About the Shaolin Temple
Not happy with being the birthplace of Chinese Buddhism, Luoyang (or nearby Dengfeng) is also home to the birthplace of the ancient martial art of Kung-Fu at the Shaolin Temple.
The temple is the home of Shaolin Kung-Fu (Wushu in Chinese), one of the oldest and most revered martial arts.
Like a lot of historical places in China, the temple has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over its 1,500 year history.
Shaolin Temple Luoyang is a great place to spend a day or longer as there is some fantastic hiking at Songshan National Park where the temple and training centre is located.
Where is the Shaolin Temple?
The Shaolin Temple is located within Song Mountain National Park on the outskirts of Dengfeng, 80km south-east of Luoyang in China’s Henan Province.
What is there to see and do at the Shaolin Temple?
The Shaolin Temple makes an excellent day trip from Luoyang and there is plenty to do including watching a kung-fu performance, admiring the architecture of the temples and pagoda forest and also hiking.
The temple forms part of beautiful Songshan National Park which is fantastic for hiking. There is even a “hidden” village clinging to a mountainside.
Martial Arts Performance
There are hourly kung-fu performances put on by the Shaolin monks and novices and these really are spectacular. The training the monks go through is rigorous and the evidence of this is jaw-dropping.
Watch as the monks do battle and perform extreme feats of human endurance such as bending spears against each other’s throats.
There is even the opportunity for audience members to have a go. You can volunteer to mimic the monks’ moves if you are brave enough!
Entrance to the show is included in the ticket price. Each showing is 30 minutes and they run from 10:30 until 16:00.
Known as the “One Temple under Heaven”, the Shaolin Monastery dates back to the Norther Wei Dynasty (286 – 534AD). It is the birthplace of Chinese Zen Buddhism and Wushu (Kung Fu).
The temples are located a kilometre or so farther up the main path after leaving the training centre. Enter through the doorway into a cool and shady world as wafts of incense hang on the wind. Here you can discover the Shanmen Hall, Hall of Heavenly Kings and Mahavira Hall.
The Dharma Cave
This is the cave where the Dharma (an early practitioner of Buddhism) sat meditating for nine years. It is alleged that he cut off his eyelids to heighten his senses and could even hear the ants scream! After 9 years the Dharma returned to civilisation with Zen Buddhism.
Carrying on up the same track from the training centre and temples you will finally reach the pagoda forest; a Buddhist graveyard. Here you will see many large Stupas, or burial monuments. The site is impressive but unfortunately there is now a fence stopping you from wandering among the stones.
Songshan National Park is truly a beautiful place with some excellent hiking. You will be sure to spot some interesting wildlife around the park which is at its best from spring until Autumn.
There are two main hiking routes and two cable car lines. It’s possible to hike without the use of the cable cars, but you may consider taking them one way as the hikes can be quite long (a whole day is needed to trek to the mountain village and back).
The hiking can be tough going so you will need a good level of fitness. You will ascend to a level of between 1500 and 2000 metres.
The cable cars cost extra at between 80 and 150 per trip and optional as you can hike the route that they take.
Tickets for Shaolin Temple Luoyang
Ticket price is ¥150
The price of the ticket includes the kung fu show, temples, pagoda forest, Dharma cave and access to Songshan Mountain.
Cable Car 1 ¥80
Cable Car 2 ¥120
Wushu Training Centre Performances: 10:30 – 16:00
Shaolin Monastery: 10:00 to 17:00
Cable Cars: 10:00 to 17:00
National Park: 09:00 to 18:00
There are toilets (clean, squat), restaurants, food shops and hotels all at the entrance to the park. Inside the park there are kiosks selling drinks and snacks and public toilets.
How to get to Shaolin Temple
Go to Jianxi Bus Station next to Luoyang Railway Station. In peak season there are buses that go direct to the Shaolin Temple. The journey is around 2 hours and costs ¥20.
If there are no direct buses, you can buy a ticket to nearby Dengfeng and then take a taxi the 20 minute journey to the temple (¥30).
About this author: Steve Rohan has lived in China for six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, ancient capital of Luoyang and tropical paradise that is Sanya.
After teaching English for a number of years, he now blogs full time for this site and adventure travel blog thetripgoeson.com.