If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway for a couple of hours in Hong Kong, then I’d recommend the Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery, which are right next to each other. They are also very easy to find – leave Diamond Hill MTR station by exit C1, turn left and walk round the corner (to the left). Cross the road and you are at the entrance to the gardens.
Both the gardens and nunnery were built very recently (there isn’t much in Hong Kong that is old!), but in a traditional style which is very attractive. The gardens have a recommended route which you are directed to walk round and you are not allowed to eat or drink (or presumably have any fun!).
One of the first things you come across in the gardens is a building housing a number of scale models of wooden structures from around China which are made without the use of any fixings such as nails (both the models and the original buildings). In fact, the Chi Lin Nunnery is made like this.
Other highlights from around the gardens include a banyan tree grove with tables and benches (a nice place to sit and chat or read a book):
There is also a tea house where you can learn about Chinese tea and have some tea ceremoniously made up for you, which is a lovely traditional pastime although the tea house is a little expensive. The tea house is housed in this long, low building:
There are also lots of structures, such as this bright pagoda in the middle of a pond:
If you have been following the path marked for you, you will finish by the viewing platform, which has a nice view over the park.
Continuing along the viewing platform (so that you are walking away from the park) takes you over a bridge right to the entrance of the Chi Lin Nunnery, which is just across the road. If you don’t want to go over the bridge, there is an exit from the park by the viewing platform, which takes you to the road – simply cross the road and you are outside the nunnery.
Whilst you may spend an hour or so in the Nan Lian Gardens, you will probably spend significantly less time in the Chi Lin Nunnery as it isn’t very big (but you may wish to spend longer worshipping at the Buddhist shrines). The pictures below show the first main courtyard where you can admire the beautiful wooden structure and look at the lily ponds. However, you must not sit on the walls or steps – you will be moved on pretty quickly! There are a few chairs around the edge of the courtyard if you desperately need to sit for a bit.
Continue straight on to reach the second courtyard which has a number of shrines around the edge. I didn’t take any photos in this area as I didn’t wish to cause offence. Each shrine is dedicated to a different Buddha and has an accompanying explanation.
The Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery are beautiful examples of traditional Chinese style architecture, although they are very new and pristine so some people don’t like them. I’ve visited them a couple of times now and always found it to be a very relaxing and interesting experience.
Thanks for reading!