Perched on the beautiful hills of Ngong Ping in Lantau, the Tian Tan Buddha – also known as the Big Buddha – is one of Hong Kong’s most noted landmarks, and is the world’s largest outdoor seated Buddha. While it is relatively easy to reach by public transport, why not hike your way up to to the Buddha to make your day out in Lantau all the more rewarding? Here to give us a step-by-step guide, travel and photography blogger Peter Lam takes us through a fun and unusual hike on the Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail.
The Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail is no family walk. Despite being paved, the seemingly endless steps and staircases make for a pretty challenging hike, especially in hot weather. It is, however, one of the more unusual hikes around, and particularly fun to wave at the (often flabbergasted) gondola passengers above you. The total distance of the hike is around 8km, with the rescue trail itself being 6km long. Click here for a map of the trail.
From Tung Chung MTR station, you will need to walk around the bay via Yat Tung Estate, initially following the route of the Tung O Ancient Trail. Along the way, you can enjoy the increasingly tranquil surroundings as you leave the hustle and bustle of Tung Chung behind.
Eventually you will reach the trailhead, marked with Ngong Ping 360 Rescue Trail signage and the requisite warnings of danger, to proceed at your own risk. Here, the steps lead to a seemingly endless path up to the first cable car tower (Tower 3), which is about 280m above Tung Chung Bay. Be warned, much of the climb is unshaded, so bring a hat and sunscreen!
As you begin your ascent, Tung Chung Bay will come into view, with Yat Tung Estate and Tung Chung New Town in the background. Reaching Tower 3, just as you thought the worst was over, you realise there is plenty more ahead. From there, Tower 4 is just a small dot on the horizon, and you will need to cross a deep valley to get there. Luckily, there is some shade along the trail, with staircases and boardwalks constructed on steep sections. On a clear day, the views of the airport and surrounding hills are excellent.
As you continue to make your way past Tower 4, and towards Tower 5 where the end is within sight, you will start to see the Big Buddha in the distance. Here, the path veers away from the cable cars, and begins to follow a portion of the Lantau Trail, tracing the base of Nei Lak Shan mountain. From there, the trail is pretty straight forward as you reach closer and closer to the Buddha. Every so often, views of the Buddha will appear over the hills, which definitely gives you some much needed encouragement to keep going.
Three hours later and with legs of Jell-O, you will finally reach the cable car terminus at Ngong Ping, with throngs of tourists scattered about the place. Before you make your way up to the final climb of the day, 268 steps up to the 34 meter tall bronze Tian Tan Buddha, don’t forget to treat yourself to well-deserved snack break. Once you have reached the top, you can look back with pride, knowing that you took the harder way to enlightenment!