If Hong Kong isn’t on your list of places to visit, you must reconsider this destination with its ancient history, bustling city life, and modern architecture to accommodate the over seven million inhabitants. As the third most important financial center behind London and New York City, Hong Kong (often referred to as just H.K.), is an ever growing global presence. Its long coast line makes it home to many bays, rivers, and even beaches. Much of its land has also been designated for parks and nature reserves. However, it is well known for its dramatic skyline with over 1,200 skyscrapers. There is an abundance of culture and beauty paired with the amenities of the modern world that will allow you to easily transition from one attraction to the next. Create a vacation around the peaceful countryside, the active city life or both!
Some of the most incredible tourist attractions of Hong Kong are located on Lantau Island which is located at the mouth of the Pearl River. Miles of designated wildlife for hiking and sightseeing offer a unique experience while traveling in Hong Kong and the beautiful beaches are a delightful surprise. Besides the natural magnificence, there is plenty of cultural and historical sites to see. A series of bridges, roads, railways, and the Honk Kong International Airport connect Lantau to the rest of Hong Kong for easy travel convenience. Lantau Island has plenty to see with 47 villages and more than 30 miles designated as Wild Countryside Parks. There are traditional fishing villages with homes built on stilts and beautiful beaches for long warm days lounging in the sand. You will even find Hong Kong Disneyland on the island. Hike all day in the hills, visit historic temples, enjoy ferry rides, visit museums, and spend evenings shopping at gift shops and sipping tea at the local cafes.
Po Ling Monastery
The Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Ling Monastery are two of the biggest attractions in Hong Kong. The monastery originally attracted monks with its tranquil serenity, and in its over 108 years of existence it has been home to many inspiring religious leaders and supported China’s “development through education” contributing to the construction of over 280 schools.
Built in 1906, the Po Lin Monastery was established by three Buddhist monks. It has flourished over the last century and has become a world renowned Buddhist establishment with spectacular architecture and historic significance. You can now tour the monastery and visit the Main Shrine Hall of Buddha, the hall of Bodhisattva, the Grand Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas (under construction) and…the Tian Tan Buddha. Even if you don’t know much about Buddhism the monastery is a educational and enlightening experience.
Just being in such a sacred and beautiful place meant to inspire goodwill, it will bring out the spirituality and serenity in each visitor. In addition to its attractions, you can also hike on the Ngong Ping Trail and enjoy the famous vegetarian dishes that the monastery has perfected from ancient recipes.
Tian Tan Buddha
Near the monastery, the Tian Tan Buddha is massive bronze statue of the Buddha that took over 12 years to plan and build, and it has become a symbol of the stability of Hong Kong, the prosperity of China as well as peace on Earth. The main appeal of the monastery is the Tian Tan Buddha Statue. The notion for the statue was conceived in 1976 and has taken years of painstaking planning with the China Aeronautic Department who completed the project in 1993.
In 2000 it was named fourth of the top ten Engineering Wonders in Hong Kong. The statue itself is about 111 feet tall with remarkable features meant to exemplify peace and contentment in this life. You can hike the 268 steps to reach the Buddha calmly meditating atop the three story pedestal. Every piece of the statue was carefully designed and positioned with significance to the legacy and teachings of the Buddha, such as the right hand which is held in front of the body with the fingers pointing skyward meant to symbolize the Buddha’s compassion and desire to release all beings from suffering.
The statue of Buddha sits on a lotus flower which is surrounded by six small statues – “The Offering of the Six Devas”. These offerings symbolize patience, wisdom, zeal, charity, meditation and morality all of which are necessary to enter into the stage of nirvana. The Tian Tan Buddha faces uniquely faces north, where all the others face south.
The Wisdom Path
Just a short walk from the Tian Tan Buddha is the Wisdom Path. It traces a series of 38 wooden steles (upright monuments) containing verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra; one of the world’s best-known prayers revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. These steles display the Chinese version of the prayer and are arranged in a ∞ pattern, which represents infinity.