We arrived early but still found ourselves in a long queue to catch the 360 cable car over to Lantau Island. However, once on board the bird’s eye view is amazing. It sweeps past the airport and then out over miles and miles of mountains and on a clear day you can see across to Mainland China.
In the distance you will soon see your first glimpse of a large bronze statue, the Tian Tan Buddha (informally known as the Big Buddha). This is the second largest outside Buddha in the world and sits 34 meters high on a hilltop at Ngong Ping.
Once off the cable car we quickly walked by all the commercial souvenir shops, which felt too touristy for this place of worship and over to Po Lin Monastery. Just in front of the gateway worshipers leave incense offerings and the spicy smells and bright colours are incredible. Wandering around this monastery with its tranquil atmosphere felt peaceful and was a huge contrast to the busyness of the modern main island of Hong Kong.
Just across from the monastery is the steep staircase up to the Buddha. There are 268-steps to climb, but it’s well worth it as the views over Lantau island are breath-taking. It’s free to walk around the Buddha, but you can pay to go into the exhibition halls below and included with your ticket entry is a meal ticket for the vegetarian restaurant in the monastery. This restaurant is no frills, but the amount of food was generous and the flavours so delicious it left me feeling like I needed to learn my spices better.
A short walk from the main Buddha is the path of wisdom, which is an arrangement of 38 giant timber columns with a calligraphic inscription of a Buddhist prayer called the Heart Sutra. From here you can also take several walking trails or just relax and enjoy the view.
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