Hong Kong: Glass Gondola / Big Buddha

Jessica Peterson

Hong Kong is not the kind of city you visit without an agenda. Even if that agenda is as simple as sightseeing and shopping, you need a reference point to navigate the bustling city streets and crowded alleys. Fortunately, Hong Kong’s metro (MRT) is one of the best and cheapest in the world. Just purchase an Octopus card for multi-rides and map out your destination before you get packed like sardines into a subway car in this cosmopolitan city of 7 million.

One of the highlights of our Hong Kong visit was a leisurely ride through the mountains in a glass gondola. (Read my full travel story.) It was a relief after navigating the über crowded Victoria Harbour area. Whether your destination is the Big Buddha or you just want to take in the fog-laden scenery, riding in a glass gondola is a spectacular visual treat. The cable car links rural Ngong Ping with urban Tung Chung. We gladly paid extra to ride in the glass-bottom ‘crystal’ cabin to see fishermen waist-deep in the shallow bay, hikers the size of ants on the rugged train between mountains, and boats streaming across the water. (Book on the Ngong Ping 360 website to get 10% off. Though the website was down when I tried to do this, I simply asked for the discount at the ticket window.)

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Just before we reached Lantau Island the Big Buddha came into spectacular view. As the largest sitting outdoor Buddha in the world, he’s hard to miss. A pleasant walk through a commercial village and we were nearly face to face with the big guy. We noticed the swastika symbol on several icons around the grounds. Interesting how pagan symbols have been appropriated for political and religious purposes throughout the ages.

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With the fog and cool breeze, this is such a peaceful place. The smell of fried food from vendors in the tiny village mingles with the incense lit by visitors on their way into the temple.


We opted not to climb the 268 steps to reach the statue. Lazy or just preserving ourselves for the rest of our journey through Indonesia? I vote for the latter.

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Hong Kong’s pastries must be some of the best in the world, next to Paris, that is! I enjoyed an apricot croissant every morning we passed this petite bakery.

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