Longshan Temple is indisputably the most famous temple in Taipei city, Taiwan. And it’s not just a tourist-trap, either.
Locals consider Longshan to be the most important temple in the city. It is an active place of worship, always buzzing with energy and devotion. Three daily chanting ceremonies take place in the temple grounds.
In the streets around the temple, fortune tellers dish out guidance, vendors display an array of herbs and medicines, and no less than four night markets come alive in the evening (the most famous being Huaxi Night Market). This is the throbbing heart of Wanhua, the oldest district of Taipei.
In this article, I’ll provide some tips for having an enjoyable visit at Longshan Temple, including the temple’s history, best times to go, temple etiquette, how to visit and pray for love in the temple, where to eat nearby, and other things to see and do in the area.
Longshan Temple Quick Intro
Longshan Temple (龍山寺) literally means “Dragon Mountain Temple“. Its name comes from a temple of the same name in Fujian province, China (where most of Taiwanese people’s ancestors come from). That temple sits at the base of Dragon Mountain.
The name is sometimes also spelled Lungshan Temple, or more complete forms like Bangka/Monga/Mengjia Longshan Temple (艋舺龍山寺). Bangka/Monga/Mengjia are older and Taiwanese language pronunciations of Wanhua district, the original walled city of Old Taipei.
Chinese settlers from Fujian established Taipei’s Longshan Temple in 1738 as a branch of the temple from their homeland. This makes it one of the oldest temples in Taipei, but not as old as many temples in Tainan, Taiwan’s original capital (see my Tainan guide).
Like many old temples in Taiwan, the original structure has been destroyed by fires and earthquakes and rebuilt several times. American warplanes also bombed it during World War II, so the current structure dates to post-WWII, with even more renovations having been done since then.
Also like most temples in Taiwan, Longshan combines elements of Buddhism, Daoism, and folk religion. The temple’s Main Hall houses a large statue of Guanyin (the goddess of mercy) brought over from China, but many other deities are housed in the temple (we’ll get to that below).
Learn about other famous temples in Taipei here.
The temple has a namesake MRT stop, Longshan Temple MRT Station, on the Taipei MRT Blue Line. It is one stop from Ximen and two stops from Taipei Main Station.
Alighting from the MRT, follow the signs to Exit 5, the closest exit to Longshan Temple. Although not marked on GoogleMaps, the escalators at the exit will spit you out here in Bangka Park, which is just south of the temple.
You could also walk to Longshan Temple from popular Ximen (Ximending) neighborhood in 20 minutes. If you do so, consider visiting the area’s three other famous temples (Taipei Tianhou Temple, Qingshui Temple, and Qingshan Temple) along the way.
Want a local to guide you through Longshan Temple? Then join this free Longshan Temple tour.
Best Time to Visit: The Chanting Ceremony
Longshan Temple is open daily from 6 AM to 9:45 PM. If you want to visit the temple at its liveliest, try to come during one of the three daily chanting ceremonies.
These take place daily from 6:00 to 6:45 AM, 8:00 to 8:45 AM, and 3:45 to 5:00 PM. During these times, there will be a crowd of local worshippers, often mostly women, chanting in front of the Main Hall. Local devotees will join in the singing from positions throughout the temple.
You won’t be interrupting anything if you visit during the ceremony. Other locals will still be busy doing their normal prayers and rituals during this time.
You can still explore the temple freely as you wish. You can even join the chanters in front of the Mall Hall. The chanting will only add to your experience, providing a calming and meditative soundtrack to your visit.
Longshan Temple takes on a totally different, more chill vibe at night. If you’re in the area for visiting Huaxi Night Market, take another look at the temple after your night market visit.
Longshan Temple is also a great place to visit on Lunar New Year’s Day, if you happen to be in the city during the holiday.
Many locals visit a temple on the first day of the year to pray for good fortune in the year to come. There are usually extra decorations during the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival period.
There is no particular dress code for visiting Longshan Temple or most Taiwanese temples. Whatever you’re wearing already is fine – just don’t do something silly like go in a bathing suit or barefoot, but this applies to pretty much anywhere in Taiwan besides the beach or pool.
Shorts, sandals, skirts, tank tops, hats – no one will bat an eye if you enter the temple wearing any of these.
