Why Visit White Horse Temple

As the first Buddhist temple in China, White Horse Temple boasts numerous "Firsts": it houses the first ancient pagoda, the Qiyun Pagoda; accommodated the first Indian monk; stored the first Chinese Buddhist scriptures; housed the first translating scripture place, the Cool and Clear Terrace; and welcomed the first Chinese monk, among others.

White Horse Temple's influence extends far beyond China, illustrating the profound exchange of Buddhist culture among different countries today. Following its construction, Buddhism spread to North Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, later reaching Europe and the Americas. In the 20th century, India, Thailand, and Myanmar erected their halls within White Horse Temple, rendering it the world's only temple with Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Burmese Buddhist architectures.

History of White Horse Temple

According to historical legend, Emperor Mingdi of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25 ~ 220) experienced a dream in which a golden figure soared above his courtyard. Upon awakening, he was inspired and dispatched envoys to the western regions to invite Buddha and acquire knowledge of Buddhism. Despite encountering numerous challenges, the envoys eventually met two prominent Indian dignitaries, Kasyapamatanga (摄摩腾) and Dharmaratna (竺法兰). At their invitation, the two monks accompanied the envoys to China, accompanied by a white horse bearing the sacred sutras. In AD 68, the emperor issued a decree to construct a temple to house these scriptures, located approximately 12 kilometers east of the capital city, Luoyang. In honor of the white horse that carried the sutras, the temple came to be known as the White Horse Temple. This pivotal event marked the beginning of Buddhism's spread throughout China, leading to the construction of numerous Chinese temples. Today, visitors to the White Horse Temple can behold a stone sculpture commemorating the revered horse at its entrance.

A Picture ofKasyapamatanga and Dharmaratna A Picture of Kasyapamatanga and Dharmaratna

What to See in White Horse Temple

White Horse Temple Tourist White Horse Temple Tourist Map

Despite enduring numerous instances of destruction and restoration, White Horse Temple stands as a testament to the preservation of a vast array of precious Buddhist architectures and Buddha statues. Among the highlights of the temple are the Main Temple, Qiyuan Pagoda, Thailand Temple, India Temple, and Myanmar Temple.

Main Temple - Historic Site with Numerous Treasures

The Main Temple of present-day White Horse Temple stands as the original structure, facing south and boasting a meticulously symmetrical layout. The Hall of the Heavenly Kings serves as the inaugural hall within this temple, adorned with clay-molded statues depicting the four kings, dating back to the Qing Dynasty. Further exploration leads to the central feature of the temple, the Hall of the Great Buddha. Erected during the Ming Dynasty, this hall houses an array of Buddha statues, including Sakyamuni, representations of Wenshu, the bodhisattva of Wisdom, and Samantabhadra, among others. In the northeastern corner, a monumental ancient bell weighing over one ton resides, serving as the focal point for the celebrated New Year bell striking ceremony.

Adjacent to the Hall of the Great Buddha lies the exquisitely adorned Hall of Mahavira, the largest hall within the temple, measuring 22.8 meters in length and 14.2 meters in width. Amidst its thousands of Buddha statues, notable figures such as Sakyamuni, Amitabha, the Medicine Buddha, and the eighteen arhats stand prominently, crafted from precious silk and hemp materials. A must-see destination within the temple complex is the Cool and Clear Terrace, historically renowned as the repository and translation site for original sutras. Today, this area resembles a tranquil courtyard, enveloped by the subtle fragrance of cypress and cassia trees, offering visitors a serene respite from the bustling surroundings.

White Horse Temple Hall of the Heavenly Kings
White Horse Temple Tall of Great Buddha

Qiyun Pagoda - Old Pagoda with Peaceful Environment

The Qiyun Pagoda, a tiered brick structure, sits approximately 200 meters from the Main Temple of White Horse Temple. Initially constructed in AD 69 during the Eastern Han Dynasty and later rebuilt in AD 1175 during the Jin Dynasty, it holds the distinction of being the first Bhikshuni Ashram in Henan Province, where many nuns continue to study Buddhism today. The pagoda's architectural composition ingeniously combines bricks, wood, and stone, resulting in a distinctive ancient tower. Legend has it that standing 20 meters back from the pagoda and clapping your hands produces an echo resembling the croak of a frog. With fewer visitors compared to the Main Temple, the surroundings of the Qiyun Pagoda offer a tranquil and serene environment for exploration. Adjacent to the pagoda, one can find a pond, bridges, pavilions, and other picturesque features, enhancing the overall ambiance of the area.

White Horse Temple Highly-soaring Qiyun Pagoda

International Zone with Other Temples

In addition to the traditional Chinese architecture, visitors to White Horse Temple have the opportunity to explore several foreign Buddhist buildings, namely the Thailand Temple, India Temple, and Myanmar Temple, each offering its own distinct charm.

The Thailand Temple features a Dagoba housing 12 Buddha statues on the first floor and one of Buddha's relics on the second floor. The Great Buddha Hall within this temple showcases a majestic 7.2-meter tall statue of Sakyamuni Buddha, exuding a solemn presence reminiscent of Phra Ching Rana, one of Thailand's most revered Buddha statues.

