Wisdom Path

What To See In Hong Kong - Wisdom Path - Header

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 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.

Blessings to all.

Big Buddha in Hong Kong Lantau Island

What To See In Hong Kong - Big Buddha Blesses Everyone - Header

Big Buddha in Hong Kong Lantau Island

The Big Buddha in Hong Kong Lantau Island, also known as Tian Tan Buddha, is an amazing sight to behold! It is so huge that it can be seen from an airplane as it approaches Hong Kong International Airport.

During our last Hong Kong vacation, of course we simply must visit this awesome and magnificent Buddha image! We were really eager and excited about this day trip to the island that also has many attractions such as the Po Lin Monastery, the monastery’s vegetarian restaurant, the Wisdom Path, and more.

At that time, we were staying at Residence G Hong Kong (by Hotel G). It was a very nice Boutique Lifestyle Hotel. We will share about that in another blog post soon. (So do sign up for our newsletter to receive updates)

So, we had to travel from Residence G Hong Kong, which is located in Kowloon, to Big Buddha in Hong Kong Lantau Island.


Getting to Lantau Island

It is very easy and convenient to travel from anywhere in Hong Kong to Lantau Island. One of the most affordable ways is via MTR (Mass Transit Railway).

The MTR has a vast network that can take you to almost anywhere in Hong Kong. Take a look at the map below (click to see a larger version of the map).

What To See In Hong Kong MTR Map
MTR System Map, source: mtr.com.hk, CLICK to see larger version

The closest MTR station to Residence G Hong Kong, the hotel where we stayed at, is Austin MTR station. After early morning breakfast, we walked along Austin Road to the station.

We took the train on the West Rail Line to Nam Cheong MTR station. Then transit to Tung Chung line towards Tung Chung MTR station. That stop was in Lantau Island itself. You can see the route on the map above.

What To See In Hong Kong - View from MTR train en route to Tung Chung MTR Station that is on Lantau Island
View from MTR train en route to Tung Chung MTR Station, Lantau Island, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

At certain sections of the train route, it went above ground. Nothing spectacular to see, but it was nice to get views of Kowloon as the train sped on to Lantau Island.


Citygate Outlets

At Tung Chung station, there is a mall called Citygate Outlets. Initially, we thought of spending some time there to browse around, and perhaps get some great deals. It is, after all, a factory outlet, supposedly selling stuff at much lower prices.

Tip: Truth about Citygate Outlets – our Hong Kong friend informed us that the product range at this mall is not good. The fashion is not the latest, and the discounts were not really worth it. A taxi driver later confirmed this with us. Apparently the locals know this. Only tourists were in the dark, thinking there are good deals because of the word ‘outlets’, which is supposed to mean stuff at much lower prices. They are not.

After finding out the truth, we decided not to shop there. Still, the mall has a good use though.

The train ride from the hotel was not too long, but long enough. And it may be another half an hour to one hour to Ngong Ping, Lantau Island where Tian Tan Buddha is located. So we took advantage of the nice and clean restrooms there, and had our restroom break.


Ngong Ping Cablecar

What To See In Hong Kong - Ngong Ping Cablecar Station was closed
Ngong Ping Cablecar Station was closed, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

It was supposed to be an entire experience. We had planned and intended to take the Ngong Ping Cablecar to Ngong Ping. That is where Tian Tan Buddha, Po Lin Monastery and Wisdom Path are located.

Unfortunately, when we reached the cablecar station, we were informed that the entire service was down due to maintenance. We had no choice but to take the bus to Ngong Ping.

We were a little disappointed as we wanted to see how the view as the cable car ‘flies’ over to Ngong Ping. Nevertheless, the main event is the Big Buddha. So disappointment was quickly dissipated by anticipation.


Bus to Tian Tan Buddha

We discovered that the bus to Ngong Ping was bus number 23. But before that, we had to find out how to pay for the bus ticket.

* Tip: Get the Octopus card the moment you start to take the MTR around Hong Kong and Kowloon. It is very useful, convenient and saves a lot of money. When you first get the card, you need to pay HK$50 (refundable deposit) and HK$100 value for use. We were able to use the same card for the bus to Ngong Ping. No hassles.

The queue for bus number 23 was very long. Fortunately, the bus arrives frequently. In less than half an hour, we were aboard the bus, and on our way to Ngong Ping.

The bus ride was not really smooth sailing. Ngong Ping is at the top of a very high hill. The road to there has a lot of sharp turns and many curves that most probably circled the slopes of the hill.

Tip: For those who are prone to air or car sickness, I suggest taking something to prevent that before boarding the bus.


Gateway to Tian Tan Buddha

After some time, we finally arrived! Here is the Gateway to Tian Tan Buddha!

What To See In Hong Kong - Gateway to Tian Tan Buddha
Gateway to Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Yesterday, after we arrived, we spent half a day and night at Kowloon. And what a difference Ngong Ping was to Kowloon!

There were vast open spaces with lush greenery that filled the landscape at Ngong Ping. In contrast, there were tall and short buildings that covered every area in Kowloon, thinly separated by narrow roads.

At Ngong Ping, I could actually feel my soul breathe.

Tip: From the Gateway, it is awesome to see the Tian Tan Buddha sitting high on the hill. A sight you will never forget. Take a few moments to soak it all in.

At the Gateway, we could see the monumental Tian Tan Buddha! (top right portion of photo above) Here is another photo of the Big Buddha as seen from the Gateway.

