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 Nov. 26, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si)
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.
Asked by Kymbo from AUSTRALIA | Oct. 01, 2018 18:24Reply
Is the Monestery open yet and the renovations complete?
I saw a recent photo from mid September of the temple covered in green scafalding. Does anyonw know if its been removed yet? Im hoping to see it tomorrow. 3rd October. Thanks
Answers (7)
Answered by Laura | Oct. 03, 2018 05:15

Did you see the temple? Was open?
Answered by Piotr from POLAND | Oct. 03, 2018 08:18

I'll visit the temple on the 5th of October, I will also let you know. BTW, maybe someone is interesting in sharing a taxi on that day, so that we could manage to see both the hanging monastery and grottoes?
Answered by Elena from RUSSIA | Oct. 05, 2018 03:48

Did you visit the monastery today? Does the monastery work completely? Thank you.
Answered by Kymbo from AUSTRALIA | Oct. 06, 2018 07:00

Sadly we ran out of time so missed it regardless. Im just going to assume it was still obscured by scaffolding... Good luck to those who go to see it though.
Answered by Elena from RUSSIA | Oct. 08, 2018 00:46

Piotr from POLAND, did you visit the monastery? Does the monastery work completely? Thank you.
Answered by Charles from USA | Oct. 08, 2018 18:49

It was reopened on October 1st and you can take a visit if you would like. It is quite beautiful.
Answered by Piotr from POLAND | Oct. 17, 2018 06:56

Sorry for late answer. We have also run out of time in Datong (there was also no bus from the train station to the monastery), so we haven't visited it during our trip. :(
Asked by Alix Ruiz from CANADA | Aug. 31, 2018 04:27Reply
Is the monastery close during all month of September 2018?
Answers (5)
Answered by Michelle from USA | Sep. 02, 2018 20:17

Yes, it is.
Answered by Piotr from POLAND | Sep. 14, 2018 05:56

I am planning to visit the Monastery on 5th of October. Does it mean that it should be already opened by then?
Answered by Sally from BELGIUM | Sep. 14, 2018 19:29

Well, it is hard to say. The exact reopen time is unknown. You are suggested to pay attention to the news in late September.
Answered by Piotr from POLAND | Sep. 29, 2018 12:08

Are there any news on Chinese sites regarding the reopening date? Unfortunately I couldn't find anything on my own.
Answered by Rena from USA | Sep. 29, 2018 18:03

On its official website, the temple will be reopened on October 1st.
Asked by Polaris from CATALONIA | Jul. 12, 2018 09:48Reply
What's the bus schedule from Datong Railway station to Haning Monastery?
My train arrives early in the morning (4:39) and I would love to be at the Monastery when they are opening and, afterwards, have enough time to go to Yungang caves.
Answers (1)
Answered by Taylor from NEW ZEALAND | Jul. 12, 2018 22:51

You need to take bus line 15 to DT Bus Station first and then take a bus to the Monastery. The earliest bus departs at 6:30.
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