Nan Putuo Temple, Xiamen, in Fujian, China

Attraction type: Architectural, Chinese Buddhist temple, lookouts over the city
Entry is free
How to get here: Any bus that goes to Xia Da Nan Putuo “夏大(南普陀)站”

Accessibility: With help, you can bring a pram. I did see multiple prams here, but being China, wheelchair accessibility might be harder as the ramps are generally steep and are a design feature rather than a practical tool. If you have no intention of climbing the steps/going up the mountain, then the ground is fully flat.

Nan Putuo Temple or South Putuo temple (Nan meaning South) is a Buddhist temple in Xiamen. I originally did not want to go as I am not interested in Buddhism, or any religion for that matter, but like the cathedrals in Europe, I went for the architecture. I was glad I went. At least go to see the architecture, or failing that, you can climb up the stairs in the ‘mountains’ to see the twin Shimao Towers of Xiamen.

Once you enter through the main gate, there is a large pond/water feature. Walking past that, you reach the start of the actual temple property. Many people go there to burn incense, the incense is free and can be obtained from the stalls near the entry of the actual temple.

Map of the area:
I entered at the gate closest to the bus stop I got off from, the very bottom right hand corner. This map is located at the first building in the yellow part of the map, towards the bottom of the image. The round dot shows where you are, the star shows where the vegetarian restaurant is.

The temple closes at 6pm but there is a vegetarian restaurant on site that operates till 9pm, so you need to get in before it closes, and stay late.

The benefit of staying late is that you might be able to climb up the mountain to see the night scenery of Xiamen city. There are stone steps of varying height and climb difficulty, most with rails or at least natural boulders to hold on to, most manmade steps are quite shallow, others are cut into the rock. I did see many groups come just before 6pm closing time the day I went.

Originally, I went to do some location scouting for a photography vantage point. Because I did not plan on staying long, I did not bring food, but I ended up staying the whole day and did not stop for lunch, or go out for lunch. The milk tea and peanuts I had for breakfast must have had a million kilojoules, as it lasted me all day, besides the water I had with me. I am not sure what kind of restaurants are nearby outside, but do know the restaurant is at the entry to the temple. From the entry, stay on the right side and walk straight ahead through some gates. Toilets are on the far left from entry, past the pond (far left near left hand side gate in map).

There is also a place that offers free vegetarian meals in the temple, however, signage is in Chinese and I did not actually find the place itself, and only saw the sign. If you visit and find it and ate there, do let us know what it was like!

There is a lookout on a fenced, sloped rock platform where people go to take photos. You can climb higher but I wasn’t sure if you can see the twin towers without trees blocking your view, so I settled for this location.

To get up to the lookout, from entry, proceed straight into the temple, keep to the right and then keep climbing up stairs where you can. You’ll come to a clearing and the lookout is on the left.

Views from the lookout: (note the cracks in the rock platform)

How to get to Nan Putuo Temple:
To get to the temple which is on the west side of the island, I took bus 751 from the east side of Xiamen island and got off at the last stop, “夏大(南普陀)站” Xia Da Nan Putuo, it is near the Xiamen University. This means you can safely stay on with no fear of missing your stop, and be guaranteed a seat on the way back. The entire island is only about 2 hours north to south and east to west, and 4 hours to drive around the perimeter.

For more photos of this location, be sure to visit my Flickr album here.

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