Although often overlooked in travel guides, Hualin Temple is one of the oldest and most interesting temples in Guangzhou. Known as Xilai Temple until 1655, the place of worship commemorates the arrival of Bodhidharma (who was later to found Zen Buddhism in China) to Guangzhou from India around 525 AD. After Bodhidharma headed north the temple was founded by followers in 527 AD. The Bodhidharma Hall in Hualin Temple, which was reconstructed in the 1990s, stands as tribute to the great monk. However, the most impressive structure in the temple complex is the 500 Arhat Hall. Constructed in 1851, this hall houses 500 gold-painted carvings of arhats (those who have reached Nirvana), each with a unique pose and expression. Hualin Temple is relatively small compared to other temples, but is particularly atmospheric and interesting. It benefits especially from the English-language explanations of the temple’s features and history.
Admission: Theoretically ¥8 (if you can find the ticket vendor). Open: 8:00-17:00.
Directions: Located in a side-street between Changshou Lu and Xiajiu Lu, Hualin Temple can be a bit tricky to find. The easiest way to get there is to head east along Changshou Lu from the subway station of the same name. Just before you reach the intersection with Kangwang Zhong Lu, turn (south) down the alley that is lined with jade stalls. The temple is a little further down this street.
Show the taxi driver: 请带我去华林寺, 谢谢。 (Please take me to Hualin Temple. Thank you.)