Must see attractions in New Territories

  • Top ChoiceSights in Sai Kung Peninsula

    High Island Reservoir East Dam

    Handsome architecture, the South China Sea, and 140-million-year-old volcanic rocks make this one of Hong Kong's most breathtaking places. High Island Reservoir East Dam is the most easily accessible part of Hong Kong Global Geopark and the only place where you can touch the hexagonal rock columns. The scenery is surreal and made even more so by the presence of thousands of dolosse (huge reinforced concrete blocks shaped like jacks) placed along the coast to break sea waves. High Island was Hong Kong's second reservoir built by sealing off the coast with dams (Plover Cove was the first). This was done to provide fresh water to the territory after mainland China shut down supply during the 1967 riots. High Island was designed by Binnie & Partners of London and constructed by an Italian company, Vianini Lavori. At the southern end of East Dam, you'll see a giant light blue dolos block, a memorial to those who died on the project. Nearby is a concrete slab that commemorates, in Chinese and English, the inauguration of the reservoir in 1978. The construction of the reservoir had one unintentional effect – it made a part of what 30 years later became Hong Kong Global Geopark accessible on foot. Off the coast of the southern end of the dam is Po Pin Chau (literally, Broken-Sided Island), a massive sea stack with rock columns all over its face like a giant pipe organ. East Dam of High Island Reservoir is in Stage 1 of the MacLehose Trail, which means you can hike here. Alternatively, you can join a Geopark tour that makes a stop at East Dam. See website for the list and to enrol. At the time of research, a dedicated green minibus (route 9A) has just been launched to take passengers between Sai Kung's Pak Tam Chung and East Dam. During the trial period the route (HK$11.30) operated on Sundays and public holidays, between 3pm and 6pm. You could also take bus 94 from Sai Kung Bus Terminus to Pak Tam Chung, then walk 9km along Tai Mong Tsai Rd and Sai Kung Man Kee Rd, following MacLehose Trail Stage 1, to East Dam. A taxi to East Dam from Sai Kung Town takes about 30 minutes and costs HK$160. But you may need to call a taxi service for the return trip. Try 852 8103 1189. Be prepared to offer an extra HK$50 or more when placing your request in order to land a ride.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Sha Tau Kok

    Lai Chi Wo

    Part of Hong Kong Global Geopark, 400-year-old Lai Chi Wo is Hong Kong's best-preserved Hakka walled village and has an intact woodland. With 200 houses, ancestral halls, temples, and a breezy square fringed by old banyans, it is a sight to behold. There are 90-minute guided tours every Sunday and public holiday (usually at 11am and 1.30pm), as well as bespoke tours available on weekdays; all must be booked two weeks in advance by email. Lai Chi Wo is one of Hong Kong's most biologically diverse freshwater wetlands. If you follow the stream leading out of the village, you'll see looking-glass mangroves with buttress roots in a lace-like pattern. Also here is the white-flower Derris, a climbing vine with long, supple branches like elongated arms that form a natural swing. It is a poisonous plant and its root when crushed can be used as a fish stunner and insecticide. There are butterflies and dragonflies aplenty here, hovering over scuttling mangrove crabs. Lai Chi Wo was once the most affluent Hakka walled village in the northeastern New Territories. A 5- to 7-hectare crescent-shaped wood embraces the village from behind – ideal for feng shui as the backing of a forest is believed to bring luck. Thickly grown trees are also a natural protective barrier. The village has become a model for rural resurrection in Hong Kong. Though almost completely abandoned in the 1960s, it is quite lively now, thanks to the efforts of villagers and conservationists. The growing of rice and vegetables has resumed, pig and cow sheds have been restored, and shuttered village houses now function as education and research facilities, and eventually, holiday homes. A ferry departs for Lai Chi Wo on Sunday and public holidays at 9am from the Ma Liu Shui Pier near the Chinese University and returns at 3.30pm. It's HK$80 return and takes 90 minutes. Most Hong Kong Global Geopark Sedimentary Rock tours make a stop at Lai Chi Wo, or just hike there from Wu Kau Tang or Luk Keng, and lunch at Foo's Cafe. You can also hike to Lai Chi Wo. Green minibus 20C, operating between Tai Po Market MTR station and Tai Mei Tuk, goes beyond Tai Mei Tuk to Wu Kau Tang once every one to two hours between 5.45am to 7.45pm daily, with the last minibus returning from Wu Kau Tang at around 8.15pm. From Wu Kau Tang, it's 4.6km to Lai Chi Wo. On Sundays and public holidays, bus route 275R goes from Tai Po Market MTR station to Bride’s Pool, which is only 750m from Wu Kau Tang. Green minibus 56K leaves Fanling MTR station for Luk Keng at 30-minute intervals on weekdays, and 10-minute intervals on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. From Luk Keng, it's 9.6km to Lai Chi Wo.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yuen Long

