Right behind the Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha) and the Po Lin Monastery is another much smaller attraction that often gets overlooked by visitors. The Wisdom Path is a monument consisting of 38 wooden columns on which verses from the centuries-old Heart Sutra have been carved. Its location at the base of Lantau Peak, with the surrounding peace and beauty, brings the philosophy and art of the sutras to life.
How to get to the Wisdom Path
The Wisdom Path is a short 10 min walk from the Big Buddha at Ngong Ping. So, the question is, how do you get to Ngong Ping?
1. From Tung Chung
1.a. By The Ngong Ping 360
The most popular mode of transportation to Ngong Ping is the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. The cable car starts next to the Tung Chung MTR station. Just follow the signs from inside the MTR station to the cable car station. The ride to the top of Ngong Ping is one of the most beautiful cable car rides in the world according to CNN. You can choose to ride in a standard cabin or a glass-bottom cabin. I highly recommend the glass bottom cabin for extra fun!
However, I must warn you that the line for the Ngong Ping 360 is almost always excruciatingly long! But luckily there is a solution. You can buy the tickets to Ngong Ping 360 online and completely skip the line at the station. I would highly recommend buying the tickets online.
1.b. By Bus
You can also get to Ngong Ping from Tung Chung by bus. From the Tung Chung MTR walk towards the bus terminus and catch number 23 to Ngong Ping.
2. From Mui Wo
- Take the ferry from Central Pier to Mui Wo.
- From just outside Mui Wo Ferry Pier catch bus number 1 to Ngong Ping.
3. From Hung Hom
There is also a direct bus, number 1R, from Hung Hom Ferry Concourse to Ngong Ping that runs only on Sundays and public holidays.
The Wisdom Path Trail
Once you arrive at Ngong Ping, take your time exploring the main attractions – The Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery – assuming this is your first visit. Next, to get to the Wisdom Path, follow the signs of the trail from the base of the Big Buddha’s steps. Follow the path as it leads you through the woods till you see the wooden columns beyond the tree branches.
The Wisdom Path
The first thing that you notice about the Wisdom Path is that the columns are laid out in the shape of the number 8. The layout symbolises infinity. But of course, there’s a lot more about the Wisdom Path than its layout.
The wooden columns are also placed on a natural slope. So to go around the columns, you must climb the stairs in the infinity loop. Once you’re at the top, turn around and admire the mighty Lantau Peak towering behind you. And if you look to the right, you’ll see the sea and the Shek Pik Reservoir, Hong Kong’s 3rd largest reservoir.
In 2002, master Sinologist Professor Jao Tsung-I donated the original calligraphy of the Heart Sutra to the people of Hong Kong. He wished to have the calligraphy transformed into an outdoor, large-scale carving. Thus began the construction of the Wisdom Path which was completed in 2005.
Known as Sāhasrikā-prajñā-pāramitā in Sanskrit, the full name of the Heart Sutra symbolises wisdom and completeness in its original language. The Heart Sutra is a popular sutra in Mahayana Buddhism. It is revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists.
Although each column has a sutra carved, the column located at the highest point of the hill is left blank to suggest the concept of “emptiness” (Sunyata), a key theme in the Heart Sutra. The entrance of the Wisdom Path is marked by a phoenix sculpture, right next to the entrance to the Lantau Peak Hike.
You can learn more about the history and significance of the Wisdom Path on this page.
The Wisdom Path is open 24 hours a day. However, the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery shut at 6 PM from Monday to Friday, and at 6:30 PM on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous and wish to walk down to Shek Pik Reservoir, check out our guide to the Shek Pik Country Trail. It’s a great way to not only explore Hong Kong’s top attractions but also get a glimpse into its hiking culture.
If you’d like to learn more about the Buddhist history of the area, embark on a hike down Fat Mun Ancient Trail.