Ok. So my first visit to the Big Buddha in Hong Kong was anything but enjoyable. Just like most people, we took the cable car from Tung Chung to the village of Ngong Ping where the Big Buddha is located on top of a hill.
The first thing you need to be prepared for are the long lines. I’ve done the wait twice and on both times it’s been roughly one hour, but I’ve mostly gone during the “less crowded” hours, such as weekdays.
Once you get into the cable car, the views are beautiful, but on the other hand nothing that you couldn’t see by hiking in Hong Kong like I have. And I have to say that my memories from the first visit are pretty bad as we ended up sharing the cabin for 25 minutes with a really loud family whose voices echoed so much in the cabin that the only thing we did was actually wait to get out of the cabin. And I’m honestly quite used to the loud noises prevalent in many highly populated cities of Asia.
If you don’t want to risk the loud noises or want to skip the long lines, you can also get to Ngong Ping more cheaply by bus (no. 23) from Tung Chung, or by taking a ferry from Central to Mui Wo and then a bus (no.2) from there to Ngong Ping. But if you take the Mui Wo route, be sure to check the timetables for the buses in advance as they are pretty infrequent.
When you arrive in Ngong Ping you first have to walk roughly 1 km through the village which is full of little shops, after which you arrive at a large square surrounded by the statues of the 12 generals.
Tian Tan Buddha, or as most tourists call it the Big Buddha is located on top of a staircase with 268 steps. The climb is relatively steep and especially on a hot day you will definitely feel like exercising. But the views from the top are extremely beautiful so you should absolutely climb up.
The Statue of the Buddha, which by the way was only built some 25 years ago (check out this article about the way it was constructed), is surrounded by The Six Devas offering gifts the the Buddha.
Next to the Big Buddha is the Po Lin Monastery which is also worth a visit. The monastery was established already much before the statue of the Buddha, i.e. in 1924.
By the way: If you want to avoid the crowds, I’ve been told that if you go there just when the steps to the Buddha open (10am on weekdays and 9am on weekends) e.g. by taking an early bus from Tung Chung, you can really enjoy everything in peace and take in the amazing views.