Lantau is the largest of Hong Kong’s islands and is almost double the size of Hong Kong Island itself. It is located 10km west of Hong Kong Island and is about 25km in length. Since 1997 when the Lantau Link was completed to serve Hong Kong International Airport on the flattened island of Chek Lap Kok, it has been connected to Kowloon and the New Territories by a series of bridges, roads and railway. Although considerable development has taken place along a narrow strip of the northern side of the island around the route of the Lantau Link with the construction of Hong Kong Disneyland, the private residential development of Discovery Bay and Tung Chung New Town, most of the island remains largely rural and unspoiled. The island is dominated by dramatic hills and peaks and spectacular scenery, picturesque coastline with some excellent beaches, temples, monasteries, traditional fishing villages and wonderful hiking trails. The population of Lantau is just over 105,000 (2011 census) but almost 85% of this is concentrated in the newly developed and fast growing towns of Tung Chung and Discovery Bay in North Lantau.
Many visitors to Hong Kong are surprised to learn how big the territory is and that so much of it is sparsely inhabited. Hong Kong isn't just a big city. People are surprised to find some of Asia's best empty beaches, theme parks, resorts, and hiking places. Lantau Island is Hong Hong's biggest island. It is about twice the size of Hong Kong Island. While much of Hong Kong Island is densely populated, Lantau Island is mostly natural parkland with a big Disneyland theme park, the big Hong Kong International Airport that serves the whole region, resorts and small tourist attractions. There are a lot of hiking trails including trails going up to Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak that are the second and third highest mountains in Hong Kong. There are also quiet seashore areas and beaches that you can hike along. This combination of modern tourist facilities in a setting of parkland, beaches and hiking trails is rare in East Asia. Transportation to Lantau Island is now quick and easy from the city of Hong Kong since two Hong Kong MTR metro lines and the very big Tsing Ma Bridge now connect the island to the urban center.
Hong Kong has several wonderful aspects. One of the several wonderful things about Hong Kong is the sparsely populated country areas and shorelines. Another wonderful thing is the modern transportation facilities. A third wonderful thing is the modern skyline that is the highest of any urban skyline in the world that fits well with the natural environment around Victoria Harbor and that is lit-up in a sound and light show called the Symphony of Light. Lantau has two of these three characteristics. Though high rises have gone up in Discovery Bay that is an expat enclave and around the airport, most of the island is sparsely populated. Only about 60,000 people live on it compared to 1.4 million people who inhabit Hong Kong Island. Lantau Island is mostly undeveloped natural park area. So it is a wonderful place to go to escape from the urban crowds of Hong Kong. The popular sites are the Hong Kong Disneyland that opened in 2005 and the Ngong Ping Tian Tan Buddha and the associated Po Lin Monastery. Another popular tourist site is Tai O with its quaint houses over the water and small tourist attractions. These are places that residents from Hong Kong and the surrounding region go to for recreation or religion. Discovery Bay is a residential area popular among foreigners. The natural recreation attractions include Sunset Peak and Lantau Peak with their hiking trails, a grassy plateau on the island where people can hike, the 73 kilometer-long (45 mile-long) Lantau Trail and several beaches including the two kilometer-long Chueng Sha Beach.
Lantau Island has excellent transportation facilities. For international travelers wanting to visit Lantau Island, Hong Kong International Airport that is on it is often considered the best in the world. It is the world's 13th busiest airport. It is the gateway to Hong Kong that is the gateway to the whole region. In order to give access to Lantau Island when they were building Hong Kong's airport, the Hong Kong government built the Tsing Ma Bridge. The bridge is the world's seventh longest suspension bridge, and it is the longest suspension bridge that is able to handle trains. It was an architectural achievement, and it is a part of the Hong Kong International Airport construction project that is considered one of the world's ten greatest construction projects completed during the 20th century. Once the bridge was completed in 1997, three MTR lines opened that go to the airport, the Asia World Expo convention center, Disneyland, and Tung Chung. The Tung Chung station has a tram to Ngong Ping and the Po Lin Monastery.