Things To Do in Hong Kong – Man Mo Temple – A Magical Sight!

Things To Do In Hong Kong - Man Mo Temple - Featured Image

Things To Do in Hong Kong – Man Mo Temple – A Magical Sight!

Today, in this post – Things To Do in Hong Kong – Man Mo Temple – A Magical Sight! – I would like to share with you this out of the world experience. If you have time in Hong Kong to visit only one temple, this must be the one!

It was around 3pm. I had quickly stowed my luggage in my room at Butterfly on Morrison Boutique Hotel. After a quick organization of things to bring with me, I made my way to Causeway Bay MTR Station. From there, I would go to Central Station, then take the Mid-Level Escalators to Hollywood Road where Man Mo Temple was located.

I was thrilled to be back in Hong Kong. It had been years since I was here. And this time round, I have done lots of research, and was better prepared to enjoy all the great food and soak in all the awesome sights!

One of which is the famous Man Mo Temple. I truly enjoyed my time here. Keep reading as I share more about my magical experience here. Enjoy watching the video and the photos, too.


Things To Do in Hong Kong – Man Mo Temple – A Magical Sight! – The Video

In this video, you get to see the temple viewed from the street, the area outside the temple, and the mystical interior of the temple. Inside the temple, there is an awesome area in the center with beautiful lanterns and large incense coils hanging from the ceiling.

Plus, you get to see the dramatic artwork, the altar, the drum and bell, the images of the gods, and more. Watch the video now!

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About Man Mo Temple

Man Mo Temple was built in 1847, and is one of the oldest temples in Hong Kong. It is also the largest Man Mo Temple in this city.

Man Mo Temple (on the left with green roof) - View from outside, from across the road
Man Mo Temple (on the left with green roof) – View from outside, from across the road

At this temple, many locals (and even tourists) pay their respects to the God of Literature (also known in Cantonese as Man – pronounced Mun) and the God of War (also known in Cantonese as Mo).

From the ancient days till today, they pray for success in studies. This practice started in the days of Imperial China where scholars prayed for success in civil examinations. Their wish was to get appointed the best administrative positions in the state.

Man Mo Temple is actually part of a complex. There are three adjacent blocks in this complex. And each house the following respectively – Man Mo Temple, Lit Shing Temple and Kung So. The main building is where Man Mo Temple resides.

Today, the place of worship is managed by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. It has been given the title of Grade 1 historic building. And it is now preserved and declared a monument.



Outside Man Mo Temple

From Hollywood Road, I walked into the courtyard of the premises. It was Chinese New Year period, and there was a display with pretty blossoms. You can see a bit of it at the left side of the photo below.

Man Mo Temple - Gateway and Entrance to main temple
Man Mo Temple – Gateway and Entrance to main temple

As you can see from above, there is a gate where people walk from the courtyard, and into the temple. The large sign has the name – Man Mo Temple – in Chinese.

Before you walk into the temple, do take note of the signs on the gate. These are some house rules to follow as well as some words of caution for your safety.

House Rules at Man Mo Temple
House Rules at Man Mo Temple

Travel Tip: Please be respectful and follow the house rules

Additional Travel Tip: You are allowed to take photos and video but not with the flash


Inside Man Mo Temple

At The Main Door

Once past the main door of the temple, you will see these beautiful panels and pillars (photo below). The artwork and pillars are painted in red and gold, with Chinese words written on them. Look at the intricate details. I am always so impressed with such exquisite craftsmanship.

Beautiful panels and pillars in red and gold greet you as you enter Man Mo Temple
Beautiful panels and pillars in red and gold greet you as you enter Man Mo Temple

Travel Tip: The original design of Man Mo Temple is completely preserved. This makes the architecture ancient and authentic.

Further in, there are these decorative altars. They look like altars for the gods when they are carried outside for religious processions. Again, the details are so intricate and delicate.

Man Mo Temple - decorative altar for carrying on sedan
Man Mo Temple – decorative altar for carrying on sedan

Lanterns And Coils of Incense

At the center of the temple is an area where there are gorgeous lanterns. The lanterns fill the space with so much light. The red paper hanging from each lantern is the name of a devotee who paid for it. This is to bless the person.

Man Mo Temple - Gorgeous Lanterns with prayers from devotees
Man Mo Temple – Gorgeous Lanterns with prayers from devotees

Above the lanterns are large incense coils that are burning. Just like the lanterns, there is a red paper hanging from the incense with the name of the person who paid for it.

The incense are continually burning. As the incense burns, the smoke carries the prayer of the person to the heavens.

Incense Coils hang above with prayers and wishes from devotees
Incense Coils hang above with prayers and wishes from devotees

Travel Tip: Please take precaution if you are sensitive to smoke

You can see more of all this in the video above. If you have not watched it, I highly recommend that you do.

