Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si)

Hanging Monastery stands at the foot of Mt. Hengshan, 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of Hunyuan County, and 65 kilometers (40 miles) from downtown Datong City. Since it hangs on the west cliff of Jinxia Gorge more than 50 meters above the ground, it is called Hanging Monastery.

Built in 491, it has survived more than 1400 years. The extant monastery was largely rebuilt and maintained in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Hanging Monastery, Datong
Hanging Monastery Pictures
Sculpture of Sakyamuni and Confucius
Sculpture of Sakyamuni and Confucius
How could a building like this withstand the winds and storms of so many years? Hanging Monastery is an architectural wonder. A unique mechanical theory was applied to building the framework. Crossbeams were half-inserted into the rock as the foundation, while the rock in back became its support. Seen from below, it appears to be a tumble-down castle in the air. Inside, it provides the same scene as other temples.

Construction experts from countries including Britain,Germany, and Italy, come to see the monastery. In their words, Hanging Monastery, which mixes mechanics, aesthetics, and Buddhism, is rare. The architecture and everything it symbolizes embodies a great cultural achievement of Chinese people.

The second attraction of Hanging Monastery is that it includes Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Inside the monastery, the sculptures of Sakyamuni, Confucius and Laotzu appear together, which is unusual. There are 40 halls and cabinets, which contain about 80 sculptures made of copper, iron, terracotta, and stone. The features are vividly carved.

Why build a monastery like this? Location is the first reason; building a monastery on the cliff could shield it from floods. In addition, the mountain peak protects it from rain and snow; and the mountain around it also diminishes damage from long-time sunshine. The second reason is that the builders followed a principle in Taoism: no noises, including those from rooster crowing and dog baying; so from the upper ground, all noises drop away.
Hanging Monastery, Datong Hanging Monastery, Datong Hanging Monastery, Datong
Admission Fee: CNY 130 (CNY125 in low season)
Opening Hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: two hours
How to Get There: Get to Datong City first. Datong Coach Station in Yantong Road has buses to Hunyuan County. Then take bus 8 or take taxi to the monastery. 
It is advisable to take a taxi or hire a van from Datong. It should cost no more than CNY150 for a round trip for Datong-Hanging Monastery-Datong.
- Last modified on Apr. 11, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si)
Asked by Monica from SPAIN | Apr. 05, 2019 05:14Reply
Is there any direct bus from Datong to the Hanging Monastery?
if yes, which one should I take and how long is the trip to the monastery?
Answers (1)
Answered by Lily from USA | Apr. 11, 2019 23:10

There is no direct bus. You need to take a bus from Datong East Bus Station to Hunyuan County first and then take a taxi to the Hanging Temple. The bus departs from 6:30 to 17:20 every 20 minutes and the bus fare is CNY10. The taxi fare also costs about CNY10.
Asked by Emily from USA | Feb. 07, 2019 21:50Reply
Food at the Hanging Monastery
If we are traveling to Datong just to see the hanging temple and the grottoes, should we stay in Datong or somewhere else? Also, are there places to eat at the hanging temple?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jack from CANADA | Feb. 20, 2019 00:43

Don't worry. You can find many nice local foods in Hunyuan County. Thus you don't need to go back to Datong.
Asked by Wing from USA | Dec. 17, 2018 14:21Reply
Is it good to visit the hanging temple in mid March ? Will it be too cold ?
Answers (1)
Answered by James from CANADA | Dec. 18, 2018 00:37

No, the weather condition would be good. And the weather won't be too cold. Generally speaking, March is a good time for sightseeing the temple.
Asked by Flor from USA | Nov. 26, 2018 06:30Reply
Are the Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery open in December?
Is there a high speed train going to Datong from Beijing? How many days would you allot to see the Hanging Monastery and Yungang Grottoes? Planning to go between December 11 to 15. Are these two sites open in December? Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Alonso from USA | Nov. 26, 2018 19:27

1. Yes, both attractions are opened in December.

2. There is no high speed train between these two places but about 16 normal speed trains running with duration of about 6 - 7.5 hours. You can choose to take a normal speed train.

3. If you arrive early and hire a car, you can visit the two spots in a day. If you arrive late, you have to stay for 2 days.
Asked by Nick from THAILAND | Oct. 27, 2018 12:34Reply
ฺีBus between Datong, Hanging Monastery, Hengshan, Wutaishan
I will start my trip at Datong.

1. Can I walk to Henshan from Hanging Monastery? Is it too far and easy to walk ? or need taxi only.
2. What time is the last bus from Hengshan to Hunyuan , and from Hunyuan to DT? I will stay in DT or I should stay in Hunyuan will be better? I will go to Wutaishan on the next day.
3. Is there any bus from Hunyuan to Wutaishan? and what time?
Answers (1)
Answered by Rabi from GERMANY | Oct. 29, 2018 18:59

The distance from monastery to the ticket office of Hengshan is about 2 kilometers, about 20 minutes' walk. But the distance from the ticket office of Hengshan to the Heshan scenic area is about 5 kilometers and it is a rough mountain road. You can keep walking if you have good physical strength. Or, you are advised to hire a car that directly drives you from the monastery to the entrance of the Heshan scenic area, or take the bus at the ticket office of Hengshan to the Heshan scenic area.

There is no direct bus from Hengshan to Hunyuan and you’d better hire a car. There are buses at Hunyuan Bus Station to Datong and the last bus may depart at 13:45. You are advised to return to Datong and then go to Wutaishan because it is more convenient. There is no buses to Wutaishan, you have to make a transfer at Yizhou.
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