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Wong Tai Sin

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Find a Spiritual Escape

"Visiting Wong Tai Sin Temple and Chi Lin Nunnery is a must for a traveler who comes here," insists Paul Tsang, owner of family-run Tak Lung restaurant in Wong Tai Sin.

Wong Tai Sin Temple

Spiritual, hard-working and proud of their district: these characteristics are embodied not only in restaurateur Paul Tsang but it’s indicative of the spirit of the 400,000 people that congregate in Wong Tai Sin. As much as six percent of Hong Kong’s population lives in this area, which is backed by mountains to the north, dominated by residential estates and punctuated by sprawling spiritual oases.

Spanning some 18,000 square meters, Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of the major attractions in Hong Kong. It’s dedicated to the Great Immortal Wong, who gave this district its name, and has a reputation far and wide for answering people’s prayers. Worshippers will flock here for a practice called kau cim—the shaking of bamboo fortune sticks. Shake a bamboo cylinder containing fortune sticks until one falls out. This stick is then exchanged for a piece of paper containing a parable, which is then interpreted by a soothsayer, some of whom can speak English and also Putonghua. Opposite the temple, you can also visit the Wong Tai Sin Fortune Telling and Oblation Arcade and have your fortune told.

Nan Lian Garden

Another spiritual haven is the Chi Lin Nunnery, a peaceful location in the heart of Kowloon. This graceful Buddhist nunnery is the largest building in the world to be constructed entirely without nails—only wooden dowels and brackets. The 33,000-square-meter complex was made in the style of the Tang Dynasty, although the buildings themselves were only completed in 1998. The central point is an open courtyard filled with lotus ponds and a stroll through the gardens (making time to stop at the quaint teahouse) makes for a bucolic escape. A short walk away lies the Nan Lian Garden, designed and managed by the nunnery. The garden has a similar architectural style, and contains mostly wooden structures— one of them houses a tiny but interesting museum explaining how these complex traditional Chinese structures are built. Lots of rare, valuable trees and rocks are dotted around here too—they all come in strange and fascinating shapes, making it a great place for photo buffs.

Escape up into the mountains to the north of Wong Tai Sin and you’ll experience a different kind of Zen. The Lion Rock Country Park marks the boundary between Kowloon and the New Territories, and it’s here where you can try to spot the monumental Lion Rock—a well-known landmark that, thanks to the rock formation at the top, bears an uncanny resemblance to a lion. Some of Hong Kong's best-loved trails, including major hiking routes such as the MacLehose Trail and Wilson Trail pass through these uplands: if you’re after a more strenuous day out, take one of these (quite arduous) paths along to Fei Ngo Shan. Watching the sun rise or set across the entire Kowloon Peninsula from here may be even better than the more famous view from The Peak.

Tak Lung restaurant owner Paul Tsang

As Wong Tai Sin is home to a large number of refugees from mainland China, who moved to Hong Kong in the late 1940s, Guangdong cuisine is very widespread here. Paul Tsang's father opened Tak Lung restaurant in 1963 in San Po Kong, and so he has witnessed the many changes that have taken place in this district over the years. "It was a super busy area in the 60s. As many factories were opening here, workers were buzzing around during the weekday; during the weekend, it was even more crowded with families. Although there were no department stores, people enjoyed coming to shop at the street stalls for a good deal."

Wing Lai Yuen

Now, with the development of public housing, more people are moving in and the area’s culinary scene is changing. A common sight in public housing estates is the “mushroom pavilion”—a cooked food stall with a pointed roof, serving tasty home-style comforts to the residents. Apart from Guangdong delicacies, you can also find some of the city’s hottest Sichuan cuisine. One notable location is Wing Lai Yuen Sze Chuen Noodles Restaurant, which is popular for its tasty dan dan noodles.

 

