Hong Kong/New Territories

10,000 Buddhas Monastery, Sha Tin

The New Territories (新界) of Hong Kong were leased by China to the British in 1898. Often ignored by travellers who have little time to spare, offer a diverse landscape that takes time to get to know. Mountainous country parks overlook New Towns that have a clinical form of modernity that has attracted many to move here from mainland China. Public transport and taxis make this area surprisingly accessible if you dare to get out and explore this offbeat place. You won't find many idyllic villages, but once you get over the stray dogs and the ramshackle buildings you will doubtlessly find something that will surprise and cause you to reach for your camera.

Get in

By train

The MTR has absorbed the old Kowloon Canton Railway (KCR) to form a larger network that links the New Territories with Kowloon. Confusingly, you may find some local people still referring to the railways in the New Territories as the KCR.

The East Rail Line from Hung Hom connects to Sheung Shui, Fanling, Tai Po and Sha Tin on its way to the border with Shenzhen at Lo Wu. The Ma On Shan Line branches out at Tai Wai and is convenient for heading out east towards the Sai Kung peninsula.

The West Rail Line from Mei Foo or Nam Cheong is the choice if you want to go to Tsuen Wan, Kam Tin, Long Ping, Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai or Tuen Mun.

The Light Rail network in the west region of New Territories might be a good transportation means if you intend to travel through some of the areas in between Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai or Tuen Mun. There are several interchange stations with the West Rail line along the network and there is a fare discount when you are interchanging from the West Rail line to the Light Rail, or vice versa, if you are using the Octopus card.

By bus

Kowloon Motor Bus operates a large number of bus routes to the New Territories. Many routes depart from Kowloon to the New Territories.

Bus 64K from Tai Po to Yuen Long provides a convenient (if rather slow) shortcut across the Territories, passing some attractions including the Wishing Tree and the walled village of Kat Hing Wai along the way.

By bike

Whilst cycling on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon may be suicidal due to the hostile traffic conditions, things are much easier in the New Territories. Quiet countryside roads, mountain-bike trails and segregated cycle paths alongside busy roads make for pleasant cycling for people of all abilities. Bike rental is available from many locations including Sha Tin, Tai Po Market and Yuen Long, to name a few. Rental fees are approx $30-60 per day for a standard 21-speed commuter bike, or up to $150 a day for a top-end road or mountain bike. It's advisable to keep a good supply of water if you plan on cycling away form the urban areas, as high temperatures and hilly terrain can cause rapid dehydration. Once away from the new towns, there won't be a 7-Eleven in sight. Although small local convenience shops, called 士多 (translated from the English word "store") are common in some villages, especially along famous cycling routes (usually they would have a soft-drink logo advertisement printed next to their name of the shop billboard), their opening times might be unpredictable for tourists.

See

Nam Cheung Country Trail in the Pat Sin Leng Country Park, North East New Territories

The main attractions of the New Territories are about experiencing rural life in Hong Kong life, as opposed to the urban energy of Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula. Although Hong Kong island has some attractive country parks they are eclipsed by those in the more remote areas of the New Territories. The New Towns are of limited interest to many tourists but the most engaging settlement in the New Territories is Sai Kung which has a number of restaurants and bars that will appeal to visitors because of its slower pace of life. Sai Kung also acts as a gateway into some of the best countryside you are likely to find in Hong Kong.

Landmarks

Nature

Wetland Park in Tin Shui Wai. Despite it's outdoor wetland, its indoor exhibition is the living place of some interesting animal species

Museums

Temples

Arhats in the bushes at 10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Local life

Kat Hing Wai walled village

To learn about the living environment of Hong Kong's ordinary people, the best way is to have a half-day trip to a public housing estate. A public housing estate is a small community, where you can find residential flats in high-rise storeys as well as commercial complex and cultural facilities. Start the trip in the morning by "Yum Cha" in a Chinese restaurant or food stall in an estate, then visit the commercial centre and the fresh food market. See the life of school children in the afternoon on the lunch break, and visit the community hall and the library to experience Hong Kong life.

Do

The New Territories offer a wealth of hiking and sports opportunities as well as one favoured Hong Kong pastime, horse racing.

Horse racing

Outdoor sports

Buy

Eat

Compared with restaurants in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island, the New Territories offers a good range of local dishes, but at a cheaper price. The restaurants recommended here are unlikely to have English menus and the staff are probably not able to speak very good English or Mandarin. If the place is busy, the staff will not have time to help you.

Budget

In the New Territories, there are many places suitable for budget diners with surplus options of cuisine.

Mid-range

If it swims, you can eat it in Sai Kung

If you're looking for an evening out whilst touring in the New Territories, head for Sai Kung (西貢) where you will find a good range of visitor-friendly pubs and restaurants. Sai Kung is rightly famous for its seafood restaurants along the quayside, where you can pick your dinner from an aquarium and have it served any way you like. However, if downing a bucket of bottled beers whilst munching on a plate of crustaceans is not your thing, there is also a fairly good selection of eateries and watering holes to be found in the town centre. Prices here can be reasonable and the cuisine ranges from local to western. Various well-known burger and coffee shops have also found their way to this otherwise secluded part of Hong Kong.

The fastest way to Sai Kung by public transport is to take the MTR to Choi Hung and transfer to minibus 1M (every 5 min) for a straight hop across the mountains. There are public KMB buses from Sha Tin (route 299x) and Wu Kai Sha (route 99) as well, but they take the long way around and spend the better part of an hour in the process. An urban taxi from Central, on Hong Kong island, will cost just under $200 (including tunnel fees).

Drink

In addition to Sai Kung's watering holes (see above), in Tai Po Market there are a number of pubs and country clubs along Kwong Fuk Road and the adjacent Luk Heung Lane, Tung Cheong Street. While lacking the glamour of Hong Kong Island's Central district, the area offers more reasonable prices and a friendlier, more local feel. It is about a 5-minute walk from Tai Po Market MTR Station. Overnight transport is readily available on Kwong Fuk Road to take you back to downtown Kowloon and Hong Kong island.

Sleep

Budget

Mid Range

Splurge

Connect

Postal service

Internet access

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.