10 Amazing Monasteries To Visit In China

monasteries in china
| 5 min read

China is home to an abundance of gorgeous temples and monasteries. Peppered around this beautiful Asian country, these places can be visited by anyone looking for a cultural and enlightening getaway. Every year, thousands of devoted believers flock to these religious places in search of peace and serenity. During your exploration, take in beautiful architecture that dates back centuries and holds a long history. As you visit the solemn buildings, be sure to conduct research on the customs that come with your visit, such as removing any hats when entering. Check out this list of amazing monasteries to visit in China.

1. Shaolin Temple in Zhengzhou

Shaolin Monastery
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Don-kun used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Shaolin Temple is one of the most iconic temples in China. Established in 495 AD, it was built by Emperor Xiaowen in Beiwei Dynasty. He wanted to house a famous Indian monk, Batuo, who travelled to Luoyang to spreading Buddhism. In deconstructing its name. “Shaolin Temple” means a temple by the Shaoshi Mountain in Songshan Mountain Range. A must-have on your list of temples to visit during your travels to China, Shaolin Temple was listed as UNESCO’s World Cultural & Natural Heritage List in 2010. The temple is home to Chinese Zen Buddhism and the Shaolin Martial Arts, important elements of Chinese culture and history.

Shaolin Temple

Address: Dengfeng Ave, Dengfeng, Zhengzhou, Henan, China

Opening hours: 8:10am to 5:30pm

Price: 100 RMB (15.30 USD)

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2. Jokhang Temple in Lhasa

Jokhang Temple
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rene Heise used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This Tibetan Buddhist template is situated at the heart of Lhasa City. Originally built in 647 AD, this temple is one of the holiest destinations for pilgrims in the Buddhist faith. Regardless of the time of the day, the view of pilgrims praying in front of the temple is common. Here, you can take in the beauty of the impressive mix of Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian architecture. Head to the roof of the temple and take in picturesque views of the Barkhor, or the pilgrims’ circuit. There is also Jokhang’s most valued object – a life-sized sitting statue of Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old.

Jokhang Temple

Address: Lhasa, Tibet, China, 850000

Opening hours: 9am to 6pm

Price: 85 RMB (13 USD)

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3. White Horse Temple in Luoyang

White Horse Temple
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gary Todd used under CC0

Established in 68 AD of the Eastern Han Dynasty, White Horse Temple is the first Buddhist temple with a history dating back 1900 years. During your visit here, look out for antique architecture and historic Buddhist statues. Among the must-see attractions here is the Hall of the Great Buddha which was built in the Ming Dynasty, retaining the beautiful style from that era. If you are looking to visit when the flowers are in full bloom, plan your trip around April to June. Alternatively, visiting from September to November is also advisable, as the weather is cool, making it easy to spend an hour or two exploring the place.

White Horse Temple

Address: 6 Luobai Rd, Luolong District, Luoyang, Henan, China

Opening hours: 7:30am - 7pm

Price: 35 RMB (5.30 USD)

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4. Xiangguo Monastery in Kaifeng

Xiangguo Temple
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aaron Zhu used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Xiangguo Monastery was erected in 555 AD during the Northern Qi Dynasty. It was built on the base of a prince of the Wei Kingdom in ancient China. Through the years, the monastery was damaged by wars and fire. In the Tang Dynasty, the monastery was utilised beyond a religious site, and housed many famous paintings and statues as part of a small art museum. Additionally, the monastery was the place for the Chinese and foreign cultures to merge. It is undeniable that this monastery holds a long timeline and series of events, making it the perfect haven for history lovers to submerge and dive in, learning about the evolution of the place to become what it is today.

Xiangguo Monastery

Address: No.36, on the west of Ziyou Road, Kaifeng City, Henan Province

Opening hours: 7am - 5pm

Price: 30 RMB (4.60 USD) for adults, half price for children

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5. Famen Temple in Baoji

Famen Temple
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peter Potrowl used under CC BY 3.0

Famen Temple is a popular and renowned temple with a long and rich history. It became a go-to place for Buddhists due to the finger bone relic of the Sakyamuni Buddha. Famen Temple stands a pagoda that shoots up to 13 storeys. Due to long-term dilapidation, the Chinese government called for its rebuilding in 1987. Today, the refurbished Famen Temple stands tall with a brand-new appearance. Its general layout of the pagoda at the front and the hall behind still aligns with the layout in the Tang Dynasty. This makes it the ideal place for architecture and history enthusiasts.

