On our first full day in Hong Kong, we made the early trip to Lantau Island, which is the largest of Hong Kong’s islands and prides city highlights and breathtaking views. After taking the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to Tung Chung, we took a short walk to the Ngong Ping 360 station. Though we arrived before the station’s opening, there was already a decent queue (see right picture above). *Pro-tip: Pre-purchase tickets online via Klook. This expedited our wait for the ticket counter (in fact, this allowed us to be the first people in line).
The 25-minute ride on the Ngong Ping 360 aerial lift provides panoramic views of Tung Chung Bay, lush forestry, and Ngong Ping Village. For an additional fee, there is also an option to take a “Crystal Cabin,” which features a glass floor. However, the standard cabin was worthwhile without being too overwhelming for those with an aversion to heights or motion sickness.
Once at the village, you are free to wander. There are several food options including Starbucks, Subway, a tea house, a noodle cafe, and other quick stands. Everywhere you look is a photo-worthy spot. We were also surprised to see plenty of cattle, buffalo, and dogs freely wandering the grounds. The animals were all very calm and seemed very accustomed to their tourist fans.
While walking through the village, it’s very easy to make your way to the Tian Tan Buddha aka Big Buddha as it sits 34 meters high. It’s a breathtaking sight to see this massive bronze statue looking over the people of China amidst the lush greenery of the mountainside. From the base of the stairs, there are 268 steps to reach the statue and enjoy the scenic views. *Pro-tip: For clearer photo ops, arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. We were fortunate to be there right before the crowd grew, so we were lucky to share the views with only a few other visitors (see comparison shots above above).
Across from the Tian Tan Buddha is Po Lin Monastery. Since this is an active place of worship, photography was understandably prohibited in some areas. As you approach the first building, you can see small crowds gather to pray and bring their incense offerings. There is a small temple housing statues of deities and guards protecting the entrance. Farther back, you can catch a glimpse of the 10,000 buddhas lining the walls of the Grand Hall. To say the least, there were vibrants colors, ornate paintings, and buddhas everywhere you looked.
Another popular spot here is the Wisdom Path. We only made it to the beginning of the trail before we decided to head back as the crowd was growing and our stomachs were starting to grumble. However, the Wisdom Path is known for its 38 wooden posts that features verses from the Heart Sutra.