Purchase an Octopus Card
This is my first suggestion for anyone visiting Hong Kong. It makes using the train/bus/ferry much quicker and easier. It is $150 HKD ($19 USD) $50 is a deposit you put down and then load your card with $100. If you return the card within 3 months you are charged $9 HKD ($1.20 USD) and the remainder of the money you did not spend is returned to you.
Take the MTR
Use the great MTR resource online to find the quickest way to get to Tung Chung Station. You swipe your octopus card to go through the turnstile and get on the train. For the MTR, you also swipe when you leave the station at your destination and that is when it will deduct money from the card based on the distance you traveled. For us to get from the Prince Edward Station in Mong Kok to the Tung Chung station it cost $14.1 HKD pp/each way. I am from Chicago and am an avid rider of the El since I don’t own a car. The MTR puts the El to shame (sorry Chi-town!) The MTR is spotless, super fast and efficient. It has lights telling you which station you are heading to and even which side to get off at. There is no eating or drinking on any of the public transportation, so there is no trash being left behind. The MTR is a great experience for anyone to get around Hong Kong!
Decide between the gondola and the bus
Once you arrive at the Tung Chung station you have two options to reach the Big Buddha. You can either pay $125 HKD for a round trip gondola ride up to the top, which would be fun on a clear day, but it was especially foggy while we were in Hong Kong. Being budget travelers we opted to pay $17.20 HKD ($2.20 USD) and took the bus. The bus wasn’t boring. It was 30-40 minutes taking switchbacks up and down a mountain, while our driver drove much faster than I would ever drive on the tiny roads. It didn’t help that I am still not used to cars driving on the left side of the road so around every turn we felt as if we were going head first into them.
Walk up the 268 steps to see the Big Buddha
You have finally reached the former world’s tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha statue (I love the extensive explanation.) Hopefully the weather is in your favor and you can clearly see the statue and the surrounding land. Again, you have two options. You can purchase a vegetarian meal at the monastery and enter the museum portion at the top, or you can walk the stairs and enjoy the statue from outside. We just admired the view.
Hike up to the second highest point in Hong Kong, Lantau Peak
Lantau Peak is the second highest point in Honk Kong and the trailhead is right next to the Big Buddha. If you enjoy hiking this is a great climb to the summit, where the sunrise is a popular destination in the early morning. Allow around 3 hours for a round trip hike to the top. Or if you are like us, you will get halfway up and realize that:
1. It’s too foggy to see anything so the summit won’t look anything different than the fog you see now.
2. You have a VERY limited number of clothes and if you keep going at the same rate you are going to be doing laundry much sooner than anticipated.
So, you take some great foggy photos and start your descent back to the village to grab one last cup of fried noodles before you leave.
Eat fried noodles and fish balls from the vendor across from Big Buddha
Delicious street vendor fried noodles is what I dream about. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner and be a happy girl (despite the nutritional value). The vendor across from the Big Buddha looks like this:
Don’t leave without grabbing a cup of noodles for 15 HKD ($1.90) and while you are at it I challenge you to try something new. You may not know what you are ordering, you might hate the taste of it…but try it! We had seen everyone around us eating fish balls and to me they didn’t look appetizing, but like I said a second ago, I don’t care if you THINK you won’t like it. So we ordered the fish balls and of course we opted for the spicy ones and then added more chili sauce to complete the flavor and went in for a big bite of fish. To our surprise the first bite wasn’t so bad… and the second actually got better! We really enjoyed these – the closest thing I have eaten to compare them to would be a scallop, but less mushy and delicious. Try something new while you are visiting Big Buddha!
There are plenty of other attractions at Ngong Ping 360 such as:
- Po Lin Monastery
- Shopping in Ngong Ping Village
- Walking with Buddha
- Monkey’s Tale Theater
Get back on the bus/gondola and head home
It’s been a long day, probably around 4 – 6 hours if you hiked up to Lantau Peak and spent time walking around the monastery. We took the bus back down for an additional $17 HKD and enjoyed once again winding down a narrow road at lightning speed! I would be nervous to do this at night given how close the buses drive to one another.
This is a great day trip if you are staying in Hong Kong – get your Octopus card and get going! Send me a message if you have any questions!
Check out our photo essay from a day spent at the Big Buddha
Did you try the eggs (?) in the crockpot on the right? I’m curious as to what they are.
