Hong Kong is home to some of Asia’s most beautiful and most enigmatic temples and all of them are within a short distance from Central. So, here is our definitive guide to the best.
Wong Tai Sin
This temple has a claim to make every wish come true and so it is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. It is home to three religions, Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and the temple is extremely ornate, breathtakingly complex in it’s design. The temple takes the name of the monk Wong Tai Sin, who visitors pray to for good fortune, guidance and fortune telling. The temple is particularly important for feng shui, as the temple is comprised of metal, wood, water, fire and earth, the five geomantic elements essential for feng shui. After, take a walk around the Good Wish Garden, which is quaintly Chinese in style.
Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
Although it is now a tourist trap, there is no doubt that the Po Lin Monastery is one of the most stunning temples in Asia, if not the world. Surrounded by lush mountains, the Tian Tian Buddha statue is a relatively recent addition to the area, built in 1993. It’s a steep climb to the base of the Buddha, 293 steps in total, but you are offered breathtaking views over Hong Kong as a result. The raised right hand of the Buddha is a blessing offered to all, and there is no doubt that you walk away from the statue feeling humbled. The Po Lin Monastery, opposite the Buddha, is the most important Buddhist centre in Hong Kong and it has plenty of iconography and gardens that come alive with flowers and birdsong. There is also an excellent vegetarian restaurant there if you want to stop for lunch.
Tin Hau at Yung Shue Wan
Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea, makes a regular appearance in many Chinese temples throughout Hong Kong. Thanks to Hong Kong’s proximity to the sea, Tin Hau temples are extremely popular and can be found almost anywhere. This temple, on Lamma island, has two Western style lions that guard the entrance. The originals were damaged and a Wester firm was contracted to replace them, hence the incongruous style. What better example of Hong Kong’s East meets West style?
Chi Lin Nunnery
Despite its relatively modern beginnings, Chi Lin was renovated in the ‘90’s in the Tang dynasty style. The temple is largely wooden, with plenty of Buddhist relics and lotus ponds. There are also some iconic statues, some made of gold, which represent legions of bodhisattvas. Next to the nunnery is the Nan Lian Garden. This is also built in Tang style, and every part of the garden is built according to specific rules. There are Buddhist displays of rocks, architecture and potted plants. There is also a vegetarian restaurant and a teahouse.
Fung Ying Seen Koon
Fanling is dominated by this impressive structure, which is one of the most important Taoist temples in Asia. Built in the typical Chinese style, with an orange double-tiled roof and red pillars of stone. The temple was named after two fairy islands of Fung Lai and Ying Chau and is believed to be the final home of immortal spirits. The blue ceiling inside the main palace represents the heavens, and you can tiny clouds painted on the sky, as well as fairy crowns. There are also Tao inscriptions throughout the temple.