Prayer Items

Along a side of the temple, there is a counter where prayer items are sold. Here, people can buy individual items such as candles, incense, paper money, etc. Or they can purchase a prayer set that is specially prepared for them. You can see rolls of these sets in the image below.

Prayer Sets with Candles, Incense, Paper Money and More
Prayer Sets with Candles, Incense, Paper Money and More

Prayer Area

Even further in, just after the center space filled with lanterns and coils of incense, there is an area for people to do their prayers. It is here where the prayer items like candles are lit, and incense are burned and placed in incense holders.

Man Mo Temple - View of prayer area
Man Mo Temple – View of prayer area

Altar of the God of Literature and God of War

I ventured further in, and I discovered that we can get even closer to the altar where the God of Literature and God of War are at. There is an pretty cool small sculpture of a hand holding a pen brush. This is the tool held by the God of Literature.

Man Mo Temple - Altar and Pen
Man Mo Temple – Altar and Pen

And just behind the pen brush are the God of Literature and God of War. I really like this photo. And I find the images of the gods and the altar so fascinating. Do you?

Man Mo Temple - God of Literature and God of War
Man Mo Temple – God of Literature and God of War

The God of Literature is the one on the left. He is often depicted as holding a writing brush. The God of War is the one on the right, and wields a sword.

Drum and Bell

Here are a couple of popular artifacts – the Drum and the Bell. Devotees are seen to say a prayer, and then strike the bell followed by hitting the drum. You can see them doing that in the video above.

Man Mo Temple - Drum and Bell - devotees strike both and say a prayer
Man Mo Temple – Drum and Bell – devotees strike both and say a prayer

Man Mo Temple – Asia Travel Gems Final Word

To be honest, I did not expect much when I planned to visit Man Mo Temple. But the site really surprised me.

In an urban setting that is the bustling downtown area, you see this building that looks ordinary. But the moment you step inside the temple, it is like you are transported to another world.

The scents of the incense, the bright and vibrant colors of the decor, the stunning lanterns, the coils of incense that seem to go on forever into the ceiling, and everything else – truly makes this a very unique and awesome experience.

My advice – Yes! Do make time to visit Man Mo Temple. It is truly worth your time.



Where is Man Mo Temple?

Man Mo Temple is located along Hollywood Road. This is a famous and popular road that runs along the width of Central of Hong Kong Island. You can’t miss it. Also, refer to the map below to locate it easily.

Operating Hours

Man Mo Temple opens from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm every day. Do note the timings as they strictly close at 6.00 pm.

Travel Tip: Allocate at least one hour to explore this awesome place

Address

124 – 126 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island

Telephone: +852 2540 0350


How to Get to Man Mo Temple?

MTR

You can get to Man Mo Temple from Central Station or Sheung Wan Station. It all depends on which direction you are coming from. If you are traveling from Kowloon, then it is better to stop at Central Station.

At Central Station, go to Exit D2. From this exit, turn right to go to Theatre Lane. Then walk along Queen’s Road Central towards The Center. At The Center, walk towards the Central Mid-Levels Escalator, and take the escalator to Hollywood Road. Then walk along Hollywood Road towards the direction of the temple (see the map above).

Alternatively, if you find yourself nearer to Sheung Wan, then go to the Sheung Wan MTR Station. Take Exit A2, and walk along Hillier Street to Queen’s Road Central. Go up to Ladder Street that is next to Lok Ku Road, and then to Hollywood Road. Again, once you are at Hollywood Road, refer to the map above to find the way to Man Mo Temple.

Bus

Bus 26 is the bus that takes you closest to Man Mo Temple. Take this bus from outside Pacific Place at Admiralty to Hollywood Road. Alight at the stop nearest to Man Mo Temple. If you are unsure, ask the bus driver for help.

Taxi

Taxis are easy to catch in Hong Kong. You can get one to bring you direct to Man Mo Temple. For more information about Taxis and Grab, go to my page about Hong Kong.

Walk

When I was in Hong Kong, I found that I walked almost everywhere. That is, everywhere that is near from one place to another. So, if you happen to be near Man Mo Temple, use the map above to get your bearings and walk over there.

Or if you are staying at a hotel nearby, why not walk over and explore this amazing magical place?


If you have ANY questions about this post – Things to Do in Hong Kong – Man Mo Temple, or Hong Kong, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading about Things To Do in Hong Kong – Man Mo Temple.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels.

Timotheus

Things To Do in Hong Kong – Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

What To See In Hong Kong - Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple - Featured Image

Things To Do in Hong Kong – Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

It was a bright and sunny day in Hong Kong. After a good breakfast of pastries and good coffee, we were fully energized. Before arriving here, we wondered what are the  Things To Do in Hong Kong? After a bit of research, we found out that there is a famous attraction called Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple.

It took switching train lines and some stops to reach there. About half an hour from our hotel, walking included. We were really excited. It was said that Wong Tai Sin grants every wish. We intend to each make a wish. Join us for this little trip to this awesome place.


About Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

Steps to Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
Steps to Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

The temple is named after a famous monk called Wong Tai Sin. His full name is Huang Chu-ping. He was born in the 4th century. After years of practice, he became a deity at Red Pine Hill, known as Heng Shan in Chinese.

There was a sacred portrait of him that was transported from Guangdong to Hong Kong. Eventually, the portrait was relocated to where the temple is today. Now, devotees arrive from all over the world to pay respects to Wong Tai Sin. At the same time, they submit offerings and pray for good fortune. They also receive divine guidance using Kau Cheem (explained further down this blog post).


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Inside Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

We arrived early in the morning, and the place was already filled with lots of people. There were many who came in tour groups. When in such a large crowd, it was not easy to take a photo of the sights without a stranger posing in them.

Travel Tip: Arrive earlier when tour groups have not arrived yet. Or later when they have all gone.

It was also not easy to take photos of only me or with my friends plus the scenery there. There was always people posing here and there.

Travel Tip: Quickly jump in at to take photos of you against the scenery when you see people vacate the spot. Or when you wish to take a photo of any scenery. Don’t wait.

Guardian Deity at Entrance of Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
Guardian Deity at Entrance of Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

It took me a while. I waited for some time. Tourists from the tour groups kept appearing to pose with the above Guardian Deity. Finally, when there was a brief moment free from people invading the space, I quickly snapped a photo of the Guardian Deity. Impressive figure, isn’t he?

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

After climbing up the steps, we arrived at the Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple itself. It is so beautiful and ornate. I loved the intricate paintings on the walls. They were like golden lined clouds. Perhaps a symbolism of a heavenly place?

Look at the rooftop. It is so well designed. The large lanterns with gold trimmings gently swayed. They created a sense of grandeur. Plus the pillars and boards with gold Chinese words, all add to a very fine structure.

Devotees Praying at Wong Tai Sin Temple
Devotees Praying at Wong Tai Sin Temple

When you step back a little, you could see devotees praying and placing incense into long rectangular incense holders. Here is where you can pay your respects and make a wish. It is said that all you have to do is hold the incense in your hands, lift it up to the front of your face or slightly above your head, face Wong Tai Sin, and then make your wish.

Some devotees, while there, would seek guidance on their fortune. They did it using Fortune Sticks in a method called ‘Kau Cheem’.


Seek Your Fortune with Kau Cheem

Divine Guidance at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is done by first doing Kau Cheem. Kau Cheem is available at every temple with Fortune Sticks and Moon Blocks, as shown below. But at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, they only provide the container of Fortune Sticks. Find a counter that offers this container, and get one.

Kau Cheem Fortune Sticks and Moon Blocks
Kau Cheem Fortune Sticks and Moon Blocks

How to Do Kau Cheem?

After you collected the Fortune Sticks, go to the area where you see many people kneeling on red cushions and shaking the container of Fortune Sticks, as shown in image below.

Devotees Kau Cheem at Wong Tai Sin Temple
Devotees Kau Cheem at Wong Tai Sin Temple

Choose one of the red cushions and kneel on it. Then, while facing Wong Tai Sin, hold the container of Fortune Sticks with both hands and shake it. While shaking the container, ask your question or say your wish. You can do it silently, in a whisper or out loud. Hold the thought of your question or wish as you shake the container.

Remember to tilt the container slightly forward with the mouth of the container slightly facing Wong Tai Sin. This is to allow the chance for one of the sticks to fall out. But you don’t want to tilt too much or shake too much. This may cause many sticks to fall out. You only need one.

How to Know If The Fortune Stick Is the One For You?

At some point of time, one of the sticks would fall out. At other temples, there is the use of Moon Blocks to help decide if this is the Fortune Stick for you. But here, as mentioned earlier, there are not Moon Blocks given. Not to be concerned. Just know that the stick that fell out is the correct one for you. It is the one that answers your question or wish.

If more than one stick fell out, then replace them into the container and try again. Note that there should only be one.

When you finally get the Fortune Stick that answers your question or wish, take note of the number of that Fortune Stick. Yes, there is a unique number for every stick. Replace it into the container and return the Fortune Sticks and container to the counter.

How to Interpret Your Fortune Stick?

Like everyone, we did Kau Cheem when we were there. And like everyone, we wondered what the Fortune Stick said, what message did Wong Tai Sin have for us?

At other temples, they would give interpretation slips for each of the Fortune Sticks. And they would give it for Free. But at Wong Tai Sin Temple, this was not done. There was an area where there were rows of fortune tellers who offered to interpret the Fortune Stick at a fee.

We were not keen to do that for many reasons. Firstly, the fortune tellers were always trying to get people to buy a full reading, which included reading one’s future. Secondly, we suspected that they would say we would need to buy some talisman or some feng shui item. Nothing wrong with all that. After all, they were making a decent living.

It was just that we are people savvy with the Internet. And we know that there is a FREE online interpretation of Fortune Sticks from Wong Tai Sin Temple. And here, I share with you the same Free service.