I didn’t try them… I was afraid they were Balut http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balut_(egg)
Juan Dela Cruz says
Balut is exclusive in the Philippines
those eggs are called tea eggs. These hard boiled eggs are soaked in some sort of tea, giving the eggs a slight tea fragrance. They are delicious!
No they are not. They are common food in countries in Southeast Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Actually, those eggs are called century eggs, not balut. Balut would still have their shells on the outside like hard boiled eggs. I was born in the Philippines, so I can recognize balut instantly. Besides, that’s a delicacy of the Philippines.
Hahaha.. .even I’m from Philippines I can’t eat it. ..very disgusting. ..but anyway Balut is only in the Philippines
Li Toosie says
Those eggs were boiled in water with tes leaves and are supposed to be nourishing. They taste the same as any hard-boiled eggs. Next time you see them, be brave to try one.
sitthi sitthikul says
Caroline Eaton says
Great! I am planning to go there. by the way, do we need to pay if we want for the other attractions at Ngong Ping 360 like you say;
1.Po Lin Monastery
2.Shopping in Ngong Ping Village
3.Walking with Buddha
4.Monkey’s Tale Theater
I mean to get in. Thanks.
will kids ages 12 and below enjoy touring the big budha?
Caroline Eaton says
Yes, I think all ages will enjoy touring the big budha!
i’ve never seen balut in hong kong. those are tea eggs and are sold by many street vendors. if you can remember the first character on the pot (茶) that means “tea” and is a good guide as to what you’re going to eat.
Caroline Eaton says
Thank you for letting us know!
I found your site while we were in Hong Kong and trying to get up to the Big Buddha — so very, very helpful! This is just a note of quick thanks. Also to say that the cable car ride up, while pricey, was completely worth it for us-with-weak-tummies and that the food in the Po Lin Monastery’s cafeteria was some of the best veggie stuff we’ve ever had. I blogged about the experience but from a somewhat different perspective. Just wanted to acknowledge how helpful your notes and comments had been!
We accidentally walked back down from the Bug Buddha to the MRT station. I thought I read about a hike down in LP, but once we got started there were no signs, and we got terribly lost at the bottom asking all sorts of people where in the world the station was. Eric still refers to it as the Hong Kong Death March. Taking the bus down like you suggested, probably a better bet!
tammy fischer says
I’m coming into Hong Kong mid April evening, leaving the next day at 3pm.
If I start out early enough can I get out to Lantau Island to see the big buddha in plenty of time; looks like the tram doesn’t start until around 9am or so, and I really really hate heights?!
Looking at the pictures I don’t know if I’ll be able to get up thast high without freaking!
What time does the subways and buses start?
Any idea how far from the cruise port?
Thanks so much!!
Josh Eaton says
Sorry, but I’m not sure how far it is from the cruise port. You should have plenty of time if all you want to do is go up and see the Buddha. You just need to figure out how to get to Tung Chung station. If I recall correctly, they start pretty early in the morning, this is on a similar line as the one you’d take to the airport so it gets a lot of traffic.
You can probably skip the cable car if you’re afraid of heights, but otherwise being up at the buddha shouldn’t be an issue.
im with my friends will go there on 2th february.hope we can get to see the big budha
thanks to let us know how to get there
tammy fischer says
I definitely don’t want to buy an Octupus card, you wouldn’t be beneficial to me, since I’m only there for less than 24 hours!
Can you tell me the easiest and fastest way to get there, and back by a reasonable timeframe please?
Thanks so much
tammy fischer says
If you go in Feb (2nd) can you get back to me, and let me know how it went, as far as how long it took you to get there and coming back?!
Thanks a bunch
Very informative read, thanks everyone
Thanks for the in depth description. I had planned a day exactly the same for my mother and myself. We took the MTR to Tung Chung station,then bought a one way trip on the gondola for $105. We spent a couple of hours looking around and then caught bus 21 to Tai O terminus for $10.70 approx 20 mins. We went on the boat ride for $25 and didn’t see any dolphines but the ride was fun. We then walked around the village streets, sampled some food and relaxed in the park taking lots of photos. We then caught bus 1 to Mui Wo and caught the ferry to Central Pier 1, $17.50. I can highly recommend this day trip and it is very easy to do on your own. It might be good idea to look up the ferry times, we caught the 5.30pm boat and the next one wasn’t until 7.30pm.
I’m planning to travel around Hong Kong on the 3rd of May this year as I have a 15 hour transit time in HK between my connecting flight home.
