Foguangshan 佛光山 is by far Taiwan's most beautiful Buddhist monastery. It's also the island's largest and wealthiest meditation centre. This immense complex is located on a hill in southern Taiwan, just outside Kaohsiung City. It's also called The Light of Buddha Mountain.
Note that you need to be in good shape to visit Foguangshan as the area it covers is massive, and there is A LOT of walking to do if you're intending to see it all - and a big part is uphill.
This Buddhist monastery first started as a small mountain retreat in 1967, but it's now home to Taiwan's tallest Buddha statue (36m), vast shrines, art galleries, libraries and some of the largest meditation halls you've ever seen.
The main shrine was the highlight of my visit with it's three imposing, 7.8-meter tall Buddha statues and 14 000 smaller Buddha images contained in tiny niches on the four walls of the shrine. A nun told me that morning prayers are held here every day at 5:40am.
The sprawling complex also includes gardens, pavilions, ponds, grottoes, teahouses, cafes and even a lodge where you can have your own room for around NT$2000/night.
To make arrangements for the Foguangshan tours or to reserve a room at the Pilgrim's Lodge, call 656 1921, ext 6203-6205.
From Kaohsiung Bus Station, buses leave every hour and take about 50 minutes to get to the temple. It costs about $NT80 one way.