Taipei // Confucius and Bao An Temples

my very first day as an expat in Taiwan, I fell head over heels for the colorfully scaled and curly whiskered dragons that top the temples here.

Taiwan has more temples per capita than any other country in the world. some are massive complexes attached to monestaries or built into mountainsides, and some are barely bigger than a phone booth. you'll find temples sandwiched between convenience stores and dumpling shops, hiding on hiking trails or down alleys only wide enough for a scooter. I've seen my fair share of temples, but with over 15,000 on the island... I've barely begun to scratch the surface.

a few weeks ago, though, I finally crossed two major temples off my list: Taipei's Confucius Temple, and the UNESCO award-winning Dalongdong Bao An Temple. while the history and details on both these temples would each merit their own blog post, I'm combining them here because A: they are practically neighbors in location and B: I'm not going to look up the guidebook facts to relay to you because I trust in your capacity to use google 😉

Taipei Confucius Temple

ok, before I say anything about the temple can we take a moment to appreciate how adorable these Confucius figures are? Taiwan loves to make things cute and cartoonish, and even revered historical and religious figures cannot escape the cute-ification.

cartoon Confucius aside, the temple grounds are spacious and well maintained. they are also very tourist-friendly. at the entrance there is a visitor's center with guides and information available in English and about 12 other languages. they offer tours, video presentations, educational exhibits, and a special ceremony for viewing each year on Confucius' birthday. there's even a gift shop and café.

I was surprised to see how ornate this temple was [dragons!] compared to the Confucius Temple in Kaohsiung. it definitely was not the prettiest or most elaborate I've seen, but it was large and full of [English!] information regarding both Confucius and the temple.

just across the street, however...

Dalongdong Bao An Temple

if you're into bright colors, intricate details, and dragons [duh!] then this is the temple for you. I don't like to play favorites but Bao An is definitely in my top 5. the restoration and upkeep they have done on all the tile work and painting is just stunning -- and quite literally award-winning. there were just so many details to take in. every time I looked at the same structure I would notice something new.

the layout felt spacious and unique, and thankfully was free from hordes of tourists that tend to clog up the more popular Longshan Temple. [sorry Longshan, a trip to the Confucius and Bao An Temples will be my new go-to for showing around visitors.]

I'm not sure if the hand painted lanterns are always there, or it they were left up from the recent festival. they were clearly student work from nearby schools. [and wow, some of those kids are talented!]

I also loved the abundance of plants arranged around the grounds. everything felt so serene -- definitely #goodvibesonly coming out of Bao An that day.

how to get there

take the red line of the MRT to Yuanshan Station. exit 2 [at the north end of the station] will put you right on Kulun Street, which you can follow west to the temples. follow the brown tourism signs [in English] and you can be at either in 5-8 minutes... or just keep your eyes open for dragons.

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