    Hong Kong Wetland Park

    This 60-hectare ecological park is a window on the wetland ecosystems of the northwest New Territories. The natural trails, bird hides and viewing platforms make it a handy and excellent spot for birdwatching. The futuristic grass-covered headquarters houses interesting galleries, a film theatre, a cafe and a viewing gallery. If you have binoculars, bring them; otherwise be prepared to wait to use the fixed points in the viewing galleries and hides. To reach Hong Kong Wetland Park, take the MTR West Rail to Tin Shui Wai and board light-rail line 705, alighting at the Wetland Park stop. It can also be reached directly from Hong Kong Island: jump on a 967 bus at Admiralty MTR bus station.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yuen Long

    Ping Shan Heritage Trail

    Hong Kong's first-ever heritage trail features historic buildings belonging to the Tangs, the first and the most powerful of the 'Five Clans'. Highlights of the 1km trail include Hong Kong's oldest pagoda, Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda, the magnificent Tang Clan Ancestral Hall, a temple, a study hall, a well and Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery inside an old police station built by the British as much to monitor the coastline as to keep an eye on the clan. Cross Tsui Sing Rd from the ground floor of the MTR station and you'll see the pagoda. Set aside two hours for the trail.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Sai Kung Peninsula

    Hong Kong Global Geopark

    Part of the Unesco Geopark network, this spectacular geopark consists of two regions of formations: volcanic rock from 140 million years ago that often appears as stacks of visually stunning hexagonal columns; and sedimentary rock from 400 million years ago comprising uniquely shaped sandstone and siltstone. The best way to experience all or part of the eight site groups dispersed over 50 sq km is by joining a guided tour. Contact the Volcano Discovery Centre. Sea Kayak Hong Kong runs kayaking tours of the Geopark.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Mai Po Nature Reserve

    The 270-hectare nature reserve includes the Mai Po Visitor Centre at the northeastern end, where you must register; the Mai Po Education Centre to the south, with displays on the history and ecology of the wetland and Deep Bay; floating boardwalks and trails through the mangroves and mudflats; and a dozen hides. Disconcertingly, the cityscape of Shēnzhèn looms to the north. Access to Mai Po is restricted – it doesn't allow walk-ins. The best way to see it is by joining one of the several guided tours run by the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong (WWF), which manages the reserve. You can book online (www.wwf.org.hk). Half-day English tours (HK$150) leave the visitor centre every Sunday at 2.30pm. Other tours include the 'Mangrove Broadwalk' tour (adult/child HK$216/180) lasting four hours, and the seasonal Night Safari, the Migration tour and Shrimp Harvesting. Note that the tours have different age requirements for child participants. The website has details. To visit the reserve unaccompanied, you'll need a permit issued by the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation. Call 852 2708 8885 or email with a letter and supporting documents to mailbox@afcd.gov.hk to apply. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes or boots but not bright clothing. It is best to visit at high tide (minimum 2m), when birds in their tens of thousands – mostly ducks, gulls, cormorants and kingfishers, but many rare species as well – flock to the area. The Hong Kong Observatory website (www.hko.gov.hk/tide/predtide.htm) and app have tidal information. Bus 76K, which runs between Yuen Long and the Fanling and Sheung Shui MTR East Rail stations, will drop you off at Mai Po Lo Wai, a village along the main road just east of the marsh. The car park is about a 20-minute walk from there. Red minibus 17 from San Fat St in Sheung Shui also goes to Mai Po Lo Wai. Alternatively, a taxi from Sheung Shui will cost HK$88.

