Lantau Island (based on its old name 爛頭島 lan tau do, lit. rotten/broken head island; now called 大嶼山 da4 yU3 shan1, lit. big island hill), the site of sleepy fishing villages, is the largest island in Hong Kong, located at the mouth of the Pearl River. It is part of the Islands District, Hong Kong. Artifacts unearthed on the island show human activities dated back to the Neolithic age and the bronze age.
Major tourist attractions include the Po Lin Monastery, where the Tiantan Buddha (or "Giant Buddha"), an 85-foot-high bronze Buddha, various monastery buildings and a vegetarian restaurant can be found. Walkers can ascend from the monastery to Tung Chung in two hours.
Tai O is a fishing village located on the west of Lantau Island and more than three centuries old. It is also known as the "Oriental Venical". It is also a hot tourist spot for tourists visiting Hong Kong, despite damage by a fire in July 2000, thanks to its several hundred stilt houses. Tai O retains most of its histrical setting such as waterways, stilt houses and fishing boats and it is famous for its fishing village scenery. Traditional Chinese food like salted fish and shrimps paste there.
Tung Chung Fort was built in 1817 to thwart the opium trade and defend the coast from pirates. There are 6 old cannons and the enclosures are made of granite. During World War II, the Japanese army occupied the fort. In 1979, it was listed as one of the historical monuments and was refurbished in 1988.
The Trappist Monastery, home to a number of Roman Catholic monks, sits on the east coast of Lantau Island, approximately halfway between the towns of Mui Wo, (which sits on Silvermine Bay), and Discovery Bay.
Hong Kong Disneyland is being constructed on the northeastern part of the island, approxmiately two kilometres from Discovery Bay and is expected to be completed and opened in 2005, on a massive land reclamation project in Penny's Bay.
The Hong Kong government will own 57 percent of the US$1.8 billion park project, slated for opening in 2005 or 2006, and expects it to provide 18,400 jobs on opening and up to 35,800 jobs over the following 20 years. The total economic benefits amount to an estimated HK$ 148 billion (US$19 billion), or about six percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The project is planned to include a Disney theme park, two hotels and retail, dining and entertainment facilities stretching over 126 hectares (310 acres) on Lantau Island; as well as its own rail network linking from Yam O.
Over 50 percent of Lantau consists of national parks, including a large number of well-marked trails. The best known of these is the 70-kilometer, 12-section Lantau Trail. The national parks feature campsites and youth hostels. Lantau's best-known and longest beach is Cheung Sha and its most famous hike is to Sunset Peak.
Tourists can get to Lantau using ferry services provided by New World First Ferry; a ferry service is available between Mui Wo and Central, Hong Kong daily, transporation time is about 40-55 minutes. There are also ferry links between Mui Wo and the outlying islands of Peng Chau and Cheung Chau. A 24-hour ferry service also operates between Pier 3 in Central, Hong Kong and Discovery Bay; transportation time is 25 minutes. In addition, you can reach Tung Chung by train on the Tung Chung line of the MTR. You can also travel by walla walla, a traditional water taxi.
Residents and tourists can travel within Lantau Island either by taxi or bus. The New Lantao Bus provides major bus services within the island, where you can get to Tai O and Po Lin Monastry from Mui Wo pier
In Hong Kong, there are three types of taxis. Red taxis serve urban areas while green taxis New Territories. Taxis in Lantau Island are black in colour. There are 40 taxis serving Lantau Island area.
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