Nantou, Taiwan, is blessed with an abundance of attractions, and Xianfo Temple (禪機山仙佛寺) is just one of them.
Located roughly one hour’s drive from Taichung in Guoxing Township, this beautiful Buddhist temple is one of the most fascinating attractions near Taichung and a great place to get away from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Since Xianfo Temple is completely off the tourist grid and quite a secret spot, here’s a quick guide covering everything you need to plan the perfect day tour from Taichung.
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What makes Xianfo Temple so unique?
Xianfo Temple, also known as The Immortal Buddha Temple, is an impressive Buddhist temple hidden in the hills of Zenji Mountain in Nantou County. While the temple is hardly the oldest religious landmark in Taiwan, only dating back to the 1980s, it oozes with old-world charm. It’s an incredibly peaceful place, making it a great add-on to your list of things to do in Taichung.
What really makes this temple complex so special is that it’s tucked away in a lush forest filled with towering pine trees. In addition, there are oodles of pathways lined with bright yellow lanterns and a massive square filled with 500 life-like statues surrounding a gigantic Buddha. Each figure is unique with different facial expressions and clothing, creating an even more incredible setting.
The complex covers roughly 15,000 square meters, and includes so many points of interest that one can easily spend hours here exploring all its nooks and crannies, taking photos, or simply just enjoying the tranquil vibes.
Just a head’s up – be sure to pack mosquito repellant!
What to do at Hsien Fo Temple
To get to the temple, you need to walk up a long stairway dotted with dozens of golden lanterns. Once you reach the top, you will be greeted with one of the most stunning settings imaginable. Among the many features here, the highlights are undoubtedly the beautiful pond chock-full with lotus flowers and koi, a century-old cypress tree, and several religious statues that lead the way to the temple’s massive wooden gate.
Within the temple complex, there are lots to see and do too. The first point of interest is a charming Japanese-style temple. Right next to the temple, you’ll find a well where you can wash your hands and even drink the holy water if you are brave enough! Legend has it that the water is blessed by all the gods housed in Hsien Fo Temple.
Afterward, make your way up the tiny wooden staircase that takes you past dozens of dangling red lanterns. At the top, you’ll find a small wooden shrine offering picture-perfect views of the temple below, thick forest, and mountains in the distance.
After taking in the views, be sure to check out the massive World Peace Bell laced with bright ribbons. Feel free to make a special wish by ringing it three times.
Further afield, the trail takes you even deeper into the forest. Go slow and take it all in because this is arguably one of the most tranquil places you’ll find in all of Taiwan. Along the way, there are tons of tiny trails jolting off to secret gardens and secluded libraries. Among the many treasures found here, are ancient scriptures such as the Book of Changes and literature on Feng Shui.
Although the neatly-kept gardens housing ancient deities are incredible, it’s the massive square packed with 500 Arhats that really embodies the beauty of Xianfo Temple. As you near the end of the forest trail, you’ll catch glimpses of the statues and big Buddha. Still, nothing can prepare you for the indescribable scene you’ll witness once the square comes fully into view!
Within the square, you’ll find a huge Buddha seated on a lotus flower with hundreds of statues surrounding it. However, what sets this temple apart from others is that each statue has a completely different facial expression and attire, making them almost life-like. Besides its obvious picturesque and tranquil setting, this sacred spot is also quite famous among locals who come here to pray for children.
After taking in the magnificent scenery, make your way to the Lotus Trail. Here you’ll find a beautiful stone-carved lotus flower, surrounded by a pond and verdant greenery. The entire base of the lotus is covered in tiny pebbles, so don’t forget to take off your shoes and walk ten times around the flower in a clockwise direction! This is an age-old custom that supposedly improves blood circulation.
Xian Fo Temple is a truly stunning Nantou attraction and one you definitely shouldn’t miss. The temple is open daily between 8 am to 6 pm, and entry is free.
How to get to Xianfo Temple from Taichung
Xianfo Temple is located in the far-flung corners of Guoxing Township and lies roughly 36km southeast of Taichung City – Taiwan’s second-largest metropolitan hub.
Although it might not seem very far, getting to Xianfo Temple is an adventure in itself. If you really want to maximize your Taichung itinerary, the easiest way to get there is to self-drive, rent a car or hire a private driver for the day. By doing so, you can easily plan your stops and experience this peaceful place at your own pace. The best part? Xianfo Temple is actually quite close to several other Taichung hidden gems, such as the Baiyang Temple of Heaven and Guangfu New Village. As a result, it’s really easy to map out one heck of a Taichung day tour!
With that said, it is also possible to take public transport here. The most cost-effective way to Xianfo Temple from Taichung is by bus. Catch bus 6268A (toward Geography Center Monument) or bus 6899 (toward Puli) at Taichung Station and get off at Fugui. From there, it’s roughly an 11-minute walk to the temple’s entrance. Tickets cost NT$119-NT$126, and can be paid with an Easy Card.
Address: 544, Nantou County, Guoxing Township, 長壽巷66號 (See Google Maps here).
Where to Stay
Since you’re probably only visiting Fugui Village for the day, it’s best to base yourself in Taichung. Taichung has a myriad of excellent hotels catering to all budgets and traveling styles. Here are some of my favorite hotels in Taichung:
- Luxury: Kun Hotel is a beautiful 4-star hotel mere steps from Taichung’s bustling night market, Fengjia. The hotel features clean and modern rooms. What’s more, it has an amazing rooftop bar perfect for watching the sun melt away over the horizon! Check rates & availability here.
- Mid-Range: Sof Hotel is a gorgeous hotel located within walking distance from the Taichung Train Station. This sleek 3-star haven boasts minimalistic interiors and chic, comfy rooms. Check rates & availability here.
- Budget: Norden Ruder Hostel is a clean hostel with comfortable rooms. The hostel also has a huge common space with great views over the city and super friendly staff. Check rates & availability here.
While there is no shortage of fascinating places to visit in Taiwan, Xianfo Temple is arguably one of the most beautiful places to go in Taichung. I hope this guide comes in handy when planning your trip to this unique hidden gem! If you think I’ve missed anything, feel free to let me know in the comments below!
Traveling further afield? Don’t miss these other popular Nantou attractions!
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