Hong Kong is a very busy, modern city. But during my trip to Hong Kong with my parents, I discovered a hidden gem amidst the hustle and bustle of this city: the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery. This is only my second time to visit Hong Kong, and I haven’t had the chance to find this serene place the first time I went here. The Internet is a very powerful tool when planning your travel itinerary. I only discovered the Nan Lian garden while doing some research on less popular but worthy places to visit. A true hidden gem, not a lot of tourists or even locals seem to know about it. But beyond its clandestine beauty, the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery is not to be missed.
Nan Lian Garden
Cutting through Diamond Hill’s myriad of high-rise apartments is the tranquil Nan Lian Garden. This scenic garden is meticulously landscaped over an area of 3.5 hectares in which every hill, body of water, rock, plant and timber structure has been placed according to specific rules and methods. There are exhibitions of Chinese timber architecture, rocks and potted plants, while the hungry might want to try the vegetarian restaurant or tea house.
Chi Lin Nunnery
Established in 1934 and renovated in Tang dynasty style in 1990, the Chi Lin Nunnery is a large temple complex of elegant wooden architecture, soul-soothing lotus ponds and treasured Buddhist relics. The complex also includes a series of temple halls, some of which contain gold, clay and wooden statues representing divinities such as the Sakyamuni Buddha and bodhisattvas.
Source: Discover Hongkong
Going to the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery is very easy even for first-time travelers. You just ride the MTR, get off the Diamond Hill station, then exit C2. From there, look for signs that will lead you to Nan Lian Garden. You will come across the Paragon Mall and cross the street. It’s a 5-minute walk, more or less. We didn’t encounter any problems locating the beautiful place. We went there first thing in the morning, and it’s the perfect time to explore the garden. It became too hot, though, by the time we got to the Chi Lin nunnery. So early morning or late afternoon would be the ideal time to visit.
From the MTR Diamond Hill station, enter the Nan Lian garden first (picture above) before going to the Chi Lin nunnery after you strolled the entire garden. I am surprised to how welcoming the garden is, especially after just going through the busy streets of Hong Kong. Right after we entered the wooden gate, I noticed that there are not a lot of visitors, which is to be expected since this is not very popular among the tourists yet. I love how tranquil and quiet it is once you’re inside the walls of the garden. It makes you forget that you’re actually right smack the middle of Hong Kong City! Unfortunately, we are not allowed to cross the bridge to the temple. My mom wants to get closer, but there’s a small fence blocking the way. We just took pictures in front of it. 🙂
There’s a big koi fish pond in the middle and a shelter where you can sit and rest beside it. I bet if you have kids, they will love watching the koi fish. We were walking around like we’re on a palace ground. The plant compositions and structure are gorgeous! The frenzy of Hong Kong suddenly disappears once you’re up close with nature in this garden. We enjoyed wandering around Nan Lian Garden and marveling at the beautiful nature that surrounds us against the city backdrop. There are areas where you can rest and have some quiet. I can’t believe entering this garden is free considering that it looks well maintained. If you just follow the pathways, straight ahead, you will see yourself finally ending up in the Chi Lin Nunnery.
I haven’t visited any religious places in Hong Kong. And if the Chi Lin nunnery is any indication of how they will be across this country, then I would love to visit them all! Visiting this nunnery feels really special. It adds that final charm to the Nan Lian Garden experience. The Chi Lin nunnery is an oasis of tranquility and spirituality. The whole place is just so solemn. Too bad the heat of the sun is already at its peak and my mom couldn’t handle it anymore, so she didn’t join us inside the Chi Lin courtyards. You will love the lotus ponds. Very soothing. It is just so peaceful and calm.
You can go around the nunnery and witness different Buddha exhibits. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures. I immediately forgot the heat and just took my time to absorb and feel the atmosphere of this magnificent place. The architecture of the monastery might remind you of those you find in Japan, but a quick read of its history will tell you that this is a common Tang Dynasty style. It would be lovely to go here before sunrise or sunset and have that meditative moment and just put your mind to rest. Oh, and a quick trivia, no nails were used to build this big, beautiful nunnery. Simply amazing. Even if you’re not Buddhist, I’m sure you will appreciate the history, the ambiance and the positive energy Chi Lin Nunnery exudes.
We still have a long day ahead exploring Hong Kong. Visiting the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery is a good head start. It gave us that extra boost of positive vibes that we need to enjoy the rest of the day. For those looking for a place of inspiration and calm, I recommend you check out this place. I bet you even the nonbelievers will see something that will delight their soul.
Here are some more pictures I took while wandering around. If you have questions or stories about Nan Lian and Chi Lin, please feel free to comment and share. 🙂
Nan Lian Garden
60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon | +852 2354 1888
Chi Lin Nunnery
5 Chi Lin Drive, Diamond Hill, Kowloon | +852 2354 1888