One thing I’m really looking forward to seeing is the Great Buddha statue (minus the hike to the Lantau peak). How long do you think I ought to spare for this? It would help me plan the remaining hours accordingly.
Thanks and keep travelling.
Great reassuring piece of your hike to Lantau Peak! I am going to HK next month, and I was skeptical about the journey up as I have read somewhere is it dangerous. But you post really gives me some optimism. Haha.. Are there any safety measures I should look out for on my journey up? Any Tips?
I’m planning on coming to Hong Kong in September. Like the different post.
I took cable car to the Big Buddha. The standard cabin was HK$150 for round trip. Crystal cabin with glass bottom costs little more. It was worth to the beautiful view which you may not be able to see by bus. Took 25 minutes. Recommends to make reservation for cables. It was Saturday and waiting line was
30 mts. It was not bad but you can avoid it by reservation . To walk steps to Buddha was good exercise. Do not miss to see Po Lin monastery and Wisdom Path. I hold to eat at the Ngong Ping Village. Took bus #21 to tai O fishing village . 15mts ride. Bus fare is HK$6.60. Need to have exact change. They do not give you change. Took boat tour for HK$20 to see pink dolphins . Worth tour for the price. The other boat was asking for HK $25. A lots of local food you may try here. You have a choice to take bus to the city from here. It is cheaper than cable. Takes 50 mts.
Love your blog. My husband and I are visiting Big Buddha tomorrow and will definitely utilize the tips found here.
My question for you is about housing. We have one more night here in HK that we don’t have housing planned for then will be traveling through Vietnam (Hanoi & Saigon), Cambodia (Phnom Penh
& Siem Reap), Bangkok and Singapore. We are trying to be thrifty and stay in hostels but still want something clean and safe. We are reading reviews but, so far, still feel like we are coming up a little short. Am I asking for too much? Any recommendations in general or at these specific locations?
Thanks and happy trails!
my mom is in wheelchair, is there a lift or elevator to go up to the big buddha instead of walking the 268 steps up there????
Is there a place where can we leave our things bcoz we are planning to go straight to the big buddha from airport?
I have not been there, yet, but I googled about storage as I to will have luggage. I found this information:
Thanks for the tips! 🙂
Omg it was really so helpful.
hi there…we are planning to visit Giant budhha on our day 4 (probably our last day in hongkong)
please help us decide..
day 4 will be our flight going back to manila at 6pm
since we have no itinerary on day 4, we decided to
insert the giant buddha..is it possible for us to visit this place
BTW our hotel is located in Tsimsha tsui, kowloon
Robyn Weber says
I would just like to know if the bus takes you to the top of the buddah or do you still have to walk up the steps ?
Caroline Eaton says
You do still have to walk up the stairs to the Big Buddah once you arrive at the site.
walking up the buddha, is there any fee to pay?? thanks!!
Hi! Great blog and information. Quick question…if we take the cable car up just to see the Big Buddha and then bus back down, approximately how long do you think it’ll take round trip?
I’ve been up to see the Buddha today. One thing I would add is that the no. 23 bus does not go from the bus station nearest to the MTR station. There is a stop indicating no. 23 stops in the bus station but it doesn’t. Carry on walking past the bus stop, go out of the bus station and carry on walking to the right following signs to the gondola ride. There’s a smaller bus station to the right of the gondolas. It’s only 17.20 each way on the bus.
Well worth the trip
I’m planning to visits HK next month and planned to go Po Lin Monastery with Bus from Tung Chung Town Centre.
What is the no. of BUS you took from the smaller bus stations next to the gondola rides?
Thank you so much!
Finally did the trip to the Buddha today. Over the last three years, I have been in HK twice a year for work but today was the first time that I had a free day and the weather was clear (thus ideal to visit the Buddha). All of the info in the post is spot on. I took the MTR from Wai Chan and the cable car both ways and it was easy and great. The cable car and at the Buddha are pretty packed and touristy so I would advise doing this trip on a weekday and as early as possible in the day. I did try the fish balls at the stand at the arch at the entrance to the Buddha. The fish balls were good, but I have had better on the street in Wai Chan.
At MTR the octopus card is it for each person? We plan with my whole family to take a trip going to big buddha and i have 4kids. Do i need to buy The octopus card each one of my kids?
Hi, is there anyway to reach the Buddha’s top without taking stairs? any elevator up? im taking my 80 years old grandma with me, so im concern. and also, do we need to climb up to go to the Monastery with the vegetarian food ? or is at the bottom? thank you