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Hong Kong Travel, Western New Territories

Western New Territories

From Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun

Tsuen Wan, where the last station on the MTR's Tsuen Wan line is located, was once a small market town that served the surrounding villages and fleets of fishing boats in the area...

 

Like many of the villages across the New Territories, it developed into a modern town with massive residential buildings, and although it looks like nothing more than an ordinary bedroom town, it does have some interesting places, worth visiting (especially if you have to pass through the town anyway, on your way to Yuen Long and Tuen Mun).

 

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The Sam Tung Uk Museum offers a glimpse into how life in a Hakka walled village looked like, back in the old days... Walled villages used to be the most common form of settlement in this area hundreds of years ago.  They consisted of a cluster of small houses and rooms, surrounded by thick walls that protected them from wild animals, as well as from trouble makers on two legs...

 

Usually, the people who lived in a certain walled village were extended families or clans sharing the same surname.

 

Sam Tung Uk is a 200 year old walled village that was beautifully restored and converted into a museum, where you can see the villagers' day-to-day items.

 

The museum is a couple of minutes walk from MTR-Tsuen Wan (from exit B-3, walk a bit down Sai Lau Kok Road and you will see it on your left hand side.  You can also access it from within the shopping mall, adjacent the MTR station: Just follow the sign to Sai Lau Kok Road and after a few steps you will be there...).

 

The museum is open daily (except Tuesdays and public holidays), 9 am - 5 pm and entrance is free of charge.

 

To learn more, visit their website or call them on 2411 2001

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Chuk Lam Shim Yuen (literally "Bamboo Forest Monastery") is located on the lower slopes of a woody hill (with many bamboo plants that gave it its name...), just a short walk from MTR-Tsuen Wan, on Fu Yung Shan Road.

Built in the 1920s, the monastery's "jewel in the crown" are the three golden "Precious Buddha" statues, which it houses (the largest of their kind in Hong Kong)

 

The monastery is open daily, 9 am - 5 pm and entrance is free.

 

From MTR-Tsuen Wan, You can either walk to the monastery (15 - 20 minutes, with some ascending) or take green minibus No. 85 from Shiu Wo Street (couple of minutes from the station) or a taxi (It's just a short drive), but the best option is to take a cab (it is a short ride anyway, so no point to waste your time on minibuses).

 

If you walk: from Sai Lau Kok Road, turn left to Wai Tsuen Road (next to Sam Tung Uk Museum) and walk along it till you get to the large Tsuen Kam Interchange. On the other side of the interchange, turn left to Route Twisk and after a few minutes right to Fu Yung Shan Road which takes you to the monastery's entrance.

 

Further on, deeper into the mountains, Yuen Yuen Institute is the only temple in Hong Kong dedicated to all three major Chinese religions: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

 

Occupying a fairly large area in the old walled village of Lo Wai, at the foot of Hong Kong's highest mountains (Two kilometers or so from MTR-Tsuen Wan), the institute was founded in the early 1950s by monks from Sanyuan Gong in Guangzhou.

 

The institute's main building, a round three-storied pagoda, is a beautiful replica of the internationally famous "Temple of Heaven" (Tian Tan) in Beijing... Otherwise, the whole complex is packed with beautiful Chinese gardens, ponds, pavilions and pagodas...

 

Open daily, 8:30 am - 5 pm and entrance is free (Tel: 2492 2220) 

 

The Western Monastery is just a minute down the road from Yuen Yuen Institute and although it is not as famous as its neighbor up the hill, this beautiful Buddhist temple complex is well worth visiting, both for the Chinese palace-style architecture, as well as for the atmosphere...

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To get there: from MTR-Tsuen Wan - The best option is to take a cab (Just a sort ride), but you can also take minibus No. 81 from Shiu Wo Street (just a couple of minutes walk from the station).

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Tai Mo Shan (literally "Big foggy mountain") is Hong Kong's highest peak, towering to an altitude of 958 meters above sea level, north of Tsuen Wan.  

Covered with clouds almost daily (that is where the mountain got its name from...), it is one of Hong Kong's mistiest areas.  Tai Mo Shan Country Park surrounds the peak and offers its visitors some fabulous nature trails and breathtaking views.

