Updated on January 20, 2016
1 Day in Hong Kong: The Big Buddha!!
After getting a shower, eating breakfast and leaving our baggage in the Arrivals Lounge, we were off for an adventurous day in Hong Kong!
Now we technically had about 12 hours between the “actual” arrival and departures of our flight (initially more like 11). We figured we could see some of the good sights of Hong Kong and then get to the airport nice and early. Jaime likes to get to the airport early (sometimes REALLY early) and I wanted to have tons of time to spend in The Pier, so it was a win-win!
Between the time in the lounge and wanting to get back to the airport early, we figured we have probably a maximum of 6 hours out in town.
Leaving the airport around 10:30 a.m. (kind of a guess, honestly it was months ago so I’ve forgotten some of the minute details), we were off to see Big Buddha! We walked outside and got on the S-1 bus to Tung Chung!
The bus stop we used was right outside the smaller terminal, Terminal 1. I don’t know if there are others or what, but it was extremely simple. We asked a gentleman in the airport (wearing the “how can I help” information vest) where the bus stop was, and it couldn’t have been easier.
The bus was 3.5 HKG dollars (~$0.50). It was clean, timely and took us about 15 minutes to get to Tung Chung. There were about eight stops or so on the way!
After arriving at Tung Chung we walked right across the street to the Tung Chung Cable Car station to take the cable car to Big Buddha!
The cable car has four cabin options. Standard, Standard VIP, Crystal and Crystal VIP. Basically there are two different types of cars, standard and crystal. The crystal car has a see-through floor and basically makes it easier to see the sights. The standard car is just your normal cable car, kinda like a gondola. The two VIP options give you a little more, and if you have a big group it can be worth it. Per the site:
Includes: Round-trip cable car ride in a private cabin (standard / crystal cabin), fast lane for ticket purchase, priority boarding and free admission to Ngong Ping Village’s “Walking with Buddha” attractions.
The roundtrip prices for the four options are below:
Standard – 185 HKD per person
Standard VIP – 3,800 HKD per cabin
Crystal – 255 HKG per person
Crystal VIP – 4,500 HKD per cabin
Jaime and I just chose the standard car at around $23-$24 a person. We were fortunate enough to only be with two people on the way up and had a private car on the way back!
It was drizzling slightly at the station and there was a bit of a line, although nothing crazy. I’ve heard it can be up to an hour waiting for the cable car, yet we only had to wait about 20 minutes total until we were off!
The cable car ride takes about 20 minutes – not bad! Unfortunately it was an extremely overcast and rainy day so the visibility wasn’t very good. Even more unfortunately is that with all the rain on the windows it was very difficult to get good photos!
The village at the top of the mountain is called Ngong Ping. It’s basically just a big $$ trap. It’s a commercialized village with a bunch of shops and gifts. Some of the gift shops are actually pretty cool and we did get a souvenir, but nothing much to write about in the village.
Big Buddha, including the base it sits on, is about 34 meters high. This site has a lot of really good information and cool facts, like the fact that the body is made up of 160 bronze pieces.
We walked around the statue for 25 minutes, mostly just taking in the views. Truly amazing to see. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside the statue, but in all reality there isn’t much to see inside.
After we had our fill, we headed back down the stairs to take a quick trip over to Po Lin Monastery before heading back to the cable car!
This is where our plan went a little awry. Almost exactly when we walked up to the Monastery it started absolutely pouring; I’m talking torrential downpour. We stopped in the little shop they had outside the monastery to wait it out. 30 minutes later we were running much shorter on time, and also realized the monastery had a fee to go in. Not being especially interested in the first place, we decided to start the walk back once it started to let up!
We made two small stops on the way back to the cable car. One to get a cool trinket that we absolutely needed and couldn’t live without. The other, more important stop, was for dessert.
We were fortunate on the cable car back to not only have the car to ourselves, but there was absolutely zero line! We walked right up and on.
Once back at the bottom, we retraced our steps and took the S-1 bus back to the airport! Never having been in Hong Kong before, I was a little nervous about the public transportation and routes – I had no reason to worry! Couldn’t have been easier.
Our whole little adventure took 4 hours roundtrip to and from the airport. Keep in mind for what we did we really took our time, not at all rushing.
We were back to the airport in plenty of time to experience my favorite lounge of all time, the Cathay Pacific ‘The Pier’ First Class Lounge (review up next)!
I hope next time you have a layover in Hong Kong you can make it out to see Big Buddha!!
Have you had an extended layover in Hong Kong? Did you see Big Buddha?