Big Buddha statue in Hong Kong must have seen all tourists who visited HK - on a par with the Victoria Peak and the Avenue of Stars it is one of the most famous sights here. Giant Buddha statue is located in a picturesque mountainous terrain of Lantau Island. Modern Chinese name of this island is Tai Hai Shan, which literal translation from Chinese means "big mountain island". Lantau is not like the rest of Hong Kong, there are no too much skyscrapers - they replaced by nature parks, clean beaches and fresh air (as much as it can be fresh in Hong Kong). It is best to plan a trip to Lantau for a whole day, because after enlightenment from Big Buddha, you can also go to the famous Hong Kong Disneyland.
- 1 The biggest Buddha - story
- 2 How to get to Lantau Island
- 3 NP360 - Ngong Ping 360 cable car review
- 4 Ngong Ping Village
- 5 Big Buddha in Hong Kong
- 6 Tung Chung cable car and Lantau Buddha on the map
The biggest Buddha - story
In the process of planning our first trip to Hong Kong we were very interested in the question why the Hong Kong Buddha is called “big”. After all, the highest Buddhist statue is the Spring Temple Buddha, and it is not in Hong Kong. It is located in the Chinese province of Henan. The height of this great sculpture is 128 meters, and it is not only the largest Buddha, but also the tallest statue in the world! The second in height is considered Shwethalyaung Buddha statue in Myanmar, its height is almost 116 meters. Third place was given to the Japanese statue of Amitabha Buddha whose height is exactly 100 meters.
Some sources, mainly “bloggers”, argue that this is the biggest statue of a sitting Buddha. The question then arises as how 34-meter Hong Kong Buddha can be higher than 92-meter statue of Buddha in Ang Thong (Thailand), which is also sitting. But there is still a 45-meter sitting Buddha in Phuket, nearly 52-meter Buddha Dordenma in Bhutan, and the famous Buddha statue in Leshan province, which is protected by UNESCO, it is difficult to call it as standing, and its height is 71 meters. Thus, the Big Buddha in Hong Kong, not even in the top-three of sitting Buddhas, and a little strange to read the blogs of people who have lived in Thailand for several months that it is the largest sitting Buddha in Asia.
And now the latest version - “the largest bronze sitting Buddha”, but if there is someone who’ll be able to refute it, we can use another option - “the largest bronze sitting Buddha that looks at China”. The fact is that the distinctive characteristic of the Buddha in Hong Kong is that his face is turned towards Beijing (to North), while the other Buddhist giants tend to look to the South.
If you know of any other theory as to why the Buddha statue in Hong Kong called "big", then please welcome to the comments - we are really very interested. 🙂
Despite our sarcasm about the size of the Big Buddha, this place is really worth a visit. Personally, we loved it here - we were visiting the Big Buddha twice and will go again. 🙂 After all, in addition to the giant statue of the Buddha, there are a famous "Wisdom Path", about which we eventually learned recently. Wisdom doesn't happen superfluous, so we definitely will get back here.
How to get to Lantau Island
It is possible to get to the Big Buddha using at least four different ways, and three of them we tried by ourselves. The first option is to take the bus from Tung Chung MTR station. The bus terminal can be seen immediately when you exit the subway, so it is difficult to get lost, and on buses you can see large signs “Big Buddha”. About half an hour in a cool air-conditioned bus and you are there.
Reverse bus is also easy to find because a large sign with the name of the subway station will show you the way.
The second method is the simplest, yet most expensive - a taxi. If you do not mind about money and you want privacy on the road, then this option is for you. However, it should be borne in mind that the riding taxi in Hong Kong is organized differently than in other countries. Hong Kong is divided into three areas, each of which serves a taxi of separate color. For example, on Lantau Island you can see light blue taxis which are very reluctant to go beyond the borders of the island, and not every red (Hong Kong Island and Kowloon) taxi will drive you to Lantau. About Hong Kong's transport system and its features we will later write a separate article.
The third way is to take a ferry from Central Ferry pier to the island of Lantau (Mui Wo), and then take a bus route 2 to get to Ngong Ping Bus Terminal. This option we have not tried yet, but we'll do it in our next visit to Hong Kong, and then be able to share our experiences.