 

It is actually fairly easy to climb to the peak as there is a road all the way at a comfortable gradient (the peak itself, however, is occupied by some massive satellite dishes and is fenced-off... just like Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island).

 

Public transport will take you as far as the junction of Route Twisk and Tai Mo Shan Road. Here, at the beginning of Tai Mo Shan Road, there is a properly equipped visitor's centre and some recreational facilities.  This is also the place where the walking trails start from... including some very relaxed family walks.

 

To get to the peak, simply keep on walking along Tai Mo Shan Road.  The lush forest around the visitors centre dwindles as you climb and the higher parts of the mountain are dominated by shrubs and grassland.

 

KMB route No. 51 departs from Nina Tower's Bus Terminus in Tsuen Wan (adjacent to Tsuen Wan West Station, along the KCR West Rail.  You can also take exit A-1 of MTR-Tsuen Wan and walk a few minutes along Tai Ho Road, until you get there, although the bus has a stop on Tai Ho Road North, which is just near the MTR station).

 

You can also catch a green minibus from the station on Shiu Wo Street (just a couple of minutes walk from the MTR station).  Route Nos. 80, 80A and 85 are all going this direction.

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Shing Mun Country Park is engulfing the Shing Mun Reservoir, one of Hong Kong's nicest and most picturesque water reservoirs. With its winding coastline, lush woodland and the beautiful backdrop of the Tai Mo Shan mountains range, this country park boasts some really lovely nature trails, most of which are quite short and relaxed...

 

Getting here is not too difficult (provided you have enough time in Hong Kong to spend on country parks...): your best bet is to take green minibus No. 82 from the station on Shiu Wo Street (just a couple of minutes walk from MTR-Tsuen Wan) and alight at the Pineapple Dam (near the visitor's centre and the starting point of the walking trails).

 

Alternatively, you can take KMB route Nos. 47X or 48X from Sha Tin town centre to Ho Fung College on Wo Yi Hop Road.  From there, enter Shing Mun Road and walk along it till you get to the reservoir's Pineapple Dam (20-30 minutes walk).

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Leaving Tsuen Wan and its surroundings, take the KCR train (along the West Rail) from Tsuen Wan West Station, and travel with it one station, to Kam Sheung Road station.

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Just a few minutes walk from this KCR station, on Kam Tin Road, you can visit Kat Hing Wai and Shui Tau Tsuen: Two of Hong Kong's most authentic and best preserved walled-villages.

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Kat Hing Wai (吉慶圍) was built back in the 17th century by the Tang Clan, one of the "great five clans" of Hong Kong and descendants of the Punti, the indigenous people of Guangdong and the first clan to settle the areas of today's Hong Kong.

Although most of the houses within the village were rebuilt during the last few decades, it still retains its special charm and ambience, and gives the visitor a chance to experience what life was like in an old walled-village... the wall around the village is also in a very good condition.

 

From the railway station: Exit B will take you to a small pedestrian bridge across a canal. After crossing the bridge, turn left to Kam Po Road (Which is more like a concrete covered path than a "road") and walk down to the path on its right side, that leads to the corner (near a building called " Noble Park"), where you turn left to Kam Sheung Road.  At the T, turn right to Kam Tin Road and after a minute or two you will see the dark brick walls of Kat Hing Wai.

 

Shui Tau Tsuen (水头村) is another 17th century walled village in Kam Tin area that has survived in a pretty good condition and is particularly famous for the Yi Kung Study Hall: A 1685 building that was erected by the Tang Clan in honor of the god of literature (Man) and the god of war (Mo). There are also very interesting ancestral halls within the village.

 

To get there: Walk to the end of Kam Sheung Road(see instructions above), cross Kam Tin Road, turn left and almost immediately right (next to the bus stop) to a narrow street that will lead you to Kam Tin Bypass: Cross it and continue straight, passing a bridge over a canal, and keep on going until you see the alley that leads to the village on your left.

 

It is a pretty short walk and there are some signs along it, so not much chance for you to get lost.

