A Visit to Hong Kong’s Wong Tai Sin Temple

Like many religious sites in large Asian cities, the Wong Tai Sin Temple sits as a serene refuge amongst the bustle of a modern metropolis.  Thanks to a short but storied past and ease of access, the temple has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hong Kong.  Whether you simply want to tour a traditional Chinese temple or looking to take advantage of its reputation of granting wishes, Wong Tai Sin Temple is an excellent place to visit.

While many of the most famous temples in Asia are centuries old, Wong Tai Shin Temple was founded “only” in 1921.  It is named after Wong Chuping.  At age 15, he began to follow Taoism.  Within 40 years he achieved enlightenment and became immortal.  He became known to followers as Wong Tai Sin.

A large following began to form in the early 20th Century in Hong Kong.  A shrine was erected and quickly became prominent among locals and eventually foreigners as well.  Its popularity is due to the power of Wong Tai Sin himself.  He is said to have great healing powers and is known for granting wishes.  As a result, this has become the spot to come during the Chinese New Year for those looking to have their wishes become reality in the year ahead.

Along similar lines, fortune telling and soothsayers have become popular here.  A few have even become famous for their abilities to predict the future of worshippers.  People will light worship sticks and pray in front of the main altar.  They  shake a bamboo cylinder until one of the fortune sticks falls out.  They exchange the stick for a piece of paper.  They take the paper to a soothsayer for interpretation.

The grounds themselves are representative of a traditional Chinese temples.  It includes common characteristics such as large red pillars, gold roofs with blue friezes, lots of carvings, stone work, and yellow lattice.  The complex has several halls including the Grand Hall, Three Saints Hall, and Confucian Hall.

Other famous spots include the Nine-Dragon Wall and Good Wish Garden, both of which pay homage to famous sites in Beijing.  The highlight of the complex is definitely the Good Wish Garden.  Intricately designed and manicured, the garden contains a maze of walkways and bridges past waterfalls, koi ponds and plant life.  The lush garden is a perfect spot to relax for a bit and take in the surroundings.

You should visit at least one religious site while in Hong Kong and if you only have time for one, The Wong Tai Sin Temple is a good choice.  The Po Lin Monastery is a better choice if you have time, but Wong Tai Sin is more accessible and takes less time to visit.  It’s a good break from the modern skyline of Hong Kong.

Visiting Wong Tai Shin Temple

The temple is conveniently located in the northern section of the Kowloon area of Hong Kong.  Take the MTR Kwun Tong line to the Wong Tai Sin station.  The entrance is less than a 5 minute walk from the station.  Hours are 7:00 AM to 5:30 PM and entrance is free of charge.  There is a donation of $2 HKD to enter the Good Wish Garden.  To avoid crowds, avoid weekends and holidays.

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