What’s more important is that you visit the temple in a respectful manner. Don’t get in people’s way when they’re praying or doing rituals, don’t be loud, and follow the correct visiting route (I’ll cover that below).
Photography is allowed, but if you’re photographing people, do so either discreetly or not at all.
Longshan Temple Map
You can find a better version of the above map of Longshan Temple by clicking this link or scanning one of the QR codes on the poster just inside the temple.
When you open the map, you can click on the different numbers on the map to learn more about the typical steps for walking and worshipping inside the temple. There’s also the option for an audio guide.
I’ll describe in even more detail how to visit the temple according to steps 1 to 6 below.
How to Visit the Temple: Step by Step
To visit Longshan Temple in the correct traditional manner, follow these steps, as outlined here on the official temple website. I’ll add more tips and details to deepen your experience.
Step 1: MRT to Dragon Entrance Gate
Assuming you’re coming from the MRT, you’ll first walk through a small underground mall to Exit 5 for reaching the temple. This mall is filled with Fortune Teller Stalls, where locals go to ask about their future, determining auspicious dates for major life events, assessing compatability with partners, choosing names for children, and more.
You can also try traditional Taiwanese tea at LiuYu Teahouse (柳隅茶舍) near the escalators and stairs going up to the park.
The stairs or escalators will take you up to Bangka Park, where elderly men like to hang out and play Chinese chess. The park also has a pond and water fountains that kids could play in on a hot day.
Cross Guangzhou Street (廣州街) at the north end of the park to reach the entrance gate to Longshan Temple. There are often vendors selling religious items or monks/nuns asking for donations on the street in front of the temple.
There is only one Main Gate for entering the temple grounds. Take a moment to admire the vibrant porcelain tile mosaics and dragons atop the gate – standard features in Fujian and Taiwanese-style temples. Also note the characters 龍山寺 (Longshan Temple) on the gate.
Once you pass through the gate, you’ll find yourself in a small square in front of the temple. To the right, there’s an artificial waterfall. To the left, you’ll see a pond filed with coy fish.
In front of you will be the Front Hall of Longshan Temple. Again stop to take in the temple’s intricately carved columns, octagonal windows, and upward curving swallowtail roof tips – another trait distinct to the region.
Enter the temple from the Dragon Gate (龍門), which is to the right of the Front Hall.
Step 2: Front Hall
When you enter the temple, you’ll walk through a short hallway to the front courtyard. This hallway has a kiosk on the right where locals buy incense and cookies and candies for offerings. As a foreign guest, don’t feel you need to do this unless you really want to.
Also watch for the signboard which has a map of the temple and QR code to pull up the map and audio guide on your phone.
Upon entering the first courtyard, most locals will hang a sharp right and proceed directly to the inner side of the Front Hall (三川殿). From there, they will face inward to the courtyard and Main Hall and do some prayers.
If you want to pray, just find a spot among the worshippers in the Front Hall, face forward to the Main Hall and deity statues in it, and place your palms together. If you have incense, you can light it and place it between your palms while praying.
In your head, state your name, birthday, where you live, and things you want to ask the gods for. Go for realistic dreams rather than winning the lottery-type ones – the gods are pragmatic.
Local devotees will do this three times to three different god statues housed in the Main Hall, in this order: Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Manjushri Bodhisattva, and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. After doing this, bow three times.
Different deities can be asked for different things, depending on what their specialty is – that’s more than I want to get into here.
Step 3: Main Hall
After praying in the Front Hall, worshippers will then walk across the courtyard to the Main Hall (正殿), which is at the center of Longshan Temple. It is the tallest and most important structure in the temple.
As a visiting guest, there’s a good chance you’ll just go directly to the Main Hall upon entering the temple.
The Main Hall’s most important deity, right in the middle, is a golden statue of Guanyin (觀音) brought over from China. She sits cross-legged on a lotus, with flames emanating from the halo around her head.
This is an original statue – it survived the WWII bombing that otherwise destroyed the Main Hall.
There are small staircases on either side of the Main Hall for getting up to the prayer platform in front of it. Locals will do the same prayer I described above but now for Guanyin.
Next, they will turn around (facing back to the courtyard and Front Hall) and pray to Jade Emperor (天公) in the sky.
If you’re visiting during the chanting ceremony, this platform will be full of worshippers doing the chanting, but there’s usually still enough room to join them and peer into the Main Hall.
