Visiting the Big Buddha in Hong Kong is a popular day trip that you’ll really enjoy. A highlight of the day is riding the cable car across beautiful Lantau Island to the impressive Big Buddha, set high in the mountains beside remote Ngong Ping village and the Po Lin Monastery. The scenic cable car ride delivers stunning views across the island and out to sea. Also known as the Tian Tan Buddha, the giant Buddha statue sits on top of a mountain and gazes peacefully over the monastery and the forested valleys below.
A visit to the Big Buddha in Hong Kong should be high on your list of things to do. It’s an exciting and fun way to experience the Buddhist traditions and culture of Hong Kong. But it is very popular and can get crowded. Ngong Ping Village is definitely set up to cater for the large influx of tourists and there are restaurants and shops full of souvenirs if you feel like shopping. There’s a colourful and brand-new feel to the village. If you’re like me you’ll pass through Nong Ping village and head straight to the main attractions, the Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.
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- About the Big Buddha in Hong Kong
- About the Po Lin Monastery
- How to visit the giant Buddha in Hong Kong
- Where to stay in Hong Kong
- Final thoughts
- Travel Essentials
About the Big Buddha in Hong Kong
The Big Buddha in Hong Kong or the Tian Tan Buddha is similar to many Buddha statues in Asia in that its purpose is to inspire visitors with its size and majesty and to embody Buddhist teachings. The popularity of the Tian Tan Buddha demonstrates the importance of the ancient Buddhist religion throughout Asia and to the local culture of Hong Kong.
The Tian Tan Buddha’s serene expression and flowing lines are a symbol of harmony between man and nature. The Buddha is seated, cross-legged on a lotus throne. With his right hand raised and left hand resting on his thigh, the statue is posed in a gesture of wisdom and fearlessness. The giant Buddha’s long earlobes represent the rejection of material things for the rewards of spiritual enlightenment and the lotus throne on which he sits is a symbol of purity. Facing north, the Buddha looks towards China, the Po Lin Monastery, and the stunning forested mountains and valleys of Lantau Island.
Where is the Big Buddha in Hong Kong
The Big Buddha statue can be found on Lantau Island sitting on a platform at the top of Mount Muk Yue Shan beside the Po Lin Monastery and Ngong Ping village, 22 kilometres from Tung Chung Metro Station.
How big is the Big Buddha
The Tian Tan Buddha is one of the largest outdoor Buddhas in the world. It’s 34 metres tall and made from bronze and was completed in 1993. Visiting the imposing Big Buddha in Hong Kong is a great way to learn about the Chinese Buddhist religion and culture.
How many steps to the Big Buddha
It takes around 10 minutes to walk from Ngong Ping village to the base of the Big Buddha and there are 268 steps to climb to reach the statue but there is access for the disabled if it’s needed. From the platform, there are sweeping views of Lantau Island and out to sea. The Tian Tan Buddha is so big it’s hard to view and photograph up close.
On the platform beside the huge Tian Tan Buddha, there are six smaller bronze statues. Known as “The offering of the Six Divas” the statues present offerings of flowers, incense, fruit and music to the Buddha symbolising the six qualities necessary for enlightenment: patience, generosity, morality, meditation, wisdom and zeal.
About the Po Lin Monastery
The Tian Tan Buddha is attached to the Po Lin Monastery and it takes just a few minutes to walk to the monastery from the Big Buddha. In front of the Po Lin monastery is a large altar where people stop to light incense and pray before entering the main courtyard of the monastery. There is an active community of Buddhist monks living at the Po Lin Monastery with a loyal following of local people. It’s one of the highlights of Lantau Island and was established in 1906 by three monks who were visiting from mainland China.
Today the Po Lin monastery is a large temple complex that serves the local community. The main temple house 3 golden statues of the Buddha that represent his past, present and future. In addition to the main shrine, the complex includes an exhibition hall that displays Buddhist relics, a Hall of the Ten Thousand Buddhas, a meditation hall, a library, and a vegetarian restaurant.
The Po Lin Monastery has an attractive shaded courtyard with seating and it makes a lovely retreat from the heat. I wandered through the monastery and came across a Buddhist ceremony in progress with monks chanting and praying in one of the temples. Colourful tiles and ceramic statues adorn the walls of the temple and the design of the roof is distinctly Chinese in character. Visiting the Po Lin Monastery is a lovely way to experience Hong Kong’s history, religion, and culture, see a different way of life, and discover Buddhist traditions that date back thousands of years.
