Located six subway stops northeast of Yau Ma Tei in the far north end of Kowloon, Wong Tai Sin is Hong Kong's most popular Taoist temple, which attracts worshippers of all three traditional Chinese guiding faiths: Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Although the temple itself is less than 100 years old, it adheres to traditional Chinese architectural principles with its red pillars, two-tiered golden roof, blue friezes, yellow latticework, and multicolored carvings. Its construction also displays the six elements dictated by geomancy (feng shui), namely bronze (the pavilion), metal (the archives hall), wood, water (a fountain), fire (Yue Heung Shrine, dedicated to the Buddha of Lighting Lamp), and earth (an earthen wall). The very popular temple attracts those seeking information about their fortunes -- from advice about business or horse racing to determining which day is most auspicious for a wedding. Most worshippers make use of a bamboo container holding numbered sticks. After lighting a joss stick and kneeling before the main altar, the worshipper concentrates on a specific question and gently shakes the container until one of the sticks falls out. The number on the stick holds the answer, which is then interpreted by one of the temple's many soothsayers in the lower level, some of whom speak English. The cost of the interpretation is HK$30. If you want a more in-depth fortune, expect to pay about HK$300.
You can wander around the temple grounds, and visit the halls dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy and to Confucius; the Good Wish Garden with ponds, an artificial waterfall, a replica of the famous Nine Dragons relief (the original is in Beijing's Imperial Palace), and circular, square, octagonal, and fan-shaped pavilions. Sik Sik Yuen, the religious charity organization that oversees Wong Tai Sin, provides a clinic with free traditional Chinese herbal treatments for the needy and homes for the elderly. Wong Tai Sin takes its name, in fact, from a legendary shepherd who learned the art of healing and pledged his life to help others. A visit to this temple, surrounded by vast, government housing estates, provides insight into Chinese religious practices of today and is well worth a stop despite its out-of-the-way location.