Tian Tan Buddha
Good for: kids, E, beautiful views, enjoying the landscape, views
Not good for: disabled, disabled people, people in wheelchairs, wheelchairs, gift shopping
- admission free
Lonely Planet review for Tian Tan Buddha
On a hill above the monastery sits the Tian Tan Buddha, a seated representation of Lord Gautama some 23m high (or 26.4m with the lotus), or just under 34m if you include the podium. There are bigger Buddha statues elsewhere – notably the 71m-high Grand Buddha at Leshan in China's Sichuan province – but apparently these are not seated, outdoors or made of bronze. It weighs 202 tonnes, by the way. The large bell within the Buddha is controlled by computer and rings 108 times during the day to symbolise escape from what Buddhism terms the '108 troubles of mankind'.
The podium is composed of separate chambers on three different levels. On the first level are six statues of bodhisattvas, each of which weighs around two tonnes. On the second level is a small museum containing oil paintings and ceramic plaques of the Buddha's life and teachings. At busy times priority entry is given to those with meal tickets from the monastery's vegetarian restaurant, Po Lin Vegetarian Restaurant.
It's well worth climbing the 260 steps for a closer look at the statue and surrounding views. The Buddha's Birthday, a public holiday celebrated in late April or early May, is a lively time to visit, when thousands make the pilgrimage. Visitors are requested to observe some decorum in dress and behaviour. It is forbidden to bring meat or alcohol into the grounds.
A 2.5km concrete footpath to the left of the Buddha statue leads to the Lantau Tea Garden, the only one in Hong Kong. The tea bushes are pretty sparse and not worth a detour, but the garden is on the way to the Hongkong Bank Foundation SG Davis Hostel and Lantau Peak, and there are tea leaves for sale.