Tongren’s main monastery is a huge and fascinating maze of renovated chapels and monks’ residences, dating from 1301. It’s a superb place to wander and explore, and you’ll need one or two hours. Your ticket includes entry into eight main halls, although you may be able to peek inside others, too. There are more than 500 resident monks, and every day dozens of them go into the courtyard outside the Hall of Bodhisattva Manjusri (文殊殿, Wénshū Diàn) to take part in animated, hand-clapping debates on Buddhist philosophy.
The Main Assembly Hall (大经堂, Dàjīng Táng) is a very venerable and astonishing hall – buy a yak-butter candle to light (from ¥10 to ¥50). There's a map on the ticket to the monastery, but it's still easy to get lost.