Visit Buddha on Buddha’s Birthday
If devouring Dim Sum is your attempt to experience culinary traditions in Hong Kong, visiting temples would be the cultural equivalent. There is a reason why temples are such a popular destination for visitors and locals alike, and it’s not just because you always come out smelling like incense. Buddhism has been and continue to be interwoven in Hong Kong’s culture and history. For thousands of years, people have been praying to countless Chinese deities for different aspects of life via designated temples; some visit the Tin Hau Temples for better yield in fishery, and some hope for good grades from the Man Mo Temple, and more. With Buddha’s Birthday coming up soon on the 12th of May, let’s take this as the perfect chance to pay a visit to these 5 fascinating temples and to understand better its cultural significance for Hong Kong people.
Tin Hau Temple at Yau Ma Tei
Located just minutes away from Hotel Stage, Tin Hau Temple is the designated temple for fishermen and anyone whose life is connected to the ocean to honor Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea. Usually Tin Hau temples are within close vicinity to the sea, this one at Yau Ma Tei isn’t because land reclamation projects of this ever-changing city have pushed the coastline down to where we know as Tsim Sha Tsui today. Nonetheless, people still worship the Goddess here for good fortune.
Getting there (5 minutes): Tin Hau Temple, 56-58 Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei
From Hotel Stage, walk along Gascoigne Road until you reach Nathan Road. Cross over to the other side of Nathan Road and continue to walk towards Yau Ma Tei. Make a left turn at Public Square Street and you will arrive at Tin Hau Temple.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
Photo credit: Hong Kong Hotels
Wong Tai Sin Temple is one of the most popular temples in town and offers lots to see in its 18,000sqm space. Located in Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, the temple is dedicated to three major religions in Asia, namely, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Attractions such as fortune-telling services, the traditionally red and golden Three-Saint Hall, the Taoist temple, and the Nine Dragons Wall are most popular among visitors.
Getting there (24 minutes): Wong Tai Sin Temple, 2 Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon
From Hotel Stage, walk to Jordan MTR station and take the red Tsuen Wan line towards Mong Kok. Transit to the green Kwun Tong line at Mong Kok station and get off at Wong Tai Sin station. Exit at exit B2, turn left and walk inside the temple’s property.
Man Mo Temple
Photo credit: Hong Kong Guides
Named after Man, the calligraphy brush wielding god of literature, and Mo, the god of war who wears a green robe holding a sword, Man Mo Temple is the oldest and the most visited temple in Hong Kong. Enter through its wooden doors and be transported to a timeless place where incense have been burning the same way since 1847.
Getting there (30 minutes): Man Mo Temple, 126 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
From Hotel Stage, walk to Jordan MTR station and take the red Tsuen Wan line towards Central station. Transit to the dark blue Island Line towards Sheung Wan station and exit at exit A2. Turn right as you exit and walk along Wing Lok street until you reach Cleverly street. Turn left and walk on Cleverly until you reach Queen’s Road Central. Cross the street and walk up Ladder street until you reach Hollywood Road where Man Mo Temple is.
Ten Thousand Buddha’s Monastery
Photo credit: Blink: Travel Guide
As the name suggests, the Ten Thousand Buddha’s Monastery is home to over 13,000 Buddha images spread out over 8 hectares of mountainous land. With over 400 stairs before you reach the peak, expect a work-out as you stride pass golden Buddha statues of different sizes and forms. Built in 1957 by a dedicated monk called Yuet Kai and his followers, a range of fascinating instalments were designed to pay respect to the Buddha, for instance, a Kwun Yam (Goddess of Mercy) Pavilion, an 18 Arhat Gallery, a nine-storey pagoda, and the preserved corpse of monk Yuet Kai who is encased in a golden shell called the Diamond Indestructible Body of Yuexi.
Getting there (45 minutes): Ten Thousand Buddha’s Monastery, Pai Tau, Shatin
From Hotel Stage, walk to Jordan MTR station and take the red Tsuen Wan line towards Mong Kok. Transit to the green Kwun Tong line at Mong Kok station and continue your MTR journey to Kowloon Tong station. Transit again to the light blue East Rail Line until you reach Shatin station. Take exit A4 and walk pass the bus terminus and onto a pedestrian bridge. Continue to walk towards Homesquare and pass the Immigration Department Shatin Office until you reach the entrance of the temple.
Po Lin Monastery (Big Buddha)
Photo credit: Travel Caffeine
It’s inevitable for the Big Buddha to spring to mind when it comes to Hong Kong temples, for the giant bronze Buddha is one of the biggest in the region. As a part of Po Lin Monastery, the Big Buddha, or Tian Tan Buddha, was opened to the public in 1993 and has been attracting much popularity ever since, although the monastery itself originally opened in 1970. In addition to the Big Buddha, the monastery houses three other big golden Buddha statues as well as several vegetarian restaurants run by the monks who reside there.
Getting there (1 hr and 39 minutes): Po Lin Monastery on Ngong Ping Plateau, Tung Chung Town, Lantau Island
From Hotel Stage, walk to Jordan Road and cross over to the Kowloon Union Church where the Airport Bus Terminus is. Take Airport Bus E23 and ride 6 stops to Tung Chung Crescent. Walk to the Ngong Ping Cable Car Tung Chung station and ride the cable car to the Ngong Ping Cable Car Ngong Ping station. Walk 14 minutes through the Ngong Ping Village and reach Po Lin Monastery.