Big Buddha & Po Lin Monastary – Day Trip

A great day trip while visiting Hong Kong is the trip to visit the “Big Buddha” & Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island

Getting There

Take the MTR to the Tung Chung station on the Orange Line. The station is next to both the station and the terminus for a gondola or “Cable Car”. Either can take you to the Big Buddha but the spectacular ride on the gondola might be the best thing about the trip so I would recommend taking the more expensive gondola to the Buddha and the cheaper us on the return trip. Those with more cash and less fear of heights can opt for the new glass bottomed gondola cars. A glass bottomed car is a little too much of a reminder to me on how high off the ground you are on this ride. You ride from within site of Hong Kong’s new airport up and over the steep hills changing direction at an intermediate station.

The truly athletic, devoted or crazy can hike to the monastery on a trail over the mountains.

“Buddha World”

If Walt Disney was a Buddhist then he would have built a village like the one you will find when you get off the bus or the gondola. This very convenient, clean and very commercial “village” contains restaurants, gift shops, a “Buddha experience” and even a plastic version of the tree which the original Buddha sat under before he declared he was enlightened. If you had any doubt that this was a popular tourist site you will lose it quickly.

Po Lin Monastery

The Monastery also hosts many tourists but is an active monastery and probably provides a better glimpse into Buddhism for westerns like me. You can get a free book in English on the history and beliefs in Buddhism or a reasonably priced vegetarian meal. The faithful will be bringing offerings and burning lots and lots of incense.

Big Buddha

The Big Buddha is the worlds largest sitting Buddha statue and is found at the top of a long series of stairs. In and among the photo snapping tourists you will see the real faithful. Some of them will be making the long climb up the stairs on their knees or bowing every few steps. Remember to be respectful in both the Monastery and at the shrine as this is a place of worship. Around the Buddha are 6 smaller statues of Buddhist saints who are believed by the Buddhists to delay their entry to Nirvana to stay and help others on their pilgrimage. A small museum is located under the Buddha. The visit to the Buddha is free but the museum, which features a relic of a tooth of the original Buddha costs a small admission charge. If you are more famished that faithful you can purchase an ice cream around the back of the Buddha, but don’t ask for them to “make you one with everything”. I am sure they have already heard that one.

Fishing Village

From the Buddha walk back to the village and hope on the number 21 bus to make a stop a small fishing village on the coast on your way back. Tai-O Is a small village and does also get lots of tourists but it is picturesque and is worth a stop for lunch or for taking a few pictures. Local tour operators also offer a tour on boats around the local canals. When you are finished grab a bus back to the Tung Chong station.

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