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Day trip to Lantau Island
I was told this was something to definitely factor into our itinery, a day trip to Lantau Island, taking in the Big Buddha, the Cable Car, Tai O Fishing Village and Po Lin Monastery, and we managed to fit all of that into about 7 hours! And it definitely was amazing.
Once again (and I know I keep saying this but its tru!) very very easy to get to. Just take the red line to Lai King and change platforms and lines onto the orange line and get off at Tung Chung Station. Its then just a short walk to get to the cable car entrance. The cable car was amazing, we opted for the crystal cabin one, (glass bottom!) and the ride itself took about 25 minutes and the distance of the cable car is about 6 kilometres. We got to Ngong Ping Village at about 10am and then wandered around for a little while. We had opted for a day package when entering the cable car, which meant all our admissions etc were included. The total price for everything was only $300HK each which was about $32AUD, and this included the cable car ride there and back, bus tour to Tai O Fishing Village, entrance to the Big Buddha and Monastery. Our Tour began at 11.30am and we first went to the Fishing Village which was very interesting indeed. We then went to the Big Buddha (long hot climb up those many steps!) and then to the Po Lin Monastery (Buddhist Monastery). We met a lovely Monk there from Taiwan who knew about our local Wollongong Nan Tien Temple. The Big Buddha is the worlds largest sitting buddha
Overall it was a rather long, hot and tiring day, but one that is worth the effort for sure. The tour we did was run by "Ngong Ping 360" and I feel it was worth paying the little bit extra for it, also because it meant we got express through the very long line of people waiting to get on the cable car and got right to the front of the line!!!!
Tian Tan - Giant Buddha at Po Lin
This is the world's largest seated outdoor bronze statue of the Buddha (34m, 250 tons). It is surrounded by a ring of Bodhisatvas offering various gifts to the Buddha.
To get here, you need to take a ferry from Central to Mui Wo (Sivermine Bay) and take the #2 bus to Po Lin (pronounced Bo Lin).
After many years, I finally remembered to update this....
Now, with the Ngong Ping 360 gondola ride, it is easier to take the MTR to Tung Chung. There, you will find not only the cable car station but also the Citygate "Factory Outlet" mall.
- Historical Travel
Cable Car & The Big Buddha
This is a must visit sightseeing place in Hong Kong. If you have limited time in Hong Kong, do not miss this one out. The whole place has got many things to see and do, take the cable car up and make sure you have a whole day over there!
Big Buddha Monastery
Getting here is a breeze take the metro to the last stop and look for the signs showing you where to go, they are perfectly marked. Once there you either pay for a standard cable car or a clear bottom cable car. The prices are fair ... $15 return for the standard and $25 return for the clear bottom one. The ride is about 30 minutes to the top and the views from the cable cars are awesome. The cable car leaves you right at the beginning of a small built tourist village that has just about everything including a Starbucks. Once at the bottom steps of the Big Buddha there is desk that seems like a ticket counter but don't be fooled ... there is no entrance fee to climb up the stairs. The counter is there to try to sell you lunch or tea. The steps are steep and many, it took us about 10 minutes to get to the top. Once at the top the views are outstanding if you ever got a clear day in Hong Kong anymore. Bring something to drink or you can buy something in the small shops they have up top. Your gonna pay about double just keep that in mind, if you buy something once at the top of the steps. Highly recommend it to anyone who can climb the stairs.
Lantau Island- Po Lin Monastery
Next to the Bronze Buddha is the Po Lin monastery.
The monastery was founded in 1906 by three monks visiting from Jiangsu and was initially known as "The Big Hut". It was renamed to its present name in 1924. The main temple houses 3 bronze statues of the Buddha representing his past, present and future lives as well as many Buddhist scriptures.
One of the fun things to do is to treat yourself to a vegetarian lunch cooked by the monks. This is lunch on a pretty industrial scale, there will be lots o f peope there with you but if you are there at lunch time its a delicious thing to do!
Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery
Please trust me, your trip to HK is "incomplete" if you skipped these two spots. If you are a "fast moving person", a half day will do. They are just right next to each other.
