Tian Tan Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong
When you’re in Hong Kong as a visitor, there are a few touristy things that just have to be done. We’re aware that there will be big numbers of tourists, which we don’t like, but we’re also aware that this may be our only visit to the city. Our one chance to see as much of Hong Kong as possible. Probably the biggest tourist attraction in Hong Kong is Tian Tan Buddha or Big Buddha as it’s also referred to, and the neighbouring Po Lin Monastery.
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Erected in 1993, Tian Tan Buddha stands, actually, it sits, at 34 meters tall and is the world’s second largest sitting Buddha. The Big Buddha faces north, looking out to all Chinese people, with the right hand raised to deliver a humble blessing to its followers. The left-hand rests on the knee, symbolising happiness.
The statue is the foremost feature of the Po Lin Monastery, symbolising peace amid nature, man, people and religion. The name, Tian Tan Buddha, comes from the base it sits on, which is a replica of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. His lotus throne on a three-tiered altar is an ornate carving masterpiece. Big Buddha is visited by pilgrims from all over Asia.
Related reading: Check out our guide to the best things to do in all of Hong Kong!
Where is Tian Tan Buddha?
Tian Tan Buddha is on Lantau Island, the biggest island in Hong Kong, near a small town called Ngong Ping. Lantau island draws large tourist crowds to it’s most popular attractions and Big Buddha has to be the busiest. A lot of tourists head to the island to only visit the statue, but there are more sights to see including calm Tai O fishing village and isolated Cheung Sha beach.
Climb Up Big Buddha’s 268 Steps
There are 268 steps to reach Tian Tan Buddha, with him looking down on you the whole way up. Once at the base, there are some fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding rolling mountains and blue sea beyond.
We were there towards the end of the day so we didn’t have the best light and sea fog was starting to roll in. Our favourite view was facing the Po Lin Monastery, which is nestled amongst the green mountains and made us feel like we were in rural mainland China.
Inside Tian Tan Buddha
You can go inside the base of the statue but we didn’t bother since it’s not free and not of huge interest to us. There are three levels inside with one housing a relic of the Gautama Buddha. If you’re interested to see inside, then purchase some meal tickets from the bottom of the steps which can be used at the Po Lin Monastery restaurant. Prices vary between $60HK to $100HK.
The Po Lin Monastery
While you’re visiting the site, make sure to see the Po Lin Monastery opposite Big Buddha. Home to many monks, the monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sites. It’s even been named ‘the Buddhist World in the South’.
The temple and monastery are situated in some nice gardens which we freely strolled around. As you approach Po Lin Monastery, there are some huge burning incense sticks, emitting a pleasant scent in the air. Incense sticks are available to buy if you’d like to add to the already large display.
It’s totally free to go inside both the temple and monastery. Ther only thing you need to pay for is if you’d like to eat in the previously mentioned onsite vegetarian restaurant. If you’re lucky, you may share a table with a monk for some interesting conversation.
How to Get to Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery (Ngong Ping)
There are various ways to get to Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, from Hong Kong Central.
How to Get to Tian Tan Buddha by MTR + Cable Car
- Get on the MTR at your nearest MTR station.
- Change onto the Tung Chung line heading for Tung Chung.
- Get off at Tung Chung station.
- Leave the station via exit B for the cable car terminus.
How to Get to Tian Tan Buddha by MTR + Bus
- Follow the MTR instructions above to Tung Chung station.
- Head to Tung Chung town centre and board the number 23 bus.
- The bus runs all the way to Ngong Ping in about 50 mins for approximately $17HK.
- Check this website for Ngong Ping cable car details.
How to Get to Tian Tan Buddha By Ferry + Bus
- Head to Hong Kong Central ferry terminal.
- Follow the signs to pier 6 for Mui Wo.
- Catch the next ferry to Mui Wo. Fast (35 mins) or ordinary (50 mins).
- Once at Mui Wo, take bus 21 from just outside the ferry terminal.
- Get off at Ngong Ping bus stop (25 mins).
We took the ferry option as wanted to enjoy the epic Hong Kong skyline views from on the water. We also were headed for Cheung Sha beach first which is closer to Mui Wo.