What To See In Hong Kong - Tian Tan Buddha seen from afar, from Gateway
Tian Tan Buddha seen from Gateway, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The Bodhi Path

Before reaching the actual Big Buddha image, there was a Bodhi Path that led to it. When we were there, and because the weather was also quite warm, the path looked really long. But it actually was not.

Also, it was fun to spend a little time along this path. There were 12 Divine Generals placed along the pathway.

What To See In Hong Kong - Bodhi Path that leads to Tian Tan Buddha
Bodhi Path that leads to Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Tip: Did you know that each of the 12 Divine Generals represent an animal in the Chinese Zodiac? Find yours, and take a photo with it!

The one below was the Divine General for those born in the Year of the Rabbit.

What To See In Hong Kong - Divine General for those Born in the Year of the Rabbit
Divine General for those Born in the Year of the Rabbit, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The Long Stairway to Tian Tan Buddha

And then … the long and steep flight of steps to Tian Tan Buddha.

268 steps!

What To See In Hong Kong - 268 Steps to Tian Tan Buddha
268 Steps to Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Sounds exhausting?

Well, it was the climb we had to take in order to get a closer view of the magnificent statue, and to enjoy the sweeping scene of the mountains and seas.

Let’s go!

Tip: Oh wait! At the bottom of the steps, there is a booth that sells Meal Tickets. These are tickets to dine a set lunch at the nearby renowned Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. A Deluxe Meal is priced at HK$128 per person (as of March 2014). Choose the Deluxe Set Meal. You won’t regret it. And purchase the tickets here at this booth at the base of the steps. Reason: You get FREE admission to the museum when you reach the Big Buddha. The artifacts, relics and art pieces are worth viewing.

At the bottom of the steps and along the way up, there were many Incense Burners, Lamp Posts and mini Pagodas.

What To See In Hong Kong - Large Incense Burner at Foot of Steps to Tian Tan Buddha
Large Incense Burner at Foot of Steps to Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Beautiful, isn’t it? Look at the intricate details. Here’s another one.

What To See In Hong Kong - Large Incense Burner along Steps to Tian Tan Buddha
Large Incense Burner along Steps to Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems
What To See In Hong Kong - Large Lamp Post along Steps to Tian Tan Buddha
Large Lamp Post along Steps to Tian Tan Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Tian Tan Buddha

We finally reached Tian Tan Buddha!

The gigantic Tian Tan Buddha is made of bronze. It took 12 years to build, and was completed in 1993. It is 34 metres tall and faces north. This direction was specially chosen so that the Big Buddha looks over all the Chinese people.

Why was the statue named Tian Tan Buddha?

Its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven. Also, known as Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, which is the Temple of Heaven that is located in Beijing.

We hope everyone receives blessings when they see the images here of Tian Tan Buddha!

What To See In Hong Kong - Big Buddha Blesses Everyone
Tian Tan Buddha Blesses Everyone! © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The right hand of the statue is raised. This represents the removal of affliction. The other left hand rests on the lap. This is a gesture of generosity.

What To See In Hong Kong - Big Buddha - view from another angle
Another angle of Big Buddha, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The Museum

Beneath the statue, there is a Museum. It comprises of 3 halls – the Hall of the Universe, the Hall of Benevolent Merit, and the Hall of Remembrance.

There were many floors of ancient relics and Buddhist items on many floors. We even saw an Anita Mui shrine. But more significant was the relic of Gautama Buddha, the alleged cremated remains. That is what this Museum is renowned for, and why most people visit it.

It was really worth a visit. Take note of the tip given earlier to buy the ticket at the ground level so that you get free entrance to this ethereal and blissful experience.

Unfortunately, no photo taking was allowed. So we have no images to share of the Museum.


Around Tian Tan Buddha

At the base of the Big Buddha, there were six statues of Devas positioned all around it. As we took time to observe them, we noticed that each of these Devas has an item in their hands. They were lifted upwards as if offering them as gifts to Tian Tan Buddha.

What To See In Hong Kong - 3 of 6 Devas
3 of 6 Devas, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

These 6 bronze statues are known as The Offering of the 6 Devas. They are offering flowers, incense, lamps, ointments, fruits and music to Tian Tan Buddha. These items symbolize the 6 Perfections, which are zeal, patience, morality, generosity, meditation and wisdom. All necessary for enlightenment.

What To See In Hong Kong - Another 3 of 6 Devas
Another 3 of 6 Devas, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The base of Tian Tan Buddha is circular with a large walkway for visitors to amble. Every step we took, we were greeted with really beautiful scenery.

Tip: Take some time to slowly enjoy the breathtaking view. It is truly awesome!

What To See In Hong Kong - Awesome View of Mountains
Awesome View of Mountains, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems
What To See In Hong Kong - Serene Mists On Mountains
Serene Mists On Mountains, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems
What To See In Hong Kong - Po Lin Monastery from afar
Po Lin Monastery from afar, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

After this spiritually lifting experience, we proceeded to have lunch at the famous Po Lin Monastery Vegetarian Restaurant. We had done some research before we traveled to Hong Kong, and many reviews said the lunch is really good.

We will be posting about this soon. So do come back to visit and read about it, or subscribe our newsletter to receive updates.

See ya soon!


If you have ANY questions about Big Buddha in Hong Kong Lantau Island 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.

Blessings to all.