If you are fortunate enough to visit Hong Kong, then one of the great ‘must sees’ is the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, a massive and imposing bronze statue of Buddha Amoghasiddhi.  It is a symbol of stability for Hong Kong, peace on earth and the long-term prosperity of China. Sitting abed a throne of lotuses, the Big Buddha (also known as the Tian Tan Buddha) towers benevolently over the majestic landscape.  As with all Buddhist statues, every gesture has a symbolic meaning; one hand raised representing the removal of afflictions and suffering, the other resting on his lap signifying a blessing to all.

Big Buddha
Credit: acko10

The Buddha is encircled by six smaller statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas”, these figures are all offering gifts which symbolize the necessities required to entire nirvana; morality, patience, zeal, meditation, charity and wisdom.

Unlike all the other great Buddha statues which face the south, the Tian Tan Buddha faces to the north.  There are three floors nestled beneath the great statue; these house the halls of Universe, Remembrance and Benevolent Merit.  Also ensconced under the statue are some of the (alleged) remains of the founder of the Buddhist religion, Guatama Buddha, where pilgrims who buy an offering to leave with the remains can gain access. 

Offering to Big Buddha...

Making an offering to the Tian Tan Buddha
Credit: acko10

Standing 112 feet tall and weighing in at 250 metric tons, this imposing construction was the world’s tallest (seated) Buddha until 2000 and can be seen from miles around, sitting as it does atop Mount Muk Yue.  To reach the Buddha visitors have to ascend 268 steps, so bear this in mind if you visit with small children or you have difficulty climbing -  the view from the top, however, is well worth the effort offering magnificent views of the South China Sea and the outlying islands.

Big Bhuddha
Credit: acko10

Building Big Buddha

In 1974, the Po Lin Monastery, which sits below the hill on which the statue was erected, was granted the land on which to build the Buddha.  It was designed by the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and during the planning stage of the project over 5000 drawings and 300 documents were produced.   A steel framework was used to support the 202 separate bronze pieces, and 5 kilometres of weld was used to complete the statue.  Construction began in 1990 and was completed by the end of December in 1993, when monks from all over the globe were invited to the opening ceremony. 

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Ngong Ping Skyrail Cable-Car

skytrain 360 cable car
Credit: acko10

How to Get There

There are several ways to get to Lantau Island and the Tian Tan Buddha - but check locally for exact times and prices -  and my advice would be to book ahead to reduce queuing.  These, in my opinion,  are the most cost-effective ways to get there:

  • If you want to exercise your sea legs then you can take the ferry to Mui Wo from  Pier No. 6 of the Central District (takes about 45 minutes) and then transfer to a bus.
  • Or take the subway to Tung Chung Station, and then take one of the buses heading for Po Lin, or, opt for the spectacular 3.3 mile Ngong Ping Skyrail cable-car ride (recommeded).

Key Facts

Please check times locally before making the trip (correct as of June 2014)

  • Big Buddha is on the Ngong Ping Plateau, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
  • It is open, daily, between 10am and 5.00 pm.
  • It is free to visit the outside of the giant Buddha, but  there is a small charge to visit the exhibitions inside.
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Big Buddha at Lantau Island
Credit: acko10