Highway to Heaven, Richmond
The International Buddhist Temple (or Guan-Yin Temple) is the first and largest authentic Chinese temple in North America, and is built palace-style based on the Forbidden City. It has four large halls, two courtyards, and several little shrines, and is still being expanded. If you have more than 15 people, you can sign up for a guided tour. The temple also has the largest Buddha statue in North America, and the largest Buddhist mural in the world. The enormous thousand-hand-thousand-eye Guan-Yin statue is pretty impressive as well. The place is full of Chinese and Buddhist paintings, calligraphy, statues, and engravings... It's a wealth of art, culture, and tradition. Visitors can get vegetarian lunches in the Main Hall cafeteria, with a variety of Chinese dishes and tea. There is a gift shop upstairs, which sells Buddhist DVDs, prayer bead bracelets, and so on. The temple also has incense for offerings to all the Buddhas. In the Thousand Buddha Hall, you can seek advice from Guan-Yin and have it interpreted by an oracle. There are also meditation classes held by the Abbot, who speaks English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. Most of all, go see the classical Chinese garden! It's breathtaking both in the sunlight and when covered in snow... It has gazebos, a fountain, two lotus ponds, rocks and trees, and a little stone bridge. In one pond there is a fountain with white dragons. Even the short drive into the temple is scenic, with all the flowers, evergreens, and (plastic) deer. The temple is open to everyone, and you might run into the Abbot or the nuns while you're there. Just remember to go before closing time...
Exquisite Chinese palatial architecture with Bonsai Garden statures. Discover the traditional Chinese art, culture, and the Buddhist religion at a magnificent Buddhist Temple. (Free admission)