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Ngong Ping: a spiritual hike

National Geographic
  • Written by National Geographic
Ngong Ping (Nei Lak Shan Country Trail, Wisdom Path, Shek Pik Reservoir): A spiritual hike

Photo Credit: Tugo Cheng

Average hiking time: 5.5 hours | Distance: About 14 km | Difficulty: Moderate

Ngong Ping is a beautiful plateau on Lantau Island with Lantau Peak—Hong Kong’s second highest—at its southeast. Go on a hike here for the scenic serenity of Lantau Island as well as for the spiritual atmosphere, a result of the area’s Buddhist landmarks, such as Po Lin Monastery, the Tian Tan Buddha and Wisdom Path.

For a closer look at the Big Buddha and its base, there is a climb of 268 steps.

Po Lin Monastery & Tian Tan Buddha

Photo Credit: Derek Yung

Stop 1: Po Lin Monastery & Tian Tan Buddha

A walk from Ngong Ping Piazza takes you to the century-old Po Lin Monastery Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingReviewTotal}} {{taRatingReviewText}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info , which was built in 1906. Its Main Shrine Hall of the Buddha, Hall of Skanda Bodhisattva, Bell Tower and Drum Tower are arranged symmetrically, offering a pleasant environment to linger in before setting off on a hike. Opposite the monastery, the majestic Tian Tan Buddha Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingReviewTotal}} {{taRatingReviewText}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info sits on Muk Yue Shan. Modelled after the Buddha Vairocana of the Longmen Caves and the Buddha Sakyamuni image in Dunhuang Grottoes, it is the largest outdoor seated bronze Buddha statue in the world. 

Inside the base of the Tian Tan Buddha is a memorial hall open to the public. On the third level of the hall are two relics of the Buddha. A ticket is necessary for entrance.
Dong Shan Fa Mun & the Nei Lak Shan Country Trail

Photo Credit: Derek Yung

Stop 2: Dong Shan Fa Mun & the Nei Lak Shan Country Trail

Starting at the arch entrance of Dong Shan Fa Mun, the Nei Lak Shan Country Trail winds up the hill and gives a grandstand view of Ngong Ping Plateau. Apart from natural scenery, from here you can also opt for a distant view of metropolitan sights such as the newly built Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and downtown Tung Chung. It is also high enough to overlook the runway of Hong Kong International Airport — a great spot for snapshots of airplanes landing and taking off.

Level paths throughout Nei Lak Shan Country Trail; suitable for all.
Wisdom Path

Photo Credit: Derek Yung

Stop 3: Wisdom Path

Wisdom Path Get me there {{title}} {{taRatingReviewTotal}} {{taRatingReviewText}} Address {{address}} Website {{website}} More info traces a series of 38 timber columns between 8 and 10 metres tall, each of which has an inscription in Chinese of the Heart Sutra. The calligraphic work is by the late Professor Jao Tsung-I, one of the world’s most distinguished Sinologists. The upright monuments complement their rustic surroundings and are arranged in a ∞ pattern to symbolise infinity. 

After Wisdom Path, you can obtain more information about Professor Jao’s art and expertise by visiting the Jao Tsung-I Academy in Lai Chi Kok.

Shek Pik Reservoir

Photo Credit: Derek Yung

Stop 4: Shek Pik Reservoir

Hike on the country trail toward Shek Pik Reservoir to see the Big Buddha and Wisdom Path from a distance. The trail also offers magnificent views of the reservoir. The picturesque view of the dam includes the boundless, blue sky with the lake on one side and lush greenery on the other. Walk on to Shek Pik Prison, near which you can check out some 3000-year-old rock carvings. The patterns of these carvings are composed of spiral squares and circles like those on ancient Chinese ritual bronzes.

Level paths on the first-half of Shek Pik Country Trail; downhill stone steps for the last 500 metres.


There are quite a few restaurants and shops in Ngong Ping. You can enjoy a meal at Po Lin Monastery’s popular vegetarian restaurant. Check their opening hours at http://www.plm.org.hk/eng/food.php.

Ngong Ping

Getting to Po Lin Monastery & Tian Tan Buddha:

  • MTR Tung Chung Station, Exit B and go to Tung Chung Cable Car Terminal for a cable car ride to Ngong Ping.
  • MTR Tung Chung Station, Exit B. From the bus terminus next to the MTR station, take Lantau Bus 23 to Ngong Ping Bus Terminus.
  • Take First Ferry from Central Pier to Mui Wo, and then take Lantau Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Bus Terminus.

Leaving from Shek Pik Reservoir:

  • From Shek Pik, take Lantau Bus 1 or 2 to Mui Wo Pier, then take the ferry back to Central.
  • From Shek Pik, take Lantau Bus 11 or 23 to Tung Chung Town Centre for MTR.
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