First step – Go to Wong Tai Sin Temple website – Click Here. You will land on their home page as shown below.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website - homepage
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website – homepage

Next, click on Fortune Telling Stick Enquiry option, indicated above in red box and pointed by red arrow. You will then be brought to the enquiry page as shown below.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website - Fortune Sticks Enquiry
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website – Fortune Sticks Enquiry

On this page, click on the Fortune Telling Stick Enquiry button. You will then see this next page, shown below.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website - Enter Lot Number
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website – Enter Lot Number

Remember the number on the Fortune Stick that you drawn during the Kau Cheem? Enter that number into the box (where the red arrow is pointing), and click the search button (that is the magnifying glass next to the box).

The system will then search for the Interpretation and display it to you. Here is an example of the interpretation for Fortune Stick 11, also called Lot 11.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website - Fortune Stick Interpretation
Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website – Fortune Stick Interpretation

Now you have your Free online interpretation of the Fortune Stick you received at Wong Tai Sin Temple. Great huh?


On The Grounds of Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple

After the Kau Cheem, my friends and I walked the grounds a bit. It is not large. But there were some cute little statues that I would like to share with you.

Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple website - Fortune Stick Interpretation
Kirin Statue

The above is a statue of a Kirin or Qilin. It is a mythical creature that is believed to bring good luck.

Lion
Lion

The above is a statue of a Chinese version of a lion. Lions are believed to be guardians. This particular one is holding an ancient Chinese coin with the Chinese words – 招财进宝 (zhao cai jin bao). The meaning of the words is to usher in wealth and prosperity.


Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple – Asia Travel Gems Final Word

If you are still wondering What To See In Hong Kong, I can assure you that Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple is definitely a Must See. Besides the tourists, you can truly immerse in a piece of local culture.

This is because many locals still frequent this temple. You can truly soak in the energies of their devotion. Feel the power of belief in the locals for this deity. And in doing so, you too can believe and make a wish or ask for guidance.


Where Is Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple?

This place is in Kowloon. So, if you are staying in Kowloon, it will be near for you. But not to worry. Even if you are staying on Hong Kong island side, you can still take the MTR to here. See the map below.

Operating Hours

7am to 5pm, Daily including Public Holidays

Address

2, Chuk Yuen Village, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Telephone

+852 2327 8141


How to Get to Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple?

MTR

Take the MTR to Wong Tai Sin MTR station. Take the Exit B2. The temple is next to the station, about 3 minutes walk from the station.

Bus

It is easier to take the MTR. Leave the bus for other activities.

Taxi

It can be easy to catch a cab in Hong Kong. Just hail them along the streets. Drivers are required to go by taximeter. Always ask for a machine-printed receipt. If unavailable, ask for a hand-written one.


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If you have ANY questions about this post – What To See in Hong Kong – Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, or Hong Kong, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus

Things To Do In Penang – Kek Lok Si Temple

Things To Do In Penang - Kek Lok Si Temple

Things To Do In Penang – Kek Lok Si Temple

When you visit Penang, one of the Things To Do in Penang that you must do is visit Kek Lok Si Temple. We did, and we are very glad. It was awesome!

After a good breakfast of Penang Fried Kway Teow, we headed for the famous temple. It was a short and pleasant drive.

In this post, you will get to see a video of the amazing place, learn the history of this famous Buddhist temple, see the halls filled with Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Divine Beings, and enjoy the breaktaking view from the top of Penang Hill where this temple resides.


Kek Lok Si Temple – The Video

We enjoyed filming the many sights seen at this wondrous temple. We started on the lower levels, on to the many halls on various levels, to the peak of the hill where the Giant Kuan Yin statue is, and also climbed up the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas to capture the magnificent view of Penang from above.

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Kek Lok Si Temple – About & History

This is one of the best known temples on the island. It can be said to be the largest  Buddhist temple in Malaysia. Actually, it is made up of a complex of temples and prayer halls that were built over a period from 1890 to 1930.

View of Circular Pavilion garden and Middle Prayer Hall
View of Circular Pavilion garden and Middle Prayer Hall, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

There are two main attractions here. One is the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas. And the other is the giant statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. There is more information about both below.

One of the unique features of this famous place is that it showcases architecture and artwork from Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. In doing so, they have displayed harmony in diversity.

Tip: There is a lot of ground to cover. Visit first thing in the morning.


Kek Lok Si Temple – Giant Bronze Statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy

This is the newer attraction at Kek Lok Si. It was completed in 2002. It is located high up on the hillside.

We were very excited to see this huge tribute to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. When we were driving towards Kek Lok Si, we could already see it from afar.

To get to the location, we took the inclined lift to get there. You need to buy a ticket to ride the inclined lift. Watch the video to see how.

