Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
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Lonely Planet review
An explosion of colourful pillars, roofs, lattice work, flowers and incense, this busy temple is a destination for all walks of Hong Kong society, from pensioners and businesspeople to parents and young professionals.
Some come simply to pray, others to divine the future with chìm – bamboo ‘fortune sticks’ that are shaken out of a box on to the ground and then read by a fortune-teller (they’re available free from the left of the main temple).
The complex, adjacent to the Wong Tai Sin housing estate, was built in 1973 and is dedicated to the god of that name, who began his life as a humble shepherd in Zhejiang province. When he was 15 an immortal taught Wong Tai Sin how to make a herbal potion that could cure all illnesses. He is thus worshipped both by the sick and those trying to avoid illness. He is also a favourite god of businesspeople. The image of the god in the main temple was brought to Hong Kong from Guangdong province in 1915 and was initially installed in a temple in Wan Chai, where it remained until being moved to the present site in 1921.
Behind the main temple and to the right are the Good Wish Gardens , replete with colourful pavilions (the hexagonal Unicorn Hall ,with carved doors and windows, is the most beautiful), zigzag bridges, waterfalls and carp ponds.
Below the main temple and to the left as you enter the complex is an arcade filled with dozens of booths operated by fortune-tellers, some of whom speak English. Expect a consultation to cost upwards of $100.
The busiest times at the temple are around Chinese New Year, Wong Tai Sin’s birthday (23rd day of the eighth month – usually in September) and on weekends. Getting to the temple is easy. From the Wong Tai Sin MTR station, take exit B2 and then follow the signs or the crowds (or both).