So you just arrived in Hong Kong and are thinking about going to the Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau island… STOP NOW. Seriously, don’t waste your time on that expensive tourist trap and go to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery instead. If I had to pick one place to see in Hong Kong it would be the 10k Buddhas. I felt like on a bizarre movie set the whole time, plus it’s relatively unknown among the tourists. Isn’t that great?
The path to Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is itself an attraction, as it leads through lush tropical forest of Sha Tin to the hill where the Monastery stands. The trail is lined with an incredible amount of golden Buddha statues. Each of them in a different position and with a different expression.
The story behind the Monastery
Building this place was initiated by Venerable Yuet Kai in the 1950s. He and his students built the whole place themselves for almost 20 years, carrying all the materials with their own hands. There are almost 13 thousand Buddha statues, some outside and others hidden inside the buildings. The whole place is divided in two parts, the lower being the main place of worship and a resting place of Yuet Kai.
It’s not technically a monastery now as there are no monks and laypeople manage the place. Actually, if you see a monk there you have to call the police as he’s definitely a fake one who just wants your money.
Even though this attraction is often mentioned in Hong Kong guides I’m glad to report that it’s almost completely tourist-free. You can have a relaxing visit and get to be almost alone, just please remember to be respectful of other visitors. I also highly recommend the Monastery’s restaurant, it serves one of the best vegetarian food I’ve ever eaten!
Getting to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
First, take the MTR to Sha Tin station. At the exit of the station take left (direction North), then follow the big road until you see a shopping centre. Turn left behind it and you’re basically on the path to the Monastery.
It takes about 15 minutes to climb to the top. If it’s summer you have to bring a lot of water with you as you’ll get tired super fast in Hong Kong temperatures.