A Day Trip to Hong Kong’s Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery

One of our favorite things about Hong Kong is the juxtaposition of city and island life. In an hour or less, it’s easy to replace the clanking sounds of construction with crashing waves, and find yourself wandering down a lonely dirt path instead of a crowded sidewalk.

Hong Kong’s largest island, Lantau Island, is home to one of the world’s largest sitting Buddhas – Tian Tan Buddha (aka “The Big Buddha”) – as well as the Po Lin Monastery. We reached Nnong Ping Village, the tourist complex tucked into the mountains where The Big Buddha sits, by taking the metro and then a bus. (For detailed instructions on how to get there, see the end of this post.)

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Entrance to the outside of The Big Buddha as well as the monastery is free, but visitors can buy a ticket to go inside the Buddha and eat a meal at its vegetarian restaurant.

The sky was hazy that day, as it often is in Hong Kong, but we were grateful the humidity and heat weren’t extreme. When we reached the foot of the staircase leading up to The Big Buddha, we stopped to snap some pictures, trying to keep the hordes of tourists out of the frame. We were glad we’d gotten an early start.

Climbing the 268 steps up to the statue was quick and easy, and at 111 feet (34 meters) high, The Big Buddha was even more impressive up close. Cast of bronze, the statue symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, and people and faith.

While up there, we were also rewarded with a beautiful view of the Po Lin Monastery down below. The Buddhist monastery is over 100 years old, and is home to a temple that houses three more Buddhas representing his past, present and future lives.

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Po Lin Monastery

Three ways to get to Nnong Ping Village:

  1. Metro and bus. Take the MTR to Tung Chung station and exit through Exit B. Pass the shopping mall and indoor bus terminal on your right, and walk until you arrive at the cable car entrance. On your right, you’ll see a loop of buses. Board bus #23, which departs every 20 minutes. While standing in line for the bus, check the posted sign for the fare – it’s cheaper on weekdays than on weekends. (Jake didn’t know this and the bus driver overcharged him.) Make sure you have exact change, as the driver doesn’t carry any. After a 30-45 minutes, the bus will drop you off just a few minutes’ walk from the monastery and Big Buddha steps. To head back down to the MTR station, board the #23 bus at the nearby bus terminus or take the cable car.
  2. Metro and cable car. Take the MTR to Tung Chung station and exit through Exit B. Pass the shopping mall and indoor bus terminal on your right, and walk until you arrive at the cable car entrance. Take the cable car for 25 minutes to the top, then walk 10 minutes through Nnong Ping Village to reach the monastery and Big Buddha steps. To head back down to the MTR station, take the cable car again or board the #23 bus at the nearby bus terminus.
  3. Ferry and bus. From Central Pier 6, board a ferry to Mui Wo. From there, take bus #2 to Nnong Ping Village. After about 40 minutes, the bus will drop you off just a few minutes’ walk from the monastery and Big Buddha steps. To head back down to the ferry port, board the #2 bus at the nearby bus terminus. If you want to head back down to the MTR station, board the #23 bus at the nearby bus terminus or take the cable car.

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