Tips for visiting the Tian Tan Buddha

"We were actually glad we visited on a cloudy day!"
We were pretty unlucky with the weather while we were in Hong Kong, but we didn’t let it put us off visiting the Tian Tan Buddha. Despite the grey skies, low clouds and constant drizzle, we were glad we made the trip!

All the reviews we read about visiting the Tian Tan Buddha said that it was much better to see it on a clear day. So we pre-booked our Ngong Ping 360 cable car tickets a day in advance, when the weather forecast looked dry and sunny. Unfortunately, we woke up to a less-than-perfect morning. After already paying for our round-trip tickets, we weren’t about to let some clouds put a dampener on our day! So we set off on the MTR towards Tung Chung station, which is located just a short 5-minute walk away from the cable car station to Lantau Island.

Ngong Ping 360 to Lantau Island

We booked our Ngong Ping 360 cable car tickets the day before our trip. In total, it cost 466 HKD (around £40) for 2x round-trip tickets. We paid a tiny bit extra to take a glass-bottom cable car on the way to Lantau Island, and an ordinary cable car on the return trip.

View from the glass-bottom cable car

The view from the glass-bottom cable car!

The time on our tickets was 10.15am. We arrived at the cable car station around 9.40am, and were immediately asked to get into a queue. At this point, there were only two other groups in front of us. By the time the gates opened at 10am, there were three separate queues, all at least 100 people long! Luckily, we were ushered through to the first glass-bottom cable car with only three other people. The journey took around 25 minutes as we glided above the sea, mountains, lush forests and even the clouds!

View from our cable car

The view across the mountains from our cable car

Walking to the Tian Tan Buddha

It was very quiet when we arrived, with few other tourists around. We made our way through the little village of shops and restaurants, following the signs towards the Tian Tan Buddha stairway.

An eerie walk to the stairway

An eerie walk to the stairway

From the bottom of the steps, we could just about make out the silhouette of the Buddha through the mist. We were lucky enough to be some of the only people walking up the 268 steps, giving us some great photo opportunities along the way! As we reached the halfway point, our view of the Buddha became much clearer.

Walking up the stairway

Walking up the 268 steps towards the Big Buddha

When we reached the top of the steps, the view was breathtaking. The clouds below us surrounded the mountains, to create an eerily beautiful view across the island. Even better, there were hardly any other tourists around. We were actually glad we visited on a cloudy day!

The incredible view from the top

Walking around the base of the Buddha, look at that view!

Not to mention the Tian Tan Buddha itself, which towered above us. The whole experience was unforgettable, and it was great to take it all in without huge crowds surrounding us.

The Big Buddha

The Tian Tan Buddha from below

Tips for visiting the Tian Tan Buddha

Here are some tips for visiting the Tian Tan Buddha.

1. Find your way there

Use Hong Kong’s simple MTR system to get to Tung Chung station on the Tung Chung line. From here, walk out through Exit B. From here, follow signs to the cable car station. (It took us around 50 minutes to get from Causeway Bay station to Tung Chung).

2. Go early

We arrived at the cable car station at 9.40am, way before our scheduled ticket time of 10.15am. Nobody checked the time on our tickets, and we were allowed through on the first cable car of the day. If you’re not bothered about the cable car experience (or are afraid of heights!) you can easily take a bus. This will allow you to get there even earlier, too. However, it does take longer than the 25-minute cable car journey.

The busy stairway

This is how busy it became by the time we left (at 11am)

3. Be prepared for the weather

The Tian Tan Buddha is quite high up in the mountains, so the conditions can be quite different from the weather in central Hong Kong. When we visited it was cool and drizzly. We had waterproof jackets with us, but we spotted a lot of tourists shivering in light cardigans and T-shirts! Equally, I imagine the sun is strong up there on a clear day, so don’t forget suncream!

4. Leave Lantau Island early

The price for a private cable car ticket is extortionate. We left when most other tourists were just arriving, so there was no queue to get back to Tung Chung. This meant that we got a cable car all to ourselves, without the price tag!