One of the delights of Hong Kong is that there are so many beautiful islands to explore just a hop, skip and a jump away. But it can be hard to know where to head with so much choice – especially with the little ones in tow. So we’re here to the rescue with our top picks for super island adventures – family style. First up this week: Lantau and Lamma. And stay tuned as we’ve got more great island day trips headed your way next week.
A gorgeous island twice the size of HK island, Lantau makes for an ideal day trip given it has just so much to offer: a giant Buddha, monasteries, temples, a traditional stilt-house fishing village, sandy beaches, plus plenty of shops and restaurants – and beautiful scenery to boot. Oh, and there’s also a little place called Disneyland here too.
It really depends on which part of the island you’re planning to visit, but one of the most common is the ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo. Once you’re there, Lantau has an extensive transportation network all of its own. And of course Disney has its own special line on the MTR – the special mouse-shaped cars a hoot.
Five Great Family Adventures on Lantau Island
1. A Family Beach Day in Pui O: One of the top family beaches in Hong Kong, Pui O is known for its calm, clean water and shallow surf. Beyond the gorgeous backdrop and mini holiday feel typical of Lantau beaches, another reason to hit up Pui O is Ooh La La, an alfresco restaurant with tasty smoothies and burgers for the kids – and jugs of sangria for you. And if you want to take the staycation vibe up a notch, why not camp the night at Ooh La La – they’ll supply all the gear you need. (Want more family beach ideas? See our list of HK’s best beaches for families here).
2. The Big Buddha and Kung Fu in Ngong Ping: Home of the Tian Tan “Big Buddha” (the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue), this is one of the most popular destinations in Hong Kong. Climb the 268 steps to the lower tier of the podium, visit the site’s small museum inside the statue, and tuck into a yummy vegetarian meal at the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant (which is included in your museum fee, by the way). If you head out here you won’t want to miss the new kung fu extravaganza in nearby Ngong Ping Village – and of course your trip isn’t complete without a breathtaking ride in the Ngong Ping Cable Car.
3. Pirates, Forts, and Pink Dolphins in Tung Chung: Located on Lantau’s north coast, Tung Chung’s historic forts offer tales of pirates and battles dating all the way back to the Qing dynasty. Pay a visit to the Tung Chung Fort – and time site-seeing with the pink dolphin tour.
4. Stilt-houses of Tai O: This quaint fishing village on the island’s west coast has long been known for its traditional stilt houses and today this is one of the few places where you can still see them in Hong Kong. Don’t miss the Tai O Market, a visual treat that is sure to send vivid imaginations into overdrive – and be sure to bring home some of the locally produced shrimp paste and salted fish for a unique culinary experience. For a peek at just how beautiful the scenery is here, check out this account of a fab Tai O day trip by travel blogger Jackie over on our sister site, Sassy.
5. Disneyland – not just a theme park: If you haven’t been out to see Mickey and friends in a while, we think it might be time to pay ‘em a visit. While the new stuff is worth checking out (Toy Story Land opened just last year – and Grizzly Gulch is due to open at the end of July), did you know Disneyland offers way more than “just” a theme park? In fact, there are loads of great recreational spots to explore. One of our faves is Inspiration Lake where you can rent pedal boats and surrey bikes (fun!). And the nearby Arboretum is a perfect spot for a family picnic. Get more info on these fun ‘alternative’ Disneyland offerings here.
Laid-back and peaceful, Lamma is one of the most beautiful islands around. With its temples, caves, coves, seafood restaurants, and hiking trails, it’s also one of the best places for a family day trip.
Ferry! Hop on at the Central Pier 4 on Hong Kong Island – or for an extra adventure, why not take the scenic route by hopping on a wooden kaido ferry from Aberdeen?
Four Great Family Adventures on Lamma Island
1. Take a Hike on the Family Trail: One of the big draws of Lamma is all the great hiking you can do here. There are lots of marked hiking trails, but by far the most popular –and the most child-friendly – is the aptly named Family Trail. Just 4km long, it runs between Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan. The hike offers some great views over the island and you can grab a bite and take the ferry back to Central in either village. (Hey psst: get the scoop on more great family-friendly hikes in HK here).
2. Cast a Net at the Fisherfolk Village: Like the rest of HK, Lamma’s roots are all about the sea – we’re talking 6,000 years of fishing history. Get a glimpse of this vibrant history and tradition at the Fisherfolk Village. Located on a raft in the bay amongst the fish farms, here you and the kids can try your hands at hauling fishing nets, weaving ropes and ‘hookless’ fishing. Get tickets at the little booth near the pier in Sok Kwu Wan.
3. Picnic at Lo So Shing Beach: While Lamma might be known for its seafood restaurants, the scenic cove of Lo So Shing Beach is the perfect spot for a family BBQ. Set in a small cove and banked by a thick fence of foliage, it feels like a hidden slice of peace and quiet – even in the height of summer the weekends aren’t terribly crowded, and on weekdays you nearly have the place to yourself. While BBQ supplies can be found at the various mom and pop stores on Lamma, we recommend bringing your own. (Get the scoop on other great family BBQ spots in Hong Kong here).
4. Live Seafood! Most of Lamma’s famed seafood restaurants are cluttered along the seafront in either Yung Shue Wan or the smaller, and somewhat more intimate, Sok Kwu Wan. One of the top picks is of course the famous Rainbow Seafood Restaurant in Sok Kwu Wan, but we also love Man Fung Seafood Restaurant on the main street in Yung Shue Wa. Regardless of where one you end up, fresh chilli crab, garlic prawns, deep-fried squid and steamed fish with ginger and spring onions are all firm favourites. Check out one mama’s guide to enjoying an action-packed family day trip to Lantau (with a couple of need-to-know insider tips too!) here.
Can’t wait for next week’s instalment with more island adventures? Well, you’re in luck as we’ve got more great day trip ideas over at Sassy!