Tian Tan Buddha: An Introduction
Welcome to my guide to the Big Buddha statue, which is located near Ngong Ping on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. The Big Buddha is also known as the Tian Tan Buddha. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Hong Kong, along with the Po Lin monastery opposite the Buddha, and is a must-see if you are visiting Hong Kong for a holiday. Here are some fun facts about the Big Buddha:
- Construction on the bronze statue began in 1990 and was completed in 1993.
- The statue is 112 feet tall (35 metres) and weighs 250 metric tons.
- It is made up of 202 bronze pieces with the face being one piece.
- If all the welds used on the Buddha were laid end on end they would be 5 kilometres in length!
4 Ways to Get to the Tian Tan or Big Buddha From Tung Chung
1. The Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
The first and most popular way of getting to the Big Buddha is to take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car from Tung Chung. The entrance to the cable car is close to the Tung Chung MTR station.
- Simply get off the MTR at Tung Chung.
- From Exit B, walk across the paved area with the fountain on your left.
- The cable car is only 200 metres from the MTR station.
The cable car crosses Tung Chung bay, over the Lantau North Country Park before finishing in Ngong Ping village. The cable car gives you spectacular views of Lantau Island and the South China Sea. On a clear day, you can even see Macau!
2. The Number 23 Bus
The second option which is cheaper than the cable car but no less spectacular in its own way is to take the bus. The journey is quite an experience and views of the reservoir are very pretty. You may even see a cow on the way. They are often seen casually walking on the road and are quite gentle despite their size. The bus leaves from the Tung Chung bus interchange:
- The interchange is opposite Exit B at the Tung Chung MTR station.
- Simply cross the paved area and the bus interchange is directly ahead.
- The bus stop for the number 23 is at the very back of the interchange on the left-hand side.
The cost of the bus is around HKG$20 and the journey takes around one hour.
3. By Taxi
The third option is to take a taxi, again from the Tung Chung MTR station. The best exit is exit A from the station, the taxi rank is directly outside the station. Taking a taxi is quicker than the bus, as the road to Ngong Ping is restricted only to residents of the nearby villages, buses and taxis, but is more expensive than the bus.
The final method to get to the Big Buddha is to hike. The hike up to the Tian Tan Buddha is quite strenuous (especially the first steep part), but the views are beautiful and it is a lovely walk.
Note: Be careful once up the top as there is a pack of semi-wild dogs which can be a little territorial. If you give keep to a respectful distance they will largely ignore you. They often have very cute puppies in tow which can make for an adorable and unexpected photo opportunity. Avoid patting the dogs of course as they may carry disease.
The hike itself takes three to four hours and follows largely the path of the cable car.
Note: It is best avoided when the ground is wet as part of the trail is on a wooden platform which is very slippery when wet.
Map of Tung Chung MTR, Nong Ping and the Tian Tan Buddha
Things to See at the Tian Tan or Big Buddha
Ngong Ping Village
There are a number of tourist shops and restaurants in Ngong Ping village as well as two shows. They are Walking with Buddha and the Monkey’s Tale theatre.
Read More from WanderWisdom
- The Monkey’s Tale is computer-generated animation inspired by the Buddhist Jataka story.
- Walking with Buddha is a multimedia attraction following the life of Siddhartha Gautama (who later became Buddha) on his journey to enlightenment.
Tickets to both attractions can be bought at the door or as part of the Journey of Enlightenment Package which includes a round trip cable car journey and can be purchased at the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car ticket office.
The Big Buddha
The statue is reached via 260 steps and is open 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM daily. Entrance to the Buddha itself is free unless you want to go inside and look at the exhibition in which case you will have to buy a ticket at the bottom of the steps leading up to the Buddha. At different times they will add little bonuses onto the ticket such as a bottle of cold water or an ice cream which once you get to the top are very welcome.
Any ticket purchased can be upgraded to include a vegetarian lunch at the monastery. The Buddha on the lower tier is surrounded by six Bodhisattva statues making offerings to the Buddha and there are beautiful views of Lantau Island on all sides, including Lantau Peak (the second highest mountain in Hong Kong) and Shek Pik reservoir.
Within the Buddha itself are three stories of exhibition halls. There is a bell engraved with Buddha figures and Sutras which is rung every seven minutes 108 times a day (it is believed that the bell has powers that can cure people of 108 different kinds of “vexations”). Also within the halls is a statue of Ti-tsang Bodhisattva as well as a hall containing a large amount of calligraphy and art.
To discover more about the history and the construction of this magnificent statue, the website mentioned below for the Po Lin monastery has a great deal of information regarding the Big Buddha statue and its creation.
The Po Lin Monastery
The monastery is open 8 AM to 6 PM daily and is free. It was established in 1906. The focal point is the Main Shrine Hall of Buddha, but there are a number of out buildings containing beautiful gold statues that are well worth investigating. The monastery also has a restaurant serving vegetarian food which is open daily between 11:30 AM and 4:30 PM. The monastery has an excellent web page which includes the history and details of all the buildings and details of a tour that can be taken around the monastery.
The Wisdom Path
This is a short walk 15-minute walk from the Big Buddha, past the talking toilet block to the left of the Tian Tan Buddha (if Po Lin monastery is behind you). The Tea Gardens Restaurant is also situated on the trail. The path itself has 38 columns which are between eight to ten metres high and one metre wide arranged in a figure eight or infinity pattern which represents the Heart Sutra (a Buddhist prayer). Their arrangement also exemplifies the limitlessness and boundlessness of Buddhism and enlightenment.
For those with plenty of energy, (and water) Lantau Peak at 934 metres is the second-highest peak in Hong Kong. There is a trail that is part of the 75 kilometre Lantau trail which winds up to the summit. You will be rewarded for your efforts with spectacular views of the Shek Pik reservoir below as well as the Big Buddha, Po Lin monastery and the Wisdom path. Also, you will be able to see right across Lantau to the South China Sea.
As Lantau Peak is made up of two peaks, be prepared that when you reach the first peak you will have to continue upwards. When you see the black and white marker (looks like a squat pole) you can relax and enjoy the view knowing that the rest is all downhill. The hike will take up to two hours depending on your fitness level.
Shek Pik Reservoir
The reservoir can be reached via a trail that goes down to the left-hand side of the reservoir. Once at the bottom you can either retrace your steps back up to the Buddha, or you can continue downwards and catch the bus back to Tung Chung once you get to the road. This trail was closed for some time due to landslides but has been recently reopened. It is less popular than the Lantau Peak or Big Buddha to Tung Chung trail and is subsequently much quieter.
It is possible to see a number of plants including fungi that are not seen on the more frequented trails on Lantau. Depending on whether you hike through or down and back the hike is around two to four hours and is only difficult if you decide to hike back up to the Buddha.
Note: As always take a lot of water with you especially if you hike in the summer. It is also recommended to never hike on your own.
Enjoy Your Visit!
I hope you enjoyed your visit to the Big Buddha and if you are planning a visit I hope my article has inspired you to go. There is a lot to do and see in the area and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.
The Tian Tan or Big Buddha is one of my favourite places in Hong Kong. Another of my most loved places is the Monastery of the 10,000 Buddhas in Sha Tin, Hong Kong.
While you are in Tung Chung visiting the Tian Tan Buddha, you should check out the outlet shops. There is a wide range of designer goods to be had at fantastic prices.
Many thanks for reading, please feel free to leave a comment below.