Take MTR to Tung Chung then transfer to bus (#23 if i remember correctly) here. Bus fare is about HKD 15, journey: approx. 50-60 minutes. Spend 1 hour with Big Buddha and 35 minutes in Po Lin Monastery and then return to Tung Chung by bus again, then head back to your hotel/other destination.
A small tips to you is that, visiting Big Buddha, i.e. climb the staircase and get close with Big Buddha, is actually FOC. You need to pay (about HKD 40) if you decided to enter a "museum/library" underneath the big buddha and have a vegetarian lunch in Po Lin Monastery. I did not enter/eat. I understand from some travel guides that the museum is exhibiting some Buddhism "products" (please imagine, books, shrine statues ets).
Enjoy a day trip to the Lantau Island and the Po Lin Monastery and the famous giant Buddha.
The journey begin by a boat trip from ferry pier for about one hour. Then just follow the crowd to know which bus to get the right bus. Enjoy the ride on the narrow and winding coastal roads. Finally up the hill, walk up the stairs (I forget to count how many), admire the view if there is no mist (my case ;-() and learn more about the Buddhist culture at Po Lin Monastery. Have a vegetarian meal (good for my diet). Then you could practice some trekking downhill. If you're tired as i was take a bus to Tung Chung MTR station or back to the harbour or wait the opening of the future cablecar.
The Tung Chung Cableway Project is expected to open to its first visitors in early 2006. A 5.7km cableway, linking two terminals at Tung Chung and Ngong Ping, and a themed tourist village development next to the Ngong Ping Terminal, which is adjacent to the world's largest, seated, outdoor bronze Buddha Statue.
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
Tai O fishing village
Tai O is a traditinal fishing town, situated on either side of a narrow waterway on the northwestern side of Lantau Island. It is the home of the Tanka people and has also been called the 'Venice of Hong Kong'. The local people have, for generations, built their homes on stilts above the water.
The fish market is an amazing combination of dried products of every conceivable part of the fish and fresh living seafood. Tai O is famous for its shrimp paste.
I tried a Tai O donut - a deep fried pastry which is light and fluffy and surprisingly not greasy - and enjoyed it so much I went back for another.
Unfortunately the fishing industry here is dying out and the young people are leaving after finishing school.
- Historical Travel
The Tian Tan Buddha
Unveiled in 1993 this massive 34m high Buddha took over 10 years to complete. Planning started in 1976. He is seated upon a podium on top of the 482m Muk Yue Shan and can be reached by 268 steps. The statue is made of bronze and gold was used to pick out the facial features. He sits in the traditional 'fear not mudra' pose and indeed has a kindly expression on his face.
The podium contains three stories of displays which relate the story of Sakyamuni, who meditated deeply under the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment and awakening to true reality.
- Arts and Culture
Po Lin Monastery
Po Lin Monastery is a Buddhist monastery, located on Ngong Ping Plateau, on Lantau Island, Hong Kong.
It is a new monastery, founded in 1906. In the main building there are three Buddhas - showing the lives of the Buddha in the past, present and the future. There is also a restaurant where you can get a delicious vegetarian meal - the braised mushrooms are great and they do this thing with lemon and eggs that is a must to try.
The monastery complex is also the home of the worlds largest sitting Buddha, the Tian Tan Buddha.
Po Lin Monastery is best reached by the Ngong Ping cable car which runs between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping village.
- Historical Travel
Ngong Ping Cable Car
Save yourself the hour's drive and take the cable car to the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Giant Buddha. Yes, you do emerge into an avenue of shops but just say No! The ride is worth it.
The Ngong Ping Cable Car stretches almost 6km between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping village. There is an angle station on Airport Island which turns the cables about 60 degrees towards North Lantau. The scenery is spectacular - even when the clouds are down low. During the 25 minute ride you can see the new Hong Kong International Airport, Tung Chung Bay and catch a glimpse of the giant Buddha
Hill-top serenity by the feet of the Giant Buddha
Lantau island is home not only to the new airport, and Disneyland but also to a giant bronze Buddha (aka Tian Tan Buddha). Incidentally, the island also hosts a high-security prison.
