The kids have never been to the Tian Tan Buddha in Lantau Island, and we figured it might be a nice day out for the whole family – so off we went! I had been a few times, but the last times must have been in 2011/2012, and I wasn’t sure how much the surroundings would have changed since then.
Anyway, off we went. We took the MTR to Tung Chung and then the cable car to the top. We went during the week, so there was not a queue, and we decided to take the standard cabin – so that the kids can enjoy the view, but won’t be afraid of the see-through floor of the Crystal Cabin. If you pre-book tickets in advance on Ngong Ping 360 or Klook, they tend to be cheaper and you do not have to queue too long to pick them up (there’s a separate queue for pick-up).
The ride is about 25 mins long, and we all enjoyed the views – first you can see the airport really clear, and then the water, and then it is all lush green. It is beautiful. We also spotted quite a few hikers on the hills.
Upon arrival at the summit, we were greeted by the Big Buddha and the artificial Ngong Ping next to it. If you are up for the shopping, then it is great, otherwise we just ignore all the shops, cafes and restaurants in Ngong Ping, as they are just aimed at tourists.
We made our way through the souvenir area and walked towards Po Lin Monastery. On our way, we were greeted by a few roaming cows, who live up on the hills of Lantau. They are friendly, but of course, the best advice is not to touch them and to leave them alone – that’s what we did, the kids just waved at the cows from a safe distance.
Po Lin Monastery does not seem to have changed – it is still a big, beautiful complex with lots of quiet corners. Away from the hustle & bustle of Ngong Ping, you could just sit at one of the water ponds or under a big tree and read a book. Or in our case, let the children run around freely, climb up stairs, peak around corners and hide behind columns (we just asked them not to scream and shout, as it is a tranquil, mindful and respectful place).
The monastery also offers a vegetarian lunch to its visitors – there are two menus to choose from, but it basically includes some bean curd, mushrooms, stir fried mixed vegetables, spring rolls and rice. Nothing fancy, but decent food for a fair price (around 120 HKD per person including as much tea and soup as you like).
After lunch, we walked over to the Big Buddha – there are 268 steps to climb, and it is a long journey upwards but once on top, the views are amazing.
The Buddha statue sits on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar. It is surrounded by six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” and are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit and music to the Buddha.
With the lunch ticket, one can also go inside the pedestal and visit a three-storey exhibition hall presenting a number of invaluable Buddhist items, including Buddha’s relic. We did this briefly, but the kids were restless and wanted to go back outside.
After a good while, we climbed the steps back down – and made our way slowly back to the cable car terminus.
We did not have to queue, and we made our way back down to Tung Chung in a standard cabin cable car – which the kids really enjoyed. It was fun to be so high up and to discover so many things just by looking out of the window.
It was a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and we all enjoyed the trip.