Step 4: Rear Hall & Asking for Love
Next, walk to the right side of the Main Hall to reach the Rear Courtyard and Rear Hall of Longshan Temple. On the way, take note if the huge lanterns hanging from the side of the Main Hall.
The Rear Hall actually consists of multiple halls, each housing different deities. Locals may pray to all of them or choose specific ones depending on what they’re wishing for that day.
One small but popular deity here is Yue Lao (月老), the matchmaker god, in a small hall on the left side – it’s marked on the official map. If you’re looking for love, you may want to pay him a visit.
To ask Yue Lao for love, first leave a candy or sweet treat on one of the red plates on the table to his left. You can bring this in from outside the temple or buy one from the kiosk I mentioned in the temple’s entrance hallway.
Now pray to Yue Lao in the same way I described for the other gods above. At the end, also describe the kind of person your are looking for and what kind of relationship you would like to have.
If you already have a partner but want the relationship to go to the next level, tell Yue Lao this. Make sure to mention the person’s name and picture them in your mind.
After this, you must throw a pair of red moon blocks (筊杯 or jiaobei) on the ground three times, asking a different question about your future love each time. See here for how to read the moon block answers and more details about those answers here. The blocks will be on a table nearby.
After completing these rituals, you can take one of Yue Lao’s red strings (紅線), which are in a box in front of his shrine. There’s no fee for the strings.
Make sure to keep and protect the string if you want Yue Lao’s matchmaking skills to work. There’s one final step to seal the deal (see #5 below).
Step 5: Bless the Red String
If you have received a red string from Yue Lao, before leaving, you must bless the string. Do this by returning to the large incense pot in front of the Main Hall (pictured above). Hold your string over the incense pot and move it in a clockwise circle three times.
If you’ve purchased any religious souvenirs (see step 6), you can also bless them in this way before leaving.
Note: If Yue Lao’s blessing does the trick and your find the love that you asked him for, tradition has it that you must later return to Longshan Temple to thank him.
Step 6: Exit via the Tiger Gate
Your Longshan tour is now complete. You should exit via the Tiger Gate (虎門), which will be on the right side as you’re leaving. Just before exiting, there is a kiosk on the right selling some religious souvenirs. There’s also a staircase to the free restrooms on B1.
Where to Eat around the Temple
Whether you’re visiting Longshan Temple in the early morning, afternoon, or at night, there are multiple dining options around the temple.
For lunch, I highly recommend Liang Xi Hao (兩喜號西園店), just west across the street from Bangka Park.
The extensive menu (Mandarin only – use GoogleTranslate’s picture scanning function) features satisfying squid/shrimp/cuttlefish thick soup with noodles, braised pork rice, burdock tempura, and other local dishes. It’s open 10 AM to 11:30 PM.
If you’re visiting Longshan Temple in the late afternoon (for the 3:45 to 5:00 PM chanting ceremony) or evening, then see my Huaxi Street Night Market guide for how to visit the four night markets around Longshan Temple.
Also consider walking 15 minutes to Nanjichang Night Market, which overall has better food selection than Huaxi Night Market.
Other Things to See and Do around Longshan
Right next to Longshan Temple, Herb Lane (青草巷), when vendors display various Chinese medicinal herbs, is worth a quick look.
These shops tend to be open from around 8 AM to 10 PM and some of them take a break on Sundays. You can taste various herbal drinks at this shop.
In the evening, the street next to Herb Lane becomes Xichang Night Market, but food options in this market are limited. It’s better to follow Guangzhou Street west of Longshan Temple, where it becomes Mengxia/Guangzhou Street Night Market.
You’ll need to walk down Mengxia/Guangzhou Night Market for accessing Huaxi Street Night Market and Wuzhou Street Night Market. Find a map of all four night markets in my Huaxi Night Market article.
Read about other night markets in Taiwan here.
Bopiliao Historical Block (剝皮寮歷史街區) is another interesting attraction in the area. It is a renovated street of historical buildings now housing little museums and galleries.
Wanhua’s two other most famous temples are Bangka Qingshan Temple (艋舺青山宮) and Bangka Qingshui Temple (艋舺清水巖).
Popular Ximending Walking District is a 20-minute walk (or 1 MRT stop) away. You could visit the above two temples on the way to Ximending, while another important one, Taipei Tianhou Temple, is in Ximending itself.