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5 Ancient Temples to Visit in China

When visiting China, most people would like a quick immersion in the culture, including traditional foods, sights, and markets. Some of the most popular sights are historic shrines and temples that have stood for hundreds and thousands of years. They can be found all over Asia and are a testament to China’s culture and heritage.

Buddhist temples can be toured at very affordable prices, and often students get in for half price. Here are 5 beautiful, historic temples we recommend you visit on your next trip to China.

1. White Horse Temple - Known as the “Cradle of Chinese Buddhism,” White Horse Temple is the first ancient Buddhist temple and also has the first pagoda in all of China. It has stood intact for over 1900 years. Located just outside the Xiyong Gate of Luoyang City, gain insights into Buddhist religion and culture by visiting houses of Buddhist sutras, monks’ apartments, the golden Buddha, Dragon Gate Grottoes, and the Great Buddha Pagoda. 

Admission: 35 RMB/person

White Horse Temple

2. Temple of Heaven – The Temple of Heaven, called Tiantan in Chinese, is located in Beijing and one of the most visited Buddhist temples in the world. It has stood for over five centuries and is a symbolic celebration to the sky. Surrounding by a park full of 600 year old trees, it is a retreat from the bustling city. Stop by and see the renowned Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Altar where the emperor would visit once a year with sacrifices to heaven for a plentiful harvest.

Admission: 30-35 RMB/person depending on the time of year

Temple of Heaven

3. Lingyin Temple – Located just northwest of Hangzhou, Lingyin is a Zen Buddhist temple situated in beautiful landscapes that inspired its construction. See marvelous depictions of Buddha, relevant religious icons, and cultural influences carved into the mountain itself. In addition, walk through the temples and get a firsthand experience of what it was like living in this beautiful, secluded region.

Admission: 30RMB/person

Lingyin Temple

4. Xiangguo Temple – Xiangguo temple sits in Kaifeng City. It attracted many foreign envoys and renowned monks from all over. The architecture, monuments, and statues are picturesque and a wonderful testament to the designs of dynasties throughout the ages. There are an assortment of buildings to see here, including the Mountain Gate, Paifang, Heavenly Kings Hall, Arhat Hall, Sutra Hall, and Daxiongbaodian Hall. Other intriguing sights are the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, and Maitreya, also known as the future Buddha.

Admission: 30 RMB/person

Xiangguo Temple

5. Yungang Grottoes - Located in Datong city, the Yungang Grottoes, or Shiku in Chinese, is the earliest Buddhist collection of caves within China. See an ornately carved city through the heart of the mountainside and statues that have survived for over 1500 years. While not the traditional temples most people think of, these grottoes show the transition into the beautiful temples we think of today. 

Admission: 50 RMB/person

Yungang Grottoes

Article author: Weston Kincade

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