When I was little, sometimes my mum would always drag us out on ‘boring adult outings,’ when we were in Hong Kong. My brother and I would tail behind the grownups, dragging our feet, eyes fixed on whatever crappy games console we’d picked up at a market that year. The big Buddha was definitely one of these ‘boring outings.’ In my wise old age though, I have a new found appreciation for places like Ngong Ping. Just as well too considering every visitor I have here insists on going there.
To get to the Buddha, take the MTR to Tung Chung and then make your way to the bus station. The buses to Ngong Ping and Tai O were not that well sign posted so note that the first bus station is NOT the one you need, walk slightly beyond that and you will eventually come to a coach area.The cable car was unfortunately closed when we visited (cable needs changing) which meant we had to get the bus. The queue was massive, maHUsive. So, we decided to do our trip in reverse and get the bus to Tai O first and then head up to the Buddha. Great decision. Usually, Tai O is recommended as a ‘whilst you’re here’ side trip for the Buddha but it’s definitely due more credit than that. Also, doing it this way meant that we were at the Buddha for sunset and that the place was fairly empty of tourists, who were now at Tai O. Win win.
Another plus was that we arrived in Tai O at lunch time and if there is one thing this little fishing village can boast about, it’s great food! I would recommend going on a snack crusade rather than finding a restaurant to have a sit down meal because there are so many things to try. Honestly, don’t put all your eggs in one basket; your taste buds will thank you. Besides, one of the main things to do in Tai O is to just meander around the streets so you may as well have some food whilst you’re on the go. Just be careful you don’t accidentally walk into someone’s house like we saw someone do whilst we were there. Even if the doors are open, if there’s a family of 5 in there eating at the table and watching TV like they live there, chances are they live there and it ain’t open to the public.
You’ll pass a lot of stalls selling various snacks throughout the village but the real good stuff is on Kat Hing Street. My personal highlight was getting a donut from the Tai O Bakery. I don’t care how long that queue is, you cannot leave with any sense of fulfillment unless you have one of those donuts. Also, a long queue means a constant flow of fluffy, freshly made donuts. I am not an overly emotional person, but when I think of that donut, it arouses something in me. Seriously.
To get to Ngong Ping from Tai O, you can get the bus which I believe comes every half hour or so but seeing as there were three of us, we opted for a taxi. The taxi ride is a fixed price of 60HKD. Once you arrive, wander around the Po Lin Monastery and of course, up to the Big Buddha itself. It’s 268 steps to the top and I would be lying if I said it doesn’t feel like that many but good luck anyway!