Lam Tsuen Wishing Square: Chinese New Year!

While in Hong Kong, I made some local friends who took me and a couple of other travelers to Lam Tsuen Wishing Square; also known as Lan Tsuen Wishing Trees (林村許願樹).

I was very thankful to attend the Lunar New Year festival at Lam Tsuen Wishin Square. It was a long way to get there so it was a lot more fun sharing the trip with others. We were really concerned that we wouldn’t make it in time.

What was funny about the trip was that it was also our local friends’ first time going to Lam Tsuen Wishing Square and while they knew where it was, it was a challenge getting there because we didn’t account for how bad traffic would be, how crowded public transit would be and how long it would take us to get there.

We luckily made it before the festival ended. We walked around in a frenzy trying to find the orange toss with fortunes. You could get 1 for $10HKD ($1.28USD) or 2 for $15HKD ($1.92USD). We shared the costs to get a fortune each for a lot cheaper. The fortune paper in the shape of a pig, got a ribbon and tied it to the “tangerine” which was made of plastic. On the front of the paper, you could write a personal wish or you could pick any of the choices in the back as well. Since I tend to lack in good luck tends to lack most of the time, I hoped to have a little bit more help on that for the following years.

When I said, “aw these fake oranges are cute”, one of our local friends shared that it used to be real tangerines. So many people would come to the festival, especially now with tourism booming in the region, the branches in the trees started to bend and even break under the weight of all the tangerines. She also pointed out how gross it was when the tangerines began to rot on the trees.

At first I was worried to try and throw my fortune. There were so many people throwing theirs randomly. A lot of the plastic tangerines kept falling from the trees, sometimes hitting people on the head. I missed the first time I threw mine but I nailed it on the second. I wasn’t too sure how it worked, except that the higher your fortune gets stuck, the more likely it is to come true. I hope that missing the first time doesn’t mean my fortune won’t happen. Superstition aside, I was glad to do one of the things I always wanted to do for a long time.

I didn’t get to take too many photos but the festival was small. There was a performers section, food and beverage stalls, merchant area, the garden area where people left wishes on wooden cards and of course, the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees area. All of these sections were jam packed into a small area the size of about half an acre. With the amount of people walking through, it was difficult seeing what sellers had to offer. We walked through all the souvenir stands and went directly to the food area. There I got to try a delicious fried chicken with cheese and mayo for $20HKD ($2.56USD). It was incredible! If you’ve never had fried chicken with cheese, it’s a must. Absolutely the most amazing combination ever!

We shared our dishes to save money because the portions were big enough to share. In the end, I bought my own plate of fried chicken after sharing a plate with the rest of the group. It was too good to not buy my own. After a while we left. We didn’t want to wait until it got dark to go back into the city.

Believe it or not, it was so packed that we had to wait in line at the bus stop. That’s something that’s common in Asian countries; waiting in line is a common courtesy but the lines stretched around the block. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that these were double decker buses! Yea, that’s how bad traffic was and how many people were flowing in and out of this festival space. Like 3 double deckers and 2 regular buses went by before we were able to board. The wait wasn’t long but still a daunting sight; we thought we would be waiting for hours or at least I thought I did. Honestly, the way back to the city was much faster, surprisingly. I believe it took us a little over 2 hours to get to this temple. Going back down probably took us 1 hour. I was dreading going back as soon as we lined up but even with traffic we were back very quickly.

PRICE
It was free to walk around the festival but if you wanted souvenirs, food or something to drink, you had to pay for that. CASH ONLY! No ATMs nearby that I could find so come prepared.

DATES
I can’t quite remember the dates but it does last for a few days. The day I went was the last day of the festival, that’s why it was crazy trying to make it in time before the festival was shut down. That was on February 5th. So I would safely say that the festival ran from February 1st until the 5th, the busiest days of Chinese New Years.

LOCATION
For anyone wondering how to get to this temple or where it’s located, check out the map below. You can easily search online directions to get there but there are many ways to get there that don’t show up online unless you’re directly studying a map of Hong Kong and their transit lines. For example, the route my friends and I took was the following: We started at Jordan Station and took the Tsuen Wan Line (Red Line) to Mei Foo Station and transferred over to the West Rail Line (Purple Line). We rode the train to Kam Shueng Road Station and took the 64K double decker bus to Lam Tsuen Wishing Square.

When you plug in Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in Google Maps, you’ll get all sorts of different directions, usually claiming it’s the fastest easiest routes but there are many, many more routes you can take other than the ones it shows. And of course, it also depends where you’re departing from and what time. For example, if we were near Austin Station, we could’ve hoped on the West Rail Line first and gone straight to Kam Shueng Road Station, or instead of taking the 64K bus, we could have taken the East Rail Line (Blue Line) instead.

Some other routes we could’ve taken:

  • From Hum Hong Station, taken the East Rail Line to Tai Wo Station and gotten on the 25K bus
  • From Ning Po Street Yau Ma Tei, taken the 271 bus to Po Heung Bridge and gotten on the 25K bus
  • From Ning Po Street Yau Ma Tei, taken the 271 bus to Kwong Fuk Estate and gotten on the 73A to Hong Lok Yuen, then walked 15 minutes West
  • From Yau Mai Tei Station, taken the Kwun Tong Line (Green Line) to Kowloon Tong Station, transferred to the East Rail LIne to Tai Wo Station and gotten on the 25K bus

MORE INFO
It can be intimidating being in a new country and going out on your own. Here are some sites to check out to help you attend this festival!

Would I go again? Most definitely.

I really want to return to Hong Kong to enjoy this festival and any others I missed out. I wish I had tried more food and bought some souvenirs. I can’t believe I didn’t get to see the performers that were there. The trip was a very spontaneous last minute conversation with our group of friends, of which we had all just met and most had just arrived in Hong Kong a few days apart. Still I’m glad I went and I recommend making this trek to anyone.

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