Tian Tan Buddha also known as the Big Buddha is located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island in Hong Kong. It is the world’s largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue and part of the Po Lin Monastery complex. The huge statue is an astonishing sight and the smile on the Buddha’s face instills a sense of tranquility. The statue’s magnificence has turned it into a major tourist attraction in Hong Kong and millions of tourists flock here every year.
So when my dad came to visit us in March, on a fine sunny day we decided to take a trip to the famous Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery on the Lantau Island. We took the MTR to Tung Chung station and then we proceeded to queue up to take the cable car ride all the way to Big Buddha. It was a mistake not to book the cable car tickets online as the queue was massive. We had to wait for two hours before we could get in the cable car. I would suggest you all to book your Ngong Ping cable car tickets on the internet at least a day before you plan to visit. This way you can cut through the lengthy tourist line and go right at the front of the queue. There are buses which also run between Tung Chung and Big Buddha but if you ask me the cable car ride is spectacular. Trekker enthusiasts can also hike their way but it is a three hour walk and around a zillion steps to climb.
After a long wait finally it was our turn to step into the cable car. We had opted for a glass-bottom car for which we made a bit extra but it was truly worth it.
Personally for me the highlight of this trip was the 25 minute cable car ride. The view is breathtaking with green mountains on one side and the glistening South China Sea on the other. On your right you can see airplanes take off and land at Hong Kong airport. We were so taken by the lush greenery of the island and the cool and quiet of the towering mountains. The ride is a photographer’s delight and be sure to carry your camera to capture the mesmerising scenic beauty.
After 20 odd minutes you can catch a bird’s eye view of the Big Buddha. We got down at the Ngong Pong village and made our way through a host of restaurants and souvenir shops. It’s a short walk to the flight of steps to the 34 meter bronze statue of Buddha.
The path is flanked on both sides by the twelve Divine Generals. Each of the twelve divine generals symbolizes a different animal from the Chinese zodiac. They are the guards of the Buddha.
For a closer look at the Buddha we scaled the 268 steps all the way atop the hill. The Buddha sits on a lotus throne and is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues. There are three exhibition halls beneath the statue displaying some Buddhist paintings and articles depicting Buddha’s life and teachings. However to enter tourists have to purchase a coupon. The view from the top is breathtaking. After we descended to the monastery plaza we made our way to the Po Lin monastery and its main temple. The temple is the abode of three bronze statues of Buddha and many Buddhist scriptures.
On our way back we explored the many souvenir and gift shops. There is a unique range of Buddhist souvenirs to choose from which will serve as the perfect memento for your incredible experience. Lastly we made our way to Ebeneezer’s Kebabs restaurant; a hugely popular chain of kebabs and biryani. We crammed our tummies with sumptuous biryani and donner kebabs. It was a perfect end to a splendid trip.
How to get there:
1. MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then take Ngong Ping Cable Car, which takes around 25 minutes. Then walk for around 10 minutes to the Big Buddha.
2. MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then take New Lantao Bus 23 from Tung Chung Town Centre, which takes around 45 minutes. Then walk for eight minutes.