One of the islands of Hong Kong is named Lantau, which is host to one of the world’s largest Buddha statues. Named Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, this beautiful statue is located in Ngong Ping village and is a touristic spot of high interest that should definitely be on your to-do list.
You can take a cable car, bus or a taxi to the Big Buddha. The cable car is ideal for those not afraid of heights since the 5.7-kilometer distance offers a fantastic view of the city. By cable car, the journey takes 25-30 minutes, though the Buddhist Monks walk up the entire hill using handrails. There are two options of which type of car to take. One is the ‘regular’ and the other is the ‘crystal’ cabin. If you want to enjoy a 360-degree view, take photos and feel like a bird in the skies, then the crystal cabin with glass bottom is your choice. Booking in advance to avoid a long wait is advised.
Upon exiting the cable car, you are welcomed by many authentic attractions and even a Starbucks cafe. You should take the time to relax in one of these places because you will need the energy to take your long walk up the stairs.
It is a delightful walk around the Big Buddha statue. Keeping your pace up the stairs maybe a little too much, but the view keeps you motivated step by step. Breathing the clean air, listening to the birds singing, watching the colorful butterflies, and the tranquility amidst the lush greenery makes you feel as if you are in a different world.
Be sure to check the date of your visit! Locals come in flocks to Big Buddha, this very important place of worship, on weekends to wish for prosperity and join the monks to pray.
Let me come to the Big Buddha statue itself… This 34-meter high giant bronze statue is big enough to be seen from the cable car amidst the mountains. Up until 2000, it was the world’s tallest outdoor bronze Buddha statue, it now sits in second place. After climbing a total of 268 steps, you reach the statue to enjoy the views of the entire Lantau Island.
The statue has three temples below it: “The hall of Universe”, “The Hall of Benevolent Merit ” and “The Hall of Remembrance”. You are permitted to enter these three halls for 2-3 minutes only, to take a photo on certain days of the week.
The Big Buddha statue is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues which are known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” and each poses with offerings of flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These offerings symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into Nirvana.
You may feel hungry, especially after climbing the many stairs, combined with the abundance of oxygen and the spiritual environment. After your visit, descend 50 or 60 steps down to one of the restaurants in the monastery located in the square below. Don’t take it seriously when I say “restaurants” since there are 4-5 tables maximum per restaurant. Calibrate your expectations accordingly and enjoy the surprisingly good food offered.
The journey down the steps is easier, accompanied by a magnificent view. Next, taking the sights in via the cable car makes the return very enjoyable. The awe-inspiring Big Buddha almost bids farewell to us in all its glory, surrounded by giant trees and high mountains every time you catch a glimpse of it now and then on your way back to town…