A devout ensemble of halls, shrines, pavilions and altars, this busy temple is a destination for all walks of Hong Kong society, from pensioners and business people to parents and young professionals. Some come to pray, others to divine the future with chim – numbered bamboo ‘fortune sticks’ that are shaken out of a box on to the ground (they’re available free from the right of the main temple). Take the noted numbers to an attendant fortune-teller to be read.
The fortune-tellers occupy dozens of tiny booths in an arcade to the southeast of the main complex. Some speak English (to varying levels of fluency). Expect a consultation to cost upwards of HK$100. You can also look up the numbers of your chim on the temple website under the tab 'fortune-telling stick enquiry', with good English translations.
The temple 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 Zhèjiāng 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 business people. The image of the god in the main temple was brought to Hong Kong from Guǎngdōng province in 1915 and was initially installed in a temple in Wan Chai, where it remained until being moved to its present site in 1921.
Accessed via stairs beneath the temple is Tai Sui Yuenchen Hall, a subterranean, ultramodern chamber of worship that looks like something out of a Vegas casino (HK$100 entry) and couldn't be more of a departure from the traditional setting above. Set back behind the temple are the Good Wish Gardens, with decorative pavilions, bridges and carp pools.
The busiest times at the temple are around Chinese New Year, Wong Tai Sin’s birthday (23rd day of the eighth lunar month – usually in September) and on weekends. Getting to the temple is easy. From the Wong Tai Sin MTR station, take exit B3 and turn right.