Up in the hills of Sha Tin in Hong Kong's New Territories is the idyllic Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. I hiked up there one day at the insistence of my German friend (have you ever gone hiking with a German?), which for me - the couch potato at the time - was a stretch. Totally worthwhile, but a stretch.

The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery was hand-built in the 1950s by a collection of monks led by the Reverend Yuet Kai. These guys literally carried the blocks and buildings up to the hilltop by hand, which is, well, dedicated to say the least (once you've hiked this thing, you'll know).

I'm really not trying to put you off, because actually the climb isn't that bad and the experiences both on the way up and at the top are easily worth all the stairs you have to endure. I'm just giving you a heads-up
Path Up the Hill
Are there actually 10,000 buddhas in this thing? Yes. In fact, there are apparently 12,800 tiny golden buddha statues in the main hall alone (and the body of the great Reverend Kai is also buried up there, in case you feel like giving him a shout out). Additionally, as you walk the millions of stairs to the top (okay... just seems like millions), you are surrounded by hundreds of life-sized golden buddha statues, each with his own individual features and quizzical facial expression. These buddhas are very cool regardless of your general enthusiasm regarding buddhas.

What's even more amazing is that virtually nobody knows about this place. Or if they do, they don't bother to go there. You will see very few people in general and almost no tourist types. It's completely free of charge and the "Warning: Do not feed the monkeys!" signs, occasionally-placed refuse and dilapidated ancient buildings along the way only add to its off-the-beaten track ambiance.

It's also super easy to get there, which makes it even more surprising that this place isn't loaded with tourists. Just take the KCR East from downtown Hong Kong to Sha Tin and go out via the north exit. You'll wander through Pai Tau, a tiny but charming village that's worth a look in its own right, and you might have to ask before you find the stately green and white entrance to the monastery path, as it's hidden in and behind some new building developments.Main Hall

What to take along: good shoes, a bottle of water, some tissues to wipe your brow (you're gonna get sweaty, no way around that) and definitely your camera. This place is chock-a-bloc full of photo ops.

Time to allow: 3-4 hours, including transport there by metro.