Colloquially known as Big Buddha, Tian Tan Buddha sits atop a lotus throne opposite the Po Lin Monastery which in turn is surrounded by lush mountain scenery on Lantau Island. Completed in 1993, the 34m-high bronze and gold Buddha faces north to serenely gaze over mainland China and offer its blessing.
The structure took 12 years to complete putting the formerly remote monastery on the map as a popular drawcard for pilgrims and visitors alike. The Big Buddha is the world's largest seated outdoor bronze Buddha statue. Climb the 268 steps for a closer look at the 202-tonne statue and enjoy the mountain and sea views from its base.
The altar podium consists of separate chambers on three different levels with priceless Buddhist artifacts. On the first level are the Six Devas statues in dancing postures with different offerings, and the second level is home to a small museum with paintings and ceramic plaques pertaining to the life and teachings of Buddha.
On the third level is the memorial hall with a relic of Buddha's remains. Over the flight of circular stairs is the six-tonne Bell of the Flaming Mouth inscribed with images of Buddha and scripture verses. The bell chimes 108 times a day to symbolise the clearing of 108 worries.
The operational Po Lin Monastery lies opposite the statue and houses practising monks and colourful Buddhist iconography as well as a vegetarian restaurant, Po Lin Vegetarian Restaurant. The monastery gardens are also quite beautiful to wander around with flowers and birdlife. Further afield there is the Lantau Tea Garden, the only example of its type in Hong Kong.
Admission to Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery is free. To visit Tian Tan Buddha, the closest MTR station is Tung Chung. Take Exit B and then ride on the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, a 25-minute trip. From here, it's a 10-minute walk down Po Ngong Drive, left onto Ngong Ping Road and right at Lin Ping Drive. You can also walk along the Ngong Ping trail for a more interactive scenic route to Tian Tan Buddha.