One of the three ancient temples of Macau, Kun Iam Temple was founded during the 13th century, although the present structures were built in 1627. Dedicated to Kun Iam, the Chinese representation of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Mercy, this Buddhist temple is one of the largest and most important in Macau.
The temple features three main halls, which are dedicated to Shakyamuni (Gautama Buddha), the Buddha of Longevity, and Kun Iam, and separated by open courtyards. Note the lavish decorations, porcelain figurines decorating the roofs, and the 300-year-old giant bell. In the Namesake Hall, don’t miss the statue of Kun Iam, dressed in embroidered silk and wearing a crown that is replaced every year. She is surrounded by 18 arhats, one of which is said to represent Marco Polo, who studied Buddhism at the temple. Be sure to visit the beautiful terraced gardens in back of the temple.
A number of tours, including day trips from Hong Kong and Shenzhen, feature a stop at Kun Iam Temple, as well as other top Macau attractions that may include A-Ma Temple, the Ruins of St. Paul, and Macau Tower or a Macau casino.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This is a must-visit for those with an interest in history, architecture, or religion.
- This is a place of worship, so visitors should be respectful and quiet.
- There are a number of funeral rooms within the temple; please be quiet and do not take photos if a funeral is taking place.
- The temple is free to enter, but donations are accepted.
- Day trips from Hong Kong can last upward of 11 hours.
How to Get There
Kun Iam Temple is located on Avenida do Coronel Mesquita. It’s easiest to take a taxi to the temple. You can also take bus 12, 17, 18B, 18, 23, or 28C to the temple.
When to Get There
The temple is open Monday through Saturday. It is at its most festive during the Lunar New Year and during celebrations for the birthday of Kun Iam, on the 19th day of the second, sixth, ninth and 11th lunar months.
In the terraced garden behind the temple, the first Sino-American treaty was signed in 1844, and the round granite table of the signing still stands. There are also four intertwined trees, known as Lovers Trees; legend has it they grew from the burial site of star-crossed lovers who committed suicide because they could not marry. Elsewhere in the garden, you’ll find fountains, groves of bamboo, and shrines to departed priests.