Things To Do in Hong Kong – Big Buddha in Hong Kong Lantau Island
If you are wondering Things To Do In Hong Kong that is a Must, it is 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).
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
The Long Stairway to Tian Tan Buddha
And then … the long and steep flight of steps to Tian Tan Buddha.
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.
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 also 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.
Beautiful, isn’t it? Look at the intricate details. Here’s another one.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,