Tomas Zagoda

Hong Kong has plenty of interesting and famous temples popular with tourists, but if you’re willing to go a little off normal beaten paths, there’s an amazing place to discover. The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (Man Fat Sze) has a slightly misleading name. The complex has close to 13,000 Buddha statues across five temples, four pavilions and one nine-story pagoda. Adding another quirk to the equation, it’s technically not a monastery as no monks live here. This is just the beginning of the surprises you will find in this eccentric place.

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Opening in the 1950’s, this unusual temple is perched high on a hill in Sha Tin, an area around 40 minutes from Central Hong Kong. As the story goes, after the founder of the temple, Reverend Yuet Kai died, he was buried for eight months on the hillside before being having his body exhumed and embalmed with Chinese lacquer, painted with gold leaf and put on display in a seated position for visitors to view. You can see him sitting in front of main altar with a plaque reading “The Diamond Indestructible Body of Yuexi”.

If you think this is wonderfully strange, then the walk up to the monastery will entertain you as much as it did for us. Be prepared for a steep climb and have your camera fully charged as the path upwards is lined with life-sized golden statue of Buddha in individual poses. If you are lucky, you might even see some of the local wild monkeys along the way.

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Panoramic views over Sha Tin and the New Territories are your reward when you reach the top. After refreshing yourself with some affordable vegetarian snacks and icy-cold water at the small cafeteria, make your way around the rest of the complex.

The main hall has over 12,000 tiny golden Buddha figures illuminated by twinkling fairy lights. If you head further up the hill, you can even find a man-made waterfall and some turtle ponds.

Sure, this place is kitsch and a little bit daggy, but its quirkiness makes it a truly unique Hong Kong experience and well worth the hike.

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Getting there:

While Google Maps is usually great for getting around Hong Kong’s public transport network, this monastery really is off the beaten track. Make sure you copy down these points, bring water and wear good shoes for a hassle free visit.

  • The temple is free of charge and open 9AM-5PM every day.
  • From Sha Tin MTR station, take Exit B and head left past some shops in Pai Tau Village.
  • When you see a tennis court on your left, turn left again and walks straight forwards along Pai Tau Street and then onto Sheung Wo Che Street. You will eventually see Po Fook Hill Ancestral Halls (which looks a little like an events center with manicured gardens).
  • Directly to the right of this is a small alleyway with some discreet signs pointing the way to the monastery (and letting you know not to get scammed by fake monks).
  • If you follow this path around the bend for a few minutes, you will pass a bamboo grove before arriving seeing 100s of golden statues – just keep walking up the hill and you will arrive!
  • On your way down, take the alternative path, which leads past different statues, Wing Wo Bee Farm and Pai Tau Village. You will arrive back near the MTR.

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Tomas Zagoda is an Australian based media producer, filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. Follow him on Instagram or Twitter @TomasZagoda to keep up with his latest adventures.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.