You will see many Buddhas all over Asia but I don’t think there is any one place that has more than the 10000 Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong. In fact, the truth is there are actually 13,000 Buddhas. That’s what makes this place different from other temples you visit throughout Asia. If you love Buddha, this is definitely the place for you. It was my friend Courtney’s first time in Hong Kong and she wanted to get some culture, so we decided to check it out.
The 10000 Buddhas Monastery is located in the mountains in the New Territories of Hong Kong. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get to via public transportation, but luckily taxis in Hong Kong are really cheap. We were staying at the Sheraton in Kowloon, so we grabbed a taxi from there and it only cost 110 Hong Kong Dollars (about $14 USD). Plus, we had a lot that we wanted to see that day and taking a taxi would save us precious time.
We arrived at 9 am just when the 10000 Buddhas Monastery opened. The taxi driver dropped us off at the end of a street. Straight ahead we saw a temple, but actually that is not the 10000 Buddhas Monastery. A local standing outside pointed us in the right direction and we saw a sign directing us to the 10000 Buddhas monastery. We needed to take a small path just to the right of the other temple.
The path seemed a little random and plain, but it wasn’t too long before we saw the sign for the 10000 Buddhas Monastery and the first of the many buddhas. The path is nicely paved with half of it being just sloped and the other side being steps. I found it much easier to walk on the stairs side but when people would come from the other direction someone has to give way and walk on the sloped side. If you have mobility issues, unfortunately, this is not the temple for you.
The walk up is lined by life size gold painted Buddhas. Each one is different and seems to have its own personality. There is no barrier between the path and the buddhas but you are not allowed to touch them. Still you should take photos with your favorites. You will also find benches periodically, if you need to take a break.
After what may feel like forever, you will finally reach the temple. I definitely recommend taking a few minutes to go inside. On the columns and on the walls there are so many individual little Buddhas. From far away they look just like a random pattern, but they are definitely Buddhas. The main altar contains three large Buddha statues and the embalmed remains of the Reverend Yuet Kai, the founder of the Monastery. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside the temple. It is a place of worship and we did see people praying.
Also, be sure to take a little time to appreciate the porch area right outside the temple. There are some nice animal sculptures and the ceiling was pretty impressive. You can also find a donation box. I felt compelled to make a donation since they don’t charge admission.
There is a lot to see on the plaza outside the temple. I loved the nine-story pagoda in the center of the plaza. It is actually the one that is pictured on the back of the 100 HKD note. I read that you can climb up for even better views, but it was closed the day we visited. There were Buddhas at each level of the pagoda and several other large Buddhas on the plaza. One on an elephant and some along the edge. Don’t forget to also admire the view from here. You can see how high you actually climbed.
There is still a little bit more of a climb to go through. It’s a short steep section to the monastery and a waterfall. You can’t go inside any of the buildings here, but you can peak inside. Some of the buildings were under construction. The waterfall was pretty impressive. There are koi in the pond and Buddha statues all around. Then we took a little time to enjoy the view from between the Buddha statues before heading back down.
Of course, the walk down is much easier than the climb up. We did see some people that were really struggling. Close to the bottom, we ran into one man that was really out of breath. I was wondering how how he would make it all the way to the top, he still has a long way to go. Well, I turned around and he started up again. The reason he was so worn out was that he was running up the steps.
We were luckily it wasn’t too hot the day we went but since it was a pretty good climb we definitely felt the humidity. If you are going later in the day or when it is warmer, I would definitely recommend bringing along some water and dressing appropriately. I also wore sandals, looking back on it, I probably should have worn sneakers. The climb was more intense than I had expected.
Also, the next time I go, I will apply some bug spray. I saw ants and felt like I got some bites, but luckily it must have been my imagination. Still, better to be safe than sorry. I also read that there were monkeys at the 10000 Buddhas Monastery, which I thought would be fun to see and photograph. Unfortunately, we did not see any while we were there.
Also, this is not a working monastery. I should mention I did read about fake monks begging for money. Real monks are not allowed to beg in Hong Kong. We did not run into any during our visit, but I wanted you to be aware so you would not fall for the scam.
We spent about an hour and half exploring the 10000 Buddhas Monastery. I was really impressed with my visit. It was just so different than any other temple I have visited. I loved that all the Buddhas were different, it made it more interesting. Plus, it is always nice when you can get a workout (over 400 steps to the top) in while you are experiencing some culture. And did I mention it’s free?! What Asian temples have you been really impressed with?
Expert Tips for Visiting the 10000 Buddhas Monastery:
- The 10000 Buddhas Monastery is open daily from 9-5 and admission is free.
- The temple and monastery are only accessible by stairs (431 of them!) or the very steep path, so I don’t recommend it for those with mobility issues.
- Consider the weather when planning your visit. Bring water, dress appropriately, and wear proper footwear.
- Watch out for fake monks and do not give them any money.
The Weekly Postcard
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