 

Open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays: 9:00am - 1:00pm & 2:00pm - 5:00pm.

 

N.B: If you prefer traveling by bus, KMB No. 51 departs from Nina Tower's Bus Terminus in Tsuen Wan (as well as from KCR - Tsuen Wan West Station) and has a station on Kam Tin Road, just a short walk from both of the above "villages".

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Next in line is Yuen Long Railway Station (one station after KCR- Kam Sheung Road  and two stations after Tsuen Wan West Station).

 

Other than being a modern, fast developing residential town, Yuen Long is an interchange between the KCR's West Rail Line (Yuen Long Station) and the Light Rail System/LRT (Yuen Long Terminus is the Light Rail's northeastern terminus), and therefore, it is a good starting point for those who want to discover the western part of the Northern Territories.

 

Just a couple of minutes walk from KCR - Yuen Long, near the corner of Lee Yick and Cheung Shing streets, is where The old Market of Yuen Long used to be.  Established during the times of the Ching Dynasty, the market used to be fairly prosperous in the old days and quite a few of its historical buildings can be seen until today, including what is possibly the first pawnshop in the Hong Kong region.

 

From the station's exit-A, turn right to Long Wo Road, and left to Yuen Long Kau Hui Road. After a few steps, turn left again to Wine Street and Lee Yick Street, where the old market can be found.

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Located in one of Hong Kong's remotest areas, facing mainland China, the Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve is a true ornithologist's paradise and a great place for everyone who loves nature...

 

Occupying a fairly large area of wetland around Inner Deep Bay, it is actually a shallow estuary at the mouths of the Sham Chun River, Shan Pui River, Kam Tin River and Tin Shui Wai Nullah.

 

The wetlands of Mai Po and Inner Deep Bay are internationally recognized and the nature reserve is managed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) who also maintains the boardwalks and the visitors centre, and operates guided tours.

 

Winter and autumn are the best seasons to visit the reserve, when more than fifty thousand migratory birds are making their winter stopover here... Spring and autumn migrations bring tens of thousands of water birds to the marshes, most of which use the Mai Po mudflats as a site to rest and refuel before they continue their long journey.

 

Among the birds that can be seen here, there are some rare and endangered species like: Saunders' Gull, Black-faced Spoonbill, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Spotted Greenshank, Asiatic Dowitcher and Grey-tailed Tattler.

 

The reserve can also be visited during summer, and there is still a lot to be seen, although it is not as exciting as when the birds are in...

 

Mai Po Nature Reserve is not the easiest place to get to, and as a matter of fact, you can't just walk in... In order to visit the reserve, you have to get in touch with WWF Hong Kong and book to one of their guided tours (it makes more sense anyway... as those guided tours are really, the right way to visit this place).

 

To learn more about the guided tours (there are quite a few of them), you should visit WWF Hong Kong's website (where you can find lots of valuable info abofut the nature reserve) : http://www.wwf.org.hk/en/getinvolved/gomaipo/

 

You can also call them on 3193 7702 (during normal office hours) or call their service hotline at 2526 1011 (press 1, 1, 1 after selecting the language), or send them a fax at 2482 0369  or send them an Email to publicvisit@wwf.org.hk

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Tai Fu Tai Mansion is another interesting place you might want to visit, while in Yuen Long.  Located in one of Hong Kong's remotest corners, it is quite far from Yuen Long Town (in San Tin Village, near Mai Po Nature Reserve) and you might wonder whether it's worth the trouble... But no matter what, you still have to travel through Yuen Long if you want to get there...

 

The mansion, one of the finest traditional Chinese buildings across Hong Kong, was built during the Qing dynasty, in the 1860s, as the resident of Man Chung-luen, a wealthy Chinese merchant and philanthropist, whose ancestors had settled in San Tin since the 15th century.  The nicely refurbished building features some beautiful architectural decorations and is an example of traditional Chinese dwelling of the scholar-gentry class.

 

Open daily (except Tuesdays, Christmas, New Years Day and the first three days of the Chinese New Year), 9 am - 1 pm and 2 - 5 pm.  Admission is free.

