As we explore the 1000 places to see before you die we find places, which in our opinion don’t belong there. Of course, we also find places that are not in the book but they are definitely something everybody should see or experience once in their life. We add those to our list and try to maintain a balance between places we scratch and places we add so we end up with our very own list of 1000 places we think everybody should see before they die.
Today we decided to add another great place: The breathtaking Big Buddha in Hong Kong.
Getting to the Big Buddha
The Big Buddha sits atop a mountain on Lantau island which is one of the islands belonging to Hong Kong. We chose the cheapest and probably also easiest way to get there, which is the MTR – the subway system in Hong Kong for only $HK 14 each, which is about 1,4€.
There are 3 ways to get to the Big Buddha. You can take the bus, the gondola lift (cable car) or you can hike up the hill, which is actually the most beautiful but also a very challenging mode of getting there.
We decided we are not fit enough to do a hike with about 1280m ascent, so we decided to take the 5.7 km gondola lift up and hike back to the bottom of the mountain. As it turned out, this was a great decision, but more on that later. The cable car is quite epensive ($HK 115 each) and we had to wait in line for over 1 1/2 hours to get the ticket and wait for a free cabin. There was also the option to take the Crystal Cabin, which has a glas floor, but we are both afraid of heights and we thought the extra 5€ (each) wasn’t worth it.
From the cable car we had a wonderful view of the Hong Kong airport. As the ride continued we got to see the forrests around Hong Kong which are really nice. It would have been a lot nicer if the smog would not have been as bas as it was. We could also already see the trail we would later walk down and realized that we might have a long day ahead of us.
The Big Buddha
After about 10 minutes in the gondola we could see the faint image of the Big Buddha. Even though we could hardly see it through all the smog it already was very impressive.
At the end of the gondola they built a very kitchy but nice village with shops and restaurants for the tourist who are on their way to see the Big Buddha. There are even some shows, but nothing that caught our interest. They even have machines that blow bubbles standing around. 🙂
The Big Buddha itself was another 10 minute walk and 240 steps away. The 34m tall Big Buddha sits on a little hilltop surrounded by lots of trees and with a wonderfull view. The view is so magnificent that we weren’t even bothered by the loads of other tourists around. It is just a very peaceful place.
The 250 ton bronze statue has been completed in 1993, so it is not something ancient, but it still has the feel of forgotten times.
Hiking down the Hong Kong Tung Chung Loop
After we saw the long way we would have to hike back we didn’t spent too much time at the Big Buddha. We weren’t sure how long it would take us to get back and we didn’t want to have to walk in the dark. So we grabbed some lunch at Subway (the cheapest option there) and started our hike down the hill.
The trail is also the emergency route for the Ngong Ping gondola
, so it was mostly nicely paved and partly even planked so that wasn’t the tough part. We thought since we are going down the hill, it wouldn’t be so tiring. We didn’t know that the path first leads down to a valley, then up again, down a vally, then up again, then a long way down and a really long way up again before we started the last descend.
To make matters worse, walking down can be just as hard as walking up. And our muscles confirmed that for the following three days with quite painfull soreness. I guess they just weren’t used to 3 hours of intense hiking.
Even with all the soreness, the hike was amazing. For the first half hour we could see the Bug Buddha glancing through the bushes and trees. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to hike up the mountain and see the Big Buddha for the first time when you cross the last hill top.
Why is the Big Buddha one of our 1000 places?
Soni and I both were just blown away from the beauty surrounding the Big Buddha. The peacefulness you feel when you’re there and the magnificent view of the statue sitting on the hill in the forrest is truly fascinating. This makes this one place that everyone should see at least once in their life.
And if they are fit enough, they should strongly considering one of the hiking trails around Hong Kong.
How do you like our new gallery feature at the end of the post? I would love to hear your comment.
Travelling tips: There is the possibility to buy your ticket for the Ngong Ping gondola online, which cuts about 1 hour of waiting time to stand in line to get one. Also there are combo tickets sold by vendors on the street right in front of the entry to the gondola station which include a one way ticket with the gondola lift and a bus ride back down. You save about 1€ and you won’t have to stand in line for that long.
If you decide to hike in Hong Kong, then watch out for the smog. If the air pollution index is too high it might be a serious risk to your health if you engange in outdoor physical activities. It is a shame that the wonderful city of Hong Kong is almost always covered with smog. And its mostly not even their fault. Most of the air pollution comes from mainland China and the factories in Shenzen, which is just a few miles north of Hong Kong.