What To See in Hong Kong – Wisdom Path

What To See In Hong Kong - Wisdom Path - Header

What To See in Hong Kong – Wisdom Path in Hong Kong Lantau Island

After the morning of appreciating Tian Tan Buddha, we had a very good lunch at Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. As we had dessert at the deli outside the restaurant, we took advantage of the moment to rest a while.

Soon enough, we were energized, and ready for our next adventure. We wondered What To See in Hong Kong next? We read about the Wisdom Path, and were eager to see it.


About Wisdom Path

Wisdom Path features thirty eight (38) wooden monuments that are eight (8) to ten (10) meters tall. Each of these monuments, also called wooden steles, have Chinese calligraphy inscribed on them.

The words of the calligraphy form phrases that are verses from the Heart Sutra. The Heart Sutra is one of the world’s best known prayers. It is revered by Confucians, Taoists and Buddhists.

The thirty eight (38) wooden steles are arranged in a figure eight configuration. This is to symbolize infinity. This amazing work of art was created by Professor Jao Tsung-I, and completed in May 2005.



Finding the Wisdom Path

As we walked out of Po Lin Monastery, we noticed a pathway between Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. There were sign posts and one of them indicated that the pathway would lead to Wisdom Path. We walked about a few hundred meters before we found some signs that indicated the start of the trek to Wisdom Path.

At first, we were a little confused. There were so many colorful signs promoting different brands of drinks. And there was one that indicated a Tea Garden Restaurant.

There was a piece of stone just below all those signs. It took us a few seconds before we realized that it was a milestone that indicated the start of the trek to Wisdom Path.

And if you looked really carefully, below the Chinese Words, there is a faded arrow that pointed the way.

What To See In Hong Kong - Sign Post to Wisdom Path
Sign Post to Wisdom Path, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Journey to the Wisdom Path

We began our trek to Wisdom Path along a narrow track. On the sides were trees, shrubs and all types of greenery. We could hear some soft sounds of creatures in the distance, and the occasional bird calling. And were surprised there were not more signs of fauna. Were they shy because of our presence?

* Tip: The Wisdom Path trek is quite long. Stay on track by following the signs and the beaten trail. Do not go off the track.

Not far from the start point of the trek, we spotted Cherry Blossoms! We were quite amazed to find them there. More so because they were so unexpected.

What To See In Hong Kong - Cherry Blossoms along the way to Wisdom Path
Cherry Blossoms, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

As we ventured further, we observed that there were the greenery was lush, and flora abundance. The air was sweet and dry. All of this made the trek absolutely pleasant, and treat for the eyes.

* Tip: Do take time to appreciate the trees and flowers.

Some distance in, we came across what looked like an abandoned tea house. This could be the Tea Garden Restaurant that one of the signs indicated earlier. There was no one around, and it did not look like it was conducting business anymore.

* Tip: The Tea Garden Restaurant is another milestone. You know that you are on the right track when you see it.

Opposite the Tea Garden Restaurant, there was a small field of shrubs. We wondered what they were at first. Then we realized that it was a small tea plantation.

This was cool. It meant that the tea house used to serve tea that were grown there. So fresh!

What To See In Hong Kong - Tea Plantation
Tea Plantation, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The Wisdom Path

From the start of the trek to the Wisdom Path, it should take about twenty (20) to twenty five (25) minutes walk. Of course, it all depends on your speed of walking. Also, if you stopped to admire the flowers and tea garden, it would take a little longer.

After the nice and pleasant walk, we finally reached the Wisdom Path. We did not expect what we saw. It was awesome.

Another good thing about this attraction was that there were not many people here. We believed it was because not many people knew of this place. So, it was not crowded and very serene. The tranquility added a touch of spirituality to this place.

We started to walk the Wisdom Path.

What To See In Hong Kong - Start of Wisdom Path
Start of Wisdom Path, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Immediately, near the start of the path, there were the wooden steles already. As mentioned earlier, the wooden steles were about eight (8) to ten (10) meters tall. They look magnificent, don’t they?

What To See In Hong Kong - Up the steps of Wisdom Path
Steps to Wisdom Path, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

From the photo above, you could see that they were almost as tall as the trees around them. Below is the first of the wooden steles at the Wisdom Path.

What To See In Hong Kong - Heart Sutra on Wooden Steles
First wooden stele of Wisdom Path, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

Below is a close up of the first wooden stele. It says that this is the Heart Sutra.

What To See In Hong Kong - Heart Sutra on Wooden Steles - close up view
Heart Sutra on Wooden Stele, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

It must be noted that not all the wooden steles are of the same breadth. Here is one that is a little broader. The piece of wood used is natural, like a large log that had been sliced for a surface to carve the calligraphy.

