This once-secluded Buddhist monastery was placed on the world map when the Tian Tan “Big Buddha” statue was built nearby and is now a major tourist attraction.
Located in rural Ngong Ping on Lantau Island, Po Lin Monastery is a temple complex originally founded by three monks in 1906. Back then it was a small, remote monastery tucked away in the lush greenery. Today it’s a very important Buddhist center and one of Hong Kong’s best-known and most popular tourist destinations, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Po Lin Monastery is often called “the Buddhist World in the South.” It’s comprised of several impressive structures, including the Great Hall of Treasure and the Hall of Ti-tsang Bodhisattva. More buildings are still being added. Upon arrival you’ll see the newer parts of the complex first. The older, simpler structures are found behind them.
Stop to admire the colorful Buddhist iconography adorning the buildings, take in the sights and scents of the flower garden, and listen for the bell rung every seven minutes, 108 times per day. Legend says the bell has powers that can cure people of 108 types of vexations. The bell is in the exhibition hall and is decorated with Buddhist figures and inscriptions.
The Tian Tan Buddha statue, informally known as the Big Buddha, sits opposite the monastery. Completed in 1993, this impressive figure sitting at 111 feet (34 meters) tall draws pilgrims from across the continent.
Climb the hundreds of steps to take a closer look at this remarkable structure and you’ll also be rewarded with exceptional views of the nearby mountains and the sea below.
To get to Po Lin Monastery, take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car from Tung Chung, which is itself a popular attraction. Leave MTR Tung Chung Station by Exit B, and walk for about five minutes to the Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal.
You can also take a ferry from Central Pier No. 6 to Mui Wo on Lantau Island, and from there take New Lantau Bus No. 2 to Ngong Ping. The bus ride takes 30 to 40 minutes, depending on how fast the driver goes. If you’ve never been on a Hong Kong bus before it can be an experience in itself.
The monastery is open to the public every day and offers vegetarian meals from mid-morning until afternoon.