What to Expect From a Chinese Fortune Teller
Having one’s fortune told through Chinese fortune telling (算命, suan ming) is a routine practice in Chinese culture. Consulting a fortune teller is nearly compulsory before major events, like Chinese New Year, wedding engagements, and the birth of children.
Whether for entertainment or out of a strong belief in superstition, getting your fortune told by a Chinese fortune teller can be a memorable experience. Here is what to expect when it comes to prices, methods, and more.
The cost of a fortune telling session varies based on the city, fortune telling method, and what specifically the recipient wants to know. Getting an answer to one question, like finding a lover or a job, costs less than getting an overall fortune for the coming year, decade, or life. Basic fortune telling in Taipei starts at $15.
Where to Find a Chinese Fortune Teller
Fortune tellers can often be found in or near Buddhist and Taoist temples in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Outside of China and Taiwan, fortune tellers can also be found in Chinatowns around the world.
What to Expect
The fortune telling session takes place at a table or desk with the fortune teller and customer sitting across from or next to each other. In many instances, there is little privacy as fortune telling tables or booths are located next to each other with just a flimsy wall to partition them.
In many large cities like Beijing, Hong Kong, and Taipei, it is possible to have your fortune told in English.
There are over a dozen types of Chinese fortune telling methods, but nearly all are based on the Chinese Almanac.
The most basic method of Chinese fortune telling in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other countries like the U.S. remains virtually the same regardless of location. All a person needs to have his or her fortune told, or that of a friend of family member, is the first and last name, birth date, and age.
For Westerners, be sure to add one year to your current age because the first year of life in Chinese culture is counted at birth whereas babies in the West do not turn one until a year after their birth. Additional information like time of birth and a person’s address is sometimes required for certain fortune telling methods.
Oftentimes, fortune tellers use one or more methods to reveal your fortune. For example, palm and face readings or ‘bean’ fortune telling may be combined with basic fortune telling to generate a more accurate reading.
Other methods that a fortune teller might use include coin divination, Chien Tung or Chinese fortune sticks, bird fortune telling, or using red divination blocks to tell your fortune.