Hong Kong’s Tian Tan Big Buddha Statue, commonly referred to as the Big Buddha, sits 34 metres high, weighs 250 metric tons and is tucked away in the lush forests of Lantau Island.
The easiest way to get to Big Buddha is to take the MTR to Tung Chung station, then either take the Ngong Ping Cable Car or the New Lantau bus to the monastery. It would be faster to reach by using the cable car although the queue can be unbearable. The bus would take longer but it is cheaper and the route is scenic and relaxing so the choice is really up to you. Unless the cable car is not working due to weather conditions or due to maintenance works, then you would have no choice but to take the bus.
The cable car costs around HKD 210 for a round-trip fare. Ngong Ping 360 offers various packages in their websites with some packages also including land tours. The bus ride from Tung Chung ranges from HKD 18 on weekdays to HKD 27 on Sundays and public holidays. I took the bus for both times that I went here, then I took the cable car back to Tung Chung once just for the experience. After all, it boasts to be one of the world’s Top 10 cable car rides.
Looking up, the stairs to reach the Big Buddha is definitely very high (for me, at least, more experienced climbers and hikers might think otherwise) and it might be very challenging for those suffering from acrophobia. Just remember to take your own sweet time and don’t rush. Hold on firmly to the stair’s handrails. It is better to take longer to climb than to fall down. Apart from the injuries you might get, there would be a lot of witnesses to that very embarrassing moment, aside from the giant Buddha staring at you.
It takes 268 steps to reach the base of the bronze Buddha but you will surely be rewarded once you reach the top. You will be greeted with amazing views of the Lantau forests. There is also a gift shop under the statue and they sell ice cream! I think that is reward enough!
Around the giant bronze statues, there six smaller statues which are collectively known as “The Offering of the Six Devas”. Each statue is holding one offering for the giant Buddha: music, incense, ointment, lamp, flowers, and fruit.
Opposite the statue is the Po Lin (Precious Lotus) Monastery. Founded in 1906, the monastery took 12 years to plan and build the Big Buddha.
Both the monastery and the giant Buddha statue have great significance for those who practice the religion. As a Catholic, I do not know much about Buddhist beliefs, rituals or symbolisms, but one thing I know is to respect the worship places of other religions. Sometimes, it is disappointing to see tourists just mercilessly taking photos on what other people consider as sacred places. At least, be modest and subtle enough to avoid disturbing those who are actually there to worship and pray.
Going back down to Tung Chung station, there is still one more surprise for you, the Citygate outlets. This is one huge mall offering markdown prices of popular brands. Definitely a must-go after exploring the Big Buddha at Ngong Ping.