While Day 1 of our Hong Kong trip was spent just casually chilling out in our hotel, having Chinese food for dinner, and walking around 1881 Heritage and the Avenue of Stars, Day 2 was allotted for “meatier” activities. First thing in our itinerary was a trip to the breathtaking Lantau Island, Hong Kong’s largest island. It was time to get “touristy”!
Ngong Ping Cable Car
The best way to travel from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping is by cable car. It would probably take you an hour to get from Point A to Point B by bus but the cable car ride takes only 25 minutes. It’s also the more scenic route, as it allows passengers to admire the terrain and take photos of the spectacular view from above. Even if you’re afraid of heights, you will still be fascinated by all the beauty you can see from the top. Our cable car ride gave us a chance to get a bird’s eye view of the Hong Kong International Airport, the Tung Chung Bay, the Hong Kong Ngong Ping Trail, the riveting flora of the North Lantau Country Park, the South China Sea, and of course, the Tian Tan Buddha.
Visitors can choose between a Standard Cabin or a Crystal Cabin. Both offer the same breathtaking view, but the Crystal Cabin is fashioned with a glass floor so you can see the sparkling seas and the flourishing greens right beneath your feet (which can be exciting or terrifying, depending on how scared you are of heights). Crystal Cabin round-trip tickets cost HKD 255.00 for adults and HKD 175 for kids, whereas a 2-way ticket for the Standard Cabin costs HKD 165 and HKD 85 for adults and kids, respectively. Because we’re cheap, we opted for the Standard Cabin. We didn’t really care much for a crystal-clear cable car bottom. We were contented with our Standard Cabin’s beautiful 360-degree view!
See ticketing information here.
We enjoyed the cable car ride so much that we didn’t want to get off anymore! The atmosphere was so relaxing and peaceful that we almost fell asleep. If I could, I would go on another round just so I can take a nice nap while the cable car moves gently toward the next stop. But after our ride was over, we had to get back on the ground so we could go on another adventure.
Ngong Ping Village
Our cable car dropped us off at the Ngong Ping Village, a 1.5-hectare culturally themed village in Lantau Island. It’s not exactly a village, as in like a small town inhabited by people, but more of a quaint tourist attraction which includes restaurants, theaters, and shops. If you’re lucky, you can even catch the street performances, such as kung-fu demonstrations or Chinese acrobatic shows. We weren’t so lucky, but it’s fine because there is still a lot to see in the village. It’s no wonder that a lot of visitors make it a part of their itinerary. Even though it’s always full of tourists, for some reason, it still maintains its tranquility. Maybe it’s the fresh air, the wide open space, or the surrounding verdure that adds to the serenity of the place, or maybe it’s the fact that the Big Buddha is just around the corner and giving everything a touch of zen.
Tian Tan Buddha Statue
Finally, the climax (literally!) of our Ngong Ping journey was an ascent of the 112-feet bronze statue of the Tian Tan Buddha, or the Big Buddha. We huffed and puffed as we conquered 268 steps just so we can see the Buddha’s face up close. It’s a long way up but Buddha’s peaceful face and gentle smile seem to encourage you, as if he is saying, “Come on! You can do it!” If you feel like taking a break, go ahead. Then quit being a baby and get yourself up there. When you see the beautiful view from the top, and come face to face with the majesty of the Buddha, you’ll forget everything else. (Those Chinese grandpas and grandmas have done it and survived. It wouldn’t look good if they kicked your ass at this!).
Some Buddha facts taken from the official Ngong Ping 360 wesbite:
Featuring the pronounced facial expression of the Buddha and the statue craftsmanship of the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the Tian Tan Buddha was built with bronze and weighs over 250 tonnes. Gold was used for the face, portraying the beauty and solemnity of the Buddha. The right hand of the Buddha is held up as a “Fear-Not mudra” – a manifestation of the great vow to eliminate suffering from all sentient beings. The left hand is placed on the Buddha’s thigh with his palm facing out and fingers slightly pointing downwards. This is known as the “Wish-Granting mudra”, signifying the compassionate vow to grant happiness to all men. The Dharma cakra in the palm represents the everlasting turning of the Wheel of Dharma and the dissemination of the Dharma to every corner of the world.
Suggested time for Ngong Ping 360 tour:
- Check-in – 15 minutes
- Cable car to Ngong Ping – 25 minutes
- Walk around Ngong Ping Village – 1 hour
- “Walking with Buddha shows” – 30 minutes
- Lunch – 1 hour
- Visit the Tian Tan Buddha – 1 hour
- Cable car back to Tung Chung – 25 minutes
Ngong Ping 360 travel tips:
- Morning (around 10:00 AM) is a good time to go, but based on previous experience, 4:00 in the afternoon or anytime before sunset is nice too.
- Check the weather before buying tickets because the cable cars won’t operate in cases of extreme weather conditions or high winds. If it’s too foggy, the view won’t be as good as it would be on a clear day. If it’s rainy, it will be a bit of a hassle to walk around, and climbing the steps to the Buddha (and going back down) will require you to be extra careful so you don’t slip.
- Ask your hotels or hostel’s staff if they have any special partner discounts for Ngong Ping tickets. A roundtrip Standard Cabin cable car ride costs HKD 165 for adults, but we got ours for HKD 135 only, which was a special rate offered by our hostel to their guests.
- A cable car can seat up to 6 people. If you’re lucky, you can get one cable car all to yourself and your companions. Perhaps, it depends on how many people are in line. For this particular trip, the cable car was all ours, so we were able to make as much noise as we wanted and Mike was able to pole dance inside. But there was a time when I was with 2 friends, and we had to share the ride with one stranger. Consider this a blessing — you can ask the stranger to take photos of you and your friends! And who knows? That stranger could be your new friend!
- Lines for the cable car ride can be long, so try to go as early as you can.
- There are plenty of restaurants and food joints in Ngong Ping Village in case you get hungry.
- A bottle of water will definitely come in handy for when you get too tired from climbing up the Tian Tan Buddha.
- You can get to Ngong Ping 360 by bus, taxi, or car, but I found that the easiest and fastest way is by MTR. You may check this page for more info on how to get there.
- If you plan to do Ngong Ping 360 and Hong Kong Disneyland in one day, I suggest that you go to Ngong Ping as early as you can, around 9:45 AM so you can be done by or 2:30, and you can still catch the Flights of Fancy Parade at Disney, which starts at 3:30 PM.
Ngong Ping 360
Address: 11 Tat Tung Road, Tung Chung, Lantau, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3666 0606
Fax: (852) 2109 9179
Photos by Mike Smith / Miguel Lazatin and me