The 10 Thousand Buddhas Monastery is a real hidden gem in Hong Kong. This delightful Buddhist Monastery is located off the beaten tourist path in the suburbs of Hong Kong’s New Territories. A visit to this sacred place provides a unique cultural experience. And, as the name suggests, the monastery is filled to the brim with thousands of golden Buddha statues. To be surrounded by so many beautiful Buddhas is simply enthralling and I was captivated.
Visiting the 10 Thousand Buddhas Monastery was one of my favourite experiences in Hong Kong and is a great addition to any Hong Kong itinerary. I highly recommend a visit but I got lost trying to find the entrance so I’ve included instructions on how to get there and what to expect when you’re there.
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Why you’ll love the 10 Thousand Buddhas Monastery
The Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas is unique amongst the many temples I’ve visited in Asia and it surprised and delighted me. I was awed by the sheer number of beautiful Buddha statues that accompanied me up the steep hill to the monastery, and I loved the calm, tranquil atmosphere of this sacred place.
Part of the charm of the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas is its setting. Surrounded by lush, green forest, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is a bit out of the way in the suburbs of Hong Kong. But this just adds to its charm.
With only a few other visitors there, I enjoyed the tranquil ambience. I took my time and wandered slowly around the monastery grounds surrounded by golden Buddha statues and the peace and harmony that they represent.
If I were to compare the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas to the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is less touristy and has a more intimate feel. The Po Lin Monastery has Buddhist monks in residence but Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery has fewer people visiting and retains a unique and authentic atmosphere while Nong Ping Village near the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery is quite touristy.
Why the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is unique
No monks actually live at the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas so it’s a monastery without monks. But it is a place of worship that is used by the local community. There are 5 temples, 4 pavilions and thousands of golden statues of the Buddha on the monastery grounds. The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery was built in 1965 with donations and funding from the people of Hong Kong and this demonstrates its importance within the community.
The monk who built the monastery, the Venerable Yuet Kai, was highly revered and had many followers. He was a well-educated Chinese monk who came to Hong Kong in 1933. A philosopher, a gifted lyre player, and a poet, Yuet Kai was dedicated to his Buddhist faith and was popular with the local people. In 1965, Yuet Kai passed away and his body was embalmed and covered in gold leaf. The corpse is now exhibited in the main hall of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, seated in the lotus position.
Walking to the 10 Thousand Buddhas Monastery
As you approach the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery you’ll follow a steep path to the top of Po Fook hill. On both sides of the pathway, there are lines of golden Buddha statues. As you follow the row of Buddhas, you’ll climb 431 steps and it takes around 20 minutes to reach the monastery at the top of the hill.
Along the way, you’ll notice that each statue is unique. Enlightened beings from all walks of life make up the long chain of Buddhas along the stairs. There are old, learned monks, monks reading, young fit monks performing martial arts, and many, many more. All are in different poses doing different activities, with different facial expressions. It’s fascinating to see them. To me, they represent an enlightened version of each of us, people from all walks of life, with all of our differences and similarities.
Watch for Wild Monkeys
Wild monkeys live in the forests surrounding the monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas and, if you’re lucky, you’ll see them. I saw several playful monkeys as I was climbing the stairs on the way there.
At the top of the hill, there’s a large hall and a courtyard. And above that, there are several historic temples. From the platform, you can enjoy a lovely view over Sha Tin. And around the courtyard, there are more beautiful statues of the Buddha, around 12,800 in total according to the Lonely Planet Guide, and some of these are from the Tang Dynasty. You can climb to the top of the 9-story pagoda and take in the views over Sha Tin from above.
The upper levels of the 10 Thousand Buddhas Monastery were closed for maintenance when I was there. But, I believe there’s a pathway that will take you further up the hill, through the forest to a stream and a viewpoint that overlooks the monastery.
Kwun Yam – the Mother Goddess of Hong Kong
Amongst the many Buddha statues, there are representations of Kwun Yam, the mother goddess of Hong Kong. She’s found in most temples around Hong Kong, and there are many Taoist temples dedicated to Kwun Yam, associated with compassion and other feminine qualities. In China, she’s known as Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy.
A temple dedicated to Kwun Yam originally stood on Po Fuk Hill where the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas now stands. It marked the place where a nun was killed in the Second World War. Sadly, a female caretaker was also killed at the monastery when a mudslide buried her house at the end of the 20th century.
The Pai Tau Ancestral Hall
Next door to the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas is a temple dedicated to the burial of local families, the Pai Tau Ancestral Hall. It was fascinating to walk around the pathways and nooks & niches of the Ancestral Hall, and I saw many local people praying and honouring their dead family members here.
Ancestor Worship in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong and China, Ancestor Worship is an important religious and cultural practice. Respect for elders, parents, grandparents and other ancestors is part of the culture. When someone dies, it’s believed that their spirit lingers and watches over their family. Rituals are performed by family members to communicate with their dead relatives.
Maintaining a good relationship with dead ancestors is believed to bring good fortune to the family. The rituals consist of prayers, lighting incense, and leaving offerings of food and (fake) money. You’ll see ancestor worship taking place in Hong Kong, at the Ancestral Halls attached to the temples like the Man Mo Temple and the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
How to find the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
The Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas is in Sha Tin in the New Territories of Hong Kong. It’s 16 kilometres from Hong Kong Central and takes about 30 minutes to get there on the MTR. From Sha Tin MTR and bus station, it’s a 10-minute walk to the monastery. At Sha Tin station, take metro exit B and walk past the shopping centre to Pai Tau Street.
Don’t be distracted by the Pai Tau Ancestral Hall. Walk to the end of Pai Tau Street, and the pathway to the Monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas is off to the left. It’s unmarked and hard to find. I used my Google Maps app and still need to ask for directions from a local.
I spent around an hour trying to find the pathway to the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas. I took a wrong turn and wandered inside the Pai Tau Ancestral Hall where I got lost in the maze of pathways, niches and nooks. I saw lots of people praying & lighting incense, but I couldn’t find an entrance to the monastery from the Ancestral Hall.
Back outside, I continued to the end of Pai Tau Street and followed the pathway to the right. This path took me to the Sai Lam & Sam Yuen Temples about 5 -10 minutes away. A local man at the temple kindly offered me directions and showed me the pathway to the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas and it was well worth the effort to find.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery opening hours
The Monastery of the Ten Thousand Buddhas is open 9 – 5:30 daily
There’s a gift shop and a vegetarian restaurant that serves Chinese dishes that was closed when I was there.
**For safety reasons, the monastery may be closed during heavy rain as the area is prone to mudslides.
Also in Sha Tin
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is also located in Sha Tin not far from the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. At the museum you’ll find a mix of history, art and culture It’s an entertaining and educational experience for visitors.
Sha Tin in the New Territories is 16 kilometres away from Hong Kong Central and you can catch the MTR or take a bus to get there. The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Also in Sha Tin, The Chinese Che Kung Temple was built in honour of the general “Che Kung” and dates back to the end of the Ming Dynasty.
The Sai Lam Temple & Sam Yuen Temple are located near the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery.
More Hong Kong Highlights
Check out my Hong Kong Highlights video for more great things to see & do in Hong Kong…
I rarely travel without a trusted Lonely Planet Guide and can recommend the China guide. It will help you plan an amazing trip and always comes in handy when you’re away.
I always use Travel Insurance for my overseas travel, especially if I’m travelling solo. I can relax knowing I’m covered if something unexpected happens while I’m away.
I loved visiting the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and would definitely recommend adding it to your Hong Kong itinerary, especially if you enjoy cultural experiences that are unique and a bit off the beaten path.