Shuānglín Temple

Top choice buddhist site in Pingyao

Within easy reach of Píngyáo, this astonishing Buddhist temple houses many incredibly rare, intricately carved Tang, Song and Yuan painted statues. Rebuilt in 1571, it’s an impressive complex of ancient halls: the interiors of the Sakyamuni Hall and flanking buildings are exquisite. The Four Heavenly Kings date to the Tang dynasty and the Thousand Buddha Hall contains an astonishing 1000-arm Guanyin. Dark-faced Buddha statues hide within the Great Treasure Hall, while young sculptors come here to cast their likeness from clay.

Guanyin is portrayed sitting lalitasana (a very lithe and relaxed regal posture) in another hall, while in the Luohan Hall, one of the ancient luóhàn (arhat) is depicted boozing. Note how some of the statues have a wooden skeleton, covered in clay. You can also go up and walk along the wall around the temple. A rickshaw or taxi from town will cost ¥50 return, or you could cycle the 7km here.