Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Visiting the Big Buddha in Hong Kong
B had read about the Big Buddha (the Tian Tan Buddha statue) in his book Sasha Visits Hong Kong and had specifically requested we visit on our recent trip to Hong Kong.
The most convenient way to access the Big Buddha is via the MTR then the Ngong Ping 360 cable car, a 5.7 km, 25-minute cable car journey from the Tung Chung MTR station to Ngong Ping village at the base of the steps leading up to the Buddha. If your little ones are fans of airports, the cable car affords a bird's eye view of Hong Kong's international airport.
I arranged cable car tickets in advance via http://www.np360.com.hk/en/ which got us into a shorter ticket line on a busy day. Since our visit, the website has enabled online ticket sales allowing you to purchase and print tickets in advance and skip the ticketing line altogether. I chose to purchase 1+1 tickets, which involved riding in a Crystal Cabin (with see-through floor) on the way to the Buddha, and riding a Standard Cabin on the return journey. Taking the Crystal Cabin at least one way is a must-do for anyone who isn't terrified of heights and the views were fantastic.
When you get off the cable car, you need to walk through the Ngong Ping 'village' to get to the base of the Big Buddha. The village is full of souvenir shops, restaurants, tidy washrooms, plus a 7-11 which is handy for picking up water and/or snacks. I wondered whether or not to bring along a stroller, but am I ever glad I did. It is a bit of a walk from the cable car to the base of the steps up to the Big Buddha, and with B's 4 yr old little legs and hot sun, I would have ended up having to carry him on the return journey otherwise. Our handy Uppa Baby G-Luxe stroller fit nicely under the seat in the cable car and we parked it at the base of the steps before proceeding up.
Although it sounds like a lot, it wasn't a big deal for B to climb the 268 steps to the top, though he did ask to stop a couple of times to drink water. He felt so proud to make it to the top on his own! I should add he was also highly motivated by the promise of ice cream when we got back down to the village :)
HOW TO GET THERE
Take the MTR to the end of the orange Tung Chung line, and from there, the easiest way to access the Buddha is via the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car.
You can buy them Ngong Ping 360 cable car lower terminus or online in advance at http://www.np360.com.hk/en/. 1+1 tickets (Crystal cabin to the Buddha, return journey via Standard cabin) are $210 HK per adult, $135 HK for kids aged 3-11 and $165 HK for seniors.
Official Ngong Ping 360 cable car site http://www.np360.com.hk/en/
Hong Kong Tourism http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/highlight-attractions/top-10/the-big-buddha-po-lin-monastery.jsp
For more reading about this scenic spot, check out http://www.dangerous-business.com/2014/02/lantau-island-green-escape-hong-kong/.