But the main reason for going to Lantau island would not be the earthly pleasures offered, nor in repentance for earthly sins, rather to enjoy food for the soul: the peace and tranquility of the Giant Buddha and the Po Lin monastery. The Giant Buddha was erected in 1993 and is not only a spiritual landmark but also evidence of an engineering feat. The Buddha was constructed as seperate parts on the mainland, and assembled piece by piece on site.
On a clear day, I imagine the view from the Buddha is fantastic, but the day we went, it was foggy and spitting with rain. The weather did not disturb the serenity of the place, rather enhanced the spiritual quality of the place. The buddhist music played and the smell of insence added to make it a very calming experience.
After paying our respects to the Buddha, we went to have a look at the temple in the monastery area. The temple was by far the most colourful buddhist temple I have seen in China so far.
Afterwards, we went for a delicious vegetarian lunch at the monastery cafe. That way, we got to pick and choose different savoury and sweet snacks and stuffed our faces. The food was delicious and good value for money. Most people go for the regular lunch served, which is also supposed to be very good. For those of you who have not had buddhist vegetarian food, it is made to look and taste exactly like meat dishes, and they are very good at it. For die-hard meat eaters there are eateries outside the monastery area.
As always, remember these are places of worship, so tread with dignity and respect.
Getting there is no problem at all. You can take a ferry over to Lantau (scenic route), and then take a local bus (2) to the monastery. We went by MTR to Tung Chung station, and took a taxi. You can also take bus 23 from the MTR station. Just recently also a cable car service has opened.
- Religious Travel
Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride
This was still being built last time we were there, so it was high on our list of must-do’s. We had to queue for over an hour to get on, but I think it was probably busier than usual because of the time of year. If we did it again, we’d book tickets on-line in advance and use the fast-track lane.
It was certainly worth queuing for though! Even though it was a fairly misty day, the views were mind-blowingly spectacular. I don’t have much of a head for heights, but I was so awe-struck by the views that I didn’t even notice! It definitely felt safer and more relaxed than the bone-shaking bus trip up the mountain that we’d taken on a previous visit!
Before we went, we were a bit dubious about the Ngong Ping village itself, thinking it would be another tourist trap. Obviously it is, but they’ve done it so well, that the shops just seem to lure you in and we got a lovely new set of chopsticks from the Chopstick Gallery there. We decided to give the marathon climb up to see Buddha a miss this time, so we just nodded our respects to him from the bottom of the steps and then returned for another stunning journey on the cable car (no queues going down!).
It cost us HK$141.30 each (£11.30) for the return trip in a crystal cabin, which included a 10% discount for showing our Cathay Pacific boarding passes.
- Family Travel
The Grand Budda
In my memory, there are 2 Grand Budda in China, one is located in LingShan Wuzhen(Budda is standing), another is in Hong Kong (Budda is sitting).
Ngong Ping Village where is the cultural themed village, is opposite of the Budda. You can find Ngong Ping Tea House and the Monkey's Tale Theatre.
Check the cable car (NP360) is available in hotel information counter. It is the good idea to go up to Ngong Ping Village in the glass bottom crystal cabin. It is designed to feast your eyes with an astonishing bird's eye view, you can visit the 360c mountain view during the trip.
- Adventure Travel
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Tian Tan Buddha
At 34 metres (110 feet) tall, the Tian Tan Buddha is the world's largest outdoor sitting bronze Buddha statue (yes, that's a lot of qualifiers). The statue is so named because its base is modelled heavily after the Altar of Heaven at Beijing's Tian Tan ("Temple of Heaven"). Interestly, this statue was completed back in 1993, on December 23rd, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Another interesting fact: unlike all other Buddha statues, this statue faces north instead of south.
Because it's on Lantau Island, it's a fairly long trip to the Buddha but it's an interesting site for those who haven't ventured into China before. Beware of the looooong flight of stairs up (268 steps to be exact). If there is ever a time to step out of the "rush everything you do" lifestyle of Hong Kong, this is it!
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