Hong Kong is an amazingly diverse city in regards to its landscape with so many different places to see, from intense high-rise buildings to white sandy beaches. In previous posts, we’ve visited some of those beaches and beautiful lush hiking routes. One of the newer destinations you may have not heard about, but no doubt have seen is the Tsz Shan Temple.
Buddhist Temple and Monastery
The stunning pure-white Guan Yin Statue is visible from a number hiking routes around Hong Kong. The statue has a height of 76 metres, comprising a 70-metre-tall bronze-cast white Guan Yin statue (including a three-tier bronze lotus platform) built upon a 6-metre high granite base.
What perhaps is not obvious when seeing the statue from afar is that the statue is located in a recently built temple and active monastery in Tai Po. The temple was donated by one of Asia’s richest men, Li Ka Shing. Mr. Li spent HK$1.5 Billion (almost US$200 Million) on the design and construction of this masterpiece.
The temple is built in a Tang Dynasty style and built with very high quality materials. Even the parking garage looks like something in a luxury 5-star hotel. Entries are limited to 400 to 500 visitors every day, and even less so during this period of social distancing. You need to make a reservation online at https://www.tszshan.org.
You should however know about some rules at the temple, which are common in some parts of the world, but not so common in others. During our visit, I observed that everyone followed the rules and there was strict policing of the rules, which made for an excellent environment for enjoying the beauty and spirituality of the temple, without any of the negative aspects that tourists sometimes bring to a venue like this.
Here are a select set of rules from the temple’s website that you may want to be aware of before visiting:
- The Monastery is for spiritual practice and for promoting Buddhism. The Monastery is not intended to be a tourist attraction. Please remain quiet throughout your visit at the Monastery.
- You are advised to use public transport. Vehicles may be wheel clamped for unauthorized parking without prior notice.
- Any vehicle without a confirmed parking space will not be allowed to enter the Monastery.
- No show or late arrival for thirty (30) minutes or more from the scheduled time of visit may be deemed as late cancellation.
- Proper attire (e.g. sleeved tops, trousers, mid-calf dress or mid-calf pants) should be worn at all times throughout your visit in the Monastery. For example, sleeveless tops, miniskirts, hot pants, and shorts would be considered improper attire.
- No chewing gum or bubble gum is allowed in the Monastery, and no eating or drinking is allowed in the non-designated areas in the Monastery.
Buddhist Art Museum
The grounds of the temple are beautiful enough on their own to be worth the visit, however there’s something very special hidden under the statue that’s a must visit, the Tsz Shan Monastery Buddhist Art Museum. The museum opened only recently in 2019 and houses Mr. Li’s personal collection of Buddhist historic relics. The way the historic items are displayed and the way in which the volunteers manage the museum make for a wonderful and serene experience.
The day we visited the temple, there was a huge thunderstorm. As a result, a number of people who had bought tickets didn’t show up and we had an amazing experience with the temple almost to ourselves for the first hour. In the second hour, as the rain started to clear, more people turned up, but the limited number of tickets sold provides a unique experience in this super busy city.
If you decide to visit the Tsz Shan Temple, I’d recommend taking public transit on the MTR, with the final leg on the minibus. It’s the easiest and most convenient way to get to the temple. Make sure that you take the time to walk around the grounds, visit the museum, and set aside a few moments to just take in the serenity and peaceful quiet of the whole place. We spent a little under three hours at the temple and could have easily spent another hour there.
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