Ngong Ping 360
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrNgong Ping 360 is the name given to the gondola ride which connects Hong Kong Island to an elevated plateau on Lantau Island. It is one of the city’s foremost tourist attractions thanks to the stunning, all encompassing views it grants and, this being Hong Kong and all, for the comprehensive entertainment and shopping options it offers at its destination. Some may say it has a touristy feel to it and while that’s hard to argue, it’s worth noting that like many of the world’s top attractions, Ngong Ping was built specifically in aid of tourism.
It may not be the most authentic landmark you’ll visit in Hong Kong, but it’s certainly set to be one of the most unforgettable. The views are breathtaking, activities plentiful and missing it, in the city of 1,001 things to see and do, would be a travesty.
How it All StartedAt the turn of the last millennium, plans were underway to construct an extensive cable car system to connect Hong Kong and Lantau islands, providing a fun and rewarding way for visitors to get out and about. After a few minor setbacks (extensive damages during the 2006 typhoon as well as a minor accident during a trial run the same year), the cable car celebrated its grand opening in November, 2006. A few hiccups saw Ngong Ping hit the local news (for the wrong reasons) several times in its first 12 months of operation yet the teething issues seem to be well and truly sorted.
- Canadian mules were imported for the transportation of building material to the top of the Lantau Island Plateau, in order to minimize environmental damage.
- Ngong Ping is the largest cable car system of its type (circulating and detachable twin cable) in the world. It’s supported by eight concrete towers and two angle stations to facilitate change of direction.
- It comprises 108 gondolas each holding a max of 17 passengers, and travels at a a speed of 23 feet per second or, approximately, 16 miles an hour.
- Emergency rescue plans include deployment of over 200 rescue workers and included the construction of a helipad and clearing of a 6-kilometer-long emergency trail.
- Ngong Ping closes for maintenance for two days every two months. During one such closure in 2007, an accident occurred which resulted in a cabin becoming detached and plunging to the ground. Even though there were no passengers on board, and as testament to the authorities’ incessant safety care, the CEO and all major engineers working at the time were dismissed, arrested, and charged with gross negligence. All were ultimately cleared but none were allowed to return to work.
- Glass-bottom cabins, called ‘Crystal Cabins’, were first introduced in 2009. You’ll pay a little more for a ride on these but if you don’t suffer from acrophobia, consider them well worth the splurge. The supreme splurge would be renting the Sky Lounge cabin instead, a private ride decorated with Swarovski crystal detailing.
- Ngong Ping is able to carry up to 3,500 passengers an hour at full peak (usually during Chinese New Year celebrations), but on average sees about 4,000 pax a day during the week and 6,000 on weekends.
What to See and DoHere are the primary reasons why a gondola ride can easily become a full-day outing!
Ngong Ping VillageA ‘culturally themed’ village built at the base of the cable car station on Lantau. It’s a charming (if not a little kitsch) way to learn all about the inherently cultural and architectural traits of the Ngong Ping people. Here you’ll find a plethora of souvenir shops, restaurants (Starbucks or Subway anyone?) , traditional tea houses, theaters and even a cool museum showcasing cable cars from all over the world.
Tian Tan BuddhaOne of the most incredible moments, during the 25-minute gondola ride, is when you catch the first glimpse of the gigantic Buddha sitting atop one of Lantau’s highest peaks. Visit the statue and temple when on Lantau, a place easily reached on foot from Ngong Ping. Tian Tan is the tallest sitting, outdoor Buddha in the world and was constructed in 1993.
Tai O VillageIf you thought Ngong Ping Village is a little too ‘set up’ then you ought to take a boat trip to Tai O , a gorgeous little fishing village only a 15-minute ride away. Still authentic and offering a much more organic, cultural experience, we suggest you visit this place, as thanks to swelling tourist numbers, it is bound to change in the coming years.
Po Lin MonasteryThe reputed number-one attraction on Lantau Island, this 100-year-old monastery is a breath of ‘old’ air when compared to the amusement park-like ambiance of Ngong Ping Village. Definitely worth a visit.
Hiking the Emergency TrailMany people don’t know that the emergency rescue trail is, which is, by far, one of the best hiking trails in Hong Kong. Although warning signs are erected which state that one takes the trail ‘at own personal risk’, rest assured that for the fit and initiated hiker, there is really very little risk involved. The path is almost 7 feet wide and takes you through lush forestland, gifting sublime views for almost its entire 5.6km length. The Lantau Trail (as it is marked) runs underneath the gondola route for most of the way back to Tung Chung. Highly recommended for anyone wishing to enjoy nature when visiting, yet particularly advised on the return route. Hiking downhill is much easier! Please do note that the stone and wooden path can get very slippery when wet.
Ticket PricingAlthough tickets can be pre-purchased online up to a week in advance, it pays to wait until the day before you intend to visit, to ascertain weather conditions. There are many combination tickets available, but here we outline the most popular.
Cable Car ride
- Standard cabins: HK$165 ($21) ( HK$115 ($15) single trip)
- Crystal cabins: HK$255 ($33) ( HK$180 ($23))
- Sky Lounge Private Cabin: HK$3,600 ($468)
Sky-Land-Sea-Day PassThis ticket includes the cable car, as well as unlimited bus rides on Lantau and boat trip to Tai O and a HK$20 ($2.60) voucher for the souvenir shop.
- Standard cabin return trip: HK$245 ($32)
- Crystal cabin return trip: HK$315 ($41)
360 Holiday TourThe most comprehensive of all tickets, which includes return gondola ride, as well as entry to the Ngong Ping Village, Po Lin Monastery, the Big Buddha, unlimited transport on the bus and boat trip to Tai O Village.
- Standard cabin: HK$390 ($51)
- Crystal cabin: HK$450 ($59)
How to Get ThereJump on the MTR headed to Tung Chung Station. Alight here, take exit B and turn left as you walk out. Follow the cables of the ride until you see the bottom station, only about a 5-minute walk from the MTR.
- Po Lin Monastery
- Tai O Fishing Village
- Tian Tan (Big) Buddha
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Jan 26, 2015