Did you know that the Chinese temples in Hong Kong are dedicated to different Gods? Find out who they are and what they are renowned for.
Hong Kong is a beautiful city filled with colonial architecture and rich Chinese culture. Alongside the stunning historic buildings, like Tai Kwun and Chi Lin Nunnery, many wonderful Chinese temples can be found from the bustling city to the surrounding islands. Temples are a sacred place for people to worship and pay respect to different Gods – and, did you know that most of the Chinese temples in Hong Kong are dedicated to a small group of deities? Whether you’re a Buddhist, a Taoist or a non-believer, it’s interesting to learn more about local culture, so have a look at these temple facts for next time you’re passing one by on the street.
All the Chinese temples in Hong Kong you need to know
1. The God of Literature and the God of War: Man Mo Temple
There is only one structure in Hong Kong dedicated to Man Mo, and that’s in Sheung Wan. Interestingly, Man Mo Temple pays tribute to two gods – the God of Literature (Man) and the God of War (Mo) – whom were worshipped by students hoping to be blessed in their civil examinations of Imperial China and find progress in their academic work. These days, you will still often see students flocking to the temple pre-exam in the hope of having these deities on their side.
Man Mo Temple, 124-126 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, p. 2540 0350
2. The Goddess of the Sea: Tin Hau Temple
There are over a hundred Tin Hau Temples in Hong Kong, all of which are dedicated to Tin Hau (or Mazu) – the Chinese Sea Goddess. Tin Hau is highly respected by fishermen and those who live by the sea. Myth has that she can roam the seas and protect her followers from natural disasters. From the islands to locations that have now been reclaimed, you can find a Tin Hau temple almost everywhere in Hong Kong (including the famed structure on Temple Street in Yau Ma Tei), just going to show how important the sea is in the history of the city, and still today.
Tin Hau Temple, Hoi Pong Road East, Lei Yue Mun, Yau Tong, Hong Kong
3. The God of the North: Pak Tai Temple
One of the most renowned Chinese temples in the city is Pak Tai Temple. Pak Tai (or Xuanwu) is the God of the North, as well as a much-respected Taoist water deity. He is perceived as a warrior in dark-coloured robes. Inside Pak Tai Temple, the three-metre tall Pak Tai statue is situated in the main hall; while in the side halls, there are the Three Pristine Ones, Lung Mo (Dragon Mother) and the God of Wealth as well. There is also a Pak Tai Temple in Cheung Chau where the famous Bun Festival takes place each year.
Pak Tai Temple, 2 Lung On Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, p. 2573 2086
4. The Mother of Dragons: Lung Mo Temple
Lung Mo was a Chinese goddess who raised five infant dragons, and this is a prime example of parental love and filial piety (which is one of the most important virtues in traditional Chinese culture). It’s believed that touching the dragon bed inside Lung Mo Temple will bring you good luck, as well as help predict your future. And this Lung Mo Temple is one of the largest Chinese temples in Peng Chau.
Lung Mo Temple, 15 Chi Yan Street, Tung Wan, Peng Chau, Hong Kong, p. 2983 0725
5. The Goddess of Mercy: Kwun Yam Temple
Worshipped by people of both the Taoist and Buddhist faiths, Kwun Yam (the Goddess of Mercy) symbolises sympathy, compassion and mercy, paying attention to those who are in misery. It was said that those who sought refuge in Kwun Yam Temple during World War II were unharmed, while there were severe casualties in its surrounding area due to the Japanese bombing. And the temple still stands as its original!
Kwun Yam Temple, 15 Station Lane, Hung Hom, Hong Kong, p. 2363 4930
6. The military commander of Southern Song Dynasty: Che Kung Temple
Che Kung Temple is dedicated to Che Kung, who was a military general in the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). It’s believed that Che Kung helped escort the last emperor of the Song Dynasty on his escape to Sai Kung – which is now named the New Territories. One of the most well-known temple facts is that good luck will be on your way if you spin the wheel of fortune at Che Kung Temple three times.
Che Kung Temple, 7 Che Kung Miu Road, Sha Tin, Hong Kong, p. 2603 4049
7. The God of Good Fortune: Wong Tai Sin Temple
Did you know that the Wong Tai Sin area is named after the God of Good Fortune? Devotees flock to the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple to offer incense and gifts in hopes the Immortal will grant them prosperity. The intricately embellished temple is a haven for Taoists, Buddhists, and Confucianists alike. But, Wong Tai Sin is particularly revered for blessing lottery poetry, called “kau chim” in Cantonese. Seekers shake bamboo cylinders filled with numbered fortune sticks, then consult specialists to interpret the unique poems formed by their selection.
Exploring the neighbourhood? Check out our guide to Wong Tai Sin.
Wong Tai Sin Temple, 2 Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong, p. 2327 8141
8. The City God: Shing Wong Temple
Shing Wong Temple honours Sing Wong, also called Cheng Huang, the god believed to maintain peace between the living and the spirits. First erected in 1877 as Fook Tak Chi, the temple was renamed and expanded to its current two-hall form in 1974. Shing Wong Temple overlooks the busy market district, while its back remains shielded by hills. As both protector and peacekeeper, this revered deity brings a sense of solace amidst the neighbourhood’s commotion.
Shing Wong Temple, Kam Wa Street, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong, p. 2569 2837
9. God of the South Sea: Hung Shing Temple
Hung Shing Temple dates back over 240 years as one of Hong Kong’s few remaining original seaside places of worship. Devotees believe the deity Hung Shing protects fishermen and sailors, making him central to this island community’s maritime livelihood. Known for accurately predicting typhoons and other disasters in life as a virtuous Tang Dynasty official, Hung Shing remains a guiding force for believers today. Especially auspicious is the lively Hung Shing Festival held here on the 13th day of the second lunar month. A parade winds through the festooned temple as performers reenact legends of Hung Shing.
Hung Shing Temple, 9 Hung Shing Street, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong, p. 2552 6884
[This article was originally published in March 2020 and updated in 2023 by Catherine Pun.]