Monkey Business: Guangzhou’s Best Temples

Monkey Business: Guangzhou’s Best Temples


is home to a great number of notable cultural and religious sites. It is an old city, and some might say that Guangzhou, like so many other places, has forsaken its past in the rush for prosperity. However, there are places in Guangzhou whose historical authenticity and cultural legacy remain intact, despite the roaring city that surrounds them. The temples in Guangzhou, whose history and use can often be traced back to the founding of the city, are some of the most interesting places to visit. 

Undoubtedly the most impressive of them all is the Guangxiao Temple光孝寺. The temple, which is one of the oldest still-standing structures in all of South China, was built during the Jin dynasty (317-420AD), and remains a site of pilgrimage for many Buddhists, especially those who practice Chinese Zen Buddhism. The enormous temple grounds house a number of smaller pagodas devoted to various deities, as well as a large statue of a sleeping Buddha. The main hall houses three enormous statues of the Buddha that will leave you standing in awe. People trickle in and out of the compound, lighting incense and paying their respects to the various idols, while Buddhist monks and nuns’ chants can be heard from their prayer halls. The admission price for this temple is 5 RMB, though it pays to be wary of the persistent beggars on your way in and out.

Guangxiao Temple, Guangzhou

While you’re at Guangxiao, it’s worth taking the short walk to the Wuxianguan Temple五仙观, or the Temple of the Five Immortals. This is done by taking Wuxianguan Lu, to Huifu Lu, from which you take a left onto Huifu Donglu, and after a short walk you will find grounds of this temple. It’s a particularly peaceful place to rest after your earlier wanderings.

Guangxiao Temple光孝寺 View In Map
Add: 109 Guangxiao Lu, Guangzhou 广州市光孝路109号
Getting There:
Located at the end of the Guangxiao Lu; take the Metro line 1 to Ximenkou to get there. 

Another wonderful location is the slightly less well-known Hualin Temple华林寺. Built during the Southern Dynasties, this temple was renovated and renamed in 1654. The main attraction of this temple is the 500 Arhat Hall. As its name suggests, this hall contains the golden painted statues of 500 different monks, each with their own unique characteristics and pose. Unfortunately, the original statues were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and the new ones were only recreated in the 1990s. This, however, does not diminish their significance or awe-inspiring presence. The main hall of this temple is adorned with 6 columns with exquisitely carved dragon motifs and houses 3 grand Buddha statues. It is polite to purchase incense and to pay your respects if you know what you are doing, but otherwise it is better to respectfully observe. Entry is free.

Hualin Temple, Guangzhou 

Hualin Temple华林寺 View In Map
Add: Hualinsi Qianjie, Changshou Xilu, Liwan District, Guangzhou广州荔湾区长寿西路华林寺前街
Getting There:
Take Metro line 1 to Changshou Lu, leave through Exit A, take a right on to Changshou Donglu and follow it until you come to a side street on your right with an enormous tree in the center. Opposite the tree is the temple. 

A third temple that is worth a visit is the Liurong Temple六榕寺, also known as the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. The magnificent main tower known as the Hua Ta Pagoda, or Flower Pagoda, was built in 537 AD and is 17 stories tall. The main hall of this Temple also has three grand Buddha statues and numerous smaller halls for the worship of other Buddhist idols. Admission is only 5 RMB.

Liurong Temple, Guangzhou 

Liurong Temple六榕寺 View In Map
Add: 87 Liurong Lu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou 广州市越秀区六榕路87号
Getting There:
Take metro lines 1 or 2 to Gongyuanqian, leave through exit I2, follow Liurong Lu, and you will find the temple on your right. 

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