  • Sights in Sai Kung Peninsula

    Sai Kung Town

    Sai Kung Town is a wonderful base for exploring the rugged and massive countryside that defines the Sai Kung Peninsula. This eclectic waterfront town has a cluster of seafood restaurants and is also a stopping point and transport hub to and from the surrounding countryside. Ferries depart regularly for offshore islands with secluded beaches and villages. From terminals by the waterfront, buses, minibuses and taxis take you to various locations in the country park, including points on the MacLehose Trail.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Tang Clan Ancestral Hall

    The sense of dignified grandiosity is unmistakable at Hong Kong's most magnificent ancestral hall (c 1273). The spaces and ornaments are larger than life, but keep to an understated palette. The basin feasts (parties where guests eat from basins piled with layers of food) thrown in the courtyards here by the Tangs are famous, as are the fashion shows by one of their best-known members – William Tang, a fashion designer who created uniforms for Dragon Air, the MTR and Hong Kong International Airport.

  • Sights in Sha Tau Kok

    Kang Yung Study Hall

    This graceful study hall in the Hakka village of Sheung Wo Hang (上禾坑村) was a private school in the 18th century and once had students from as far away as Sha Tin. The building's hibiscus-framed doorway leads to two grey-bricked halls with cocklofts. Every Mid-Autumn Festival (15th day of the eighth lunar month), the Li brothers of the village, one of whom is a sculptor, make enormous sky lanterns from about 7pm and send them off from an open lawn. Sha Tau Kok–bound bus 78K or minibus 55K from the bus terminus under the Landmark North shopping centre in Sheung Shui goes to Sheung Wo Hang Village.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Tang Ching Lok Ancestral Hall

    A finely decorated 15th-century structure in the southwest corner of Shui Mei Village, Tang Ching Lok Ancestral Hall is a gathering point for descendants of the four oldest branches of the Tang family. Whenever a son is born, candles are lit and the child's name is officially entered into the lineage registry here. The central panel on the roof ridge shows the motif 'carp jumping over dragon's gate', which symbolises leaps in prestige and affluence following hard work. The hall is sometimes locked even during official opening hours.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Pak Nai

    Literally ‘white mud’, Pak Nai is one of the best places to see the sunset in Hong Kong. This 6km stretch of coastline is dotted with mangroves, fish ponds, farms, shacks and muddy beaches sprinkled with oyster shells. Sunset can be watched from most parts of Deep Bay Rd (it continues as Nim Wan Rd after Upper Pak Nai), the only road meandering along the coastline. Green minibus 33 goes from Yuen Long via Lau Fau Shan. Check the website of Hong Kong Observatory (www.hko.gov.hk) for the sunset times.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Shui Tau Tsuen

    This 17th-century village founded by the powerful Tangs is a 15-minute walk north of Kam Tin Rd. It's famous for its prow-shaped roofs decorated with dragons and carp. The Tang Kwong U Ancestral Hall and the Tang Ching Lok Ancestral Hall were built in the early 19th century. South of them is the village’s most impressive sight, the 19th-century Yi Tai Study Hall, named after the gods of literature and martial arts. The Tin Hau temple just north of the village was built in 1722. To reach Shui Tau Tsuen, which is signposted from Kam Tin Rd, walk north, go through the subway below the Kam Tin bypass, pass Kam Tai Rd and cross over the river to Chi Ho Rd. Go over the small bridge spanning a stream, turn right and then left to enter the village from the east. The first thing you’ll pass is the Yi Tai Study Hall.