What To See In Hong Kong - Heart Sutra on Wooden Steles - Another perspective
One of the broader wooden steles, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

As we walked along the Wisdom Path, we felt immersed into the experience. We were no longer watching like they were just an attraction. As we looked up to view each wooden stele, we felt such a sense of awe. And as we continued walking, there was almost a sense of losing oneself into the space, forgetting that it actually formed the infinity sign.

What To See In Hong Kong - Heart Sutra on Wooden Steles - Looking from another angle
Looking from another angle, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

Every once in a while, we looked around. Everywhere we looked, there were slopes and mountains. We could understand why this place was chosen for this representation of the Heart Sutra.

We could not help but feel such a sense of appreciation by the beauty all around us.

What To See In Hong Kong - Heart Sutra on Wooden Steles - Mountains and greenery all around
Mountains and greenery all around, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

Here is a photo to share how it looked when we gazed upwards from the base of one of the wooden steles. Against the sunny blue sky, it was colossal and breathtaking.

What To See In Hong Kong - Heart Sutra on Wooden Steles - Looking magnificent
Looking magnificent, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

After the visit to the Wisdom Path, we exit from where we started. A look around, and we saw that to the left was a sign that said – Phoenix Hill. There were steps that invited people to explore the hill.

* Tip: The entrance to the Phoenix Hill is recognizable by a gateway and a statue of the Phoenix. It is on the left of the entrance of the Wisdom Path. Don’t miss it!

We climbed the steps, and after a short distance, we looked back. We were able to have a bird’s eye view of the 38 wooden steles of the Wisdom Path. Look closely and you could make out the infinity symbol cast by the wooden steles!

What To See In Hong Kong - Heart Sutra on Wooden Steles forming Infinity symbol
Wooden Steles forming Infinity symbol, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

We walked slightly further up the Phoenix Hill, and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the mountains and valley of the Lantau mountains, the islands and the South China Sea.

What To See In Hong Kong - Breathtaking View of Islands and South China Sea
Breathtaking View of Islands and South China Sea, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gem

We spent some time appreciating the majestic view. Soon after, we made our way back to Tian Tan Buddha.

Address

Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Outlying Islands

How to Get There

MTR

Go to MTR Tung Chung Station. Take Exit B. Then take the Ngong Ping Cable Car. This will take around 25 minutes.

Bus

Or from the same Tung Chung Station, take New Lantao Bus 23. This will take about 45 minutes.

Ferry

Another way to get there is by Ferry, which you have to board at Central Pier 6. Take the ferry to Mui Po, then take New Lantao Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Village. All this may take around 40 minutes, minus wait time.



What is the Heart Sutra?

The Heart Sutra is a very popular sutra in Mahayana Buddhism. It has 260 words, and as such is the shortest sutra.

Its Sanskrit name is Prajnaparamitahrdaya. The meaning is The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.

The sutra records the conversation that Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva has with one of the disciples of Buddha, Shariputra. They discussed the five skandhas that are form, sensation, conception, discrimination and consciousness. All of which are empty as Avalokiteshvara has observed, and thus became free from suffering.

We will not assume to know all there is about this lovely Heart Sutra. The above is just a brief explanation. For more information, it is best to read up more about this sutra from Buddhist websites, attend talks by monks about this sutra, read books about it, or visit Buddhist libraries.


If you have ANY questions about this post or Hong Kong, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Good Food in Hong Kong – Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant

Good Food In Hong Kong - Po Lin Monastery Gateway - Header

Good Food in Hong Kong – Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant

After a wonderful morning at Tian Tan Buddha (also lovingly called Big Buddha), we were hungry. The climb up the 268 steps and back down, plus walking around and inside the inner halls surely worked up an appetite. We hunger for Good Food in Hong Kong!

Fortunately, the ticket we bought included a full course meal at the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant.

We had read many good things about the restaurant and the food they served. And looked forward to experiencing it first-hand. We wanted to see if it really was as good as what netizens have claimed.

Below is the brief intro about Po Lin Monastery and the Summary of Ratings, followed by our experience tasting the food at vegetarian restaurant. Continue reading to join us for this gastronomical journey.


About Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin is a Buddhist monastery. It was founded in 1906 by three monks. And is located on Ngong Ping at Lantau Island of Hong Kong. The location is quite remote, in a setting that is amongst lush and serene mountains.

It is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums. After Tian Tan Buddha was added, it became a very popular destination for locals and tourists.

