A Popular Temple and a City Transformed

Wong Tai Sin and Kowloon City – A Popular Temple and a City Transformed

Immerse yourself in the amazing traditional Chinese architecture of Hong Kong's most popular temple and wander through the remnants of an infamous walled city and Chinese garden.

A Popular Temple and A City Transformed
Central Wong Tai Sin and Kowloon City mapThe district of Wong Tai Sin gets its name from its most prominent landmark: the famous Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. Other places of interest around here include the Hau Wong Temple dating back to the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) and Nan Lian Garden, which is built in the ancient Tang dynasty (618–907) style. The neighbouring Kowloon City District used to contain the once lawless Kowloon Walled City, which was torn down in 1994 and replaced with a lovely park. Nearby are a series of 10 streets packed with upwards of 200 local eateries, all serving up the delicious tastes of Asia’s world city.

1. Nan Lian Garden
Nan Lian Garden

The 35,000-square-metre Nan Lian Garden built in the Tang dynasty (618–907) style is made beautiful by its characteristic timber structures, water ponds, unusually shaped rocks and valuable old trees. The whole park has been artfully arranged to imitate nature and by following its one-way circular route, visitors will find new splendours unfold with every step. You can time this trip with lunch too if you like, as there is also a vegetarian restaurant here with delicious fare provided by the adjacent Chi Lin Nunnery. Visitors can also appreciate China’s tea drinking culture and etiquette at the Pine Teahouse (Song Cha Xie) inside this green oasis.

How to get there

MTR Diamond Hill Station, Exit C2. Follow the signs pointing to Nan Lian Garden.

2. Wong Tai Sin Temple
Wong Tai Sin Temple

This is one of the largest and most popular temples in Hong Kong, not least of which is because, according to legend, Wong Tai Sin is able to ‘make every wish come true upon request’. The temple is home to three different religions: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and the temple containing Wong Tai Sin’s portrait is where worshippers pray for good fortune through offerings and divine guidance as well as fortune telling. Other points of interest here include the five buildings and structures representing the Five Geomantic Elements of feng shui: the Bronze Pavilion (metal), the Archives Hall (wood), the Fountain (water), the Yue Heung Shrine (fire) and the Earth Wall (earth).

How to get there

Take the MTR to Wong Tai Sin Station. Leave the station via Exit B3 and follow the signs pointing to the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple.

3. Hau Wong Temple
Hau Wong Temple

One of the legends surrounding Hau Wong Temple built in 1730 is that it was crafted to commemorate a Chinese general who had helped the last Song Dynasty (960–1279) emperor escape invading forces to Kowloon. Another legend argues it was dedicated to a local inhabitant who had cured the same emperor of illness. Either way, the temple is home to a wealth of cultural artifacts, including groups of reliefs on the walls, Chinese calligraphy and a number of plaques.

How to get there

Take the MTR to Lok Fu Station. Leave the station via Exit B and follow the signs pointing to the Hau Wong Temple.

4. Kowloon Walled City Park
Kowloon Walled City Park

Kowloon Walled City Park wasn’t always the serene place it is today. It was once the site of Kowloon Walled City, which by a quirk of history, remained outside British jurisdiction after Hong Kong became a colony, turning it into a notorious place of crime and debauchery. The yamen, or administrative building, which is one of the very few surviving structures of its kind in South China, has been restored and preserved in its original place. Other surviving relics of significance include two cannons (made in 1802) which are positioned at either end of the yamen‘s front yard. Make sure you save some time to peruse the other landmarks worthy of a look-see, including the Garden of the Chinese Zodiac, the Chess Garden, the Mountain View Pavilion, the Kuixing Pavilion and Guibi Rock, Eight Floral Walks, and the Garden of Four Seasons.

How to get there

Cross the road and walk along Tung Tau Tsuen Road until you reach the north gate of Kowloon Walled City Park.

5. Kowloon City food district
Kowloon City food district

Kowloon City food district would be your best option for dinner if the timing is right: A group of around 10 streets bounded by Prince Edward Road West, Junction Road and Carpenter Road is where you can find around 200 inexpensive and often family-run eateries serving up local favourites and tasty Southeast Asian cuisine.

How to get there

Walk through Kowloon Walled City Park and Carpenter Road Park. Cross Carpenter Road to reach Nam Kok Road, which is also part of what is known as ‘Kowloon City food district’.

Did you Know

The hair-raising landings at what was once Hong Kong International Airport at Kai Tak may be a thing of the past, but the old site located nearby has been reborn into a cruise terminal.