Island
What is Lantau famous for, if not for picturesque peaks and hills? Whether you’re a hardcore hiker or just doing it for the ‘gram, you won’t be disappointed here. Challenge yourself on the many stages of the Lantau Trail, where you’ll be rewarded with a stunning sunset on Sunset Peak or wise words on the Wisdom Path. You can also head to the 400-year-old Pak Mong village to take on the Olympic Trail, where you can enjoy Mui Wo’s natural beauty, with scenic views of country homes along the way.
Find your tranquility in this busy city through the multitude of Buddhist meccas around Lantau – including Dhamma Mutta Vipassana Meditation Center, Kwun Yam Temple and Ling Yan Monastery. Looking for something less off the beaten path? Nestled in the clouds is Ngong Ping Village with Tian Tan Big Buddha sitting at the top, along with the tranquil Po Lin Monastery and Lotus Temple nearby (though we can’t guarantee the line-ups to Ngong Ping will inspire zen).
Compared to other jam-packed spots in the city, Lantau’s beaches are rugged and unspoiled. Spend a day chilling at laid-back Silvermine Bay Beach in Mui Wo, dig for clams at Shui Hau Beach, take on a new watersport at Upper/Lower Cheung Sha Beach, set up camp at Pui O Beach or enjoy a beachside dinner overlooking Discovery Bay’s Tai Pak Beach.
Our city’s Disneyland may not be the biggest – but it may be one of the most beautiful, with Inspiration Lake and Lantau’s famous mountains as the backdrop. Disneyland is currently undergoing a magical makeover – new attractions have already opened in Tomorrowland and soon you’ll be able to sing along with Elsa and Anna in a new, “Frozen” land or explore a bigger and better Sleeping Beauty Castle featuring your favorite old-school and new-school princesses.
Originally built in 1902, the Tai O Heritage Hotel is a former police station that’s been revamped into an Instagram-worthy, colonial-style boutique hotel at the tip of the island. The rooms are surrounded by lush greenery and intimate seaside views, and even if you don’t stay the night, you can still enjoy the tranquil scenery by dining at the Tai O Lookout restaurant. If you want to know more about the surrounding area, the hotel also offers a cultural tour that explores Tai O’s floating homes and ancient temples.
A declared monument in Hong Kong, the Tung Chung Fort dates all the way back to 1832. It's been used for different purposes since then, including as a police station and a school. A visit to the fort will have you picturing yourself in a bygone era, complete with an ancient Chinese fort and Qing-era cannons. For the history buffs, be sure to make a second stop to the nearby Tung Chung Battery.
Cool off at Mui Wo’s Silvermine Waterfalls and stream, a famed scenic spot for hikers, day-trippers and picnic-goers. A few steps up the hill from the falls is Silvermine Cave, and a few steps down the hill and you’ll find yourself at Mui Wo’s peaceful Silvermine Bay Beach and town centre.
By now, you might think Lantau is only famous for its nature and islands. But did you know it’s also a haven for shoppers? Just minutes away from the Tung Chung MTR station, find a top outlet mall filled with luxury brands like Ferragamo, Burberry and Michael Kors, to outdoor brands such as North Face, Timberland and much more.
You wouldn’t think that a small, sleepy neighbourhood like Mui Wo would be the place to go for authentic Turkish fare but that’s exactly what you get at Bahce, a local favourite for years now. Simple, unfussy, generous on the portion sizes and bursting with flavour – this personable little eatery is worth the ferry ride alone.
This decidedly British pub (despite the name) is a Mui Wo mainstay having been around for almost 20 years. It’s one of the first things you see as the ferry pulls up to the pier – a shining beacon of alcohol, greeting you after your perilious sea voyage. The grub is a wide-ranging affair of classics enjoyed by Western folk – pizzas, pastas, curries, nachos, etc. They have an excellent pub quiz on the last Thursday of the month. Best of all, if you’re peckish as you jump on the boat in Central, give the place a call and order a pizza – they’ll have it ready and waiting for you when you step off the boat!
This little hole-in-the-wall serving authentic North Indian fare has been a staple of the Tung Chung community for many years. Don’t come here if you’re on a low-carb diet, as you won’t be able to resist the fresh, garlicky naan served from traditional tandoor ovens or classic favorites, such as chicken tikka masala and lamb rogan josh.
An idyllic, home-style café overlooking the colorful floating homes of Tai O, Triple Lanterns Café is the perfect spot for an afternoon tea break and a lovely backdrop for your next IG story. Treat yourself to a pot of tea, sit back and watch the boats pass by.
Though nestled in the suburbs of Tung Chung, this open-air, tropical restaurant feels as if it belongs in Thailand. Get your fix of simple and comforting Thai food here, like pineapple fried rice and creamy green curry.