 

Getting there : From Yuen Long Town, take green minibus Nos. 75 or 76 from Fook Hong Street (a few minutes walk from Yuen Long Railway Station, behind Happy Plaza).   You can also take KMB route No. 76K from the bus terminus at Long Ping Estate, just across the road from Long Ping Railway Station (one station after KCR -Yuen Long).

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From Yuen Long, Travel with the KCR train to Tin Shui Wai Railway Station (four stations after Tsuen Wan West and two stations after Yuen Long), from which the famous Ping Shan Heritage Trail starts.

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Tin Shui Wai Railway Station is also the starting point for those of you who want to visit the ufnmissable Hong Kong Wetland Park.

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Located on the edge of the internationally known Mai Po Marshes, on the banks of Deep Bay, just a few kilometers north of Yuen Long, Hong Kong Wetland Park is one of Hong Kong's best conservation centers and a must-see for anyone who has some interest in nature, and in wetlands in particular.

 

It is surely not the most impressive place in terms of "being close to nature" (Mai Po Nature Reserve is far more "natural"...), but it has all that is needed to discover the wetlands in a comfortable and enjoyable way that appeals to almost everybody, and it has one of the best (and largest) Wetlands-themed visitor centres on earth, with plenty of beautifully exhibited stuff. 

In the 10,000 square meter large visitor centre, you can enjoy some excellent themed exhibitions about wetlands, marshes and swamps all over the world...  As the case is in many of Hong Kong's museums, there are all sorts of state-of-the-art interactive exhibits, including audio-visual shows, that makes it more fun for the young ones... and for adults too...

 

Outside, at the actual reserve, you get the chance to walk across different wetland environments, including a mangroves swamp, and to see all kinds of unique fauna and flora (including a large number of migratory birds, in season).  There are built hideaways from which you can watch the birds unnoticed, there are fixed binoculars and telescopes that you can use... and what not...

 

The park is open daily (except Tuesdays that are not falling on public holidays, and the first two days of the Chinese Lunar New Year), 10am - 5pmf

 

Admission fees are HK$ 30 for an adult, HK$ 15 for children (3 - 18) students and seniors (above 65) and free for babies (under 3 years old), and there are group concessions.

 

How to get here : From KCR station - Tin Shui Wai, interchange for the Light Rail (route No. 705) and alight at the Wetland Park Station (Once there, cross the footbridge, turn right and walk for a couple of minutes till you see the entrance to the park on your left).

 

Citybus' route No. 967 travels almost directly from Admiralty (Drake Street, outside Lippo Centre: MTR-Admiralty, exit B) and from Central (Connaught Road Central : outside Statue Square or outside Wing Lung Bank Building, next to MTR-Central, exit C)

 

To learn more about the Hong Kong Wetland Park, you should visit their website (which is quite good actually): www.wetlandpark.com/en  or you can call them on phone : 2708 8885

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Ping Shan Heritage Trail is one of the New Territories' must-sees.  Winding through one of Hong Kong's most traditional districts, the easy one-kilometer trail links up a number of traditional Chinese buildings and monuments, built by members of the Tang Clan, one of the "Five Great Clans" in the New Territories.

The trail is properly signposted and there are information boards near the various stations, explaining on each of the buildings.

 

If coming from KCR - Tin Shui Wai station, you will start the trail from Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda, just next to the station's exit E-3.  Literally meaning "Pagoda of Gathering Stars", this declared monument was built more than 600 years ago by Tang Yin-tung, the seventh generation ancestor according to the genealogy of the Tang clan of Ping Shan, and is Hong Kong's only ancient pagoda.

 

From here, walk back and turn left, passing by the canal (do not cross it - just walk along its left bank), the trail passes via the Shrine of the Earth God (built in honor of the Earth God, "She Kung"), Sheung Cheung Wai (a 200 years old walled village), an old well and the small Yeung Hau Temple (which is slightly off the trail), before it reaches the two beautiful Ancestral Halls (Tang and Yu Kiu)Next in line, the Kun Ting Study Hall was built in 1870 by Tang Heung Chuen, the twenty second generation ancestor of the Tang clan, to commemorate his father Tang Kun Ting. The Study Hall provided facilities for both ancestral worship and education.  