Do-it-Yourself

Morning
  • Fei Ngo Shan
    See the best sunrise in Hong Kong
    Fei Ngo Shan
    Soaring some 1,975 feet above Wong Tai Sin, Fei Ngo Shan has the most magnificent view of Hong Kong. People camp here to watch the sun rise over Kowloon Peninsula and Victoria Harbour, but you can just start early and work your way uphill on foot—or cheat and take a taxi up Jat’s Incline to the top.  
    Address:
    Fei Ngo Shan, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
    How to Get There:
    MTR Choi Hung Station and take a taxi; or MTR Choi Hung Station, Exit B and follow Clear Water Bay Road until it meets the bottom of the trail.
  • Chi Lin Nunnery
    Step into the Tang Dynasty 
    Chi Lin Nunnery
    Chi Lin Nunnery was founded in 1934 but was rebuilt in the 1990s. the structure was built in the Tang Dynasty style—without using any nails! It is a large Buddhist temple complex which includes a nunnery, temple halls, Chinese gardens and a vegetarian restaurant. The halls and the Chinese garden in front of the nunnery are open to the public daily free of charge.
    Address:
    5 Chi Lin Drive, Diamond Hill, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 2354 1888
    Website:
    How to Get There:
    MTR Diamond Hill Station Exit C2, follow the signs and walk for around five minutes.
  • Long Men Lou
    Lunch in a Tang Dynasty Garden
    Long Men Lou
    The tranquil Nan Lian Garden is a park designed by and adjacent to the Chi Lin Nunnery, and was built in the similar Tang Dynasty style. There are two ponds in the middle of the garden—one filled with gigantic fish—and there are lots of rare, valuable trees dotted around here too. Finish your journey with a unique vegetarian meal at Long Men Lou by the lake or under the waterfall. 
    Address:
    Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 3658 9366
    How to Get There:
    MTR Diamond Hill Station, Exit C2, follow the signs and walk for around five minutes.
Afternoon
  • Wong Tai Sin Temple
    Visit a temple
    Wong Tai Sin Temple
    Named after the deity Wong Tai Sin, this Taoist Wong Tai Sin Temple was restored in 1973 and is a popular shrine for local pilgrims. The temple claims to make wishes come true, but failing that, a soothsayer can interpret your fortune with a Chinese practice called kau cim, or fortune sticks. 
    Address:
    2 Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 2327 8141
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wong Tai Sin Station, Exit B2, walk for about three minutes.
  • Wong Tai Sin Fortune-telling and Oblation Arcade
    Hear your fortune
    Wong Tai Sin Fortune-telling and Oblation Arcade
    In 1967, the Tung Wah charitable organization set up the first fortune-telling stall opposite Wong Tai Sin Temple. In the early 1990s, this then developed into the Wong Tai Sin Fortune-telling and Oblation Arcade, an assortment of more than 160 fortune-telling stalls and 40-odd shops selling worship paraphernalia. Visitors are welcome here to worship deities, purchase incense sticks or find any number of traditional gifts to take home.
    Address:
    Lung Cheung Road, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 2320 2883
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wong Tai Sin Station, Exit B2 and follow the footpath for a few minutes to the temple.
Evening
  • Wing Lai Yuen Sze Chuen Noodles Restaurant
    Try spicy noodles for dinner
    Wing Lai Yuen Sze Chuen Noodles Restaurant
    Wing Lai Yuen Sze Chuen Noodles Restaurant began in a squatter housing area and has since achieved legendary status. This eatery serves tasty dan dan noodles and other Sichuan favorites. Remember to take a look on the old mirrored walls—the colorful paper strips stuck act as the menu. If all else fails, point to whatever tasty items your neighbors are having.
    Address:
    G/F, 15-17 Fung Tak Road, Diamond Hill, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 2726 3818
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wong Tai Sin Station, Exit C1. Turn right on Lung Poon Street and then left on to Fung Tak Road. It’s about a 2-minute walk.
Morning
  • Mushroom Pavilions
    Breakfast at the cooked food stall
    Mushroom Pavilions
    Hong Kong offers rustic and delicious dining in the dwindling number of public housing estate food plazas, or “mushroom pavilions.” These cooked food stalls serve Chiu Chow and Guangdong cuisine to the neighborhood. You can expect meals to be tasty and reasonably priced.
    Address:
    Lower Wong Tai Sin Estate, Ching Tak Street, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
    How to Get There:
    MTR Wong Tai Sin Station, Exit C2. Follow Ching Tak Street south and turn right on Tung Tau Tsuen Road. Take a left onto Tai Shing Street and the housing estate is at the end of the first road on your left.
  • Lion Rock Country Park
    Spend a day outdoors
    Lion Rock Country Park
    Lion Rock, the peak which gives the park its name, is a key attraction. This 495 meter-high mountain is characterized by rugged escarpments on the west side. Viewed from a distance, it resembles a lion sitting regally with its head facing west, as if to guard Hong Kong. Lion Rock is edged by traditional stone trails both on the east and west sides. Pick one of the major walking trails for the day: MacLehose, Wilson, Eagle's Nest and Hung Mui Kuk Nature Trails all pass through the park.
    Address:
    Chuk Yuen Road, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
    How to Get There:
    • MTR Wong Tai Sin Station, Exit B1. Take bus 170 to Hung Mui Kuk Nature Trail, and follow the signposts up to Lion Rock itself.
    • MTR Wong Tai Sin Station, Exit B1, then get a taxi to the Lion Rock Country Park entrance.
Evening
  • Tak Lung Restaurant
    Traditional Guangdong cuisine
    Tak Lung Restaurant
    Tak Lung Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant that serves fine traditional Guangdong cuisine at a reasonable price. It has a pleasing, down-to-earth local restaurant atmosphere, but the quality of the cooking is outstanding. Plus it’s even got a handy rating system on their menu, telling you which dishes are ordered the most. Remember to try the gold coin chicken (a rich, very traditional and increasingly rare sandwich-like dish containing chicken liver and pork fat) and—if you’re feeling adventurous—stuffed goose feet buns.
    Address:
    G/F, 25-29 Hong Keung Street, San Po Kong, Kowloon
    Tel:
    +852 2320 7020
    How to Get There:
    MTR Diamond Hill Station, Exit A2. Take the footpath through to Choi Hung Road and cross over into Tai Yau Street. Follow the road down to Tseuk Luk Street and turn left. Take a right onto Hong Keung Street.

Map

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This guide was produced by HK Magazine Media Group from 2014-2015.

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