Giant statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy
Giant statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

The statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy is made of bronze, and is 36.57 meters tall. That is about 120 feet.  Wow! This makes it the tallest Kuan Yin statue in the world!

side view of Giant statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy
Side view of Giant statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

When we were there, we could not resist the breathtaking, magnificent view of Penang. We just had to stop for a while, take a breath, and enjoy the scene before us.

Awesome view of Penang
Awesome view of Penang, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Kek Lok Si Temple – Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas

The other attraction, the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas was no lightweight either. Completed in 1930, this towering structure has continued to capture much attention from visitors since then.

Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Within, there were ten thousand alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha. The pagoda itself is 30 meters (98 feet) tall.

The architecture is a harmonious mix of Chinese, Thai and Burmese. The octagonal base is a Chinese design. The middle tier has Thai influence. And the crown at the top is surely Burmese in origin.

View of Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas from afar
View of Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas from afar, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

The mix represents harmony in religious diversity. It also reflects both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.

On the ground level, there is a huge statue of Buddha donated by King Bhumibol of Thailand. That is why it is also known as Rama VI Pagoda. You can see an image of this statue in the video above.

Lotus Flower in the garden of the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Lotus Flower in the garden of the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Before we explored the pagoda, we noticed a very beautiful garden next to it. There were lovely flowers such as the lotus shown above. Plus, the landscaping was a sight for sore eyes. Do watch the video above to see the garden.

From the top level of the pagoda, you will be able to enjoy a breathtaking and magnificent view of Penang Hill, and George Town.

Panorama view of George Town from top of Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Panorama view of George Town from top of Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved
Panorama view of Penang hill and huge Kuan Yin statue
Panorama view of Penang hill and huge Kuan Yin statue, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Kek Lok Si Temple – Prayer Halls

There were many prayer halls at Kek Lok Si. All filled with statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Divine Beings.

Here are photos of some of them. To see them all, do watch the video above.

When we first arrived, we found this prayer hall. There were 3 large statues of Bodhisattvas, all beautifully decorated.

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

We also found a pretty garden that had this serene Circular Pavilion with a Buddha image.

Buddha in Circular Pavilion
Buddha in Circular Pavilion, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

We roamed around. The place was like a maze. Then we found this small entrance with the sign that said in Chinese – Kek Lok Si.

I love the deep blue colors!

Small entrance to Kek Lok Si
Small entrance to Kek Lok Si, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

This was the entrance to one of the many prayer halls. I love how the many lanterns gave that extra touch, and made for such a nice photo.

One of the many Prayer Halls
One of the many Prayer Halls, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

This next altar was actually on the same location as the Giant Kuan Yin Statue. So beautiful!

Kuan Yin with many arms
Kuan Yin with many arms, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

The perimeter of one of the prayer halls featured statues of Buddha all along it. Simply astonishing!

Many statues of Buddhas adorn the perimeter of one of the prayer halls
Many statues of Buddhas adorn the perimeter of one of the prayer halls, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

As mentioned, there were prayer halls that were Theravada Buddhism.

Three Buddhas in Theravada Buddhism Prayer Hall
Three Buddhas in Theravada Buddhism Prayer Hall, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

* Tip: Look up! The ceilings are also filled with colorful and delicate artwork!

Beautiful Artwork on the ceilings of prayer halls
Beautiful Artwork on the ceilings of prayer halls, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

* Tip: Look around! The walls have intricate art that tells stories!

Beautiful Artwork on the walls of prayer halls
Beautiful Artwork on the walls of prayer halls, © 2018 Asia Travel Gems All Rights Reserved

Conclusion

As mentioned in other blog posts, we visited during the off peak season. We heard that Kek Lok Si is a magical wonderland of lights and colors during Chinese New Year. During this period, the temple stays open until late at night.

If you can time your visit, best to do so during Chinese New Year. For me, it is a little difficult to plan because Chinese New Year is a big festival where I am from. And I am obligated to stay at home with my family during this time.

Still, Chinese New Year or not, Kek Lok Si Temple is indeed a place you must visit when you are in Penang.

* Tip: Visit during Chinese New Year


Where is Kek Lok Si Temple?

Kek Lok Si Temple is located at Air Itam mountain in George Town on Penang island. It is near and faces the sea. As such, the heights at the temple can offer impressive views of Penang.

Operating Hours

9 am to 6 pm, Daily.

Entrance Fee

Free to enter temple grounds. You have to pay to visit the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and use the inclined lift to the Giant Kuan Yin Statue. Prices change over time. Best to find out when you are there.

Address

Kek Lok Si Temple, 11500 Ayer Itam, Penang

Contact

Email: email@kekloksitemple.com
Phone: +604-828 3317

How To Get There?

By Foot

Best to travel there by bus, car, taxi or Grab. See below.

By Train

This is a small town. There are no train services. And there are no trains to this place.

By Bus

There are local buses, but information on their routes and stops are not well provided. Also, the journey by bus is quite a convoluted one and takes up a lot of time. Better to go by car, taxi or Grab.

