At Hong Kong’s most popular temple, the legend goes that through your prayers, you can ‘make all your wishes come true’.

Worshippers flock to the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple in Kowloon to pray and seek guidance, and also to get their fortunes told. It’s such an important spot that the courtyard in front of the main altar has row upon row of padded stools for people to kneel down on, in order to pray more comfortably.

The compound is a Grade I Historic Building, and is beautifully ornamented according to the five elements of feng shui, with impressive archways, gardens, and fountains. The temple is primarily Taoist, but also honours Buddhism and Confucianism.

The temple is named after Master Wong Tai Sin, a Taoist deity from mainland China who is revered for his healing powers. Inside the Main Altar is a sacred portrait of Master Wong, brought by worshippers from Guangdong to Hong Kong. A pair of bronze lions, replicas of those at the Forbidden City in Beijing, stand at the entrance to the Altar, which was built in 1921.

Fortune telling is done through a process called kau cim. First, you light some incense, approach the Main Altar and kneel down, make a wish, and then shake a bamboo container full of sticks until one of the sticks falls out. Each stick has a number on it, and you exchange the stick for a piece of paper with the corresponding number. You then take the paper to the nearby arcade, which is full of fortune tellers, who interpret the reading and tell you what your future holds, for better or for worse.

Numbered wooden sticks for fortune telling rites at the Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong. | Photo by

One of the more scenic spots of the temple is the Good Wish Garden, with beautiful architecture modelled after the Summer Palace in Beijing. There is a lovely pond with a waterfall, and you can walk across a series of bridges to connecting pavilions. The Good Wish Garden is very photogenic, especially with the contrast of surrounding highrises as a backdrop.