Famen Temple

Address: Fufeng County, Baoji, Shaanxi, China

Opening hours: 8:30am - 7pm (March to November); 9am - 6pm (December to February)

Price: 100 RMB (15.40 USD) (March to November); 90 RMB (13.75 USD) (December to February)

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6. Ta'er Monastery in Xining

Ta'er Monastery
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Hiroki Ogawa used under CC BY 3.0

Also known as the Kumbum monastery, visit the birthplace of Tibetan Buddhism master Tsongkhapa, and explore ancient Tibetan and Han styles. Here, you can visit the eight pagodas that were built in commemoration of the eight values of Buddha Shakyamuni. There are also vivid murals that display the paintings of Han Nationality. History and art enthusiasts alike can admire sculptures and statues peppered around the temple. In this temple, you can also watch Buddhist scriptures debates. These occur daily between 3pm and 4 pm.

Ta'er Monastery

Address: Lushaer Town, Huangzhong County, Xining City, Qinghai Province, China

Opening hours: 8am - 5pm

Price: 80 RMB (12.21 USD)

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7. Hanging Temple in Datong

Hanging Temple
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user McKay Savage used under CC BY 2.0

As the name suggests, this temple was erected on the cliffs of Mount Hengshan, a popular site for tourists as it is one of the most sacred mountains in China. During your visit here, see if you can identify elements of the three religions it blends in - Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism – making it a highly distinct temple. About a third of the temple hangs on the cliff, and its halls are connected by winding corridors and bridges.

Hanging Temple

Address: Hunyuan County, Datong, China

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (November to May) / 8am - 6pm (June to October)

Price: 125 RMB (19.08 USD) (March to October) / 117 RMB (17.86 USD) (November to February)

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8. Labrang Lamasery in Gansu

Labrang Lamasery
Source: Photo by Flickr user ROFAD used under CC BY 2.0

Located at the foot of Fengling Mountain in Xiahe County, this is one of six Tibetan Buddhism temples that belong to the Gelu Sect. Established in 1709, Labrang Lamasery is now deemed to be the largest institute for teaching Buddhism, attracting thousands of visitors annually. There are 6 halls in which visitors can chant scripture, 31 Tibetan-style buildings and over 500 meditation rooms for monks. This massive temple also stores ancient relics and tapestries, making it ideal for a traveller who can appreciate history with an exploration itch.

Labrang Lamasery

Address: Renmin E St, Xiahe County, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu, China, 747100

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm

Price: 40 RMB (4.10 USD)

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9. Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse

Tashilhunpo Monastery
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vinko Rajic used under CC BY 3.0

In 1447, this monastery was founded by the first Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Gendun Drup, and is one of the few temples to have survived the Cultural Revolution. Here, you can explore the never-ending lanes and engulf the 70,000 square meters (753,473 square feet) temple. Home to about 950 monks, the monastery is one of the largest religious institutions in Tibet. During your visit, you can find many photos of Panchen Lamas that hold their own unique histories worth learning about.

Tashilhunpo Monastery

Address: 7 Jijilangka Rd, Sangzhuzi Qu, Shigatse, Tibet, China

Website: Tashilhunpo Monastery

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9am - 5pm; (some halls closed from 12pm - 2pm)

Price: 100 RMB(15.26 USD)(May to October / 55 RMB (8.39 USD)(November to April)

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10. Wenshu Monastery in Chengu

Monasteries to visit in China
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Charles Haynes used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Known to be the best-preserved Buddhist temple in Chengu, Wenshu monastery is also home to the Buddhist Association of Sichuan Province and Chengdu City. Here, you will find many relics that are bound to make your trip insightful and educational. Among the many you can learn about, the temple also holds a piece of the broken skull of a well-known monk of the Tang Dynasty. More than 500 pieces of painting and calligraphy are in storage here. Additionally, many handwriting exhibits and artwork are restored here, making it the perfect location to visit if you are looking for a fun and informative time.

Wenshu Monastery

Address: 66 Wenshu Yuan Street, Chengu, Sichuan Province

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm

Price: Free

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China, home to diverse landscapes and incredible history

During your next visit to the most populous nation in the world, you will definitely find a wide array of landscapes and history dating back centuries. With an abundance of rich history and iconic places of attractions including the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, you will explore a sea of culture that can be refreshing. Apart from the history and culture, stand in awe as you look at the high rise buildings peppered across the city skyline.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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