China’s Best Temples – Historic Tourist Sites in Asia

in China

Don’t make The Great Wall and The Terracotta Museum the only historic stops on your Chinese vacation. The country’s beautiful temples also shouldn’t be missed. China has so many temples you’d be hard pressed to see them all, but the following sites should make any tourist’s itinerary.

Lingyin Temple, or Temple of the Soul’s Retreat, in Hangzhou is the largest temple in China. This tranquil spot also houses one of the country’s largest statues of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, and a massive collection of Buddhist relics. Due to its size it can become very crowded during peak season, so be prepared to jostle your way through its many halls. Admission costs 30 yuan, or a little less than $5 US.

Beijing’s Temple of Heaven is one of the Chinese capitals most recognizable sites, as its image appears in many of the city’s tourist brochures and postcards. Most folks admiring the architecture don’t realize that the buildings actually had a more important historic purpose. Ancient Ming and Qing emperors would come here to offer sacrifices and pray for plentiful harvests. The complex is three times the size of the famous Forbidden City, so you can easily spend a whole day here, especially if you’re spending a lot of time snapping photos of its magnificent architecture. Admission costs 35 yuan, or a little more than $5 US, although you can save money with a grounds-only ticket for 15 yuan. Personally I think this is a time where it pays to spend a bit extra for the experience.

The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The Three Pagodas at Dali are the last remaining remnants of the former Chongsheng Temple. The tiered towers stand between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake. They’re beautiful, but once you’ve seen them you’ll be quickly satisfied. At around 120 yuan, or $18, entrance to the site is comparatively expensive. A smarter option is to spend a couple of extra dollars and see the Three Pagodas as part of a walking tour of Dali.

No doubt any Asian vacation will include much time spent taking in temples, but the historic buildings in China are still not to be missed.

[Image Source: Fang Guo/Flickr]

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