Hanging Monastery at Datong in China




The most famous attraction in Datong is the 51,000 Buddhist statues at the Yúngāng Grottoes, but by far my favourite is Xuánkōng Sì, the Hanging Monastery.

Hanging Monastery at Datong

The temple was built 75m up the side of Mount Heng to avoid floods from the snows on the peaks above and noises from below. The mountain also shades the monastery from excessive sun damage. This all seems to work, as having been built in 491 the precariously situated monastery has survived over 1500 years.

Hanging Monastery Datong Walkways

Walkways at the Hanging Monastery in Datong

The vertical pillars visible in the picture are purely optionaland only put there to reassure visitors that the structure is safe. The real crossbeam supports are embedded horizontally, deep into the mountainside.

The walkways between areas are slatted, allowing the visitor to see the ground below, and the whole structure sways under the weight of too many people.

Other than its position seventy-five metres up a cliff the temple is notable for being the only temple in China to include elements of three religions – Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist. There are forty halls in the monastery, and one of the main buildings contains statues of Sakyamuni, Confucius and Lao-tzu in the same room.

The Hanging Monastery lies at a crossroads between towns and travellers would use it as a place to rest using their journey. In that more religious age, travellers were reluctant to stay in places devoted to other faiths so the Hanging Monastery enshrined the three major religions of China to accommodate more guests.

Hanging Monastery Visitor Tips

Entry fee: 130 yuan per person

Opening time: 8:30-17:30 (winter); 8:00-18:00 (summer)

There are steps everywhere and the monastery itself is navigated via ladders and tiny trapdoors, so is completely inaccessible to wheelchairs and tricky for people with broad shoulders.

Due to its location in a steep valley, if you want to get a good photo you need to be in place roughly between 10 and 11am. This is when the sun clears the top of the valley and there are the least shadows under the temple.

The Hanging Monastery is 65 kilometres southeast of Datong City, and takes ninety minutes by car. A taxi costs around 150rmb or 26rmb for the two-hour bus journey. There are some decent hotels in the neighbouring town. We were put up at the Hengshan Hotel which is a 4* with everything I might need, plus a KTV.

The usual snacks are available in the car park, or the local restaurant serves excessively large and expensive set banquets to travellers who don’t know how to read the menu…




10 Responses to Hanging Monastery at Datong in China

  1. Forrest Walker April 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    THIS I might go see.

  2. Andrea April 15, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    Wow! That’s a feat of engineering right there – incredible. I’ve never heard of this place before but it looks like a must-visit; thanks for sharing!

    • steve May 9, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      The Hanging Temple is a little out the way, but definitely worth the trip.

  3. Alexa Meisler April 17, 2012 at 2:18 am #

    This is amazing! I would love to come see this place. China always have something to offer you just have to research more and dig deeper. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Jade - OurOyster.com April 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    My friends who went to China were recently telling me about this! Great photos!

  5. Shirlene from Idelish April 23, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I’ve seen this on TV a couple of times. Impressive indeed. Added to bucket list for sure!

  6. Mary @ Green Global Travel May 18, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    This is really cool! It’s definitely a place people visiting China should check out. Thanks for sharing this and these pictures.



  1. (@DTravelsRound) (@DTravelsRound) - April 16, 2012

    This is SO cool!! Reading: Hanging Monastery at Datong in China – http://t.co/NR4WYD5h via @SteveWBT

  2. (@Ju1i4n) (@Ju1i4n) - April 16, 2012

    Planning to go there, what is easiest way from Beijing? RT @SteveWBT: Hanging Monastery at Datong in China http://t.co/gFwsM7LQ

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