Ced earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies in 1999. His interests include history, traveling, and mythology.
Once a backwater of cosmopolitan Hong Kong, Lantau Island, or Dai Yu Shan (大嶼山), is nowadays renowned worldwide as one of the premier travel attractions of Hong Kong. To paraphrase official publications, Lantau is where you can experience the sky, the land, and the sea of Hong Kong all within a day.
For first-timers, a visit would most likely center around Ngong Ping Village (昂坪), which lies at the heart of the lush island. Other than being the upper terminus station of the world-famous Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car ride, the village is also the starting point of an easy walk to historical Po Lin Monastery (寶蓮禪寺), as well as Hong Kong’s breathtaking Tian Tan Big Buddha Statue (天壇大佛).
In short, any visit to the village can easily fill up half a day. This excursion is also, undoubtedly, one of the best day-trips to enjoy when visiting the Pearl of the Orient.
7 Things to See and Do in Ngong Ping
- Ride the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
- Visit Ngong Ping Village
- Stroll the Piazza
- Visit the Po Lin Monastery
- Hike to the Tian Tan Big Buddha
- Walk the Path of Wisdom
- Visit Nearby Tai O Village
1. Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car
The traditional way to access Lantau Island was by boat. Nowadays, with Ngong Ping Village in mind, visitors have the additional option of using the MTR subway system to reach the outskirts of Lantau Island, then hopping onto the picturesque Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride.
This 25-minute ride begins at Tung Chung (東涌) Cable Car Terminus, conveniently located beside Tung Chung MTR Station. During the course of its serene journey, passengers soar above Tung Chung Bay too before cruising over the hills of Lantau. Panoramic views of Hong Kong International Airport and the South China Sea are the highlights of this magnificently scenic ride.
Tip: Buy Tickets Beforehand
It is advisable to pre-purchase Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car tickets online beforehand. While you’d still have to queue at the terminus stations, doing so at least minimizes the hassle. Note that there are different options for the ride too. The more expensive options offers the experience of riding in a crystal cabin i.e. one with a transparent floor.
Note: Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car tickets are often packaged with other attractions of the Village, with discounts.
Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride Snippets
2. Ngong Ping Village
Occupying 15,000 square meters and full of buildings constructed in classic Chinese style, Ngong Ping Village is situated right beside the upper terminus of the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride.
A well-maintained assortment of shops, restaurants, and visual entertainment, the attraction is the perfect base for visitors to familiarize themselves with other key attractions of Lantau Island before venturing out. With many of the restaurants here serving Asian and Hong Kong specialties, the village is naturally also great for meals or for sampling local delicacies.
In addition, the Walking With Buddha interactive experience at the heart of Ngong Ping Village offers a terse introduction to the founding of Buddhism. For visitors new to this ancient faith, this summary is invaluable before visiting nearby Po Lin Monastery.
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3. Ngong Ping Piazza
Ngong Ping Piazza is the sprawling square between Ngong Ping Village and three other key attractions of Lantau Island.
From the Village, a walkway flanked by formidable statues of Buddhist guardians leads to the square, and at the piazza itself, visitors have the options of continuing to Po Lin Monastery, ascending the steps to reach the immense Tian Tan Buddha, or heading downhill to the Path of Wisdom attraction.
Of note, younger visitors would probably be tickled by the sleepy buffalos often seen resting beside the statues. Just be careful if you’re carrying food. Some of these sleepy ones could suddenly be very energetic if they smell a tidbit.
4. Po Lin Monastery
Founded in 1906 and previously known simply as the “Big Thatched Hut,” Po Lin Monastery is today one of the most important Buddhist institutions in Hong Kong.
Continuous development over a century also resulted in the monastery today being a harmonious blend of the old and the new. For visitors keen to sample Buddhist vegetarian dishes, Po Lin Monastery is renowned throughout Hong Kong as one of the best locations to enjoy this unique cuisine.
Note: Vegetarian meals at Po Lin Monastery require tickets, which can be purchased on the grounds of the monastery.
5. Tian Tan Big Buddha
Featured in numerous tourist souvenirs, this huge 34 meters tall bronze statue of Gautama Buddha is without doubt, the current most famous cultural representation of Hong Kong.
Reaching the Buddha is quite a challenge too; visitors have to climb 268 steps. (There is a winding side path for the handicapped) Should you take the effort, though, you will be rewarded by a close-up encounter with one of the largest seated Buddha statues in the world, on top of sweeping views of the surrounding South China Sea.
At the same time, the foundation of Tian Tan Big Buddha also contains three floors. One of these houses a venerated relic of the Buddha himself. In order to see the Buddha’s relic, visitors must first purchase an offering.
6. The Path of Wisdom
The furthest attraction from Ngong Ping Village, the Path of Wisdom is a whimsical walk flanked by wooden columns displaying the Chinese version of the Buddhist Heart Sutra
Located away from the hubbub of the Village and Cable Car Terminus, and with a soaring view of the hills and seas, the walk is especially wonderful for visitors in search of quiet and introspective moments. It is exceptionally atmospheric in the late afternoon.
7. Another Attraction of Lantau Island: Tai O Village
Famous for its many stilt houses, this fishing village in northwest Lantau is more than three centuries old. Today, it is a popular destination for Hong Kong traditional cooking ingredients or just idyllic strolling. Tai O (大澳) itself can easily be accessed by bus from Tung Chung or Ngong Ping. Note, though, either way, the journey requires at least 50 minutes.
Things to Note When Visiting Ngong Ping
- The name Ngong Ping actually refers to the highland the village is built on. Between December and February, temperatures could drop below ten degrees Celsius. Do check weather forecasts and be appropriately dressed when visiting.
- The MTR ride from downtown Hong Kong to Tung Chung Station requires around 40 minutes, depending on where you begin your journey at.
- Many travel agencies offer Ngong Ping day trip packages. These might or might not include the cable car ride. However, these are probably the most convenient ways to include both Ngong Ping and Tai O within one visit.
© 2018 Ced Yong