No one can contest that Hong Kong is one of most advanced cities in the world; home of the most magnificent skyline, modern infrastructures, efficient train system, the biggest and grandest amusement parks, state-of-the-art buildings, and the cutting edge of newest residential communities. But, amidst its continuous progress, Hong Kong was still able to preserved its origins and traditions. Take a look at Ngong Ping Village.
Hong Kong is a perfect example of a two dimensional world, one side you’ll be treated with modern milieu and on the other it will take you back in time. One part of the city is swamped with busy locals and tourists, while the other has the province-y feel and serenity. Disneyland, Ocean Park, Victoria Peak, Night Market, and Avenue of Stars are just some of the most famous destinations in Hong Kong. These spots, especially during peak season, are crowded with tourists eagerly wanting to experience the beauty that Hong Kong has to offer.
The largest island in Hong Kong, located in the southwestern part of the city is called Lantau Island. A once isolated and serene place has over the years been modernized and is now home to one of the most popular tourist spots in Hong Kong, the Ngong Ping.
Ngong Ping is located on Lantau island and is considered one of the most frequented places in Hong Kong. The place is not as busy as Hong Kong city or Kowloon, but it has risen to prominence upon the inception of the Ngong Ping Cable Car. Ages ago, the place is only accessible by land, but with the initiative of the government to build a modern mode of transportation, “Ngong Ping 360” was established. Ngong Ping 360 is consists of Ngong Ping Cable Car, the Ngong Ping Village – entertainment and retail center, Po Lin Monastery, Tian Tan Buddha also known as Big Buddha, and the Wisdom Path.
For travelers, going to Disneyland and Ocean Park are always part of their itinerary and going to either places can already consume a day on their travel, thus, leaving Ngong Ping as an alternative. Ngong Ping is sometimes overlooked, without them knowing how beautiful and different the place is compared to other tourist spots.
There are two ways to go to Ngong Ping, one is by taking a cable car and the other, by bus. Taking the cable car can give you an amazing aerial view of the place, from few residential buildings, to enormous reservoir and lakes, to amazing view of Hong Kong International Airport, to mountains and what’s left of it and few minutes before reaching the final destination, there waits the gigantic Buddha. The 25-minute cable car ride is definitely a must, it should really be taken at least once.
A ride on a cable car is much expensive compare to taking a bus, but definitely it’s worth it. But, if you’ve taken it once, I would also recommend taking a bus, it can give you a different experience. The bus is 30-40 minute of zig – zagging ride of spectacular country views, open beaches, old Hong Kong surroundings, and you get to see Shek Pik prison, a maximum security penitentiary, and you’ll be impressed with how modern and how lavish the prison is.
The final stop of the cable car ride is at Ngong Ping Village, a retail and entertainment center designed like an old Hong Kong town. The village has plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, and its key attractions are shows like Walking with Buddha and the Monkey’s tale shown at its own theater. The village is the entry way to the place’s main attraction, the Big Buddha.
Tian Tan Buddha is more commonly known as the Big Buddha because of the enormity of its size, and is situated at the top of Ngong Ping, reachable by over 200-step staircase. This bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni has not only been popular to Buddhists but for everyone as well. It has been a solid landmark of the place. The best time to go here is during autumn season and spring, not too cold and not too hot that going up can be so taxing.
If you are an avid fan of Chinese cultures and traditions and curious about temples, then, do not miss to visit the Po Lin Monastery. It’s fascinating to see people of other beliefs go about their business in showing their devotion by lighting Chinese incense and concentrate.
At the innermost part of the village is my own personal favorite, Wisdom Path. Wisdom path is situated at the hill of Ngong Ping and at the base of the mountain. It features 38 monuments made of wood that contains verses of one of the oldest Buddhist prayers. There is nothing grand about the place, but because of its ambiance and serenity, it has always been my most favorite spot. Make sure to go here before the sun sets, for there is no electric power available on the area. This is the Hong Kong’s counterpart to Macau’s Guia Fortress in terms of ambiance and artist-friendly location.
Going here will not take up whole day of your stay, around 2 to 3 hours is definitely enough to appreciate the place and to have more time to explore Hong Kong. This is only one, albeit, sometimes overlooked, of the best places to go to when in Hong Kong.
Take MTR (Orange Line) to Tung Chung, the last stop, and take Exit B and proceed to cable car terminal to take the cable car. If you will be taking a bus, from Tung Chung bus terminal, take Bus #23.
Writing this makes me want to come back, I could definitely sit all day at the bench at Wisdom Path, of course, with my wife, and just feel the vibe and appreciate its quietness and calmness.