At the India Temple, the focal point is the Great Buddha Hall, designed after the iconic Indian Pagoda – the renowned Sanchi Tower. Additionally, visitors can explore numerous halls, cloisters, and archways, all arranged in a harmonious layout showcasing unique architectural ingenuity.

Adjacent to the Thailand Temple, the Myanmar Temple mirrors the style of Mandalay Palace. Its main building is shaped after the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and houses four statues of Sakyamuni, depicting Buddha's enlightenment, teachings, generosity, and meditation.

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White Horse Temple Temples in International Zone (Click to Enlarge)

How to Get to White Horse Temple

White Horse Temple is located in Baimasi Town, Luolong District, Luoyang Temple.

  • 23 km away from Luoyang downtown, about 50 minutes' drive;
  • 28 km away from Luoyang Longmen Railway Station, about 1 hour' drive;
  • 24 km away from Luoyang Beijiao Airport, about 1 hour's drive;
  • 26 km away from Luomeng Grottoes, about 45 minutes' drive;
  • 50 km away from Shaolin Temple, about 1.5 hours' drive.

How to Get to Luoyang: Many tourists choose to get to Luoyang first and then travel to White Horse Temple. Luoyang can be reached by a few international flights, some domestic flights and many high speed trains. If you are already in China, it is easy to take direct flights Luoyang from Beijing (2h), Shanghai (2-2.5h), Chengdu (2h), Chongqing (1.5h), Guangzhou (2.5h), Shenzhen (2.5h), etc., and high speed trains from Beijing (4-4.5h), Xian (1.5-2h), Zhengzhou (40 min), Shanghai (5 ~ 9h), etc. All flights land on Luoyang Beijiao International Airport and all high speed trains arrive at Luoyang Longmen Railway Stations.

Luoyang to White Horse Temple:Luoyang is not equipped with metro at present, and there is no direct public connecting White Horse Temple with Luoyang Longmen Railway Station, Luoyang Beijiao Airport or other attractions of Luoyang. If you want to use public transportation, you can take a bus to Luoyang Railway Station first and then transfer to White Horse Temple.

Luoyang Location Map Location Map Luoyang Location Map (Click to Enlarge)
White Horse Temple Location Map White Horse Temple Location Map (Click to Enlarge)

It is strongly recommended to travel with China Discovery. Our local travel guide and driver will pick you up at the airport or train station as you arrive with an air-conditioned and non-smoking vehicle, and then escort you to your hotel or every attraction listed in your itinerary. Great freedom will be given to you when you need to stop for sightseeing and photograph if possible. You are sure to enjoy a comfortable, safe and efficient experience.

Best Time to Visit White Horse Temple

As a temple with cultural charm, White Horse Temple is suitable to visit all the year around. If we take weather into consideration, the best time to visit Luoyang from April to October, especially April, May, September and October when the climate is most comfortable. If you visit in spring, you get an opportunity to see many colorful peony flowers. The annual Luoyang Peony Culture Festival take place from early April to early May. During this festival, the whole city will be immersed in the happiness of festival and the beauty of peony flowers. In the garden of White Horse Temple, you can see many beautiful flowers as well.

☛ 3 Days Luoyang Peony Culture Festival Tour with White Horse Temple

White Horse Temple White Horse Temple in Spring

How to Plan Your Travel in Luoyang

Usually, it takes 2 ~ 3 days to have a Luoyang tour. The highlights of Luoyang include Longmen Grottoes which is known as the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art, 1900-year-old White Horse Temple (also China's first Buddhist temple), 2000-year-old burial site - Tianzi Jialiu Museum and beautiful Luoyang Museum with a lot of history to tell. Of course, you can't miss a Kung Fu exploration in Shaolin Temple (in Dengfeng city) if you visit Luoyang. It is only 55 km (about 1.5 hours' drive) away from Luoyang City.

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It's strongly recommended to extend your Luoyang tour to its attractive neighbors. After Shaolin Temple visit, you can spend 1 day exploring Zhengzhou or Kaifeng. If you are fond of nature, Mount Yuntai, Guoliang Village and Xiaolangdi Reservoir on Yellow River are recommended.

However, the best way to extend your Luoyang trip is starting a Xian Tour. Owning world-class treasures, Xian offers a lot to see and do. Taking a 1.5~2 hours high speed train, you can unveil an incredible experience of two old capital cities. It is quite popular to travel Beijing and Xian with Luoyang, because Luoyang is just located between them. Get inspired from our Xian Luoyang Tours now!

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Get Inspired by Real Travel Stories of Our Customers

Luoyang and nearby Shaolin Temple are very popular with our customers. Since 2012, we have helped thousands of customers visited the region successfully. With our fully-inclusive private tour packages, all of our customers enjoyed their trips to magnificent Longmen Grottoes, legendary Shaolin Temple, educational Luoyang Museum, beautiful Yuntain Mountain, etc. Some of them even had the rare opportunities to take part in the grand International Peony Festival in Luoyang. Many customers suggest visit Luoyang with Beijing, Xian, Pingyao and Shandong in northern China to explore authentic Chinese culture. Below are some inspiring travel stories:

Cultural Immersion Trip in Ancient Capitals of China (Beijing - Taiyuan - Pingyao - Xian - Luoyang - Dengfeng - Zhengzhou - Kaifeng - Qufu - Mount Tai - Beijing)
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Read more China travel stories > or find recommended similar tours>.

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