One highly memorable family activity in Hong Kong was visiting the Tian Tan Buddha monument (also known as Big Buddha) in Lantau Island.
Prepare to soar up high above the ground, in a relaxing 30 minute ride. You will find yourself aboard a Ngong Ping 360 Cable Cart that has exciting glass bottom with unbeatable views.
Talk about a magnificent way to start off an adventure!
While we had expected that seeing the Big Buddha would be a highlight of our day, we were not expecting that the process of reaching it would be so unique and unforgettable.
When purchasing your ticket at the Ngong Ping 360 I would strongly suggest picking the option for a glass bottom cart as opposed to a regular cable cart.
We loved the idea of being able to look down to enjoy the scenery bellow, in addition to spotting hikers and even seeing water creeks running down the mountain.
Another added bonus was taking photos while lying down on the glass floor. It made it appear as if were floating in the air.
Upon reaching the top of the mountain we could spot the giant Tian Tan Buddha statue, talk about a remarkable first impression!
While we were prepared to see it, knowing that it was going to be grand, it was still exciting and quite the impressive view.
Once at the top, you will walk through the Ngong Ping Village before making your way to the statue.
We loved the village as it included a quaint street lined with stores, treat shops and places to sit.
It’s the perfect place to refuel and gather energy before, or after, visiting the Big Buddha.
Hiking up the many steps to the top of the statue was a bit of a cardio workout, yet well worth it. We found even more impressive views of distant islands surrounding the area.
It was also a lot fun to explore the Po Lin Monastery while there, so we could get a glimpse of life for a buddhist monk.
Of course while walking out, our kids got a fun stuffed animal representative of the Ngong Ping Village that they carried throughout the remainder of our visit!
Suggestions for Visiting Big Buddha:
-We took the subway from our hotel to Lantau Island and walked to the Nnong Ming 360 Cable Cart center. Hong Kong has one of the cleanest and well stablished transit systems we have seen, so we used it as our mode of transportation while there.
-Purchase your tickets to ride the cable cart in advance if possible. While we visited during low peak season, and there were no lines when we arrived, I could tell the place is setup to hold lines even longer than most Disneyland rides. Just to be safe, I would come prepared. You can purchase your tickets here. Be sure to select glass bottom or the regular cart option.
-As mentioned before, I recommend picking the option for a glass bottom cable cart. For us, it made the ride up the mountain much more interesting and memorable. I don’t think I had ever ridden a cart with this option before, so we took advantage. The cost is a little higher than riding up a regular cable cart, but only by a small amount. We felt like it was worth it, especially when we were taking turns sitting down on the glass and taking photos pretending to be floating up in the air – so fun!
-The entire way until you arrive to the bottom of the stairs of Big Buddha is stroller friendly. Our son, who was a toddler at the time, would only nap in our stroller so we took it everywhere on our trip through Asia (even to the Great Wall of China!). We were happy to see that we could even take it up the cart and through the grounds. However, we did find it a little problematic when it was time to climb up the stairs. Eventually we left the stroller at the bottom of the steps strategically placed behind a sign, hoping no one would steal it as we made our way up to explore. Luckily for us, it as still there when we returned but its definitely a risk worth noting.
-As mentioned before there are places once you arrive at the top of the mountain to grab a bite, use the bathroom and even pick up a souvenir. The Ngong Ping Village is clean and well appointed. We found this reassuring and comforting as you never know what to expect from traveling with kiddos, and it was nice to know all those options were accessible if needed.
-There was a museum you could enter that is housed underneath the Buddha. While the actual museum was not a highlight for us, we were thrilled with the idea of having a cool place with air conditioning to take refuge from the heat outside.
-If you go behind the Buddha you will get a glimpse of many smaller islands in contrast to a never ending ocean. We were not experiencing that sight and were glad we decided to walk around the base of the giant statue.
-When you buy something from the shops, they give you little wooden tags with your receipt. You can then go to the Po Lin Monastery and write a wish to hang on the wishing tree.
-I would plan to visit here for at least half a day. We spent a few hours up there enjoying the views and fun atmosphere, definitely not a place you want to rush through.
-While we decided to use a cable cart to go up the mountain, there is also a well established path that allows you to it hike up instead. We saw a few people making their way up, and while it seemed like a beautiful path, I imagine its also lengthy. It was definitely not an option for our little family since our kids were small and we visited in June (the hottest month of the year), but I wanted to mention it for those who might prefer it.
-Lastly, a very important thing to note when traveling with little ones to any part of China is that the locals will stop you constantly to take photos with your kiddos. Its a rarity for foreign kids to be seen in China so they certainly get a lot of attention. While we were told this would happen, it was still something out of our comfort zone to have strangers pick up our kids for a photo without asking. That being said, its a cultural difference and we tried to embrace it just like any other aspect of a culture that seemed foreign to us.
The unforgettable ride up the cable cart, the atmosphere of the Ngong Ping Village, the beautiful gardens and even the Po Lin Monastery surrounding the Buddha were all great added bonuses to an already awesome experience.
Overall this was a very successful activity for the whole family and one I wouldn’t mind repeating again one day.
For more family adventures in Asia click here.
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