By Car

If you drove to Penang, you are at an advantage. Traffic is not as heavy as cities such as Kuala Lumpur. Navigating around is easy, especially if you have Waze app. There is ample car park lots in the temple.

By Taxi

They rarely go by meter. If you choose to go by taxi, sometimes it may be better to book them for the afternoon or day. This way, you can be assured of getting a ride back to the city, as and when you like it.

Tip: Negotiate and agree on a price before you take the taxi.

By Grab

This is my preferred option. One reason is that there is no need to negotiate. Another is that the price is usually reasonable and affordable. No hassles.

It is so easy to travel around in cities now because of Grab. Just download the app, state your destination, a driver is assigned to you, take the transport, and you arrive at your destination. Comfortable and easy.

I have switched to Grab for my travels within a city ever since this option became available.


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If you have ANY questions about this article, about Things To Do In Penang – Kek Lok Si Temple, ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,
Timotheus

Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan – Changangkha Temple (aka Changangkha Lhakhang)

Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang that has a mysterious and mystical ambience. Definitely a must visit!

Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan – Changangkha Temple (aka Changangkha Lhakhang)

Another Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan is a temple known as Changangkha Temple or as the locals call it – Changangkha Lhakkhang. When I was in Bhutan, I stayed at a friend’s place and we could see the temple from his home. He told me that this is one of the more popular temples in Thimphu, Bhutan where many pilgrims and locals visit. New parents would go to the temple to get auspicious names for their newborns or blessings for their children.

A more important reason was that the temple was the oldest temple in Thimphu. It was built in the 12th century on a ridge above central Thimphu. The temple offered a picturesque view of Thimphu Valley.

On New Year’s Eve of 2008 I decided to make a trip to the temple. I would also receive blessings for the new year.  Perfect! Here I share my adventure and journey to this wondrous place.

With the temple in sight, I started the trek on a road towards that direction. You could see it in the distance, with its yellow roofs against the green mountains.

One of the many roads that lead to one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang. You can see it in the distance, with its yellow roofs against the green mountains.
Road to Changangkha Lhakkhang (see its yellow roofs?), © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

* Helpful Tip: Bring at least 1 bottle of water along with you wherever you go in Bhutan. The air is dry. And even during winter, the sun shines hot during the day. Plus, there are convenience stores but they are few and far between.



Walk to Changangkha Lhakkhang

The walk from my friend’s home was not too far, about an hour or so. To be honest, I was walking very slowly as I enjoyed the view, admired the local houses, watched prayer flags flapped in the winds, looked far at the mountains, and so much more.

Soon, I reached the bottom of the ridge where Changangkha Lhakkhang was located. I loved how the highest roof of the temple seemed to peek from the top of the tall green trees. Like a shy and gentle giant observing a guest approaching.

Getting closer to one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang. You can see it in the distance, with its yellow roofs peeking above the tall green trees.
Road leading to the foot of hill where Changangkha Lhakhang is, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

At the bottom of the ridge, there was a quaint little sign that said welcome to all guests to Changangkha Temple. Please do pardon the grammar. Actually, it does add to the charm, don’t you agree?

Welcome sign to one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Welcome sign at bottom of ridge to Changangkha Lhakhang, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Now, the long and steep trek to the top of the ridge where Changangkha Lhakhang was at. Just kidding. Actually, the walk up to the temple was short, and not steep at all. Not like the trek up to Radio Tower Hill, which I will share soon (whew! just recalling that trek makes me feel tired … haha).

Natural footpath to one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Natural footpath to Changangkha Lhakhang, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems


Entrance to Changangkha Temple

I reached the entrance to the temple. I must say the entire entrance structure, the way the huge walls stood at the side of the door made the entrance look impressive. One could feel awe, and that was just the entrance. Wait till you see the place inside.

Grand entrance to one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Entrance to Changangkha Temple, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

I stood at the bottom of the steps to the entrance, and I knew I had to take a photo. There was a lavender-painted brick building just behind the door, and it created an interesting composition to this photo. The doorway was made of wood with traditional Bhutanese carvings and paintings.

I loved how the steps look worn. I imagined the thousands of pilgrims and followers that tread on them over the past hundreds of years. I found it charming how the steps sunk lower at the middle area. And the tiny grass and plants that grew from the gaps just made it all more charming. Each piece of brick were uneven in shape. Not like the evenly cut bricks we are so used to. And I found that endearing as they were surely handmade.

Main Door to one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Entrance to Changangkha Temple, front view © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems


Breath-Taking View of Thimphu Valley

I had many friends who told me how much they liked the photo below. Honestly, I still believe the shot I took could never do justice to the break-taking sight that stood before me when I entered the outer courtyard. Nothing beats being there.

I remembered stepping into the courtyard and noticed this amazing sight. I walked closer to the edge and could feel my entire being soaking in the awesome scene. My eyes relished the colors, the expanse, and the mountains that seemed to go on forever into the blue.

