It would be hard to top our incredible day spent at Victoria Peak yesterday, but it may be possible. We had a jam packed day planned out, beginning with a trip to Lantau Island to see the giant Tian Tan Buddha. Just when you think the views can’t get any better, they certainly do. We began our day by catching the Ngong Ping 360 gondola over to Lantau Island and continuing to explore the fishing villages and beaches. It’s an incredible day I recommend to anyone visiting Hong Kong.
Ngong Ping Cable Car
The Ngong Ping Cable Car is the best way to get to Ngong Ping village, the home to many of Lantau Island’s key attractions. The Ngong Ping 360 is an attraction in itself, offering amazing views of Lantau Island and beyond to the South China Sea. We caught the MTR from Mong Kok to Tung Chung station where we could catch the Ngong Ping Cable Car. First up – coffee.
Isn’t it bizarre that McDonalds in Hong Kong serve coffees in a bag? We finally got to the station and were pretty shocked at the queue ahead of us. Despite trying to purchase our tickets online, we were told there was a ninety minute wait ahead. I can’t stress enough planning your visit in advance, and not trying to wing it like we did. It was so humid and hard standing for so long, but we got there in the end.
You can always upgrade to a Crystal Cabin if you prefer, which has a glass bottom. We didn’t, and the views were still incredible.
Once you leave Tung Chung station, you cross Tung Chung Bay before getting to Airport Island. The colours are absolutely stunning, with the turquoise waters taking prominence in the view.
We then headed towards North Lantau Island, and saw panoramic views of the striking South China Sea. Everywhere below is the lush green vegetation of North Lantau Country Park.
Before long in the distance beyond the mountains of Lantau Island, the Tian Tan Big Buddha begins to come into sight. You also catch a glimpse of Ngong Ping Plateau.
Ngong Ping Village, Lantau Island
Our twenty minute cable car journey sadly came to an end, and we arrived into Ngong Ping Village. It’s the perfect base for any visitors to see the many famous Hong Kong attractions, from the Tian Tan Buddha, to Po Lin Monastery, and also Tai O fishing village.
Immediately, you’re struck by the imposing Tian Tan Buddha staring over Ngong Ping village. The village itself is pretty new, as a creation to accommodate for the recent influx of tourists coming to see the Big Buddha. Although it’s a beautiful village in a traditional style, don’t be fooled – it’s not actually an old village, and is a little commercialized.
Ngong Ping village has a range of souvenir shops, tea houses, Asian restaurants, and classic Western chains including Starbucks. Don’t miss the Bodhi tree, also known as the Tree of Awakening. The Bodhi tree is where Siddhartha once meditated about where he was and why he was here. He then became enlightened, and went on to become Buddha.
Unique to Hong Kong, this Bodhi tree has plenty of wishing placards hanging from it. The belief is that the higher your wishing placard hangs on the tree, the more likely it is to come true.
We wandered through Ngong Ping village towards the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island. There’s plenty to see, with arches and statues scattered about to go and explore. The landscape itself is fascinating, with the lush vegetation of the mountains looming over the village. On the day we visited, there was a blanket of fog and mist which made it look truly spectacular.
Climbing to Tian Tan Buddha, Lantau Island
The Big Buddha – also known as Tian Tan Buddha – is the most popular attraction on Lantau Island. As the world’s second biggest outdoor bronze seated Buddha, it’s just a ten minute walk from Ngong Ping village. The majestic figure sits on top of Mount Muk Yue, and it faces north towards Beijing, China’s capital city.
We climbed the 268 steps up towards the Tian Tan Buddha to get a closer view. There are spectacular views across Lantau Island and the South China Sea from the top also.
Tian Tan Buddha, Lantau Island
The Big Buddha is the creation over twelve years of 250 tonnes of bronze. The right hand’s mudra implies compassion in saving others from their sufferings. Equally, the mudra of the left hand in the Buddha’s lap suggests the promise to bring blessing and happiness to everyone.
Visitors can even go inside the Tian Tan Buddha. There’s an exhibition across three floors, showing Buddhist items including a relic.
The views from the top are truly magnificent. The Big Buddha has such a dramatic backdrop with the misty mountains, and the copper roof of nearby Po Lin Monastery. We stood and took it all in.
Dotted around the Tian Tan Buddha, you’ll see six smaller bronze statues. They together create ‘The Offering of the Six Devas’. Each is posing, holding music, fruit, ointment, lamp, incense, and flowers as an offering to the Buddha. Each represents the Six Perfections: generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom. All are requirements for enlightenment.
In addition to appreciating the magnificence of the Big Buddha under the blue sky, you can also take a cable car ride after sunset on the 1st and 15th day of the lunar calendar to look at the lit-up Big Buddha.
Walk to the other side and you’ll also experience the magnificent sprawling views to the South China Sea. The water looked positively glassy in the sun.
A wonderful attraction I’d recommend to anyone visiting Hong Kong. Watch my next post for more on what we did on Lantau Island, from visiting Po Lin Monastery to Tai O fishing village.
Have you seen the Tian Tan Buddha? If so, what are your thoughts? What else did you get up to on Lantau Island?