Ping Shan Heritage Trail

This meandering 1km trail through three old but lively villages in northwestern New Territories features 12 thoughtfully restored historic buildings and a museum at Ping Shan dedicated to the powerful Tang clan, the founders of the spectacular 500-year-old Ping Shan village. The Tangs are believed to be some of Hong Kong's earliest immigrants.

Tang Clan Gallery

Start with the Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery at the eastern end of the trail. Housed in a former police station, the gallery showcases the history of the Tangs. The colourful collections include a traditional sedan chair, ritual wares and a giant wooden bed. The building itself was constructed in 1899 and was a colonial outpost to monitor ‘untoward’ villagers.

Temple, Chamber & Study Hall

Leaving the Tang Clan Gallery, retrace your steps to Ping Ha Rd and turn right. The small Hung Shing Temple is on your right-hand side, followed by Ching Shu Hin Chamber and Kun Ting Study Hall when you turn right again.

Two Large Ancestral Halls

North of Hung Shing Temple, Shu Hin Chamber and Kun Ting Study Hall are the Tang Clan Ancestral Hall and Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall, two of Hong Kong's largest ancestral halls. The Tangs justifiably brag about them, especially the one that bears their name, as it follows a three-halls-two-courtyards structure indicative of the clan’s prestigious status in the imperial court.

Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda

There are some more temples and an old well ahead. At the end of the heritage trail is small, three-storey Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda, the only surviving ancient pagoda in Hong Kong.

Don’t Miss

  • Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery
  • Tang Clan Ancestral Hall
  • Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall

Top Tips

  • Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda is closest to the MTR station, but do not start there unless you already know about the history of the village.
  • The view from the verandah of the Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery is nice.

Take a Break

Mrs Tang Cafe offers satisfying cha chaan tang (teahouse) fare but closes for lunch.

Accro Coffee makes seriously good coffee.

Getting There

Take the MTR to Tin Shui Wai station. Exit the station from the ground floor and follow signage to cross Tsui Sing Rd. You'll see Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda.

Strapline

A well-preserved ancient walled village.

POI

Hong Kong Global Geopark

The breathtaking, Unesco-listed Hong Kong Global Geopark spans 50 sq km across the eastern and northeastern New Territories and comprises two regions of spectacular rock formations – volcanic (140 million years) and sedimentary (400 million years ago). The best way to experience either region is by joining a guided boat tour. The Volcano Discovery Centre website (www.volcanodiscoverycentre.hk) has details.

Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region

The beautiful Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region features interlocking hexagonal volcanic rock columns with a honeycomb-shaped cross-section lined up in tilting clusters like fingers pointing at the sky. They may cover an entire rock face like the pipes of a giant organ, or stick out above a secluded bay like a metaphor for the city.

The formations are similar to the grey basaltic lava formations in Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, but Hong Kong's acidic, silica-rich rocks are a luminous yellow, which is rare and looks stunning against the blue of the sea and, on a sunny day, the sky.

The columns were made by lava and volcanic ash that cooled and contracted after violent volcanic eruptions in the Cretaceous Period. In some places, including this region's only walkable section at High Island Reservoir East Dam, you can see rocks buckled by gravity before they managed to cool completely.

Tours of Sai Kung Volcanic Rock Region

Boat tours for this region cover some of the following: Ung Kong group of islands, Ninepin group of islands, High Island Reservoir East Dam, and Sharp Island, and allow you to see at reasonably close range, depending on the weather, massive sea stacks, precipitous rock cliffs, sea arches and sea caves.

Tours cost about HK$300 per person. They leave from the Volcano Discovery Centre near the Sai Kung waterfront and last for about three hours.

NE New Territories Sedimentary Rock Region

Compared to the visually stunning volcanic rock region, this region features old villages and Hong Kong's oldest rocks formed during the Devonian Period. You'll see eccentrically shaped, red-coloured oxidised conglomerate, sandstone and siltstone from 400 million years ago, including a famous one called Devil's Fist. You'll also get to visit old villages, including Lai Chi Wo and some of Hong Kong's most secluded islands, peer at rocks to examine the sedimentary layers, and pass a shuttered pearl farm – the only remaining testimony to the pearl industry that thrived in Hong Kong from 900 years ago through WWII to the 1960s.

Boat tours pass through Tolo Channel, a channel south of Plover Cove, which lies over a deep fracture zone running all the way to Shēnzhèn, Fujian, Taiwan and Zhèjiāng, which, millions of years ago, was all land.

Tours of Sedimentary Rock Region

Most boat tours for this region cover some combination of the following: Double Haven, Ma Shi Chau, Lai Chi Wo, Joss House Bay Tin Hau Temple, Bluff Head, Kat O Island, Crooked Island (aka Duck Island), and Tung Ping Chau. They usually leave from the Ma Liu Shui Pier near the Chinese University and last half a day.

There is a new weekend ferry service between Ma Liu Shui pier, Kat O (吉澳) and Crooked Island (鴨洲). The boat departs from Ma Liu Shui for Kat O at 8.30am, from Kat O for Crooked Island at 10.15am, from Crooked Island for Kat O at noon, and from Kat O back to Ma Liu Shui at 3.30pm. The service operates Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.

Don't Miss

  • Sea stacks and sea arches
  • Red siltstone and secluded islands

Top Tips

  • Book early.
  • Joining a tour gives you context to what you see.
  • Experienced kayakers can paddle to certain geopark locations by joining a tour run by Lamma Island–based Sea Kayak Hong Kong.
  • The most geologically important 'core protective zones' can only be viewed from a boat.
  • Hiring a private boat from Sai Kung Waterfront Promenade is possible, but it's more expensive and there's no guide.

Take a Break

  • Sedimentary Rock Region tours include lunch and make stops at islands and villages where you can buy food.
  • Eat your fill in Sai Kung before your Volcanic Rock Region tour.

Getting There

The Volcano Discovery Centre in Sai Kung Town where tours begin, can be reached by bus 299X from Sha Tin under the Sha Tin metro station and an adjoining mall.

Strapline

World-class geological marvel.

POI