Stay overnight at Fo Guang Shan Monastery
Experience monastic life without the daytrippers during this overnight stay at the Fo Guang Shan Monastery, Taiwan's largest Buddhist monastery. The complex attracts many visitors keen to see one of the world's biggest Buddha statues, but after closing time you'll have the chance to interact with the monks and nuns, as well as practising meditation and calligraphy.
What to expect from the monastery stay...
The monastery is the headquarters of Fo Guang Shan (Buddha's Light Mountain), an international Buddhist organisation founded in 1967 by the monk Master Hsing Yun.
The charitable order is one of Taiwan's four major Buddhist orders, and since its inauguration has opened over 170 temples and monasteries throughout the world, as well as maintaining various centres of learning and social welfare, including orphanages, nursing homes and free mobile clinics to serve the poor in rural areas.
All visitors to the Fo Guang Shan Monastery are welcome to meditate, talk to the residents and take classes, but an overnight stay there gives you the chance to deepen your discovery of Buddhist practice.
Your guide during the stay will be a resident nun or monk, who will show you the ropes. Accommodation will be a 'simple' pilgrim's lodge (it has a TV, AC and a private bathroom, so it's hardly a monk's cell) and you'll wake early to attend the pre-dawn morning chanting, which is a moving highlight for many.
The monastery is still and beautifully lit at night, and you'll get the opportunity to meditate, practise calligraphy and walk through some of the 100 hectare grounds.
You can dine in the main dining hall, where a strict code of silence is involved - food is chosen with gestures, and diners are expected to be mindful enough of neighbouring diners to notice when they need something passed to them. By prior arrangement, meals can also be eaten with your guide, and there are several vegetarian restaurants in the complex.
Location: Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Duration: One night
Accommodation: A pilgrim's lodging in the monastery
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'Buddhism is a core part of Taiwanese culture, and this experience gives you the chance to learn more, not to mention giving you the chance to find some stillness on your journey.'