On my second trip to Hong Kong, I found myself having some free time to visit the places I didn’t get to first time round. Hong Kong isn’t big, but it is full of life and plenty to do. Seeing as there was no rush to be anywhere and the weather in May is perfect, I decided to visit the Wong Tai Sin Temple. It’s one of Hong Kong’s most visited temples, with a beautiful garden, pagodas and many smaller temples within the complex. What drew me to it was the beautiful colours, architecture and bright décor.
How to get there
Hong Kong’s transport system is great, and super easy to use. The station is on the red line and you get off at Wong Tai Sin Station exit B2.
On exiting you will be met my many brightly decorated stalls selling trinkets in red and gold for temple and prayer offerings as well as souvenirs.
The Wong Tai Sin temple is home to 3 of Asia’s biggest religions: Buddhism, Confucianism and Taosim. The temple was established by the Taoist priest Liang Ren-An, who carried the original portrait of the famous monk and deity Wong Tai Sin.
Liang had originally opened up a small medicinal shop, with a private altar at the back for worshippers to pray to the portrait. Eventually, its popularity grew and the temple was built.
The temple has become popular for good luck offerings, guidance, divination and fortune telling. Its beautiful architecture and Feng Shui garden makes this a small oasis of peace amidst the bustling high-rises and noise of Hong Kong city.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
On entering you are met with chiming bells, chants and a thick haze of incense smoke. The entrance is filled with many metal dragons around the courtyard that lead up into the main altar. The beautiful statues, plaques and designs make this a unique place. The 12 lunar signs of the Chinese zodiac are also placed around the stairs.
Deep red and pretty lanterns dominate he main worship area. For all the noise, it has a very calming effect. Worshippers sit before the famed portrait of Wong Tai Sin and pray for good fortune.
Many little temples. Many little prayers
The entire complex is filled with small altars, walls, and shrines that pay homage to a variety of deities You will notice each shrine and temple is intricately decorated with beautiful ornamentation and scriptures.
The garden was my favourite part of the temple. It was designed on Feng Shui principles and its many little stone pathways and bridges added so much charm. The pretty pagodas were placed over looking the small ponds filled with koi, turtle and frogs. This garden was true harmony. Not even the long high rise buildings and noisy traffic could take away the serenity felt here.
Many indigenous plant life can be found in the garden from bamboo, bonsai and flowers. The little pagodas all offer comfortable seating to enjoy the bubbling fountains and twittering birds.
It was hard to leave the garden as I was going through a bit of a tough time while here. The garden’s tranquillity was just what I needed to recollect my thoughts.
Yue Lao: The Old Man in the Moon
After exploring all the shrines and spaces I was about to head out, when a brightly painted wall caught my eye. Walking towards it I realised I had stumbled up the famous God of the Moon, Yue Lao.
Oddly enough, I had heard and of this God 2 years prior by coming across a picture of him on Instagram with a bag of red string. Doing further research, it told of how he is the God who binds the fate of rwo people by a red string. This red string theory is believed in most of Asia, and Yue Lao is not derived from any religion. His presence in Asian culture goes way back and is considered one of the ancient Gods.
At the temple married couples and singles can make a prayer to Yue Lao to bring them god fortune in matters of the heart. Married couples pray for good fortune and prosperity in their union, while singles wish for good fortune in meeting their match. In his temple, Yue Lao stands between 2 golden statues of a man and woman, connected by a large red string.
To make a prayer, your hands must be tied in a certain position (see below) in the red string. An assistant sitting by the shrine will assist you. Men walk in a straight line to the statue of the woman, while women will walk to the man. You have to place the string at the foot of the golden statue then tie it to the many strings that join up to Yue Lao. On tying you make your wish.
I was there to take photos, but a little woman popped out of nowhere and tied my hand in string. Definitely a fun and unique little experience.
Wong Tai Sin Temple is worth checking out, especially if you need some time out from the craziness of the city. It’s beautifully constructed and has such a relaxing vibe to it. The deep reds and gold with all the many pops of colours and design elements make this a cool spot to view some traditional Eastern aesthetic at its best.