Fourth, the most popular and full of impressions way to get to the Big Buddha, is “Ngong Ping 360” cable car.
NP360 - Ngong Ping 360 cable car review
Ngong Ping is a way which not only popular, but also the most interesting. But then again, we should note that the Ngong Ping Cable Car is not “the longest cable car in Asia” anymore, because in 2010 in Armenia was opened Tatev Wings ropeway, the length of which is 5.752 km, and it is now listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest in Asia.
When the cable car just built, it was known under the name of “Project Tung Chung Cable Car”, and only in April 2005 it was bought by Ngong Ping 360, which combines not only cableway, but also shopping and entertainment center Ngong Ping Village, located at the top station. For almost 10 years of existence, this cableway in Hong Kong itself has become a tourist attraction not less popular than the Big Buddha statue.
How to get to Ngong Ping
To get to the bottom station of the cable car from the city the easiest option is to use subway - you need to go to the Tung Chung station (Tung Chung Line). Next you just go out and walk to the direction of bus terminal and cable car - you will see it right after you exit from the subway, so getting lost will not work.
If you don't like subway, then just take a bus that goes to the AsiaWorldExpo exhibition center or to airport. On Hong Kong Island this is the route E11 (Tin Hau Station - AsiaWorld Expo Bus Terminal), from Kowloon - E21, E22, E23.
Another option is the same taxi. The road from Central MTR station to NP 360 will take about half an hour and will cost you 280-300 HKD (around $40) one way. In our opinion a bit too much for a tourist, but if you have company, it turns out quite adequately.
Ngong Ping 360 opening hours
Cableway operates on weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm, on weekends and holidays from 9 am to 6:30 pm, but there are days when it is closed for maintenance. As a general rule, “critical days” lasts from 2 to 5 days, and once we faced such a period, so we were forced to ride the bus. If you are coming just for a ride on the cable car, but not to visit the Big Buddha, then be sure to check in advance the maintenance schedule on the official website www.np360.com.hk of ropeway.
Ngong Ping 360 ticket price
Ticket price is dependent on the type of rope cars in which you want to ride. Cars in NP360 are of three types. First, the easiest and cheapest - regular car and there is nothing supernatural. A one way ticket will cost you 105 HKD (approximately $13.5) and round-trip - 150 HKD ($19.3). For children from 3 to 11 years and seniors (over 65 years) there is a discount.
The second type - a glass-bottomed “Crystal Cabin”, it has transparent bottom and while you going up to the Big Buddha, below you can see the sea, mountains, roads and buses. Without the habit some people are scared, but we rode in such crystal cabin in Taipei on Maokong Gondola, so it's not so easy to scare us. 🙂
The last type is the most expensive - is an individual car and it can be like a normal or with transparent bottom. The basic idea of such a service - you do not stand in queue, because you have a priority pass, and in addition to the roundtrip ride ticket there is also included free admission to the museum, which is located inside the Big Buddha. Standard car with personalized service will cost you 3300 HKD ($450), and the crystal one - 4100 HKD ($528). Pleasure is not cheap, but if you want to ride alone, you'll have to fork out.
You can buy tickets at the box office of Lantau cable car or directly on their official website np360.com.hk. If you buy online, for ticket “1+1 round trip cable car” (when the way in one direction is carried out in the crystal cabin and back in regular car) you will get 10% discount. The only negative is that ticket reservations can be made not earlier, than seven days before the trip. In addition to a nice bonus in the form of discounts, you will save yourself from having to stand in a huge queue. In addition to the usual tickets, there are also possible to buy one-day tickets and complete vacation packages.
360 Ngong Ping - view from the top
Whatever type of car you choose, for 25 minutes (that is how much the trip lasts) you will obtain great panoramic view of 360 degrees. But keep in mind that Hong Kong is often covered with fog, so get ready that part of the way you will ride in a “milk”. Therefore, to ride to Big Buddha on cable car it is better to choose sunny day and the probability of stunning photos taken during the trip will be increased significantly.
If you have good eyesight or a camera with a telephoto lens and lucky with the weather, then out of the cabin with the bird's-eye view you can well see one of the world's largest airports - Chek Lap Kok (HKG, Hong Kong International Airport).
