Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is a little off the beaten tourist trail as it is located on a steep hillside. As you make your way uphill, thank your lucky stars that you weren’t part of the construction team. Work began on the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery project in 1949. The monastery was the brainchild of the venerable Reverend Yuet Kai. Together with his disciples, they carried all the building materials up to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery personally by hand!
History of Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
Reverend Yuet Kai’s story is unusual, to say the least. Born into a wealthy family, he studied philosophy at a well-known university in China. At age 19, Reverend Yuet Kai converted to Buddhism. His religious zeal knew no bounds. To demonstrate the depth of his faith, he cut off two fingers on his left hand as well as a piece of flesh – which was the size of his palm – from his chest. Thereafter, he burnt them in order to light 48 lanterns as an offering to the Buddha. Reverend Yuet Kai was an old man by the time the idea for the monastery was conceived. However, he still joined his disciples in carrying those materials up the hillside!
Eight long years later, the exterior building work was finished but it took another decade before the rest was done. Reverend Yuet Kai died, aged 87, in 1965. Following his wishes, eight months on, his disciples removed his body from the coffin. Reverend Yuet Kai’s body was in almost perfect condition, just as he had predicted! The disciples then embalmed the body with Chinese lacquer and gold leaves. To this day, the immortal body of Reverend Yuet Kai occupies a prominent position in the main hall of the monastery where devotees can come to pay their respects.
There are about 12,800 statues of Buddhas at the monastery and each has a different posture. If you’re wondering about the discrepancy between the number of Buddhas and the monastery’s name, there’s a simple explanation. In Cantonese, the phrase for ten thousand really means “a large number”. So, the name is not a mistake. We’d suggest you count them, but only after you catch your breath post climbing all those steps!
Step-by-Step Guide to Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery
There’s no disputing that the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is worth a visit, but it can be tricky to find. If you follow our step-by-step photo guide, you won’t get lost. Be prepared for quite a climb though. There are a lot of steps! But everything has a silver lining and the climb is going to put some tourists off – meaning there’ll be less of a crowd to share it with. Here’s where you need to go.
Firstly, take the MTR to Sha Tin Station. You need to take the East Rail Line. Don’t confuse this station with Sha Tin Wai Station on the Ma On Shan Line! When you arrive at Sha Tin Station, take Exit B, labelled Grand Central Plaza.
Make a left and aim for the ramp. Alternatively, you can follow the signage for taxis and pedestrians.
Once outside, please follow the pedestrian path for a short distance. At this point, you are still heading in the general direction of Grand Central Plaza.
Next, bear left and cut through these village houses.
You’ll also walk past these stalls selling paper offerings, incense sticks and fruits for worshiping.
Shortly after, you’ll notice this pathway on the left marked with a cluster of signs. Follow the path and you’ll find a white sign for Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. This means you are on the right track!
This is a close-up of that same sign.
From here, keep heading straight. The path is lined with a metal fence – the hillside to your left and the village to your right.
Continue straight on. You’ll pass more buildings and a few turn offs, but don’t deviate.
Keep right; you don’t need to go up the steps.
Head straight and you’ll find yourself walking past the public toilets. You’re steadily making your way uphill towards the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Keep going!
Walk past this small red gate. Keep right.
Keep climbing and go past this culvert.
Remember to keep heading in the general direction of the trees.
The path’s long but well maintained. Here, bear right and follow the path, aiming for the yellow sign in the background.
Keep following that yellow sign!
Soon you’ll arrive at the monastery. You’ll know you’re almost there when you see a huge golden Buddha statue to the left of a series of steps.
Go up these steps, which as you ascend, are lined with more golden Arhat statues.
Hurray! You’ve finally arrived at Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery; it’s red with golden adornment. This is the main area, where you’ll find those 12,800 Buddha statues on the walls, each with different posture. But we’re not done yet – there’s more!
Head right, skirting around the building where you will find the brown sign. It leads to other sections of the monastery, such as the Amitabha Hall, Jade Emperor Hall and Tai Sui Gallery.
There are now three routes to choose from. First, take the lane on the far left to visit the Jade Emperor Hall, Amitabha Hall, Avalokitesvara House, Cundi House, Ksitigarbha House, Sprinkler Guanyin, YueXi Pavilion and Naga-puspa Court. The middle lane brings you to Tai Sui Gallery while the far right lane will bring you back to the city.
This is the path to look for when you make your way back to the Tai Sui Gallery – the middle lane of the three.
When you arrive at this junction, you are at the end of the Tai Sui Gallery. Follow the lane where the people are in the photo and you’ll find yourself in the right direction to get back to the city.
Ready to head back to the city? More life size Arhat statues await on your journey home!
Finally, you can see the city. Watch out for that Sheung Wo Che Road sign. The Sha Tin MTR station is just north east of this picture.
We hope you will have fun exploring the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery! The opening hours are from 9am to 5pm everyday (except on days with heavy rain, or with typhoon signal 8 or above).
For an in-depth tour of Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery or if you are interested in one of our private walking tours of Hong Kong, visit our Big Foot Tour website today!