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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 26 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Thomas O’Malley

One of Beijing’s most spectacular historic sights, the Lama Temple started out as a grand imperial residence before being converted to a lamasery for Tibetan Buddhists in 1744.

During the Qing Dynasty, it became one of the most important religious sites in China, tasked with determining the reincarnations of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.

The palace-like site unfolds symmetrically through a series of ornamental halls, courtyards and pavilions to its incense-shrouded finale, an 18m tall statue of the Maitreya Buddha carved from a single trunk of Tibetan sandalwood.

Don't miss

The Wanfu Pavilion (Pavilion of Eternal Happiness) is the temple’s most-awe-inspiring chamber, containing within an 18-metre high Buddha statue carved from sandalwood.

While you're there

Just to the west of the Lama Temple is Wudaoying Hutong, a bohemian strip of quirky boutiques, vintage shops and hip third wave cafes like Metal Hands.

A visit to the Lama Temple pairs wonderfully with lunch or afternoon tea at neighbouring King’s Joy, a serene vegetarian fine-dining restaurant opened by a former Buddhist disciple.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Conveniently, the Lama Temple has its own subway stop called Yonghgong Lama Temple (Line 2 & 5).

There is no need to pre-book tickets, but you might be asked to show your passport at the ticket office, so have it with you.

Audio guides are available in multiple languages for a small fee. You might also be able to hire an official English-speaking guide at the entrance gate, depending on availability. Independent guides hawking their services are best avoided.

Note that photography isn’t permitted inside the halls, but is allowed in the courtyards.

Allow up to two hours for your visit.

When to do it

The Lama Temple is open all year round, seven days a week.

If you visit on a weekday, you probably won’t need to queue. The temple is generally quieter in the afternoon.

Avoid visiting during the first few days of Chinese New Year, when locals descend in their droves to pray for good fortune.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Beijing Historical Tour II including Summer Palace, Lama Temple & Panda Garden

Beijing

Beijing Historical Tour II including Summer Palace, Lama Temple & Panda Garden
Visit two of Beijing’s most important historic sites on a full-day tour that features the Lama Temple (Yonghegong) and UNESCO heritage-listed Summer Palace. You also see giant pandas, stop at a jade store and tea house, and relax over a Chinese-style lunch. Your experienced guide provides informative commentary on the history and culture of each site, as well as background on China's famous panda bears and an introduction to modern Beijing. Enjoy time for photos and questions at each stop on this fascinating Beijing sightseeing tour.

Price: $99

Min age: 0

Rating 4.07 / 5 [148 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Xi'an Day Tour: Terra-Cotta Warriors & Horses from Beijing by Air

Beijing

Xi'an Day Tour: Terra-Cotta Warriors & Horses from Beijing by Air
Xi’An, the eternal city, records the great changes of the Chinese nation just like a living history book. Called Chang’Aan in ancient times, Xian is one of the birthplaces of the ancient civilization in the Yellow River Basin area of the country. During its 3,100 year development, 13 dynasties such as Western Zhou (11th century BC - 771 BC), Qin (221 BC - 206 BC), Western Han (206 BC - 24 AD) and Tang (618 - 907) placed their capitals here. So far, Xi’An enjoys equal fame with Athens, Cairo, and Rome as one of the four major ancient civilization capitals. The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses is a sensational archeological find of all times. It was listed by UNESCO as one of the world cultural heritages. Note: If you need to go to any other cities after the tour instead of Beijing, please contact the local tour operator once you make the booking.

Price: $950

Min age: 0

Rating 4.10 / 5 [19 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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4-Hour Private Tour: Lama Temple, Confucius Temple, Guozijian Museum with Dim Sum

Beijing

4-Hour Private Tour: Lama Temple, Confucius Temple, Guozijian Museum with Dim Sum
This private 4-hour walking tour showcases the beauty, culture and tradition of Beijing's two most iconic temples and followed by a dim sum meal. You can choose to have the morning start to have a lunch or afternoon start to have dinner.Follow your expert guide and learn about the architecture, beliefs and local heritage as you explore two temples as well as the imperial college. Enjoy the imperial performance inside the Imperial College.Enjoy the personalized attention from your guide on this private tour with your family and friends. A tasty Dim Sum lunch or dinner is inclusive.

Price: $108

Min age: 0

Rating 4.84 / 5 [13 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Half-Day Temple of Heaven and Lama Temple Tour by Metro

Beijing

Private Half-Day Temple of Heaven and Lama Temple Tour by Metro
Utilizing public transportation to make for easy access to famous religious attractions Temple of Heaven and Lama Temple in Beijing City. From this 4-hour private walking tour, you will find Beijing's public transport system is remarkably convenient and it is one of the fastest ways to get around the city. In addition, learn about the real insight into city life. This tour focus on history, culture,and tradition customs.

Price: $98

Min age: 0

Rating 5 / 5 [7 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Full-Day Beijing City Tour: Hutongs, Lama Temple and Panda House

Beijing

Full-Day Beijing City Tour: Hutongs, Lama Temple and Panda House
In this full-day tour, you will explore the ancient capital of Beijing both old and new, see cuddly giant pandas at Panda House, walk through the maze of hutongs or narrow alleys, which are now fast disappearing, visit a large Tibetan Buddhist monastery - Lama Temple, and take pictures of Water Cube and Bird's Nest. hotel pickup and drop-off are included.

Price: $172

Min age: 0

Rating 4.71 / 5 [7 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Beijing

China

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