Wong Tai Sin Temple
The Wong Tai Sin Temple is a famous temple found in the Wong Tai Sin district of Kowloon. The temple is named after Wong Tai Sin (Huang Chuping in Mandarin), a famous monk who lived in 300 AD.
This temple, also known as the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, was built as a Taoist temple in 1921. Currently three religions are practiced at this temple. They are Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. With this many religions practiced here, the temple has become very popular and can become quite crowded. Visitors to the temple buy joss sticks and incense and light them here. You can smell the burning incense at most areas at and around the temple.
When I visited the Wong Tai Sin Temple, I was amazed at just how many different buildings are inside, and the amount of detail put into every structure. I took so many pictures at the temple because there was just so much to see. I really enjoyed the statues of all 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. They stand just before the stairs to the Jinhau Heritage Pai-Fong (Gateway). I took a picture next to the Rat statue because I was born in the year of the Rat.
Some of the interesting buildings to see include the Jinhua Heritage Pai-Fong (Chinese Gateway) which leads to the Main Altar, Three Saints Hall, Memorial Hall, Bronze Pavilion, Good Wish Garden, Yue Heung Shrine, Nine Dragon Wall, and the Confucian Veranda.
The entire temple was built according to all 5 elements of Chinese Fung Shui: water, wood, metal, earth, and fire. All 5 elements are represented by a specific building at the temple. These specific buildings are: Yuk Yik Fountain (water), Archives Hall (wood), Bronze Pavilion (metal), Earth Wall (earth), and the Yue Heung Shrine (fire).
The Wong Tai Sin Temple is most famous for a Chinese Fortune telling practice called Kau Cim. Kau Cim consists of wood sticks that sit inside a long wooden cup (usually made of bamboo). Each of the wood sticks in the cup has a different number on the end of it.
If you want to try Kau Cim for yourself, you start by getting a Kau Cim cup with sticks inside from a kiosk. Next you take it over to a designated area of the temple with kneeling pads. You kneel on a kneeling pad, hold the Kau Cim cup up in front of you at a 45 degree angle, and think about one of these 3 categories: Love, Career, or Health. Once you’ve made your wish, shake the sticks back and forth in the cup. Eventually a few sticks will start to come out of the cup more than the others. When 1 stick finally falls out, you stop shaking the cup, pick up the stick, and look at the number on it. If more than 1 stick falls out at the same time, you can either choose the stick that landed on the ground first, or just put the sticks back in the cup and try again. Remember the number from your stick that landed on the ground. Bring the Kau Cim cup back to the kiosk you got it from. Tell someone working at the kiosk what number you got. They’ll give you a piece of paper with that number on it. This piece of paper has your fortune on it in Chinese characters.
If you want to know your fortune, you’ll have to visit a fortune teller at the temple. You probably won’t know this, but the Chinese characters on your fortune paper are very old. So old in fact that most people who can read Chinese won’t even know what it says! So even if you can read Chinese, you’ll probably have to visit a fortune teller to interpret your fortune for you. There’s a specific area located down the stairs from the main building of the temple where all of the fortune tellers are. For a small fee you can get your fortune read for you (the categories are Love, Career, and Health). Some of these fortune tellers do palm readings as well. Most fortune tellers speak Cantonese and/or Mandarin. There are a few who can speak English, so look for an English interpreter if you can’t speak Chinese.
I got my fortune read from an English speaking fortune teller. I found the palm reading to be too expensive so I passed on that.
The best way to find out how to do Kau Cim properly is to observe what all the other people are doing with the Kau Cim cups. All you have to do is listen for the sounds of sticks shaking back and forth and follow the sounds. There are usually so many people shaking sticks that you’ll probably hear it as soon as you reach the entrance gate of the temple. It’s pretty easy to find out where the kneeling area is as well. Just look at where everyone else is kneeling.
It is believed that anyone who visits the Wong Tai Sin Temple and makes a wish will have it come true. Visit the temple for yourself and see if your wish becomes reality!
The busiest times of the year at the Wong Tai Sin Temple are Chinese New Year and Wong Tai Sin’s Birthday (23rd day of the 8th month on the lunar calendar).
The Wong Tai Sin Temple is the only temple in Hong Kong that accommodates wedding ceremonies.
Nearby attractions include Kowloon Walled City Park, the former Hong Kong International Airport in Kai Tak, and Lion Rock Country Park.
Some great nearby shopping can be found at Telford Plaza and Megabox. Telford Plaza is located at the Kowloon Bay MTR station, just 3 MTR stations away from the Wong Tai Sin MTR Station. A free shuttle bus is available from Telford Plaza to Megabox.
The Wong Tai Sin Temple is open daily from 7:00am to 5:30pm. Entrance is free, but there are a few halls inside that charge a small fee to get in. It also costs money to go into the Good Wish Garden.