Chinese Temples in California for a Soul-searching Road trip


The Chinese community in the United States has steadily grown over the past few decades. As a matter of fact, there are over 50 distinct Chinatowns in the United States and 16 of those are located in California. Historically, these communities served as a refuge for the Chinese immigrants and workers in the mid-19th century. As of today, we are able to celebrate the rich and diverse Chinese culture in America and even influence American lives one way or another.

And what greater way there is to understand Chinese culture other than their faith. Chinese Temples is a sacred place of worship of Chinese Buddhism and other Folk religions. It is also a place for meditation and spiritual connection. These temples also reflect every aspect of Chinese people’s lifestyle such as arts, music, architecture, and other customs.

In case you are planning for a trip that heals our souls, we listed down some of the must-visit Chinese Temples around California:

Hsi Lai Temple

Los Angeles

Photo credits to Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple

To start our soul-searching adventure, Hsi Lai Temple is on top of our list! This 100,000 square feet temple in Hacienda Heights took 10 long years to build. It is considered as one of the largest Buddhist Temples in North America. The temple hosted numerous local and international events such as the Chinese Spring festival which attracts an average of 20,000 visitors per day.

Hsi Lai’ which means ‘Coming to the West’ embodies the objective of the temple– to spread the teachings of the Buddha to the people of the West. Ever since it was established in the year 1988, Hsi Lai Temple has been conducting cultural outreach, community service, spiritual practice and education in the United States, all guided by their Humanistic Buddhism ideology.

Aside from their Main Shrine where most formal religious services are conducted, you may also visit their symbolic Mountain Gate, Arhat and Avalokitesvara Garden, Art Gallery, and many more facilities and architecture! This month of October, all their Dharma services are hosted online due to the pandemic. View their website for further information and guidelines when visiting Hsi Lai Temple.

Middle Land Chan Monastery

Los Angeles

Photo credits to Middle Land Chan Monastery

Looking for a piece of tranquility? This temple is perfect for you! The majestic view of Mount San Antonio matches the solemn and refreshing ambience of the Middle Land Chan Monastery. Located at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, this monastery has been bringing Buddha’s compassion and wisdom to California since April 2008.

Middle Land Chan Monastery is dedicated to helping people discover the joy of meditation and the endless wisdom of Buddhism. They also offer weekly classes in the fundamentals of Zen Buddhism alongside meditation sessions open for everyone all year round! The monastery is currently not accepting new participants for their meditation classes but you could still visit the monastery. For more information and guidelines, visit Middle Land Chan Monastery’s website.

Hsi Fang Temple

San Diego


Photo credits to Fo Guang Shan Hsi Fang Temple

Education. Culture. Cultivation. Charity. Hsi Fang Temple located at Park Boulevard is one of the pillars of the San Diego community in Buddhism. Since 1989, has been focused on cultivating the community through Buddhist teachings and doctrines aligned with their objective of propagating their practices in a westerly direction– hence the direct translation of ‘Hsi Fang’, ‘direction to the west’.

Hsi Fang Temple is offering their Buddhism teachings and activities to those who are genuine and willing to learn. The temple also constantly engages with the people through their charity events such as their vegetarian potluck, baby blessing, Imperial beach cleaning, and other activities that contribute to Californians. As of today, the temple is open for in-person temple tours and visits. You may schedule your visit through this link or contact them at +01 619-298-2800.

Gold Mountain Monastery

San Francisco


Photo credits to Gold Mountain Monastery

It may not seem like it, but this temple will surely give you a unique experience! Located at the heart of San Francisco Chinatown, Gold Mountain Monastery is one of the earliest monasteries established by the founder of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA) in America, Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. Once you enter the temple, the busy and lively Chinatown where dragon and lion dances happen, vendors and markets buzzing are nowhere to be found. It would be like entering a different world and dimension.

What you will witness is the solemn environment accompanied by the fragrance of incense used in rituals. It is a place where Buddha dharma is cultivated and practiced through meditation and learning sessions. Gold Mountain Monastery is open every day and during weekends there are dharma lectures and dharma sessions on repentance or Buddha recitation. You could also participate in their Gold Mountain Instilling Goodness School where they nurture children to be virtuous and instill proper moral concepts to them. If you are interested in visiting Gold Mountain Monastery, contact them via goldmountainmonastery.org or dial (415)421-6117.

Karuna Buddhist Vihara

Santa Cruz


Photo credits to Karuna Buddhist Vihara

Last but certainly not the least on our soul-searching road trip is Karuna Buddhist Vihara located near Boulder Creek in the redwood forest midway. This temple is perfect for those who are seeking peace away from the busy streets of California. The serene ambience of the woods will truly make you feel relaxed, perfect for meditation!

Karuna Buddhist Vihara is a Theravada monastery dedicated to sharing Buddha’s teachings and principles ultimately leading to a happy and healthy life. This simple and humble way of living is a guiding principle for the members of their temple to contribute to the community. They offer meditation instruction, Dhamma talks and a variety of retreats for everyone to join. Karuna Buddhist Vihara is welcoming everyone to join their in-person and online meditation and Sutta study. You may visit their website via www.karunabv.org for more information and guidelines.


Written by: Monina Antonio

Monina Antonio is a digital marketing intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is currently a 4th-year Broadcasting student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines- Sta. Mesa.

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