The Wisdom Path
Behind the Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery is a hidden gem. The Wisdom path is a series of wooden columns inscribed with verses from the Buddhist Heart Sutra that line the pathway through beautiful, peaceful surroundings at the base of Lantau Peak. The Wisdom Path is a short walk from the Big Buddha and is often overlooked by visitors.
How to visit the giant Buddha in Hong Kong
The best and most scenic way to get to the giant Buddha in Hong Kong is to take the Ngong Ping 360° Cable Car from Tung Chung MTR station on Lantau Island. The cable car ride offers breathtaking mountain and sea views and it takes around 30 minutes to reach the remote and rather touristy Ngong Ping Village. From there it’s a short walk to the Big Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery.
You can travel to Lantau Island by MTR (train) or by ferry.
From Hong Kong Central catch the MTR to Tung Chung station. The trip takes around half an hour. Take Exit B for the Ngong Ping 360° Cable Car to Ngong Ping Village and the Tian Tan Buddha.
At Tung Chung MTR station take exit B for the Bus station. The number #23 bus goes to Ngong Ping Village and the trip takes around 50 minutes. Buses also leave from here to the other places on Lantau Island like Mui Wo or Discovery Bay. For those on a budget, the bus is a much cheaper way to get to Tian Tan Buddha than the cable car. It’s also an option to take the cable car one way and return on the bus.
Travelling by ferry is a great way to get around Hong Kong. From Central Pier 6, the ferry to Lantau Island and Mui Wo village or Discovery Bay takes around an hour. Buses to the cable car station at Tung Chung MTR station leave from the ferry pier.
Alternatively, you can catch a bus directly to Ngong Ping village from Mui Wo and it’s much cheaper than the cable car. From Hong Kong Island take a ferry from Central Pier to Mui Wo on Lantau Island then bus no. 2 from the ferry pier.
Big Buddha Hong Kong Cable Car
A ride on the Ngong Ping 360° Cable Car is a highlight of a visit to Lantau Island. The views across the island and out to sea are stunning. Tickets are available from the cable car station near the Tung Chung MTR station. The cable car ride is very popular and there are often long queues for tickets.
I queued for over an hour to buy my cable car ticket but you can skip the queues and buy your Ngong Ping 360 cable car ticket in advance.
The Lantau Island: Boat and NP360 Cable Car or Tai O Day Pass is a great option if you want to see more of beautiful Lantau Island. The day pass includes a cable car ticket and a boat ride exploring the waterways of the Tai O fishing village. On this tour, you’ll explore further than your average tourist and get a glimpse of a more traditional way of life in Tai O village on the islands of Hong Kong.
Hike to the giant Buddha in Hong Kong
For those on a pilgrimage who want to earn their trip to the Big Buddha, there’s a hiking trail to the top of the mountain. But the path can be difficult to find. From the Tung Chung MTR station follow the bike trail signs. The hike takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours to complete and you can take the cable car back to the station or catch a bus for the return trip.
You can also hike to the Big Buddha from the ferry stop in Mui Wo Village.
Where to stay in Hong Kong
Budget: YHA Mei Ho Hong Kong
Mid-Range: The Salisbury YMCA of Hong Kong near the Star Ferry pier in Tsim Sha Tsui
Luxury: The Mandarin Oriental Hotel has a fabulous location in Central Hong Kong
The Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui is a luxury heritage hotel in a great location.
Accommodation in Hong Kong is expensive and Airbnb can also be a good option.
***Book a transfer from Hong Kong Airport to your hotel and take the stress out of your arrival.
I really enjoyed the day trip to the Big Buddha in Hong Kong. The cable car ride offers spectacular scenery and the Tian Tan Buddha itself is very impressive, sitting high on a mountain top overlooking the traditional Po Lin Monastery. The experience is quite touristy however and a return trip on the cable car is a bit expensive if you’re on a tight budget. But I think it’s worth taking the cable car at least one way because the scenery is so spectacular and it is a highlight of the outing.
If you’re after a more intimate look at the religious and spiritual life in Hong Kong, perhaps you would enjoy a visit to the Monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas in Hong Kong’s New Territories. At the Monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas, there are literally thousands of golden Buddhas. Each statue is an individual representation of the Buddha and you’ll see this from the moment you arrive and begin walking along the steep path up the hill to the monastery. In contrast, the Big Buddha will impress with its huge size, peaceful presence, and stunning location on a mountain top on beautiful Lantau Island.
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