From there, the trail leads to the 18th century Hung Shing temple and ends up at the beautifully restored 1899 police station, which was converted to a small museum and a visitor's centre where you can learn more about Ping Shan's Tang clan and its history.

 

From here, a short walk will take you to Ping Shan Light Rail Station (along Ping Ha Road), from where you can catch Light Rail routes 610, 614 or 615 to Lam Tei Station.

 

A small tip from 'Metropolasia-Man' : 

Basically, you can also start the trail from Ping Shan Light Rail Station.  From the Light Rail Terminus in Yuen Long (adjacent to the KCR station) take Light Rail routes 610, 614, 615 or 761P and alight at Ping Shan Station, a few minutes walk from the Heritage Trail. 

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Miu Fat Monastery, a couple of minutes walk from the Light Rail (LRT) station of Lam Tei, is an impressive Buddhist monastery and a well known centre for Buddhist studies.  It boasts a large number of magnificent pieces of arts, including sculptures, paintings and a pair of particularly large golden dragons, guarding the gate.

 

On the ground floor there's a golden likeness of Buddha in a glass case; on the 2nd floor are three larger statues of Lord Gautama. The 1st floor is a vegetarian restaurant serving set meals and open to all.

 

You can get here with Light Rail (LRT) routes 610, 614 or 615 from either Yuen Long Terminus or from Ping Shan,  or you can travel with Light Rail (LRT) route No. 751 from Tin Shui Wai (comfortable connection for those of you who come directly from the Wetland Park).

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From Lam Tei Station, you can take Light Rail route 615 to Ching Chung Station, next to Ching Chung Koon, one of Hong Kong's most beautiful Taoist temples.

 

The name Ching Chung literally means "evergreen pine tree".  It was built in the late 1940s as a rural retreat and developed into a large and very rich temple complex, with plenty of beautiful ornaments and exciting treasures, such as lanterns from Beijing's Imperial Palace and thousands of books about Taoism and Chinese history.  Many of the temple's rooms serve as memorial rooms, where the bone-ash of the dead is permanently kept in special compartments, together with their photo, name plates, and so on... Living relatives come to the temple in droves during the holidays of Ching Ming and Chung Yeung.

 

The temple's compound is another must-see, with lovely Chinese-style gardens and fishponds, alongside impressive rocks and manmade waterfalls.

Ching Chung Koon also holds some excellent bonsai exhibitions.

 

The temple is open daily, 8:30 am - 5 pm and entrance is free.

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From here, you can either take a short ride with the LRT to Siu Hong Station (along the KCR's West Rail Line); from where you can catch a train and leave the area, or you can take Light Rail route 505 to Tuen Mun Town Centre, just next to Tuen Mun Park. Other than being a beautiful park in its own right, with a nice manmade lake and water cascades, the park boasts The Reptile House, where you can see some interesting lizards and snakes... not shockingly impressive, but worth a visit if you are already there.

 

From Tuen Mun town centre and the adjacent park, you can either take a short walk to Tuen Mun KCR Station (the last station on the KCR's West Rail Line) from where you can catch a train and leave the area,  or you can venture to Hong Kong Gold Coast, a nice sandy beach next to a ritzy resort with a marina and a five star hotel, just a few minutes drive from Tuen Mun (along Castle Peak Road).

 

Although it is certainly not the nicest beach in Hong Kong, it is possibly one of the nicest around this side of the New Territories.

 

To get to the Gold coast, you can take KMB route No. 52 X (from Tuen Mun Town Plaza), or Citibus route No. 962 (from Tuen Mun Central Square, near LRT station - Tuen Mun Swimming Pool), or green minibus Nos. 43A and 43B from San Hui Market (a few minutes walk north of the Tuen Mun Park).

 

Citibus route No. 962 continues all the way to Hong Kong Island (Causeway Bay) but the journey is quite long (using the KCR train will probably make more sense).

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Read more about suggested trips around the New Territories...

Tours, sightseeing and places of innterest in the Central New Territories

Tours, sightseeing and places of innterest in Sai Kung Peninsula