One of the quirkier attractions in Hong Kong, and quite a bit off the tourist path, you’ll need some good walking shoes to climb the hundreds of steps up to the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery.
Tucked away atop a small hill in Sha Tin, the monastery has become famous for the hundreds of life-sized golden statues of Buddha which line a long path through a bamboo forest. And once you reach the top of the hill, there are thousands more. In fact, the monastery is actually estimated to have way more than 10,000 in total.
What’s interesting is that each statue seems to be unique, with a different facial expression or pose, such as playing a flute, reading or holding a book, or meditating cross-legged. Some are old and wrinkled while some are young, some have facial hair, others are blessedly bald. One of the stranger ones, if you can find it, has arms coming out of its eyeballs!
Once you’ve huffed and puffed your way up the steps, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view. There are number of pavilions, and the main temple of the monastery, with two golden dragons adorning the roof. Inside are shelves with thousands of tiny gold Buddha statues. One of the fun things to do—that is, if you’re not sick of steps yet—is to go inside the impressive nine-storey pagoda, and climb to the top. The winding spiral staircase is quite the sight, with more Buddha statues watching you ascend at each level.
At the upper level of the compound there’s a waterfall, and a scenic rock garden (which again has more golden Buddhas), all surrounded by lush green mountains. Beware of the cheeky monkeys that will not hesitate to snatch a snack right out of your hands—yes, Hong Kong has wild monkeys!
In addition to cheeky monkeys, be warned there are also cheeky fake monks on the path waiting for gullible foreign tourists to scam out of a few dollars. This is where we need to tell you that the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is, in fact, not a monastery at all, as there are no monks living or working on the grounds. So do not buy any beads, baubles, or blessings from the fake monks.
How to get there
The monastery is located in Sha Tin, and it takes about a 30 minute MTR ride from Tsim Sha Tsui to get there. From Sha Tin MTR Station it is a bit tricky to find, and there are no signs pointing you in the right direction until you are almost at the entrance.
Many people accidentally go into the Po Fook Hill Cemetery, thinking it must be the monastery, so if you see an ornate white gate with green tiles, do not go in!
Here are some detailed instructions to find the entrance to the path:
1. From Sha Tin Station, go out Exit B, and you’ll see a bus terminal ahead of you.
2. Turn left, go down the long pedestrian ramp, and look for the signs for the Sha Tin Government Offices (follow these signs)
3. Pass the old Pai Tau Village on your left, and turn left onto Pai Tau Street
4. Go left again (still on Pai Tau Street) when you see a large IKEA and the Grand Central Plaza Mall, and walk past the mall
5. Turn right onto Sheung Wo Che Road, where you’ll see the Post Office on your left, followed by the Government Offices
6. At the end of Sheung Wo Che Road, on your left, is a chain-linked fence and a bamboo grove
7. Turn left onto the unmarked footpath, and you’ll see some signs (in English) leading the way