There are approximately 12,000 registered temples in Taiwan. Recent reports estimate that number is closer to 15,000 temples if you count all places of worship. So, narrowing down a top five is pretty much ludicrous, right? We can’t really argue that, especially when you consider preference to be highly subjective. However, in creating this list we can at least provide visitors with a good idea of the “must visit” ones so as to satisfy your passion for spirituality, culture, and/or aesthetic wonder alike. We considered uniqueness and diversity so that you won’t ever find yourself saying “If you’ve seen one temple, you’ve seen them all!“.
5 Must Visit Temples to See When Visiting Taiwan
1. Hsinchu City God Temple
With nearly 4000 glowing Google Reviews (is it weird to Google Review a temple?) the City God Temple in Hsinchu City on the northwestern corner of Taiwan is a draw to tens of thousands of people per year, and for good reason. For one, it’s got history, having been constructed back in 1748. But fret not, because it has aesthetically stood the test of time after being exquisitely restored in 1924, and maintained to perfection to this very day. As home to the oldest Cheng Huang idol and the highest ranking of all of Taiwan’s city god temples, it packs a lot of spiritual power. Think we’re being dramatic? Step in and you’ll find out what we mean. And once you’ve had your spiritual fill you’ll be able to fill your bellies to your heart’s content, as the temple’s front exterior is lined by a market that boasts an eclectic and delectable selection of Taiwanese delicacies.
2. Dajia Mazu Temple
Located near the western coast of Taiwan, on the outskirts of Taichung City, is a temple that was built in honor of the Chinese sea-goddess, Mazu. Mazu is arguably the most cherished of the island state’s deities, so you can only imagine the care that has gone into the artisan construction and maintenance of this remarkable place of worship. You can forget about “March Madness” as you know it when coming to Taiwan, because the month marks Mazu March Mania (although it sometimes runs in April) a nine day a multi-city 200,000+ person pilgrimage. The pilgrimage starts and ends at Dajia Mazu Temple (aka Jenn Lann temple) but even when the pilgrimage is “en route” things are especially festive in the area. If you can, plan your trip to this temple around this time. Regardless, it’s an awe inspiring all-year place to to visit.
3. Lungshan Temple
Lungshan (aka Longshan) Temaple is a manmade wonder in Taipei City that was founded back in 1738. This place of worship is dedicated to Guanine, the Taiwanese Bodhisattva of mercy, but the deity isn’t the only one represented here, as there are over a hundred gods and goddesses worshipped within Lungshan’s ornate halls. One thing that is interesting about this temple, is its resilience. The temple has been damaged in earthquakes, typhoons, and even World War II bombardment over the centuries, but true to Taiwanese form it has been afforded the love, care, and restoration prowess to return it to form each and every time.
4. Baoan Temple
Founded in 1760, Baoan Temple is one of the most ornate temples in Taiwan. It will literally take multiple visits to soak it all in. But even if you can only go just once, it’s worth it. The temple is dedicated to Baosheng Dadi, a god of medicine, so if you’re a medical student this is a great place to go if you want to bless your up and coming practice. If you can, plan your visit during the Baosheng Cultural Festival, which is on the 15th day of the third lunar month (typically April). It’s quite a thing to see fireworks ignite the sky above this expertly decorated temple in Taipei City.
5. Fufudingshan Shell and Coral Temple
This is by no means the oldest, biggest, or most historic of Taiwan temples, but it is certainly one of the most unique which is why it deserves its place on this list. Also known as just Ding Shan Temple, this place of worship is a work of art that has been constructed almost entirely from seashells and coral, making it a favorite for travelers who have a penchant for the ocean. It’s located in the northern tip of Taiwan, above Taipei and near the Sanzhi district, just 20-30 minutes from other ocean worthy destinations such as Laomei Green Reef, Fuguijiao Lighthouse, and Baishawan Beach. That means you can enjoy a thematic experience after your spiritual awakening at the sea-kissed temple. Note to beach combers, save the shell and coral picking for when you hit the nearby beach!
Even with just five temples to add to your itinerary, checking them off of your “to do” list if you’re not that familiar with Taiwan can be a challenge. However, when you partner up with a local guide they will take the guess work out of the equation so that you can soak up the spiritual experiences without distraction. Download the app, and feel free to message us on Facebook with any questions you may have along the way.