Going to Hong Kong? Make sure your visit stand-out! Include these three beautiful sites to your HK Itinerary – Wong Tai Sin Temple, Nan Lian Garden, Chi Lin Nunnery.
These amazing sites are easy to get to as they are near MTR stations, but the best thing is they are also FREE to explore. Yep, no entrance fee tourist destinations in Hong Kong. Visit na! 😉
Disneyland Hong Kong, Ocean Park, Avenue of Stars, Symphony of Lights, Victoria Peak, Ngong Ping 360, Tsim Tsai Tsui shopping, and sneaker street in Mong Kong, these are the USUAL places that you can find on most traveler’s itinerary for Hong Kong, especially among first-timers.
Truth be told, those mentioned are the places I would like to go and explore too, if it is my first time in HK and time is limited. But for those who have extra time, or have been to Hong Kong before and is looking for new places to explore, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND these 3 sites:
- Wong Tai Sin Temple
- Nan Lian Garden
- Chi Lin Nunnery
You can do a half-day tour to explore these 3 Hong Kong destinations. The only expense will be the MTR rides.
What to expect from these Hong Kong tourist spots that are a bit off-the-beaten path? Culture and tradition, beautiful sceneries, stunning architecture, and more!
MUST SEE PLACES HONG KONG 2018 and beyond
WONG TAI SIN TEMPLE
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is a great site to visit to get a glimpse of the HK local’s culture and religious traditions. This is a place of worship, expect lots of pilgrims to be there when you visit. Scattered throughout the complex are symbols and shrines of Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism existing in harmony side by side.
There is no entrance fee to enter the temple and explore the annexed garden called the Good Wish Garden. Also, there is no explicit Wong Tai Sin Temple dress code but since it is a temple, a place of faith, it is best to wear decent clothing.
Here are Penfires notes on this Hong Kong popular spots:
- Expect a bit of chaos, lots of pilgrims and tourists alike visiting Wong Tai Sin.
- Taking pictures is allowed, but again be respectful especially if you want to capture photos of people in worship.
- Don’t miss the Zodiac Sign statues! Find your Zodiac, and make a wish!
- Check out the shrines and symbols of the different Chinese religions.
- Find the small gate leading to the Good Wish Garden and Nine Tail Garden. Explore the garden complex. Make a wish!
- Amulets and good luck charms are for sale, available near the main arch if you want a souvenir.
How to get to Wong Tai Sin Temple: Take the MTR, then alight in MTR Station Wong Tai Sin. Make sure to Take EXIT A. After you exit the station, 200 meters away is a big arch of the temple, the gateway. Just follow the crowd to get to the main gate.
NAN LIAN GARDEN
The Nan Lian Garden is a huge complex which features a zen garden. There is also a section dedicated to eucalyptus trees and flowers. At the middle of it all is a picturesque Chinese pagoda surrounded by lush greenery with water gushing around it. It’s serene, calm, an oasis in the busy city.
You can’t enter the pagoda but you can get close enough to get good selfie shots and souvenir pics.
CHI LIN NUNNERY
This is an impressive, stunning large complex that features old Chinese architecture, lotus ponds in the spacious courtyard, the Buddhist temple halls, there’s also a collection of Bonsai trees, a Rock Museum dedicated to special rocks that can be found in HK and China.
This is a haven in the midst of the busy city and towering buildings.
Serenity permeates the place. It’s one of those places that seems to envelop you in a warm hug and makes you calm. Significantly less visitors here compared to Wong Tai Sin.
In the inner section you can find the Chi Lin Nunnery Buddhist Hall and the Hall of the Celestial Kings. Picture taking inside these halls is no longer allowed. Silence is requested as you enter the innermost hall.
The inscription on the marker nailed at the halls’ big wide door begins with..
“Maitreya Bodhisattva, the future Buddah, welcomes all visitors to the Nunnery. On the four corners of the altar are the celestial kings of the four cardinal directions.”
As you make your first step inside the temple halls, you may chance upon a Buddist monk or nun praying in earnest like that time when we visited. The melodic chanting that seems to never stop is another reminder that we were no longer in the Philippines. The chanting together with the rustling sound the wind makes for a beautiful, calming sound.
What you will see inside the most inner hall:
There is a HUGE gold Buddha flanked by two other important figures in Buddhism on his sides. They dominate the room, nakakamangha.
The staff in charge will gather visitors to one side and encourage everyone to listen to the story of Buddha and his chosen servants(?) in Chinese and then in English. If you are a Buddhist reading this, please forgive my ignorance.
Google “Chi Lin Nunnery Buddha” if you want to see some images from the inner temple halls. We did not take photo because it is the right thing to do, especially there are worshipers who are praying sincerely, and also because the sign says ‘no picture taking’. When you visit a place, be respectful of the customs. Respect begets respect.
How to get to Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery? Take the MTR, ride to Diamond Hill Station. This station is situated under the Plaza Hollywood Mall. Find Exit C2. Ask the info desk of the mall in case you got lost. When you alight on the main road, turn left, and notice the foot bridge which crossed the highway about 300 meters away. You need to walk toward that to get to these two places.
There is a side gate to Nan Lian Zen Garden just before you reach the foot bridge. Nan Lian Garden is connected to Chi Lin Nunnery through that bridge. Make it a 2-in-1 tour.
These HK tourist spots are recommended too for budgetarian since no entrance fee here. Again, easily reachable via MTR. 😉 I recommend that you visit first Wong Tai Sin then Nan Lian Garden and end your half-day tour with Chi Lin Nunnery.
For Penfires, these 3 destinations are a MUST SEE when you are in Hong Kong. Hope you make it there!