Bring your sons daughters to Shaolin Temple, I saw many Kungfu students age around 8-10 only, worldwide tourists taking photos like mad especially at these young students.
Hundreds maybe thousands of young Kungfu students practising together in group on a vastly outdoor area, forming a landscape of actions, with the blurry background covered by cold weather coming from the hill, voices of shouting from every movements can be heard, tourists staring quietly taking videos and photos...........what a view!
I think your son will say "I want to join them"
The last time I read, up here in the Shaolin Temple and its surroundings, countless fake monks can be seen and they went around begging and disturbing tourists for money causing big messes.
I read a news that UNESCO World Heritage changed the look of Shaolin Temple entriely, now that all fake monks has gone. Monks that I saw are those standing inside the temple, guiding and helping tourists, they are tour guide cum monks I guess. None of them approaching me asking for money.
The entire place looks peaceful, clean and well arranged, they even have colorful porcelain flower pots and real flowers decorated inside toilets, so far so good, no negative comments this time.
Shaolin Temple is located 60km+ away from city, is actually in the hills, neighboring the SongShan Mountain. Your bus can only send you to the main entrance, the rest fully rely on your own legs, therefore be ready to walk a full day, 5-7 hours at least, no food sellers and no 7-Eleven, McDonald's or KFC, the only few restaurants are located at certain spots. 1 beer cost RMB10 up here, normal price RMB2 only.
Bring your own foods is a good idea.
I know you feel boring sometimes, that's why I prepare this special tips for you. Other than visiting the famous places listed below from 1-6, what else can you do in Shaolin Temple?
1. Shaolin Temple
2. Pagoda (monk graveyard)
3. Students practising kungfu
4. Kungfu show for tourists
5. Hiking to visit Damo's cave (3 hours of hike)
6. Hiking to the top of SongShan Mountain (more than 3 hours) but most tourists rather pay RMB60 cable car,10 minutes only.
If you are boring, you might want to try something different, see below:
Ti-Guan > is a very popular activity back in the old days, it means challenging the kungfu of Shaolin. If you want to do Ti-Guan, you can come here standing at the entrance, tell the officer "I want Ti-Guan" or print the words out in Chinese on a piece of paper 《踢馆》 *.
Shaolin Si is most well known for having turned out stars like Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan. It's an active buddhist temple, and its also one of the hottest tourist sites in China (for the Chinese at least).
The monks here don't get much tme for quiet contemplation as the place is absolutely HEAVING with tourists.
Shaolin Si wins the prize for the biggest tourist trap so far in China. You have to pay to get there, and to get in to the temple. Once inside you are encouraged to buy all sortsif thigs for offerings (which you buy and promptlyy give back to the temple). You can also pay extra togo and see a demonstration of martial arts by the students. This is the biggest rip off of all.
You have to pay more than 50 Yuan. the demo lasts not more than 15 minutes and most of the objects are pre-broken (I saw this when one of the monks missed the bit of wood that he was supposed to break with his foot - it fell on the floor and broke in half anyway...)
There's no denying that they are very supple and full of energy, but it's definately not all it's cracked up to be and more ressembles a film studio tour than a serious buddhist temple.
You may have guessed that I was dissapointed! Please see my travelogue for further photos
Before you get to the Shao Lin Buddhist monastry you will probably visit the Shao Lin Convent. Buddhist nuns can be spotted at the various altars, and you can buy incense and candle should you want to make an offering.
It's just another buddhist temple, but is built in a fantastic area - the view is magnificent.
Song Shan Academy was a Taoist school and is considered to be one of the oldest in China.
If you go to Shaolin this will almost definately be included in the tour.
The Academy is no longer active and is now a museum. Amongst other things it contains some interestin carved stone pillars, and some fine calligraphy. There are also some fossils, petrified trees and things like that.
The major attraction, in my eyes at least, is the Cyprus trees called General 1 and General 2. These trees are over 4000 years old, and they are huge. The architecture of the place is also pretty stunning.