Ngong Ping Village
Ngong Ping Village is located near the top cable car station. The area of this tourist village - more than 15000 square meters and here you can see houses built in traditional Chinese style, dine, buy all sorts of souvenirs and even visit the theater monkeys.
But the most interesting, in our opinion, is a small exhibition of cable car cabins from different countries: Brazil, France, Italy, Spain and others.
Big Buddha in Hong Kong
Once we had a ride on the Ngong Ping cableway and visited the tourist village of the same name, it's time to finally get up to the Big Buddha, for the sake of it we came here. 🙂
Way to the Big Buddha is made as a staircase of 268 steps, but for people with disabilities there is a small winding path, through which they can drive a wheelchair or by a small electric vehicle. For someone way up will be difficult, same as the path to harmony and enlightenment, but others can easily climb up without even out of breath.
History of the Great Buddha began long time before its official opening - the first draft of the statue appeared in 1976, and construction began in 1990. Grand opening of the statue took place in December 1993 and it was attended by guests from many countries, including China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), India, Japan, Malaysia, Korea and even the United States. The height of the Big Buddha is 34 meters and its weight is more than 250 tons.
Big Buddha is not completely made of bronze, and is a steel frame which is covered with 202 bronze plates. Buddha is sitting in the posture of meditation in the form of a lotus flower. The right hand of the statue is raised - it provides protection and dispels fear, the left hand lies quietly on his leg and its fingers linked. As the Buddhists says, this hand position grants wishes.
Around Big Buddha we can see six small bronze statues of bodhisattvas, who presented with gifts. If you look closely, you'll notice that each statue has its own gift: flowers, incenses, ointments, bulbs, fruits, and a musical instrument. They represent all the necessary components to achieve nirvana: charity, morality, patience, diligence, meditation and wisdom.
Big Buddha is designed to symbolize the harmonious relationship between man and nature, man and religion. Inside the statue is a museum that can be visited for an additional fee. We must say that there is nothing remarkable for the ordinary tourist - mostly paintings depicting the life of Buddha, there is also a large bell that rings 108 times a day (to get rid of 108 problems). But the most important relic of the museum is part of the relics of the Buddha. As the Buddhists says - the one who sees his relics, see the Buddha. Honestly, we have not yet seen. In front of the stairs leading to the Big Buddha there is a meditation circle, and it is from here you can make the best photos of the statue, but only if you are lucky with the weather.
Po Lin monastery Lantau Island
Big Buddha is located in the Buddhist Po Lin Monastry, which was founded in 1906 by three monks and its first name was “The Big Hut” (大 茅蓬, Tai Mao Pung), which can be translated as “large hut” or “big house”. It was renamed in 1924.
Inside the monastery's main temple we can see three golden Buddha statues that symbolize the past, present and future.
Buddhists are very tolerant, so anyone can get inside the temples and does not required to wear some special clothes, wrap up in a scarf or wear any headgear (or vice versa, to remove them). The only “restriction” - is during prayers congregation they may not like what they can be photographed in such intimate moments. But this applies to all similar situations, and nothing to do with Buddhism.
Monastery Po Lin - one of the centers of Buddhism, but in addition to spiritual pleasure, you can experience the gastronomic mood. The monastery is famous for its delicious vegetarian dishes and fragrant tea.
Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery are famous sights of Hong Kong, but even with a visit to the museum you are unlikely to spend more than three hours for visiting it. This is a great option to spend time while you are waiting a connection flight in the Hong Kong airport. But keep in mind that if you have a ticket with transfer, then for a way out of the transit area to the city you can be charged for airport tax. If you bought tickets independently and have chosen a separate ticket for each part of your trip, then there should be no extra payments.
Also it is necessary to calculate the time - in case of ascent to the Buddha by cable car you should be prepared to lose in the queue at the funicular at least an hour (usually up to two hours), and about the same in the opposite direction. Despite the relatively short route of the trip itself on the cable car, the main loss of time will be in queues, and if you are limited to three or four hours it is necessary to give up the cable car and take a taxi directly to the Big Buddha - you’ll save a lot of time, although will lose a lot of impressions. But if you have more than half of the day, you can go to “Wisdom Path” or make the tracking on one of the many trails or go to Ocean Park and enjoy great light show at Avenue of Stars. Enjoy your trip to Hong Kong!