Lantau Island: Visiting Tai O And The Tian Tan Buddha
Before 2014, I had never visited the Big Buddha in Hong Kong. Even with staying in Hong Kong for a month during my round the world trip, not once did I venture over to Lantau Island! Shame on me! In 2014, I went to Hong Kong with some friends and we decided to do a whole day trip to Lantau Island.
We planned to visit Tai O and Ngong Ping Village (where the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha are located) all of which are on Lantau Island, the largest of Hong Kong’s islands.
From our hotel in Kowloon, we took the MTR subway and bus to Lantau Island. We were staying at the Sheraton Towers right by Victoria Harbour so we took the MTR from the East TST Station and transferred to the Tung Chung line. We rode that line all the way west to Tung Chung Station.
From Tung Chung Station we took #11 bus to Tai O Fishing Village. The bus comes every hour or so if you’ve missed it, there’s a shopping centre next door to kill time. The bus ride to Tai O takes about an hour and if you’re prone to motion sickness be warned, the winding roads made me feel nauseous.
**Helpful tip #1 – Have proper fare for the buses. MTRs spit out change but the buses do not. I can’t remember if Octopus cards worked but I had forgotten mine at the hotel.
**Helpful tip #2 There is an outlet mall called CityGate at Tung Chung Station in case you want to go shopping, stop for a snack, or use the washroom while you’re waiting for the buses.**
Tai O, a traditional fishing village
When we got to Tai O, we realized that we arrived too early. Days in Hong Kong start later than other cities so not everything was open when we were there. Only a few shops were opened but we still explored the area.
Mega fishy. People averse to fish smells may not like it here
Dried fish everything
I loved the older Chinese ladies cycling through the village
Not sure what this place was but I loved the entry
If you are planning a visit to Tai O, I recommend going later in the day. We left by 11 am and shops were finally starting to open but we were already leaving. Lucky for us one bakery was opening and we were able to grab freshly made pineapple buns!
I don’t want none unless you got pineapple buns hon
After Tai O, we took a taxi to Ngong Ping Village where the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery are. The weather was hot and humid and after the winding roads getting to Tai O, I was over the idea of taking a bus. Luckily for me, there happen to be a taxi at Tai O.
Ngong Ping Village is an interesting place. It’s a culturally themed village built next to the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha. It looks like an old Chinese village but everything is brand new. There are shops, cafes, and restaurants for tourists. We walked through the village quickly with intent to return after we visited the monastery and Buddha statue.
Ngong Ping Village
The grounds at Ngong Ping Village
This statue represents one of the 12 from the Chinese zodiac. I’m a tiger!
Po Lin Monastery
When I saw the 268 steps to the Tian Tan Buddha, I didn’t want to climb up to see him. It was so hot and humid, I didn’t think that I would make it. All my clothes were already sweaty from the heat and humidity. I knew that I would be disappointed if I didn’t go up so I took my time climbing up the stairs.
To be honest, it wasn’t so bad. If you buy an offering ticket (donation), you can go underneath the Buddha statue and you will see some of his supposed cremains. As a bonus, you also get a bottle of water and ice cream at the end of your visit. That was my motivation! If you are unable to climb the stairs, you can take a gondola up.
He truly is magnificent up close and the views from the top are stunning
After seeing Buddha we had some food at Ngong Ping Village. If you are desperate, there’s a Starbucks and Subway there along with other random restaurants. We picked one and ate an uneventful meal. There isn’t much there so I would recommend getting a small snack and eating closer to Tung Chung Station or waiting to get back to Hong Kong proper.
After experiencing Ngong Ping Village, we headed back to Kowloon. At first, we thought we would take the bus back but it was too hot. We didn’t have any shelter at the bus stop from the hot sun. I told my friends to wait in line for the bus to reserve spots but I was determined to get us a taxi.
At that point, I felt like I had a heat stroke and didn’t care how much at taxi was going to cost. We just had to get back to Tung Chung Station since the MTR is air-conditioned. The taxis don’t come that often so be warned!
- If you have time during your Hong Kong trip, visit Ngong Ping Village see the Big Buddha up close. The views of the surrounding area are stunning and a different Hong Kong experience.
- If you want to visit Tai O, go later in the day when all the shops and eateries are open.
- If I ever go back to Hong Kong when it’s less hot, I would love to do some hikes on the Lantau Island side. It’s so lush and quiet over there which is such a contrast to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
- Have proper change if you are taking the bus
- Remember taxis are harder to come by unless someone has taken a taxi there (although now you can probably call an Uber)
Have you been over to Lantau Island? Do you have any recommendations or tips?
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