Afternoon Prayers at Longshan Temple

Longshan temple, taipei

Some of my best travel experiences have been completely unexpected experiences where I’ve ended up in an amazing place by complete chance, mostly due to my terrible sense of direction.

After spending over a week in Taipei, I’d seen everything I wanted to and so decided to go to the nearest subway station and pick a random stop to get off at to see what I could find. Having not yet visited a temple in Asia, I decided to go with Longshan Temple and hope there was actually a temple close to the station…

Fortunately it was right by the station. Unlike most of Taipei, there were quaint cobbled streets lining the crowded and chaotic roads. As you head towards the temple elderly street vendors call out to passersby trying to convince them to buy an assortment of fruits, flowers, incense sticks and prayer beads.

Longshan temple, taipei

Seeing a temple for the very first time was an experience that I’ll never forget.

As soon as you enter the temple to your immediate right is the waterfall and cleaning pool – where visitors can spend some time metaphorically cleansing their body and mind before entering to pray.

longshan tample, taipei

Longshan temple is the only temple in Taiwan that features bronze columns in the design as well as sparkling iridescent red and golden ones. Throughout the temple there are intricately carved stone sculptures and the roofs of the temple are decorated with vivid scenes involving dragons and phoenixes.

longshan temple, taipei

Longshan temple, taipei

In the main square huge golden incense pots send up columns of smoke into the air. All around the square I observed worshippers clutching at prayer beads, some praying and chanting, whilst others lit their incense sticks before placing them into the golden pots.

As I walked around, taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere I noticed that a crowd was gathering and lining up. At first I didn’t know what was going on but then everyone started to take part in the afternoon prayer service.

After realising what was happening I walked around taking video and recording the amazing sounds of hundreds of people chanting in unison. It was one of those really intense moments where I just stood there and thought… Wow, I am so far from home right now…

I took a video of my walk around the temple and the atmosphere during prayer time. The video is quite long so if you don’t have time to watch it all then skip to the five minute mark, where all the exciting stuff happens.

Have you ever picked a place at random to visit without knowing anything about it, and how did it work out?


  1. Audrey
    October 20, 2011

    What a great place to stumble upon by chance! I love how you captured the moment through the photos and sounds! It so beautiful hearing the people chant in unison. :D

    • October 23, 2011

      I know, i spent an hour there just listening to everyone chanting.

  2. Juno
    October 21, 2011

    I can’t really imagine seeing a temple for the first time. As a Korean, I am surrounded by temples everywhere. Eventhough I’m not a Buddhist, I’m used to seeing temples and the sound of prayers. And this was a good one to see for the first time, I’m sure!

    • October 23, 2011

      Hahahaha I know! It was such a crazy experience for me though… Now I’m so used to them that I don’t even get excited by them anymore haha!

  3. Ali
    October 22, 2011

    Wow, that’s one of the most colorful things ever! Gorgeous temple!

  4. Kelsey
    October 28, 2011

    Great shots! It looks like it was a really amazing place. Very detailed architecture.

    • October 30, 2011

      Thanks so much, Kelsey!

  5. Tom
    January 28, 2012

    Awesome photos, Lauren! I went to Longshan Temple for Chinese New Year, but I never saw it in the day time – it looks amazing! Such a magical place :)

  6. Kurt W
    January 17, 2013

    Excellent captures!

  7. Kieran
    November 21, 2019

    I spent some time in Taiwan in the early – mid 2000’s and visited this temple a couple of times. These pictures really do it justice, I recall the very smoky, incense cloaked atmosphere and the dramatic colours, you’ve captured this very well.

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