There was a pleasing sound of silence that added to the peace which permeated the entire space. Added to that, the fresh cool mountain air made the experience unforgettable. There are things that you remember all your life. This is one of those.

Here is the fantabulous view of Thimphu Valley from the temple courtyard. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

One of the Things To Do In Thimphu Bhutan - watch the breathtaking view of Thimphu valley from an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Things To Do In Thimphu Bhutan – See Breath-Taking View of Thimphu Valley, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

In the same outer courtyard, there was a religious structure. It looked fascinating to me. Strings of colourful threads and cloths were wrapped around it. On closer inspection, I wondered if these were from Prayer Flags? And why were they spun thing this structure? I never really found out about this though.

A religious structure at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Religious Structure, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

There was a wall of lavender colored bricks with a thick red stripe going all across the building, with large white circles. The building was large and imposing, and this side of the wall faced the outer courtyard. Later, I learned that this building stood in both inner and outer courtyards. Take a look later, and see what I mean.

Inner courtyard building of one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Lavender-colored brick building, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

At the side of the huge lavender-bricked building there was a little door that led to the main courtyard and main prayer hall. The doorways were always so ornate with traditional Bhutanese designs and so colourful.

There was even a Prayer Wheel at the doorway for people to turn for blessings and good luck. You can read more about Prayer Wheels in the Clock Tower Square post where I explained a little more about Prayer Wheels.

From the courtyard of one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang, a side door to the main courtyard
Doorway to Main Courtyard, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

A closer view of the Prayer Wheel. Would you like a spin? 🙂

Prayer Wheel at doorway of side door at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Prayer Wheel, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems


Main Courtyard of Changangkha Temple

At the main courtyard, I noticed the wall of the lavender-bricked building that faced the courtyard had a door. This time it was not just a doorway but there was an actual door.

Look at the intricate traditional Bhutanese art and decorations. It was so colorful. I was sure each design has a meaning to it. Unfortunately there was no one around to explain to me.

There were some pretty flowers at the entrance. I think I kind of know what is inside. Can you guess what it is?

Back of inner courtyard building at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Ornate door of lavender-colored brick building, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Looking away from the lavender-bricked building, we now see the main courtyard of the temple. The main prayer room was the building on the right side of the photo below.

The temple was quiet with only a few visitors that morning. There were a few tourists with a local guide. When I was taking photos the guide kept staring at me. It was a little uncomfortable and I wondered why.

I mentioned it to my friend later and he explained that the guide was most probably wondering why I am all alone touring the site. You see, in Bhutan visitors are not allowed to move about on their own. There must be a tour guide assigned to each or a group of tourists. So please make sure you have a designated your guide when you book a vacation in Bhutan.

In my case, I was invited by my friend who was working for the United Nations. So I was on a special visa. So I did not need to have a guide and was free to travel anywhere in Bhutan while on this special visa.

Main courtyard at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Main courtyard at Changangkha Temple, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems


Main Prayer Hall of Changangkha Temple

Here is the full view of the front of the Main Prayer Hall. As with any of their architecture, you can see beautiful traditional Bhutanese design and decorations. There were Prayer Wheels for people to turn them as they walked towards to the hall.

An elderly man dressed in blue was chanting and praying as he sat on the floor, walked a bit, turned the wheels, walked a bit and sat again. It was their way of showing devotion to the gods.

Main Prayer Building at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Main Prayer Hall, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

Also on the front of the Main Prayer Hall, there were 2 gold discs with the Kalachakra image on it (see photo below). The Kalachakra motif, also known as the Tenfold Powerful One, is the most potent and best known symbol of the Kalachakra system in Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism.

* Interesting Fact:
In Sanskrit, ‘Kala’ means Time, and ‘Chakra’ means Wheel. That is why Kalachakra is often perceived as Time-Wheel, which also means Time-Cycles. Without going into too much details, basically the meaning of this revolves around the concept of time and cycles. Everything is influenced by time, and the wheel represents an endless cycle with no beginnings or endings.

The symbol also consists of a ten syllable mantra – OM AH HUM HO HAM KSHAMALA VARAYA HUM PHET. Each syllable has a meaning. Again, without going into too much details, here are a couple of examples; HAM refers to the Enlightened Wisdom of the Mandala Deities, and KSHA refers to the Body, Speech and Mind of the Deities.

On the left and right of the Kalachakra symbol are 2 characters that stand for E and VAM. E means Emptiness, and VAM means Bliss. Together, they represent the union of the two concepts.

Kalachakra symbol in gold at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Kalachakra symbol in gold, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

To the left of the Main Prayer Hall, there was a passageway into the hall. But before that, there was a lovely little altar (see photo below). For some strange reason, I was very drawn to this space where the altar has been constructed outside the Prayer Hall.  I found it very pleasing.

