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 1,500 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 updated on Apr. 11, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si)
Asked by ben from SWITZERLAND | Jan. 08, 2020 09:23Reply
Access to Xuankong Temple from Yingxian
Is there a way to access the Xuankong/Hengshan area from Yingxian?
We are trying to skip the Datong city step and instead stay in Yingxian (to see the Fogong Temple Pagoda)...
Answers (5)
Answered by Elva from USA | Jan. 09, 2020 17:28

You can take bus from Yingxian Bus Station to Hunyaun Bus Station, then take taxi or bus 8 to Xuankong temple.
Answered by ben from SWITZERLAND | Jan. 10, 2020 02:41

Would you know how long it takes?
Thanks for your help Elva
Answered by ben from SWITZERLAND | Jan. 10, 2020 02:53

and the price roughly for the Yingxian-Hunyan bus if I may...
Answered by Elva from USA | Jan. 13, 2020 00:38

As I know, the bus from Yingxian Bus Station departs at 7:40, 8:30 and 9:30. It costs CNY11 with around 1 hour on the way.
Answered by ben from SWITZERLAND | Jan. 15, 2020 03:26

Xiexie ni ^^
Asked by Hannah from GERMANY | Oct. 13, 2019 04:35Reply
Do you know Chinese characters for the hanging monastery so I could show it to the taxi driver?
I don't speak any Chinese and I doubt they would understand me if I tried to pronounce it.
Thank a lot!
Answers (1)
Answered by Sal from SINGAPORE | Oct. 15, 2019 19:35

Asked by Killian Cauwenberghs from IRELAND | Aug. 28, 2019 09:03Reply
Tickets hanging monastery online
We are planning to visit the Datong monastery in the following week. Do we need to buy tickets beforehand or can we do it on the spot?
Answers (1)
Answered by Arne from CANADA | Aug. 29, 2019 20:40

You can buy the ticket on the spot.
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

Generally, it is not very crowded on week days.
Answered by Catherine Pierce from CHINA | May. 13, 2019 18:25

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

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

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