A 360° view of the city

Written by Domenico Di Maio
Artwork Diego Soprana

Week 44

When travelling, the adventurer must decide whether to play ‘good tourist’ or ‘bad tourist’, a delicate game that entails what one might do or see during his or her trip. A dilemma that commonly grips the daily decision making process is this: what should one (not) miss out on today?
The Ngong Ping 360 is a demonstration of how technological innovation can bring benefits to tourism, mobility of the territory, and leverage the emotional impact that an overhead crossing can generate. It is definitely one of the attractions not to be missed. It may seem trivial, but this 5.7km cable car journey travelling between Tung Chung Town Centre and Ngong Ping on Lantau Island is a must.
The whole project was developed to help minimize environmental impacts and preserve the rare and protected species of the North Lantau Country Park. It’s a voyage that offers an opportunity for both mental and physical enlightenment.
On the 25-minute trip, the Ngong Ping traverses over the island of Lantau; a touristic adventure that enables one to view Hong Kong’s top destinations, such as the Po Lin Monastery and the colossal Tian Tan Buddha statue that looks out over the island and the South China Sea. Before the introduction of Ngong Ping 360, these island zones could only be reached via a long mountain road and bus service.

Construction of the cable car began in 2004, but prior to opening, the project encountered a number of technical difficulties; a cabin arriving at Ngong Ping station had a slight collision with a late departing cabin causing the entire system to stop. More tests had to be run and emergency staff drills improved. Later, Typhoon Prapiroon marred the cable car, and so the official launch was set back to November 9th 2006.
The cable cars ‘black day’ occurred on June 11th 2007, when an empty cabin fell off the cable and crashed into a hilly area near Chek Lap Kok South Road, during a brake test. The incident meant that the operating company and its CEO were charged with criminal negligence. Today, the tour of Lantau island is safer, effortless and above all, one of the most spectacular that exists globally.
Designed by Aedas, the cable car has a modern interior with seating for ten and standing room for another seven. It is possible to choose from two experiences: Standard Cabins or Crystal Cabins (distinguished by their glass floors), which come at a premium rate. The glass floor enables a true bird’s-eye view of the majestic landscape beneath your feet.
The Ngong Ping 360 is a novel experience that must be given credit for having helped promote the divine landscape of Lantau Island and for overcoming logistical and transportation barriers caused by the morphology of the territory. Be a good tourist and add it to your must-do list if you ever decide to visit Hong Kong.