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10:00 am | Lantau Island

Floating through clouds

Of all the things a tourist can do in Hong Kong, one of the most iconic and memorable times to be had is a visit to Lantau Island, home of spectacular elevated views high above the city and the iconic Tian Tan Buddha. A trip to this paradise begins with a cable-car ride up the side of the mountain. As you ascend, the views become better and better, culminating with an absolutely spectacular vista. (Some carriages even have glass bottoms, a note to consider if you’re afraid of heights.) Several hundred feet above the water, the clouds part and give way to the lush green world of Lantau Island, a world that looks nothing at all like the city far below.

Meet the local bovine.

Exiting the cable car, there’s a short walk to the main gates, where, on certain days, you may find yourself greeted by the local cows, who are presumably on their way to see the Buddha. Continuing on, you’ll pass through a small, picturesque village where you can buy souvenirs and light picnic supplies before your island exploration begins. Just beyond that, there’s a grand staircase where your climb to meet the Tian Tan Buddha begins. The Buddha is one of the five largest ones in China, and surrounding it are six smaller statues known as the Offering of the Six Devas. Each one represents the six perfections (generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation and wisdom), all of which are necessary for enlightenment.

Get ready to feel a little humble.

The Buddha stands 112 feet in height and was built from over 202 individual bronze pieces. There are three halls behind the statue, and to reach them, one must climb a final spiral staircase. At the top, you’ll find the Halls of the Universe, Benevolent Merit and Remembrance. Have a passion for historical artifacts? In the Hall of Remembrance, there’s a relic of Gautama Buddha, a bone fragment from his cremated remains. Only visitors who purchase an offering for the Buddha are allowed to see it. Small fee aside, it’s a chance to be face-to-face with an important piece of spiritual history.

Making a day of it.

Centrally located, Lantau Island is an easy destination if you find yourself with a few extra hours of free time and don’t want to venture too far out of the city. Beyond the Tian Tan Buddha, the island itself is covered in hiking trails, a great way to get a little exercise. Running in varying lengths and grades, there’s a perfect one for everyone, no matter your level of fitness. Plan a few hours to walk the island and take in the amazing views and lovely grounds that surround you in every direction. Or find that perfect place to stop and enjoy a leisurely picnic. Whatever you decide, we’re certain you’ll discover a trip to Lantau is a spiritual and beautiful experience sure to make for some great photos and amazing memories.

For a more complete experience and to read all the adventures, download our free interactive eBook, “Life Well Travelled Hong Kong“

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