Last updated on February 17th, 2023 at 10:35 am
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When it comes to day trips in Hong Kong, there are places to visit like HK Disneyland and Tai O Fishing Village.
Another iconic destination is Big Buddha, also called Tian Tan Buddha, on Lantau Island.
Although The Buddha is the most famous tourist attraction around that area, there are several other notable things to do, which I’ll cover in this blog post.
How to Get to Big Buddha
You first need to get to Tung Chung station. We took a bus but you can also take a cab or MTR.
You can drive there as well but at Tung Chung, there’s Citygate Outlet mall (there’s a Banchan and Cook there). It’s also the gateway to visiting Big Buddha and Tai O Fishing Village. The area gets extremely busy so it might be tough to find a parking spot.
Once you get to Tung Chung, you can either get to Big Buddha via bus or cable car or by foot (this takes about 4 hours).
We went by taking a cable car.
The logic is that I usually take a bus to places within the city center anyway so why not change the mode of transportation? It is more expensive though.
Getting to Big Buddha (Ngong Ping 360)
When it comes to cable cars, there are three options: crystal, standard, and crystal+. I went with the round-trip cable car where we took the standard cabin there and the crystal+ cabin back.
Crystal+ was by far the most exhilarating one. Most of the cabin was clear. The walls and floors were transparent so those scared of heights will probably hate this.
Sitting there for the first few minutes was very scary. I closed my eyes a couple of times and was scared of sudden movements. It didn’t help that we went on a windy day and the cable car was swinging side to side.
It was thrilling, and nerve-wracking but fun at the same time.
Also, the line for Crystal+ was the shortest because it was the most expensive. Most people probably also didn’t want to sit in such a transparent cabin for half an hour.
During the 25-minute ride, get your camera out. It’s a breathtaking view of the water and trees. As you get closer to Big Buddha, you’ll even see the statue far away.
I highly recommend you book a reservation in advance. Maybe it was because we went during a public holiday (it gets crazy during Chinese New Year) but we had to wait an hour in line even though we reserved tickets for late morning. It was crazy.
Had we taken the crystal+ cabin there instead of going back, maybe we wouldn’t have had to wait for so long.
Ngong Ping Village
When you get off the cable car, you get off at Ngong Pong Village.
There are a bunch of restaurants here but there aren’t many options. A lot of these places barely have sit-down tables.
We wanted to eat at the Japanese restaurant, Matsuzaka Express but it was way too busy. We could have waited but we saw the cable car line. There would only be more people coming to Ngong Ping Village so it’s better to order elsewhere.
Instead, we went to Burger Café. There were more tables than chairs so we were eyeing the chairs very closely to ensure we could get some.
It’s a small restaurant so we were fortunate to grab a table AND chairs.
Oh, if you eat here, order their chicken wings. They’re pretty good here.
People don’t come here to Ngong Ping Village for food so if you prefer to sit down and enjoy your food, it’s better to grab a bite before coming here. It’s hard to relax and chill when the restaurants are small and you feel pressured to leave ASAP so someone else can get a table.
The Art of Chocolate Hong Kong
Next to Burger Café is a small chocolate museum. I was intrigued because it’s been a while since I last went to a chocolate museum.
The shop looked small from the first impression. There’s a curtain behind the front desk counter where everything took place. After living in HK long enough, I knew better than to assume that it’s a small space at the back but it turns out this time around, the place was actually pretty small.
We paid a fee to see a chocolate exhibit and tasted some chocolate.
The exhibit was cool because they had these intricate designs made out of chocolate like dim sum and animals. I couldn’t even tell they were made out of chocolate. I was tempted to poke them to see if they were real but was told before we went in not to touch anything.
Next up was a chocolate taste test. They organized the chocolate so it would start sweet and end bitter. I really do have a sweet tooth. I like the first two pieces of chocolate the most and they were the sweetest.
The whole tour took about 15 minutes in total.
Honestly, it was overrated. It’s not worth paying to get in. It’s a skip from me.
As you continue to walk in Ngong Ping Village and get closer to Big Buddha, it’s mostly souvenir stores at the back.
There are quite a few of them.
In fact, there are more souvenir shops than restaurants so take a look at the stores to see what they sell. You can buy a nice birthday or holiday gift for loved ones.
Overall, Ngong Ping Village gave historic Chinese town vibes. I almost felt like I was at a Chinese drama film site. It was cool and certainly very different from HK’s city center. The village might be a bit too touristy for some people but I still liked it.
Ngong Ping Piazza
At the end of Ngong Ping Village is Ngong Ping Piazza. The gate is vast so you’ll notice it when you pass it. Around there, some stores sell snacks like tofu custard and street food. You’ll even see cows chilling on the grass.
There are also 12 general statues with each representing a Chinese animal zodiac.
Getting to the main tourist attraction requires you to walk up 300 steps.
300 steps don’t sound that bad but when it’s crowded and you’ve used up your energy to do the other tourist attractions, it was a pain.
Even looking at those steps from the bottom was intimidating.
At the same time, we’re already here. How can we not walk up these steps to see Big Buddha? Slowly, we headed up hundreds of steps with our tired legs, and heavy bags while being squished.
As you’re walking uphill, start snapping away. During this day trip, you’ll get tons of opportunities to take lots of pictures.
It’s not easy to take cute Instagram photos because the Big Buddha is ginormous. However, if you aim it at certain angles, you’ll still be able to take decent pictures.
I wish I got better pictures but there were so many people that I couldn’t get better ones. I even got pushed a few times.
Near the feet of the Big Buddha, six bronze statues make offerings to the Buddha. On each of them, there is a sign that clearly states that tourists cannot throw coins at the statues but a lot of people still disregard that rule. There was no staff monitoring the surrounding area either.
If you’re wondering about a fee, it’s free to see the Big Buddha. The only fee you have to pay is your energy.
Po Lin Monastery
Seeing Po Lin Monastery was one of my favourite things about this day trip. It was beautiful.
The monastery was bright and colourful. Again, I felt like I step back in time with Chinese history while being there.
I even took a polaroid picture of the place because I thought it was too pretty not to.
When you head inside, which is just as gorgeous, you’ll see people fighting to get a spot to kneel to pray to the Gods.
Beside Po Li Monastery were some food stalls. Originally, I wanted to walk in a quick circle to see what food they sell but it was beyond busy. The line was so long that it wasn’t worth it. At that point, we pretty much already saw everything and were about to head back down to the city.
When Should You Go See Big Buddha?
The best time to come here is during a weekday during the winter months. It gets really hot in the summer in Hong Kon. Climbing all those steps in the blistering heat will make you very cranky. HK has nicer weather in the winter months because it’s rarely freezing cold.
Also, come on a weekday because the area tends to get busy during weekends and public holidays. It won’t be as crowded on weekdays because people are either at school or work.
Final Thoughts – Visiting Big Buddha
Getting to Big Buddha is a bit far but once you’re there, you’ll enjoy the experience and the magnificent views. It’s a fun excursion that even locals enjoy.
The sky was blue when we went and I’m so glad that the weather cooperated with us. It would have really affected the experience if we came on a rainy day.
When you’re living in the city, most people don’t bother visiting all these tourist attractions but it’s something I like to do. As much as I like to shop and eat around the city, I also want to do other things to keep things exciting.
Depending on how long you take, being near Big Buddha can take up at least half a day to a full day so plan your day accordingly.
Now to You – Big Buddha
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