Putuo Shan

Putuo Shan Overview

A great getaway from Shanghai and other coastal urban jungles, Putuo Shan (Mount Putuo), one of China's four sacred Buddhist mountains, is a truly beautiful island. There you'll  find not an abundance of temples and shrines, all dedicated to Guanyin Pusa, goddess of mercy and bodhisattva of compassion. You'll also find breathtaking ocean views and a relative rarity in China—clean beaches, excellent for swimming.

The largest and most striking representation of Guanyin is the 33-meter-tall (108 ft.) golden Nanhai Guanyin, who looks out over the sea from the vantage point of Guanyintiao (Guanyin Leap) at the southern tip of the island. Visible from much of the island, this is the final destination for multitudes of pilgrims—and tourists—each year. The island offers many other attractions, from the carved stone murals surrounding the Nanhai Guanyin to various caves, grottoes and temples. As for those beaches, two of the more famous ones are One Hundred Step Beach and One Thousand Step Beach. Both are lovely, but they can be very crowded during the peak season.

In addition to throngs of tourists (assuming you come in the warm months), you'll see the island's resident monks. At one point in time, Putuo Shan was home to over 3,000 monks, though that number is smaller these days. They can be quite a friendly lot and are known to engage in lengthy conversations with anyone who cares to chat. Xiangyun Pavilion is a particularly good spot for meeting monks, and you can have tea there, too.

You'll find monks and tourists alike in some of the island's top sites. For sublime natural wonder, try the sea caves of Chaoyang, Xianren, Gufu and Shancai, where ocean meets land in often dramatic fashion. Climb or take a cable car up Foding Shan (Foding Mountain) for a spectacular view of surrounding islands. And, of course, there are the temples. All are worth visiting, from Huiji Si (Huiji Temple) near Foding Shan's peak, to the centrally located Puji Si (convenient to buses, restaurants, ticket booking and the Bank of China) to the serene Fayu Si. For more details and additional attractions, visit our growing listings of Putuo Shan Attractions, where you can add your own comments, reviews and even add new attractions.

Walking is the best way to get around and buses are available to the more remote areas of interest. Putuo Shan covers an area of about 12.5 square kilometers, so it's quite manageable by foot. For details on getting there and back (you'll have to go by boat, so don't forget your Dramamine) visit our Putuo Shan Transportation page. And for more information on things to do and places to stay, try the Isle of Mount Putuo site.

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