  • Sights in Sai Kung Peninsula

    Yim Tin Tsai Island

    The charming 0.24 sq km 'Catholic' island of Yim Tin Tsai (literally, 'Little Salt Field') is named for the island's salt-panning history. Having laid waste for years, the salt fields were revived recently by returning villagers keen to show visitors their heritage. The revitalisation also includes a heritage trail, a visitor centre, tours and a weekend ferry service. Locals converted to Catholicism 150 years ago after St Peter allegedly appeared on the island to chase away pirates. Small St Joseph's Chapel (1890) is the island's focal point. The island is accessible by kaito (return HK$45, 15 minutes, departs hourly 10am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday). Boats may not sail if there aren't enough passengers, so call ahead. Yim Tin Tsai is connected to the much larger island of Kau Sai Chau by a narrow spit of land that becomes submerged at high tide. The website is in Chinese, but you can call or drop an email if you'd like to join a tour.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Kat Hing Wai

    This tiny village is 500 years old and was walled during the early years of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). It contains just one main street, off which a host of dark and narrow alleyways lead. There are quite a few new buildings and retiled older ones in the village. A small temple stands at the end of the street. Visitors are asked to make a donation when they enter the village; put the money in the coin slot by the entrance. You can take photographs of the old Hakka women in their traditional black trousers, tunics and distinctive bamboo hats with black cloth fringes, but they’ll expect you to pay (around HK$10). To get here from Yuen Long, get off bus 64K at the first bus stop on Kam Tin Rd, cross the road and walk east for 10 minutes. Alternatively, take a taxi from Kam Sheung Rd West Rail station for about HK$32.

  • Sights in Sai Kung Peninsula

    Lions Nature Education Centre

    One of the best kid-pleasing destinations around, this 34-hectare attraction is a nature education centre with an arboretum, an insectarium, fields and gardens, and galleries devoted to rocks, minerals and sea shells. The Dragonfly Pond, which has up to a quarter of the more than 100 dragonfly species found in Hong Kong, is the star of the show. The centre is 2km northwest of Hebe Haven. You can reach the centre on bus 92 from Diamond Hill MTR and Choi Hung, bus 96R on Sunday and holidays from Diamond Hill, and green minibus 1A from Choi Hung.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Lau Fau Shan

    Towards the northwestern edge of Hong Kong waters is Lau Fau Shan, a rural fishing village that hosts the only oyster farm in the territory. Today most people come here for the seafood restaurants, but the small oyster market is interesting enough to merit a peep. You’ll see oyster farmers shucking the shelled creatures on the waterfront. Sweeping Deep Bay and Shékǒu in Shēnzhèn lie just across the waters. To get to the shore, walk along the paved path (next to the public toilet) that’s lined with restaurants and fish tanks.

  • Sights in Sai Kung Peninsula

    Volcano Discovery Centre

    The Volcano Discovery Centre, adjacent to Sai Kung Bus Terminus, advises on the best ways to explore Hong Kong Global Geopark and has a small exhibition on the territory's volcanic and sedimentary rock formations. The centre is also the meeting point of boat and hiking tours to the geopark that you can book online or in person. See website for details. Sai Kung Pier–bound green minibus route 1A from Choi Hung MTR Station (near exit C1) and the red minibus from Mong Kok's Dundas St (near its junction with Tung Choi St) come here.

  • Sights in Sai Kung Peninsula

    Sai Kung Waterfront Park

    Green patches along the (quieter) northeastern end of the waterfront of Sai Kung town is where people like to bring their dogs for walks. You'll see different clusters of owners and pets, separated by breed. The sea views here are stellar. There's also a small children's park with swings and monkey bars next to the public swimming pools.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Ping Shan Tang Clan Gallery

    Part of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail, this gallery and visitor centre gives context to what you'll see along the trail. It's housed inside the attractive old Ping Shan Police Station, built in the late 19th century. Guided tours in Cantonese are conducted from 3pm to 4pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. Wait at the entrance.

  • Sights in Yuen Long

    Tang Kwong U Ancestral Hall

    Located along the western edge of Shui Tau Tsuen, Tang Kwong U Ancestral Hall was built in the Qing dynasty. It was turned into shops in the '50s, a metal factory in the '60s and '70s, and fell into disuse from the '80s until 1994 when it was declared a monument. You'll see attractive wood carvings in the interior and elegant plaster mouldings on the facade.