There is a well known vegetarian restaurant that is famous for serving delicious vegetarian dishes. Around the monastery, and everywhere in Ngong Ping, there are beautiful flowers, lush greenery, and even wildlife and livestock.

This tree was at the hill slope, at the side of the 268 steps to Tian Tan Big Buddha.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Lush Greenery along the slope of the hills at Tian Tan Buddha
Lush Greenery along the slope of the hills at Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

* Tip: When you are at Ngong Ping, do take time to notice the pretty flowers, plants and trees there.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Beautiful Flowers Everywhere at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Beautiful Flowers Everywhere, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

There are ways to get there; such as by MTR to Tung Chung MTR station then by bus or cable car, or by ferry. More info below.


Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant – The Overview & Rankings

Name: Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant
Cuisine: Chinese, Vegetarian, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Meals Served: Lunch, Dinner
Dining Choices: Dine In
Family Friendly: Yes
Food: 4.0 out of 5.0
Service: 3.0 out of 5.0
Value: 4.0 out of 5.0
Atmosphere: 3.0 out of 5.0
Prices: $$$ out of $$$$$
Asia Travel Gems Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0  Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant - 4 out of 5 Stars Rating



On the Way to Po Lin

After a wondrous time at the top of the hill, and being awestruck by the colossal Tian Tan Buddha, the inner halls of treasure and the breath-taking views of the mountains, we began to feel hungry.

Fortunately, the ticket we purchased earlier included a set meal at the Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. To get there, we had to walk down the 268 steps. This time, it was not so tiring as going up.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Pavilion and Gateway to Po Lin Monastery can be seen to be just across Tian Tan Buddha
Pavilion and Gateway near Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

As we reached the lower flights of steps, we noticed many people praying at a circular construct. We found out later that this is called the Pavilion.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Pavilion just across Tian Tan Buddha
Pavilion just across Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

It was nothing sensational. But it was nice to see and experience every part of this tourist attraction.


Entrance to Po Lin Monastery

Po Lin Monastery was just across the Tian Tan Buddha. After we reached the bottom of the 268 steps, and crossed the Pavilion, we saw the gateway to the monastery.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Gateway to Po Lin Monastery
Gateway to Po Lin Monastery, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Vegetarian Deluxe Set Meal

Do not expect the usual window display of food or large neon signs to indicate where the restaurant is. This is a simple and unassuming eating place.

Look for the temple, and then walk to the left side of the front of the temple. Look for signs where one of them would indicate the restaurant, and the direction it is located.

Though it took a bit of time to find, it was actually easy to spot the restaurant. Here is where you have to be sure which room to enter. Earlier, we purchased the Deluxe Set Meal. A sign on the door of the restaurant informed us that the meal would be served in the VIP (Very Important Person) room.

* Tip: Buy the Deluxe Set Meal. It is worth the money. The room is air-conditioned (great for a hot day), and the meals are served by wait staff.

One of the wait staff greeted us as we entered the VIP room. She asked for our ticket, and we showed it, and informed her that there were four of us dining. Immediately, she allocated us a table.

After that, everything happened really fast and efficiently. There was nary a smile or pleasant conversation. It was not horrible either. Just very mechanical and quick.

The plates and utensils were placed, followed by bowls for washing hands or tea cups. Then the dishes arrived one after another.

Here is what you get for a Deluxe Meal for four (note: menu may change over time):

The first dish was the Deep Fried Bean Curd Sheets with Lemon Sauce. It was cooked in a sweet and sour style. We must admit that this is a great starter. The sweetness and sourness was not too heavy, and not too light. Just the right amount to make this a mouth watering combination that increased our already worked up appetites.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Deep Fried Bean Curd Sheets with Lemon Sauce
Deep Fried Bean Curd Sheets with Lemon Sauce, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The Bean Curd Sheets were crispy yet full without being flaky. At some places, the bean curd sheets get soggy very quickly because of the sauce. They have managed to keep the sheets crispy even after we started on the other dishes that came soon after.

The next dish was the Black Mushrooms with Vegetables. This turned out to be the highlight of the meal.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Black Mushrooms with Vegetables
Black Mushrooms with Vegetables, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

They mushroom were firm and chewy. Notice some places served mushrooms that just tasted like nothing? Not here. At Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant, there was a light yet distinct mushroom taste on our tongues! It was just the right amount of flavor too!

The green vegetables were no lightweight, too. The ingredients were so fresh and full of taste of each type of vegetable that we suspected they might have been grown in the fertile lands of Ngong Ping. Maybe even organic?

