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. 27, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si)
Asked by Catherine Pierce from UNITED STATES | May. 12, 2019 02:12Reply
At what time to come to Datong Hanging Monastery avoid the crowd?
Answers (3)
Answered by Banner from USA | May. 13, 2019 02:57
00Reply


Generally, it is not very crowded on week days.
Answered by Catherine Pierce from CHINA | May. 13, 2019 18:25
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I do not have that choice. It will have to be on weekends. If I can't make it by 9 sharp, is there less people just before closing time?
Answered by Banner | May. 13, 2019 20:10
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Maybe you are right but I'm not very sure about that.
Asked by EARL1950 | Apr. 26, 2019 17:56Reply
Hengshan hanging temple
I heard the temple was closed in 2018. Is the temple back open for climbing and viewing? How many people are allowed to climb and view the temple at a time?
Answers (1)
Answered by Julie from USA | Apr. 27, 2019 23:33
00Reply


Yes, it is open now but I'm not clear how many people are allowed to visit at a time.
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
00Reply


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
00Reply


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
00Reply


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.
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