Wong Tai Sin Temple

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Wong Tai Sin Temple

Wong Tai Sin Temple (Chinese: 黃大仙祠; Pinyin: Huáng Dàxian Sì) is one of the most famous shrines in Hong Kong. It is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, or the Great Immortal Wong. The 18,000-m² Daoist temple complex is located on the southern side of Lion Rock in the north of Kowloon and gave its name to the Wong Tai Sin District of Hong Kong.

According to legend, Wong Tai Sin was a shepherd boy named Wong Chuping, living in a part of China’s Zhejiang Province called Red Pine Hill during the Jin Dynasty (266-316 CE). When he was only 15, an immortal taught him the art of refining cinnabar (a heavy reddish mineral consisting of mercuric sulfide; the chief source of mercury) into a medicine that was said to cure all illnesses. Wong spent the next 40 years living in seclusion until he himself became an immortal. He was found by his brother, who had spent all the intervening years searching for him and the sheep in his care. Wong was said to have turned some white stones into sheep to replace those he had lost. He spent the remaining years of his life helping to relieve the suffering of all who came to him. During his last year as a doctor, his readiness to offer help won him the love and respect of the people. It is said that he punishes evil, heals the ill and wounded, and rescues the dying, and in his mercy and power is said to grant whatever is requested. To this day, Wong Tai Sin is famed for the many prayers he answers and his motto is: "What you request is what you get" (有求必應).

The Hong Kong cult traces its direct mainland Chinese roots to Guangdong Province (廣東省) in about 1897 by a customs inspector who became a spirit medium transmitting divine prescriptions directly from Wong Tai Sin against the plague. In the early 20th century, a believer named Leung Renyan (梁仁庵) spread the cult of Wong Tai Sin from Qiaoshan (樵山) in China’s Guangxi Province (廣西省) to the Wan Chai District of Hong Kong. In 1921, following the advice of a Daoist seer, the temple was moved to Rosy Garden, its current location. At first, the temple was a private place for worshipers and only members of the Yuen were allowed. In 1956, it was opened to the public with the Government's approval.

The architecture of Wong Tai Sin Temple is in the traditional Chinese temple style: grand red pillars, a magnificent golden roof adorned with blue friezes, yellow latticework, and resplendent multi-colored carvings. After selecting the present site in 1921, construction began on the 24th day of the sixth Lunar month, a date decreed by the deity Man Chong. The early architectural structure was very simple and only the Main Altar, the Unicorn Hall, General Office, Quarters, the Front Gate, and the Well were built. In 1937, it is said that Wong Tai Sin himself decreed through divination that if the Yuen was to stand prosperously forever, its buildings should be constructed according to the five elements in geomancy: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Following the guidance of this decree five structures were built within the temple complex: the Bronze Phoenix Pavilion: metal; the Archives Hall: wood; the Fountain: water; the Yue Heung Shrine: fire; and the Wall Partition: earth.

From January 1 to 15, the number of visitors to the temple increases dramatically, with those whose prayers have been answered returning to thank the immortal. Wong Tai Sin's birthday—the 23rd day of the eighth lunar month—and the Chinese New Year holiday are both busy times for the temple. On Chinese New Year's Eve, thousands of worshipers wait outside the temple and just at midnight rush in to the main altar to offer Wong Tai Sin their glowing incense sticks. They believe that the earlier in the year they offer the incense, the better luck they will have that year.

Many people come to pray to Wong Tai Sin and the other gods and immortals within the temple complex, and to have their fortunes told. They light incense sticks, kneel before the main altar and side altars, make wishes and offer prayers, and offer the incense to the deities. They also seek guidance through shaking bamboo cylinders containing fortune sticks. Each stick is marked with a number, and when one falls out of the cylinder it is exchanged for a piece of paper bearing the same number. The paper contains a poem, often from the Tang Dynasty. A soothsayer will then reveal the fortune of the worshiper based on an interpretation of the poem. Worshipers also determine the will of the Immortal Wong by throwing moon-shaped blocks. The pair of blocks are flat on one side and convex on the other. After a question is asked of Wong Tai Sin, the blocks are thrown to determine his answer. If the blocks have either both flat or both convex sides up, the answer is “no.” However, if there is one flat and one convex up, then the answer is “yes.”

    Sites Within the Temple Complex

The Main Altar (大殿)

The Main Altar is for the worship of Wong Tai Sin. On the main altar of the temple stands a painting of Wong Tai Sin which was originally brought to Hong Kong from Guangdong Province in 1915, and officially moved to the present temple site in 1921. Along with the sacred portrait of Wong Tai Sin, the wall of the altar is decorated with many paintings, in addition to the teachings of Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. The story of Wong Tai Sin is also engraved inside the altar. Reconstruction of this building began in 1969 and was completed in 1973.

The Three Saints Hall (三聖堂)

Next to the Main Altar is the Three Saints Hall which is for the worship of a Kwun Yam (Guan Yin) perhaps the most revered bodhisattva in the Buddhist pantheon; General Kwan (Guan Gong), an historical hero; and Immortal Lü Dongbin, a Daoist monk.

The Bronze Phoenix Pavilion (飛鸞台)
The Bronze Phoenix Pavilion is the private study place of Wong Tai Sin. Being the "metal" member of the "five elements," it is plated with bronze and was the first bronze pavilion in Hong Kong.
The Archives Hall (經堂)
The Archives Hall is meant for keeping the teachings of Wong Tai Sin and other religious materials. It has now become the general office (donation & enquiry counter) of the Sik Sik Yuen. It belongs to the "wood" element and therefore all its furnishings are made mostly from wood.
The Yuk Yik Fountain (玉液池)

The Yuk Yik (jade liquid) Fountain belongs to the "water" element.

