Hiking to the Big Buddha

This weekend’s hike was from Tung Chung to Ngong Ping, on Lantau Island. Ngong Ping is a popular tourist destination and the home of the Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastary. Most people take the cable car or bus from Tung Chung; however, if you have a few hours to spare, it’s possible to walk!

I’ve wanted to do this trail for a long time – ever since I first noticed the path looking down from a cable car booth on my first visit to Ngong Ping a few years ago. I remember thinking that those people down there must be nuts… but as it turns out, I’m one of those crazy people. Walking towards the Buddha is more challenging than the reverse, as you most of the way you will be going uphill.

The trail as tracked by my RunKeeper app.

The trail as tracked by my RunKeeper app.

The trail is relatively new, as it was built together with the cable car service some years ago; in fact, it is the ‘rescue trail’ that runs underneath the cable car, connecting towers 3 through 8. It is well marked and maintained, and in some sections quite close to the cable cars. You can actually hear the people chatting inside, and many will wave to you and give you thumbs-up in encouragement! Some sections are paved with rock while others have wooden boardwalks and staircases, and you will go through dense vegetation as well as bare hilltops. Total distance is just under 6km with a peak elevation of around 550m. It took around 3 hours to complete, including (many!) breaks.

The hike was quite challenging, especially the first section towards Tower 3. It’s basically an uphill climb of over 250 meters, without much shade. And to makes things worse, the weather this day was quite sunny and humid – although it started to get cooler and windy later in the trek. It’s important to bring plenty of water as there are no refreshment stands anywhere on the trail. Towards Towers 4 and 5, things even out a little, and from Tower 6 onwards it’s a relative breeze. I’d say this was at least as challenging as the Ng Tung Chai trail, maybe more so due to the weather conditions.

Once at Ngong Ping, take in the sights and local cuisine and a well-deserved rest. You can take the cable car or bus back to Tung Chung.

You have been warned!

You have been warned!

Looking back towards Yat Tung.

Looking back towards Yat Tung.

Dearly needed words of encouragement...

Dearly needed words of encouragement…

Tower 3 reached.

Tower 3 reached.

Looking down from Tower 3. Chep Lap Kok airport in the distance.

Looking down from Tower 3. Chep Lap Kok airport in the distance.

Towards Tower 4.

Towards Tower 4.

Seemingly endless steps.

Seemingly endless steps.

Looking up Tower 4.

Looking up Tower 4.

Through dense vegetation.

Through dense vegetation.

That's an understatement...

That’s an understatement…

Steep section between Towers 4 and 5.

Steep section between Towers 4 and 5.

Pretty impressive construction!

Pretty impressive construction!

Tower 5 within reach.

Tower 5 within reach.

Atop Tower 5, an offshoot that serves as helipad.

Atop Tower 5, an offshoot that serves as helipad.

Hikers enjoying the view (and wind).

Hikers enjoying the view (and wind).

From the helipad, looking southwest.

From the helipad, looking southwest.

Onwards to Tower 6.

Onwards to Tower 6.

Looking from Tower 6, the Big Buddha is within view.

Looking from Tower 6, the Big Buddha is within view.

The last section is fairly even and well paved.

The last section is fairly even and well paved.

Lantau Peak looming in the background. One day... one day.

Lantau Peak looming in the background. One day… one day.

Just before the end of the trail, under Buddha's watchful gaze.

Just before the end of the trail, under Buddha’s watchful gaze.

2 responses to “Hiking to the Big Buddha

  1. Thank you, Peter for blogging your hiking journey! Thoroughly enjoyed your words and most of all, your photography!! Keep blogging!

    Like

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