The one place I’ve wanted to visit in Hong Kong for quite some time is the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (also known as Man Fat Tsz) located in Sha Tin. Last week my boyfriend was in Hong Kong with me and as he had not visited either, it seemed to be the perfect time to take a trip up to the New Territories. Despite the weather being very misty and overcast, it was a great visit as it was not too hot which made the walk much easier – I cannot begin to imagine the sweat involved during the humid summer months.
To get from Hong Kong Island to Sha Tin on the MTR takes just over thirty minutes and is very simple although you will need to change trains three times. As we were staying in Causeway Bay we took the Island Line to Admiralty, then the Tsuen Wan Line to Mong Kok followed by the Kwung Tong Line to Kowloon Tong before finally changing to the KCR East Rail Line to Sha Tin. The journey costs HK$15.5 using an Octopus Card or HK$17.5 without. One top tip I will give is to buy a bottle of water from one of the shops before leaving the station as you will be very grateful for it later.
One thing to know for when you get to Sha Tin is that there are no signs for the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery so knowing the directions before you go is vital. After taking Exit B from Sha Tin Station, turn left and make your way down the ramp towards the street.
Once at street level, keep following the pavement until you reach Pai Tau Street – the Home Square Shopping Centre will be opposite you. Turn left here and then take an immediate right onto Sheung Wo She Road where the Sha Tin Government Building is located. Walk to the end of the Sheung Wo She Road where there is a small path which leads to the entrance to the monastery. The walk to here from the station should take no longer than five minutes.
I had read online about the possibility of there being monks begging at the entrance but we did not see anyone. If you do see a “monk” begging, ignore them as they are fake and a scam as real monks would never and are not allowed to beg.
Entrance to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is free of charge and it is open from 9am until 5pm every day.
To reach the monastery, you will need to climb 431 steps. It sounds a lot but it is not a difficult walk uphill as you can take your time and do it in small sections and there are plenty of places to stop and sit down for a few minutes. The path is also lined with over five hundred unique Buddhas and you will find yourself looking at all the differences in each one so you will not notice the walk too much at all. This is when you’ll be very happy that you bought a bottle of water with you. I would also recommend using mosquito repellent if visiting in the summer.
At the top of the 431 steps is the lower level of the monastery complex. There is a nine storey Pagoda which I had read that you could climb to the top of, however it was closed the day we were there.
We were also lucky that there were monkeys everywhere the day we visited. Every time we turned around there were more monkeys climbing the Buddhas and causing mischief. As long as you do not have food on you, they will leave you alone.
Inside the Ten Thousand Buddha Hall is where you will find over 12,800 golden Buddha statues and it is truly an amazing sight to see. We both took our shoes off and went inside to have a look around. They ask for you to not take any photos inside the hall hence why I did not take any – you will have to see it for yourself.
Also inside the hall is the preserved body of Yuet Kai who founded the monastery.
Behind the Main Hall, another sixty nine steps lead to the second level of the monastery complex. At the top is a great view of Sha Tin. This is where you will find a statue of Kwun Yam who is the goddess of mercy.
To leave the monastery, we took the other path back down the hill which took us through the small village of Pai Tau. I would not recommend using this path to go to the monastery however as it was a lot steeper and there were a lot of monkeys everywhere closer to the top of the hill. There was however plenty of signs for the monastery on this route.
Given the choice of visiting the Big Buddha or the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong, I would choose the latter everyday. Although I’ve visited the Big Buddha many times, it just feels extremely over-commercialised and very busy as well as costing a lot more as you have to pay for the very expensive cable car ride or endure a longer cheaper bus ride.
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery was extremely quiet in comparison as well as only costing the MTR fare to Sha Tin. Enjoy the walk!