The Yue Heung Shrine (盂香亭)

This hexagonal building is dedicated to the Buddha of Lamp Lighting. It represents "fire" in the five geomantic elements.

The Earth Wall (照壁)
The Earth Wall is the "earth" element. Writings on which are all "Fu Ji" inscriptions.
The Memorial Hall (意密堂)
The Hall, reconstructed in 1982, is the place where the spirit tablets of the deceased Daoist members of the Yuen are kept.
The Confucian Hall (麟閣)

This Hall is where Confucius and his 72 followers are worshiped. The temple contains a portrait of Confucius, and has a collection of Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist literature. It is believed that the more worship paid to them, the cleverer your children will be in their studies. Recently, Daoist weddings have been performed here, and the Temple is the only temple facility in Hong Kong that is licensed to perform weddings.

The Nine Dragon Wall Garden (九龍壁花園)
This is a typical Chinese Garden where pavilions, waterfalls, trees and rocks are specially arranged. The Nine Dragon Wall inside the Garden is a replica of the famous Nine Dragon Wall at the Beihai Park in Beijing. On the back of the exquisite carving, the Chinese characters "Nine Dragon Wall" and a poem depicting the Wall written by Mr. Chiu Por-chor, the former president of the China Buddhist Association, are inscribed.
The Good Wish Garden (從心苑)
The Garden provides a magnificent place for people to visit. Inside the garden, there are pavilions of different shapes-circular, square, two-storey, octagonal and fan-shaped; along side with two ponds and an artificial waterfall. All the pavilions are linked up by a long-corridor with typical Chinese architectural features.
The Fung Ming Hall (鳳鳴樓)
This two-story building was opened in 1981. The upper floor is designed with conference rooms and common rooms for members, while the ground floor is for ceremonial and social gatherings, as well as activities of the local community.
The Po Chai Hall—Clinic Block (普濟樓—醫藥局)

This building was formerly called the 'Clinic Block,' which was opened in 1981. The administrative offices are located on the upper floor, while the Chinese Herbal Clinic on the ground floor provides free medical consultation and medicines to the public.

Other Sites of Note:

First Heavenly Arch—Main Entrance Memorial Arch (第一洞天牌樓)

Golden Flower Arch—Main Altar Memorial Arch (金華分蹟牌樓)

Confucian Temple Memorial Arch (孔道門)

Longevity Pills Refining Stove (煉丹爐)

Turtle Pond (龜池)

Earth God Shrine (福德祠)

Herd of White Goats Sculpture (仙鄉吉羊群)

Sik Sik Yuen

The Temple is currently administrated by the Sik Sik Yuen(嗇色園), an influential Daoist organization. The first character "sik" means “save, or spend less”; the second character "sik" means “colorful things or human desire.” The two characters put together mean “concern yourself less with human desires,” and suggest a life of spirituality, tranquility and purification. The Yuen’s guiding principle is "To Act Benevolently and to Teach Benevolence."

For decades, the Yuen has made many achievements in the fields of medicine, education, and elderly and child care services.

Benefiting the Community
Besides the medical services, which started in 1924, other services have developed over the years. Realizing its social responsibility, the Yuen's Board of Directors began to open schools in order to help educate future generations. In 1961, a Schools Planning Committee was set up. From that time on, the Yuen has been actively involved with the government in opening new schools. The Yuen began to move into services for the elderly in the 1970s to meet a growing need. In 1979, the first nursing home—Ho King Nursing Home—began to operate. As time went by, there developed a network of nursing homes; social centres for senior citizens; health care service centres; and district, community and neighbourhood centres for senior citizens.

Relief of Suffering

Giving assistance to victims suffering from disasters is another of Sik Sik Yuen's contributions to the community. From the 1950's through the 1980's, natural disasters such as floods, fires and typhoons caused serious damage in Hong Kong. The Yuen during that time took up an active role in helping the victims of these disasters. Since the 1990's, their relief work has extended to mainland China by making donations to provinces where floods and earthquakes have occurred.

Provision of coffins to the deceased from poor families was initiated in 1962. In addition, education funds were set up for poor students with distinguished academic records. Contributions were also made to "Project Hope" to provide schooling opportunities to poor children in China.




Wong Tai Sin Temple is a sacred place for worshiping. Visitors should observe the following:


  • Avoid doing anything disrespectful to the religion.

  • Please keep your voice down and do not listen to radios or play any music while within the temple complex.

  • Do not gamble while on the property.


Visitors should help to keep the Temple an ideal place for worshiping and sight-seeing. All visitors should:


  • Help to keep the Temple clean

  • Not destroy any property on the premises

  • Keep the air fresh by avoiding the burning of incense paper, candles and excessive amounts of joss sticks

  • Do not bring in oil

  • Do not bring in pets

  • Do not free any animals into the pond

  • Do not feed fish and turtles in the pond


For traffic control and safety precautions, visitors should:


  • Not enter any restricted area

  • Beware of pickpockets

  • Take care of children and the elderly

  • Hold lighted joss sticks up and avoid injury to others

  • Keep belongings with you when worshiping in the temple


Sik Sik Yuen is a charitable organisation and donations are vital to the maintenance and expansion of social services. Donations may be made by dropping money into the donation boxes, or by giving donations to the General Office and an official receipt will be issued.



Please do not tip the staff. It is their honor to serve.



If your have any comments about the Temple, please direct them to the staff at the General Office.


The temple is open from 7:00am to 5:30pm throughout the year, and is open overnight on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

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