Aside from the impressive skyline of Victoria Harbour, mouth-watering street food courts in Mong Kok and luxurious shopping malls in Tsim Sha Tsui, traditional Chinese
structures pepper Hong Kong
at every turn. Here, we focus on the mysterious temples of the city and which ones every traveller should seek out.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
Enshrining Wong Tai Sin, the Daoist monk who became a deity at Heng Shan, the Wong Tai Sin Temple is frequented by pilgrims right throughout the year, mainly due to the belief that Wong makes every wish come true. The temple is home to the three leading Chinese religions: Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The structure of the temple also reflects the traditional Feng Shui culture of China, incorporating the five elements – metal, water, wood, fire and earth – into the different architectures.
Wong Tai Sin Temple, Chuk Un, Hong Kong, +852 2327 8141
The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
The Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Po Lin Monastery houses a variety of sacred Buddhist statues and Chinese-style structures. After praying, visitors can take a stroll in the tranquil gardens, laden with colourful flowers, and enjoy delicious vegetarian cuisine in the meat-free restaurant. After a rest, pay a visit to the 34-metre-high Tin Tan Buddha (also known as the ‘Big Buddha’) opposite the monastery. The renowned statue, which took 12 years to complete, is the second-largest outdoor bronze Buddha statue in the world. After taking the 268 steps to visit the Buddha, travellers are rewarded with a sweeping view of the city and the unspoiled coastline to boot.
Tin Tan Buddha, Ngong Ping Rd, Lantau Island, Hong Kong, +852 2985 5248
Che Kung Temple at Sha Tin
This temple dates back more than 300 years and is listed as a grade II historic building in Hong Kong, marking the precious cultural value of the structure. Che Kung, the military commander in the Song Dynasty, is honoured in the temple for his mythical power in suppressing uprisings and countering plagues. The temple is visited by pilgrims on January 3rd of the Chinese calendar every year, one day after the birthday of Che Kong himself.
Che Kung Temple at Sha Tin, Hong Kong
Ching Chung Koon
Ching Chung, literally meaning ‘evergreen pine tree’, commemorates the teachings of Lü Dongbin, one of the Eight Immortals in Daoism, while ‘Koon’ simply means ‘Daoist temple’. The temple, built in 1961, is a perfect showcase of exquisitely designed Chinese architecture. The main building is the Palace of Pure Brightness, surrounded by fish ponds, quadrangles, towers and pagodas, all set in a peaceful atmosphere. The temple also holds a lot of precious relics, including lanterns bestowed by the Beijing Imperial Palace and elegant Chinese calligraphy.
Ching Chung Koon, Hong Kong
Fung Ying Seen Koon
Named after two divine mountains, Fung Lai Mountain and Ying Chau Mountain, Fung Ying Seen Koon is a sacred spot for Daoism in Hong Kong. The colour scheme of the temple perfectly illustrates traditional Chinese culture. The orange tiled rooftop teamed with red stone pillars construct an eye-catching palette. Inside the palace, the blue ceiling represents the heaven, while clouds are painted on the two sides, resembling the serenity of the sky.
66 Pak Wo Rd, Fanling, Hong Kong, +852 2669 9186
Hung Shing Temple
Located on the remote island of Kau Sai Chau, this temple is preserved as one of the Declared Monuments in Hong Kong, and even attained third place in UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards in 2000. It was constructed in 1889 to enshrine the God of the Sea, Hung Shing, and the two sides of the chamber once functioned as a community centre and school. With dragon boat models and seafaring collectibles displayed throughout, this one really is an interesting stop-off.
Hung Shing Temple, 129-131 Queen’s Rd E, Hong Kong
Man Mo Temple
A grade-I historic building nestled in the bustling town of Sheung Wan, this is one of the oldest Chinese temples built in the colonial period. The God of Literature and the God of War are both honoured in the temple, along with Lord Bao, an officer who endeavoured to uphold justice during the reign of the Song Dynasty. Paying a visit enables visitors to make acquaintance with this ancient pantheon, while oodles of relics belie the history of the Qing and the Song to boot.
126 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2540 0350
Pak Tai Temple
Dating back more than 200 years, this temple honours the Pak Tai, the Supreme Emperor of the Northern Heaven, and is graded a first-class historic building. Two antique gems are hidden in the temple, including a gold-plated woodcraft from the Qing Dynasty and an iron sword from the Song. The square outside the temple is populated by crowds during the Cheung Chau Bun Festival every year, where the exciting bun scrambling competition takes place.
Pak Tai Temple, No. 2 Lung On Street, Hong Kong
Tin Hau Temple at Lam Tsuen
Among all the Tin Hau Temples dotted around Hong Kong, the one situated in Lam Tsuen is the most popular, thanks to the two well-known wishing trees within its confines. Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea, having magical power to protect fishermen, is enshrined in the temple. After praying, visitors write their wish on joss paper and throw it onto the wishing trees above. It is believed that the higher the joss paper lands, the more likely it is that the wish will come true.
Tin Hau Temple at Lam Tsuen, Hong Kong
Yuen Yuen Institute
Founded in 1950, the Yuen Yuen Institute aims to spread the principles of the three Chinese religions, upholding the eight virtues, including filial piety, respect, loyalty, fidelity, propriety, justice, honesty and honour. The soothing environment of the temple attracts numerous visitors with an interest in Chinese culture and religion. Before leaving, visit the replica of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, and the Hall of Rocks Collection, to see rocks with interesting shapes.
Yuen Yuen Institute, Hong Kong, +852 2492 2220