Perched high on the hills of Lantau Island, the Big Buddha Hong Kong statue is one of the city’s most impressive sights and should be at the business end of any sightseeing list.
The Big Buddha, or as it’s officially known the Tian Tan Buddha, is a 34ft tall (including base) statue of a seated Buddha that’s part of the Po Lin Monastery complex. Weighing over 250 tons, the statue is the biggest, bronze, seated Buddha in the world and one of the world’s top ten Buddha statues by scale. Originally built as a source of inspiration and a location for contemplation, its grandiose size has turned it into a tourist magnet and millions of tourists flock here each year.
From the base of the statue you can climb the 260 steps for a better inspection of the big man. On the way up you’ll spot a set of six Bodhisattva statues, saints who gave up their palace in heaven to help us mere mortals get a place ourselves, and at the summit a small, but worthwhile exhibition on the life of Buddha. From here you can also enjoy superb views over the lush greenery of Lantau Island, the shimmering South China Sea and the flights gliding in and out of Hong Kong Airport.
Also worth visiting is the monastery itself, particularly the fine craftsmanship and ornate decoration of the Great Hall, dating from the 1920’s. Next door you can refuel at the bare bones, monastery canteen, which whips up some delicious vegetarian fare. You’ll need to buy a meal ticket from the counter at the foot of the steps to the Big Buddha. There is no entry fee for the Buddha itself.
When to Visit the Big Buddha
A popular trip year round; give Saturday afternoons and Sundays a miss, when locals will troop to the statue in force. The best time is early morning on weekdays, although it's never too busy during the week. If you plan on walking to the statue or in the area, summer is best avoided as the humidity will leave you sweating buckets.
One of the best days to see the monastery is on Buddha's birthday, when crowds gather to watch the monks bathe the feet of Buddha statues.
How to Get There
Set on Lantau Island the easiest way to the statue is to take a ferry to Mui Wo from Central then Bus No2 from the Mui Wo Ferry Pier. Alternatively, the most enjoyable way to reach the Big Buddha is via the Ngong Ping Cable Car from Tung Chung MTR station. The cable car offers outstanding views over Lantau Island, tickets, however, are not cheap. Our tip, take the Ngong Ping up the hill to the Big Buddha, then walk back down to the Mui Wo ferry pier through the superb natural surroundings.