I’ll admit it’s been awhile since I’ve been to Hong Kong, and I’ll also admit I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this city when I visited it (perhaps because I had come from Bali and was still in a pretty laid back state of mind), however there is a highlight that I would highly recommend…it’s the trip to Lantau Island to view the Tian Tan Buddha. Start by taking the Ngong Ping 360 cable-car from Tung Chung Terminal on Lantau Island to get to Ngong Ping Village. This 25 minute trip, that travels 5.7 km, provides stunning views over both land and water on your way to the village.
For an additional fee you can book a glass-bottom cable car, which we did. Called the ‘Crystal Cabin’ these cars will provide you with a 360 degree view from the bottom to the top, and all around you. We also found it was a good idea to book this as it got us past some of the line ups inside the terminal.
As you get closer to the top you will find the Tian Tan Buddha waiting for you. Its impressive size can be appreciated from the cable cars almost as much as when you are standing beneath it.
The bronze Big Buddha was built from 1990 to 1993, with the opening on December 29, 1993. The buddha sits on a lotus on top of a three-tier altar which is a replica of the one found at the Temple of Heaven or Tian Tan in Beijing. The archway entrance to the Tian Tan Buddha is impressive in itself and welcomes the traveler to this sacred site.
Many people come here with incense to burn and wishes to make. You can buy incense sticks here at the nearby Po Lin Monastery if you haven’t brought any with you.
The statue is 112 feet high and has 268 steps to climb before you reach the platform directly beneath the Buddha. His right hand is raised to remove affliction while the left sits open in his lap as a symbol of generosity.
As you walk around the top platform you will find six smaller bronze statues which are “The Offering of the Six Devas”, presenting the Buddha with gifts such as incense, flowers, ointment, and fruit. These gifts are meant to represent the qualities needed for enlightenment…generosity, morality, patience, wisdom, zeal, and meditation.
At the top you can spend time in Ngong Ping Village where you will find stores and restaurants for your convenience. There is also the Po Lin Monastery and numerous hiking trails providing expansive views of the harbour area and the surrounding hills.
Although the weather was a bit grey when we were there, we still enjoyed the breath-taking scenery from the top!
Hong Kong works well as a stopover to and from other parts of Asia if you are travelling from the west coast of Canada or the United States. If you add Hong Kong to your itinerary, then I would highly recommend making time for this trip to see the Tian Tan Buddha!