The seated Buddha at Lantau, also called the Tien Tan Buddha, is 34 meters (110 feet) tall, weighs 250 metric tons and is approached by visitors from the nearby Po Lin Monastery by climbing 268 steps. It is one of China's five largest statues of the Buddha, and from a clear day can be seen from Macao.
Though it may look ancient, it is actually just 20 years old. Begun in 1990, and finished in 1993, the statue was made from over 200 pieces of bronze and cost 68 million to construct. The Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, gets its name, "Tien Tan," from the model of the Temple of Heaven (located in Beijing) on which it sits.
Like many other religious pilgrimage sites throughout the world, the attraction has a bit of a theme park feel to it at times, given the number of tourists, and the shops that have sprung up around it, in this case, in building that seem to have been built specifically for the retail sales by the monastery. You will find lots of restaurants, as well as a pizza place, and a Starbucks.
Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of getting to the temple is in the choice of rides to get there. You can get there by bus, or by cable car. For the cable cars there are also two choices, the standard and the crystal cable car. The crystal cable car has a glass bottom, and makes for a rather exhilarating 25 minute ride over the mountains and waters of Hong Kong. It also affords a fantastic view of Hong Kong International Airport from above.
The wait to get to purchase tickets for the cable cars can be extremely long (between one and two hours), and it is to your advantage to book the trip ahead of time online. Many people take the crystal cable car up and then the standard car down, but that will cost you some time. Given the number of people that go up, there is inevitably a long wait (upwards of an hour) to take the standard car down, regardless of the fact you have a ticket already.
There is an option to group your ticket purchase with other attractions at the monastery, including a Walk With Buddha experience and a Monkey Tales film. A more expansive tour ticket is also available that includes a tour of a nearby fishing village.
The monastery itself is small, but interesting along with a large area for incense offerings. The monastery is currently building a larger temple, the 10,000 Buddha Temple, which is many times the size of the current monastery and located just behind.
If you want to take pictures of the Buddha, it may be advantageous to go before noon. The sun backlights the giant buddha by the time 1 pm comes around.