All throughout the time as I explored the main courtyard, I could hear bells ringing once in a while. I wondered what they were? As I walked into the passageway, I discovered the source of that.

Lovely little altar at main courtyard of one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Lovely little altar, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems


Enchanting Sounds of Bells from Huge Prayer Wheels

Ahhh … so this was where the sound of ringing bell came from. That was a huge Prayer Wheel! It was so large that ropes were tied to the bottom for people to pull and turn the wheel! The wheels were painted with holy Buddhist text.

Watch the video and take note of the top and right part of the Large Prayer Wheel. That was where the bell was placed, and when a piece of metal that stuck out at the top of the wheel hits the bell, the sound of bell ringing was created. Oh, and a shy local Bhutanese woman and her child were caught by surprise when they saw me filming this.  Hahaha

* pls pardon the low quality video. I did not have a good camera back in 2007, and HD was not available yet. Rest assured, I have a good camera since, and other videos and photos from this time on are of high quality.


The Prayer Hall of Changangkha Temple

Once inside the prayer room, no photography or video taking was allowed.  I stepped into the prayer room, and entered into a small rectangular hall.  As I entered the prayer room, the doorway to the altar room was to my right.  A huge statue of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist emanation of Compassion was inside, raised on a table/platform.  The statue was so gigantic that when one stood just outside the doorway to the altar room, one could only see part of the head of Avalokiteshvara. See the drawing below that I drew (the best I can from memory) of what I saw.

Things to Do in Thimphu Bhutan - Inside the Prayer Hall of Changangkha Temple
Drawing of inside Prayer Hall, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

The people of Bhutan believe that Avalokiteshvara at Changangkha Temple is able to answer all questions, and makes all wishes come true.  At the doorway of the altar room, there was a yellow box (see box in drawing shown above, on the right side of the doorway).  People who have questions or wishes would consult a monk who would be standing by the box.  The monk would then gesture for the enquirer to take the divination blocks and cast them on the yellow box.  The monk looked at the position and facing side of the divination blocks, and informed the enquirer whether his or her question would be answered or wish would be fulfilled.  Any negative response could be resolved with the help of the monks.

The enquirer would place a donation into the large bronze bowl that was on top of the yellow box.  At the front of the yellow box, there was also a sign.  The sign gave a bit of the history of Changangkha Lakhang, built in the 15th century.  It also mentioned that the monks would like to expand the temple.  As such, any donations would be welcome.  All donations were placed into the large bronze bowl.

I noticed there were pieces of cloth (possibly thangka?) covering the walls.  Some of the cloth were curled up at the edge.  I moved closer to take a peek, and saw a very small portion of what looked like a large painting.  Too bad they covered it.  I was sure it would have been very awesome to see the entire painting that was on the walls of the prayer room.

To the right of the prayer room, there was a raised platform that faced the doorway of the altar room.  In front of the raised platform was a table with a large book, and religious artifacts.  On the cover of the large book was a title in English that said it was an astrology book.  I supposed that was where people could consult a monk about their star sign, and what the future held for them.


Perimeter of Changangkha Temple

After the experience of being in the Prayer Hall, I just felt I needed some air. To be outside, and feel and breathe. So I walked to the perimeter area.

Looked up, and saw this gold statue of a head with bird’s beak at the corner of the temple’s roof top.  Reminded me of the ‘garuda’ – creature with bird’s head, and body of a lion. Wondered if this served the same purpose?

At the edge of rooftops at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang there are gold decorations like this, a head of a creature
Gold statue at edge of rooftop, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

A closer view of the gold heavenly creature. Interesting, isn’t it?

Close up of the gold heavenly creature that decorates the rooftops of one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Close up of gold statue, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems


Prayer Wheels of Changangkha Temple

Along the perimeter, there were rows of Prayer Wheels that do not seem to end, that seemed to circle the entire temple.

Again, for more info about Prayer Wheels, please read my article about Clock Tower Square where I shared a bit more info about this.

Rows of Prayer Wheels decorate the perimeter of one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
Prayer Wheels along perimeter, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems

There were shy local Bhutanese women turning the Prayer Wheels. Watch the video below.

All too soon, it was time to take my leave. It was a really pleasant visit, and I did enjoy seeing the temple a lot. As I walked down the path away from the temple, I glanced back. This will surely be a memory that will last a lifetime.

Just as my friend highly recommended Changangkha Temple, so do I highly recommend it to you, too. When you are in Thimphu, Bhutan,  you must add this place as part of your travel itinerary.

Looking back at one of the Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan, an ancient temple named Changangkha Lhakhang
View of Changangkha Temple as I left the place, © Timotheus Lee for Asia Travel Gems



If you have ANY questions about this article, about Best Places To Visit In Thimphu Bhutan – Changangkha Temple (aka Changangkha Lhakhang), ANY at all, please submit your questions as comments below. I will be happy to help you out.

Thank you for reading this.

Wishing you and your loved ones safe and happy travels,

Timotheus