Lantau Island used to be endless tracts of protected parks, but those days are long over. Now the island is infested by corporate resorts and gated communities. The unspoiled beauty of the island and its wide open space attracted the corporations early on, who recognized its value as prime real estate. Today nearly all the executives too wealthy to live on the Mid-Levels but not wealthy enough for the Peak live on Lantau. Even those who can’t quite afford to live here spend time here on corporate-sponsored vacation packages.
As far as vacations are concerned, Lantau claims to have it all: massive entertainment complexes like Virtual Horizons Disney, piers for passenger cruise ships making tours throughout the Pacific Rim, and spectacular age-old temples. In fact, the interior of the island has the grandest and wealthiest temples in all of Hong Kong, competing with each other for the most followers, tourists, and money. The undisputed winner at present is the famous Po Lin Monastery and its twenty-six-meter-tall bronze Buddha statue, sitting atop a temple pedestal overlooking the countryside. That has not stopped other local monasteries from competing for big donations.
Lantau has a number of growing neighborhoods, though each one does little to distinguish itself. They are all well planned and well-controlled corporate communities, beautiful on the outside but lifeless on the inside. Discovery Bay is nauseatingly clean and safe and just a stone’s throw away from the Disney resort (and I highly recommend throwing stones at it). Silvermine Bay used to be highly polluted, but Shiawase led an effort to clean up the area and has done a remarkably good job, though scientists worry that the pollutant-eating bacteria they used are also killing plant-life crucial to the sea ecology. Pui O is your typical beachside resort town, half split between spoiled social butterflies and pricey hotel resorts. Finally, Tung Chung is an aggressively growing little burb built in the shadow of the Chek Lap Kok international airport, trendy with the jet-setting business-class crowd.