Featuring traditional imperial Chinese architecture, the International Buddhist Temple in Richmond is one of Metro Vancouver’s most beautiful buildings.
Also known as the Guan-Yin Temple, it’s open to the public and located at 9160 Steveston Highway, not far from Steveston Village.
Richmond’s Guan-Yin Temple
If you’ve ever wondered what a Buddhist Temple looked like, or wanted to learn a bit about Buddhism or pretend you’re actually in China, this is the perfect place to visit.
The Temple Buildings
The International Buddhist Temple is a truly impressive complex of gardens, ornate buildings, shrines and statues of Buddha. Modeled after Beijing’s Forbidden City in China, the temple showcases elaborate carvings and stonework, beautiful Chinese gardens, and art gallery-quality paintings, works of calligraphy, ceramic murals and sculptures.
There is not just one building at the International Buddhist Temple. At its entrance you’ll find the classical Chinese garden, with its gates, pond, twin gazebos and sculptures. Inside the temple walls there is a large courtyard, the Seven Buddha Pavilion, the Main Gracious Hall, an Ancestral Hall, the Thousand Buddha Hall and the Meditation Hall. Expect to see a lot of red and gold colour at the temple, and impressive buildings with intricate architecture.
Visiting the Buddhist Temple
The International Buddhist Temple and its grounds are open daily to the public from 9:30 to 5:30 pm. You don’t have to be Buddhist to visit the temple. You just need to be curious, respectful and interested in experiencing an amazing place.
Expect to stay for up to about an hour, plus or minus a fair bit depending on your interest in Buddhism, Chinese classical architecture, gardens and oriental art. Plan to stay longer and dress warmly, however, if visiting in the evening on New Year’s Eve which is an especially amazing time to visit.
Admission to the temple is free. Yes, FREE, which makes it one of the absolute best deals in the Lower Mainland. They even have guides sometimes, and you can request a guided tour for groups of 15 or more people. The tours are free to school groups and other educational organizations. For other groups a minimum donation of a mere $2 per person is requested. (Note: To book a tour you need to visit the temple first in person and fill out their paper application.)
Although regular admission to the temple is always free, donations are appreciated.
New Year’s Eve at the Temple
One of the Lower Mainland’s most impressive and culturally-interesting events takes place at the International Buddhist Temple on Chinese New Year’s Eve each year. On that day hundreds if not thousands of folk come to the temple, especially in the evening, to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. The facilities are lit up, there is incense in the air, a makeshift outdoor restaurant is set up, flowers and other items are for sale and the place becomes truly amazing.
Note: The event at Lunar New Year hasn’t happened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Hopefully it will be able to take place again in the future. Whether it will or not, however, is to be determined.
For more information, check out the International Buddhist Temple’s website.
For more information on the temple at New Year’s Eve, check out Chinese New Year’s Eve at Temple.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden
- Vancouver’s Chinatown
- Chinese New Year in Vancouver
- Vancouver’s Chinese New Year Parade
- History and Culture in Vancouver
- Vancouver’s ExplorASIAN Festival
- Vancouver Parks and Nature