Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong
One of the most amazing places to visit in the New Territories area of Hong Kong has to be the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Ten Thousand Buddhas??? Really? Actually someone at the last count noticed thirteen thousand Buddhas! This temple is an excellent place to visit, needs half a day to explore around the area (which includes traveling time from the centre) and the best thing about this place, there are not too many people and is not too touristy. The monastery consists of five temples, an elegant nine-storey pagoda and two pavilions. Here is my lowdown on the place.
Once visitors have found the entrance from the main street (see the end of this post), there are 431 steps to walk up. Now this may sound boring and like hard work but there are around 500 life-size gilded Arhan statues to look at. They definitely look freaky but a great photo opportunity. However, the climb up the staircase is totally worth it.
Once at the top of the staircase, the Ten Thousand Buddha temple comes into view. Inside there are almost 13,000 miniature Buddha statues made out of gold ceramic stacked on shelves. Every single statue (at twelve inches high) adopts a different pose and expressions and on top of that, there is an inscription bearing the name of its donor. The place is freaking awesome and I love it. It so peaceful and calm but for the local Buddhist community to build a temple and put all these gold statues in here, that’s time and dedication for you!
Outside the temple directly in front of it is the Kwun Yam Pavilion but the main feature of the square has to be the nine-storey pagoda. Visitors have been told that they can climb the internal spiral staircase but on this day I was shooed away by an old man. Around the area there are more statues dotted around the place including some freaky green ones!
Don’t forget the monkeys
Next to the pagoda is a staircase going back down the mountain side. This is where I found monkeys in the trees and baby ones on the path, minding their own business. The monkeys are known to go inside the monastery as well. If they approach you, do not be afraid but just keep an eye on your belongings, the crafty buggers are always up to mischief.
Go further up the mountain
Go back past the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and go back to the staircase which brought yourself here. Instead of going down, go up! More steps but it will be worth it. More Arhan statues along the path but at the top is the upper terrace which contains a few more buildings with statues in them and a pavilion.
My favourite feature up here is at the eastern end of the terrace. There is a huge white Kwun Yam statue in front of the waterfall overlooking a pond which is full of miniature gold statues which are perched on the surrounding rocks. It is so calm and peaceful here and the statue with its surroundings is beautiful. Also the views overlooking Sha Tin are absolutely awesome.
How to get there
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery otherwise known as Man Fat Tsz is located at Po Fook Hill in the village of Pai Tau, an area of Sha Tin in the New Territories. To reach Sha Tin on the MTR, take the East Rail Line (Grey Line) from Hung Hom. At Sha Tin MTR station, take the exit A1 which leads out to a bus station. Outside the main doors of the MTR station, turn left which the path will lead to a covered ramp and goes down to street level. Follow the path straight (pass a little village street on the left hand side and main road on the right) to the road where there is the Home Square Centre (with IKEA inside). Cross the road to it but do not go inside, just bear left alongside the building. Then there will be a road to the right called Sheung Wo Che. Head down this road and where there is a car park to the right, the entrance to the monastery (which is not signposted at this point) is down a path on the left. Follow this path for a short distance and then the steps will appear with a welcome signed on the fence.
Food – there is a small building just outside the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery which sells vegetarian meals. However this is the only place to eat food as I noticed there are signs saying no eating elsewhere around the monastery. If you do not fancy this sort of meal, head back to nearby Ikea and go for their meatballs and other meal options. It’s one of the cheapest places to eat. I got a meal, cake and refills on soda for around 55 HKD.
Look out for dodgy monks – I was warned of monks begging for money outside temples in Hong Kong. I did not encounter any on the day I came here but I have heard of fake monks operating and that the Hong Kong Buddhist Association have confirmed genuine monks are not allowed to beg in Hong Kong. I also heard that the police are on the case and there has been some arrests and those who were arrested came from mainland China.