Whenever I start researching a holiday, I love to find blogs or magazine articles full of photos on where I'm thinking of going. It's nice to read about where somebody is telling you that you MUST visit, but it's also a bonus to see lots of photos of the area. So included with my dozens of photos will be a few tips on the area. Let me know if you guys like this idea!
First day into HK we went to Ngong Ping 360 and The Big Buddha. The most fun way to get to the Big Buddha is by cable car, but it's also the most expensive. For a return trip for 4 adults and 4 children it cost $125 AUD or $812 HKD. For a clear bottomed cable car, it was an extra $40 per person. This option made it just too expensive for us to choose, much to the kids angst, but also my sister is not a fan of heights and couldn't stand the thought of seeing nothing below her.
To go by bus to the Big Buddha is only a few dollars per person and by far the cheapest option. But with 4 children, there was no way we were NOT going to get away with not taking a cable car!
The trip is glorious scenery wise and the kids loved the feeling of reaching the tip of a tower then suddenly going down. My sister didn't like that quite so much!
The 300 odd stairs up to the Big Buddha is quite a hike and requires will power to complete in 35C humid heat. Because this was my 4th trip to the Big Buddha, I refused the trek and instead my sister and I looked at souvenirs and looked after the youngest 2 kids! It's costs nothing to climb but if you want to go inside the Buddha, it's about $4 AUD each adult and you get a drink/ice cream at the top for free. You can also choose to lunch with the monks for around $12 AUD, by memory.
The 360 view is quite stunning and the Buddha is surrounded by smaller statues.
*cough* Holding the BB in hand FAIL!!
My sister and nieces.
Keep walking past the BB and you will get to a Monastery and several places to eat beside it. The whole reason why we love going to the BB is for lunch. The yellow place (photo below) is vegetarian and they serve the most WONDERFUL, scrumptious, gorgeous noodles you will EVER taste. Seriously. And make sure you squirt the 'Sweet' sauce all over them. Drooooooool.
A huge plate of noodles is $15 HKD or $1.50 AUD. The cakes are equally as yummy and cost $5 HKD each or 70c AUD.
The cakes are worth buying just for the way they look! The Rose and Lotus were made from a hard gelatin with a sweet egg and bean paste inside. The 4 kids weren't too keen on those but declared the donuts the BEST they had ever eaten......and they have eaten a lot.
It's a beautiful place to sit and eat and we ended up sitting for quite awhile, watching the kids play and explore.
Just a side point, if you travel to Hong Kong with children of Western looks and especially with blonde hair, be prepared to be bombarded constantly with the locals and Chinese/Indian tourists wanting photos with them. By day 3, the kids had posing at the drop of a hat and mid-walk, down to a fine art. And at the beach! My goodness, white kids in bathers are a huge attraction...but more on that later.
The toilets are The Big Buddha are (clean) holes in the ground, so hang on until you get back to Ngong Ping if you can! (No, Miss 12 was NOT really going to the toilet when I took this photo!)
The Ngong Ping village is full of little shops with the usual tourist souvenirs. When we were there one of them was closing down and had 80% off everything so we actually scored lots of presents even cheaper than normal. Make sure you grab a brochure at the Cable car pay office as it contains discount coupons you can use at all the shops.
There is also a Sweet Paradise café! Crepes full of cheesecake, brownies, fruit, cream and ice cream?? Yes please! These were $4 - $5 AUD each. They also sell realistic looking fake food as keyrings. Miss 12 wanted a million of them for her friends and at $29 HKD each or around $2 AUD, with a special of Buy 2 get 1 free, they ended up being the cheapest we found the whole holiday.
Coming back on the cable car. The cable car can also be purchased as single trips, if you wanted to save a bit of money by taking the bus there and cable back, or vice versa.
The Hong Kong airport is just over the road!
And from the cable car we saw dozens of people digging in the sand with buckets. We never did find out what they were digging up. Anybody know?
So yes, the Big Buddha and Ngong Ping village is a definite must see while in Hong Kong. As I mentioned, that was my fourth trip there and it's been enjoyable every time. The array of food on offer makes it especially nice to visit! In the village there are cafes and restaurants with *everything* on offer from Italian gelato to Subway to Indian to authentic Asian cuisine.
(A small money saving tip: Subway have huge cups that you can fill with drink for $1.50 AUD with refills for $1 after that. With 4 very thirsty children, this was very handy and saved us a bit of money rather than buying one bottle of drink for them every single time they complained of thirst. Another money saving tip: buy bottled water in the streets before going on the cable car. A large 1 litre bottle of cold water is around 50c AUD compared to $2 for a smaller 500ml bottle within Ngong Ping.)
There is also a Tea shop and you can watch tea making demonstrations with free tasting. You can easily spend 3/4 of a day here.
Stay tuned for more Hong Kong!