230 islands belong to the territory of Hong Kong; Lantau Island
is the biggest of them; actually, it is even bigger than Hong Kong Island
itself. It has a very attractive mountain scenery (the highest mountain
is Lantau Peak with 934 meters) and an impressive rocky coastline with
pretty white beaches. Most visitors come there in order to visit the famous
Po Lin Monastery, but Lantau Island is also ideal for hiking tours. (A
small map of Lantau
Island is here.)
The ferries from Central District arrive at Silvermine Bay (Mui Wo); the trip takes about an hour and leads you along lots of tiny little islands to Lantau. Silvermine Bay is a little town with a beach and lots of little restaurants; most of them specialize in seafood. The bus terminal is right in front of the ferry pier; there are several buses per day to Po Lin Monastery. The ride is admittedly not very comfortable (the roads are narrow, steep, and run in serpentines) but you get breathtaking views of the sea and the mountains. Taxies (they are blue) are also available on Lantau Island, but you need to have your destination written down in Chinese letters.
Po Lin Monastery is located at 450 meters altitude on the Ngong Ping Plateau. Po Lin is not a historical site; it was opened in 1970. The main hall has two floors and is covered with an elaborately decorated roof and hosts three big, golden Buddha statues. The main attraction of Po Lin, however, is the 34 m high giant Buddha statue outside. It weighs 250 tons and is said to be the biggest Buddha statue in Asia (quite believable). You have to climb a lot of stairs to reach the platform but it is worth the effort because you enjoy a wonderful view of the Lantau, of the little islands that surround it, and of the blue South China Sea. Also located on Ngong Ping Plateau is a tea plantation; the only one in the territory of Hong Kong. You can try its products in the associated tea garden. If you prefer a little lunch, the monks of Po Lin successfully operate a vegetarian restaurant that serves excellent food at very moderate prices.
When the bus (they leave every hour) has brought you back to Mui Wo, and you are still not tired and would like to see more of Lantau Island, you can walk along Mui Wo Chung Hau Street to a Man Mo temple, a waterfall , and an old silver mine (after which Silvermine Bay is named) outside of the little town. Or you can exit one or two stops before Mui Wo and walk the rest of the way, before you catch you ferry back to Hong Kong Island.
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