Every Chinese meal should have soup. Or at least that is a Cantonese way of having meals. Sadly, the Mixed Mushroom Soup was disappointing. We did not think much of it.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Mixed Mushroom Soup
Mixed Mushroom Soup, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

It was a thick soup with bean noodles, black fungus, strands of bean curd skin and assorted mushrooms. While nice to have and drink after an exhausting walk up and down the steps to Big Buddha, the taste was bland and nothing special to speak of.

We thought it was going downhill after the soup. Thankfully, things bounced back. The Spring Rolls were served next.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Spring Rolls
Spring Rolls, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

I love Spring Rolls! And the ones from Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant were really good! They were well fried such that the skin was light and crispy. The filling was tasty with light sweet and peppery flavors. Again, we could tell how fresh the ingredients were.

After the Spring Rolls, we were hopeful for the rest of the meal to be even better. We were rght!

Good Food In Hong Kong - Asparagus with Mixed Mushroom and Cashews
Asparagus with Mixed Mushroom and Cashews, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The Asparagus with Mixed Mushrooms and Cashews was a delightful dish. Besides the asparagus, mushrooms and cashews, there were also celery, red & yellow peppers, and snap peas. We could savor each and every individual vegetable’s flavor. Plus, the combination of the vegetables made this a crunchy and scrumptious combo.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Fresh Lotus with Potato Paste
Fresh Lotus with Potato Paste, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The Fresh Lotus with Potato Paste surprised us. At a glance, we thought this was a dish of yams. I do not particularly like yams. But my friends revealed to me that they were actually fresh lotus and very palatable. I gave it a try, and it was really good! We changed our minds. This might be the best dish of the entire meal.

* Tip: Save your appetite for delicious desserts from the deli next to the vegetarian kitchen. See the next part to read more about it.


Delicious Desserts

After lunch, we patronized the Deli that was next to the vegetarian kitchen (from the VIP room, turn left). Here, there was an assortment of snacks and desserts such as steamed cakes, noodles, bean curd, glutinous rice dumplings, and more.

The Bean Curd is renowned and highly praised by many. It is fresh because it is home-made by the monastery daily.

Good Food In Hong Kong - Delicious Desserts such as Bean Curd, Mango Pudding and Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Peanut and Green Bean Paste fillings
Delicious Desserts

We tried the Bean Curd, Mango Pudding and Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Peanut and Green Bean Paste fillings. The bean curd was as good as its reputation; fragrant, soft and silky. The dumplings were a surprise. They were so soft and flavorful.

You must try all these when you are here!

* Tip: The stock at the Deli is limited. Some favourite items, like the bean curd, are made in small quantities. You should buy them when you see that they are available. A good idea would be visit the Deli first, buy what you wish to try, and bring in to the VIP Room to enjoy with your Deluxe Meal.


Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant – Asia Travel Gems Final Word

From our experience, most of our friends are reluctant to have vegetarian meals. When we have lunches and dinners together, rarely they would agree to it. Unless, of course, they are vegetarians.

Over the years, we do find that more and more of our friends are all right with vegetarian food. It might not be their first choice. But if suggested, they are open to it. Though, sometimes with hesitation.

We dare say that if they tried the food at Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant, they would change their mindset about vegetarian food.

Asia Travel Gems Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant - 4 out of 5 Stars RatingThe restaurant did not get full 5.0 rating only because of the ambience, and service. Sure, we understand that they are not really a commercial establishment.

But then again, people paid money for this. So, it would have been nice to sit in a better decorated restaurant. And nicer when the wait staff are a little friendlier. We do not expect too much. Just a smile now and then. And some greeting perhaps?

Aside from the little bit of down side, the food is really worth enjoying. That is why, although service was not good and environment was not ideal, the rating is not low. The food raised it to a 4.0.

Anyway, you will most probably spend the day at Tian Tan Buddha. Why not have good food?

Address

Po Lin Monastery, Ngong Ping, Lantau Island

Operating Hours at Po Lin Monastery: Monday to Sunday (including public holidays), 8am to 6pm

Operating Hours at Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Kitchen:
Monday to Friday (except public holidays), 11.30 am to 4.30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays, 11.30 am to 7.00 pm

How to Get There

MTR

Go to MTR Tung Chung Station. Take Exit B. Then take the Ngong Ping Cable Car. This will take around 25 minutes. Another 10 minutes’ walk to the monastery.

Bus

Or from the same Tung Chung Station, take New Lantao Bus 23. This will take about 45 minutes, then 8 minutes’ walk to the monastery.

Ferry

Another way to get there is by Ferry, which you have to board at Central Pier 6. Take the ferry to Mui Po, then take New Lantao Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Village. All this may take around 40 minutes, minus wait time.



If you have ANY questions about this review, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this. Next, we visited the Wisdom Path.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus