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Hong Kong's Top 10 : Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery

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Once a humble house built by three monks to worship Buddha, Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island is now a large and important temple. Its crowning glory, the giant Buddha statue facing the monastery, is an object of veneration for devotees and one of Hong Kong’s most popular tourist sights. The statue dominates the area from a plinth reached by more than 260 steps. On a clear day, the view across the valleys, reservoirs and peaks of Lantau makes the climb worthwhile.

  • MTR to Tung Chung, then No. 23 bus, or No. 2 bus from Lantau Island’s Mui Wo ferry terminal

  • MTR to Tung Chung, then Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to village.

Cable Car

  • 10am–6pm Mon–Fri (to 6:30pm Sat), 9am–6.30pm Sun, hols

  • single/return HK$58/$88

Monastery

  • 9am–6pm daily

Big Buddha

  • 10am–6pm daily

  • Free


Falun Gong at the Big Buddha

In 2000, during an official meeting on the mainland, Po Lin’s abbot spoke out against the Falun Gong, the semi-religious sect that’s outlawed and repressed in China. As a result, local members of the so-called “evil cult” held a big demonstration near the Big Buddha, protesting that their promotion of physical and spiritual health through tai-chi style exercises is not evil.


Main courtyard

If you can face an early start, stay overnight at the Hong Kong Bank Foundation S G Davis Hostel (2985 5610) close to the Tea Gardens and rise before dawn to see the sunrise from the summit of nearby Lantau Peak.


If you don’t fancy the cheap vegetarian food available inside the temple, take a picnic and wander the nearby footpaths for a good spot.



Top 10 Sights
  1. The Big Buddha

    Standing a lofty 26 m (85 ft) high, this mighty bronze statue is among the largest seated Buddha images in the world. The statue, which was cast in more than 220 pieces, sits on a throne of lotus – the Buddhist symbol of purity.

    View of the Big Buddha
  2. Monastery

    Attracted by its seclusion, Buddhist monks began arriving on Lantau in the early 20th century. The Po Lin or “precious lotus” monastery really developed as a place for pilgrimage in the 1920s when the Great Hall was built and the first abbot appointed.

  3. Tea Gardens

    The Tea Gardens just west of the Buddha statue boast their own modest tea plantation. The café sells tea leaves from the bushes and makes a pleasant shaded place to enjoy a drink or cheap Chinese meal away from the crowds.

  4. Ngong Ping 360Cable Car

    The cable car ride from Tung Chung to Po Lin is an attraction in itself. The 5.7km (4 mile), 25-minute journey provides sweeping views across the North Lantau Country Park and to the distant South China Sea .

  5. Great Hall

    The main temple houses three large golden Buddha images. Don’t miss the ceiling paintings, the elaborate friezes around the exterior and the elegant lotus-shaped floor tiles.

  6. Bodhisattvas

    On each side of the staircase are statues of Buddhist saints. They are venerated for deferring heaven in order to help mortals reach enlightenment. Throw a coin into their cupped hands for luck.

  7. Relic Inside the Buddha

    A sacred relic of the real Buddha (a tooth in a crystal container) is enshrined within the Buddha image, but is difficult to make out. Below the statue is a display about the life of the Buddha and his path to enlightenment.

  8. Footpath Down to Tung Chung

    Walk back down to Tung Chung MTR via the lovely 4-mile (7-km) wooded path through the Tung Chung Valley. You will pass some small monasteries including Lo Hon, which serves cheap vegetarian lunches.

  9. Monks and Nuns

    You may glimpse the grey-robed, shaven-headed nuns and monks at prayers in the old temple behind the main one. Entry is forbidden to tourists during the 3pm prayers.

  10. Temple Gateway

    Guarded by twin lions, the temple gateway is said to replicate the southern gate to Buddhist heaven. As found elsewhere in the temple, the gateway is decorated with reverse swastikas, which is the holy sign of Buddhism. The three Chinese characters at the top read “Po Lin Monastery”.

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