For years, I dreamed of a trip of Hong Kong. This was my first visit to Asia, and my excitement could be equated to that of a child waiting for Christmas day. When I dreamed of Hong Kong, there were really two main sights that came to mind based upon my limited knowledge, the Big Buddha and Victoria Peak. For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong, the home of Big Buddha on Lantau Island is a bit of a hike. I learned this during the planning process, amongst a number of other things. What I want to share are tips and tricks to take into consideration ahead of visiting Lantau Island.
1. Gondola Service. There is a gondola ride that takes you to the island. Almost our entire trip in Hong Kong, they were servicing the gondola and you could not visit Lantau Island. I recommend looking at their website ahead of time just to ensure this does not happen. It would be rather unpleasant to take the subway there only to find you cannot visit due to gondola service
2. Tickets. Another thing to consider is purchasing your gondola ticket ahead of time online. We were having difficulty with the website, therefore, we were unable to do so. If possible, I highly recommend this. The line was definitely a little shorter and moved quicker for those who already had purchased a ticket.
3. The Cabin. The next tip is in regards to the gondola itself. You can purchase a crystal cabin ride where you can see through the floor for additional views. Our decision was to take the crystal cabin ride on the way over and the regular gondola for return. The cost of the crystal cabin is slightly more expensive. I think the advantage to this is less people choose the crystal cabin, so the line was significantly shorter. On the way back, we took the regular gondola. It did not seem to be pertinent on the way back, as there was no wait for the return service.
4. Time Management. Plan your travel time realistically. I would go into this visit knowing that the trip will take a significant portion of your day. We made it back to Hong Kong island around 2pm and did not dawdle. You can easily spend an entire day here.
5. Photographs. Have your camera ready on the gondola ride. It is approximately a 20 minute ride each way. There are great opportunities available for photos. Try to sit in a different spot on the ride over and back to maximize your chances of getting all the right shots!
When you arrive on Lantau, you will first walk through a small village with stores and restaurants. We did not really spend any time here and started walking straight for the Buddha. First, we made the climb to the top. I stopped numerous times along the way for photos. Although an early morning visit is best to avoid crowds, the sun may not be in your favor for capturing the best photos. Keep all these things in mind to decide what is best for your needs. I will share some of my photos taken in the morning, and you can make the decision for yourself. We lingered at the top and walked around taking in the views from every angle.
After descending to the bottom of the steps, walk over to the monastery. It is beautiful. You cannot take photos inside the temple itself (this seemed to be the rule at all the temples), but there are many fantastic opportunities for photos outside. After visiting the monastery, we walked back to the gondola for the ride back to Hong Kong.