Back in the days when Sha Tau Kok was closed to non-residents, visiting the border town required a closed area permit and a guarantee from a local resident. As it begins to open gradually, Sha Tau Kok now becomes a great choice for weekend getaways. Starting from June 2022, the Sha Tau Kok Pier is open to the public and features a brand-new outdoor bazaar. Visitors can now join local tours to discover the area’s beautiful scenery, or take a ferry to explore nearby attractions such as Lai Chi Wo, Kat O and Ap Chau.
The first stage of the opening of Sha Tau Kok
Area: Sha Tau Kok Pier
Opening days: Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays
Located in Hong Kong’s North District and right next to Shenzhen’s Yantian District, Sha Tau Kok was designated as part of the Frontier Closed Area in 1951 and became a buffer zone for illegal immigration, smuggling and other cross-border criminal activities. Since then, Sha Tau Kok is only accessible to individuals with closed area permits.
Must-visit attractions for your day trip
Word has it that Sha Tau Kok’s name derives from a poem — ‘the sun rises from the beach (Sha Tau); the moon hangs above the cape (Kok)’. Be sure to visit these attractions when you are in Sha Tau Kok and immerse yourself in this border town’s natural beauty and history.
Photo credit: Security Bureau
Sha Tau Kok Pier — the longest pier in Hong Kong
Built in the 1960s and redeveloped in 2004, the Sha Tau Kok Pier is 280-metre-long and it is the longest pier in the city. From here, it only takes 20–30 minutes to travel to Kat O and Ap Chau by ferry. The pier extends from the shallow waters to the deeper part of the sea, so that the vessels can berth without any trouble. You can also find some Instagram-worthy murals near the pier.
Photo credit: Security Bureau
Chung Ying Street — the forbidden zone in the closed area
After the New Territories was leased to Britain, Chung Ying Street became the border between the Chinese territory and the British territory. There were eight monuments that demarcate the boundary between Hong Kong and Shenzhen — most of them are still present today. When you are travelling to the Sha Tau Kok Pier, keep your eyes peeled for this historic street, which remains a restricted zone and can only be observed from afar.
The Cape of Sha Tau Kok
The Cape of Sha Tau Kok, located at the easternmost corner of Sha Tau Kok, is a new landmark of the border town. Keep walking along the shore towards east, and you will see a sign stating the longitude and latitude of the cape, a 1:1 replica of a boundary monument, as well as a chain of blue barrels bobbing on the sea. On a sunny day, you can even see Shenzhen’s Yantian Harbour.
Lai Chi Wo — a Hakka village with over 300 years of history
The Lai Chi Wo village was built more than 300 years ago and is one of Hong Kong’s oldest and best-preserved Hakka settlements. Take in the stunning beauty of the village’s ‘fung shui’ woods and mangroves and enjoy the natural landscapes along the nature trail. You may also join a guided tour at Lai Chi Wo Story Room to learn more about Hakka culture and the village’s history, and interact with local villagers.
Ap Chau, or ‘Duck Island’ in Cantonese, get its name from its duck-resembling shape. The island falls within the Double Haven Special Area and is part of the Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark. Known for its spectacular geological features, Ap Chau offers a variety of quirky rock formations, including the rare ochre breccia and a sea arch dubbed as the ‘duck’s eye’.
Kat O, or ‘Lucky Bay’ in Cantonese, provides good shelter for fishing boats with its unique, crooked shape. Enjoy an easy stroll on the Kat O Heritage Trail with your family and friends and take in the breathtaking beauty of Double Haven, or take your loved ones to the Lovers’ Tree on your way to Kat O Story Room, and catch a falling leaf for blessings.
(Note: at the first stage of the opening, transport will be arranged by travel agencies.) Take minibus 55K from MTR Sheung Shui Station and get off at the terminal, or take bus 277A from MTR Lam Tin Station.
After the opening of the Sha Tau Kok Frontier Closed Area, do visitors need to apply for a closed area permit?
At the first stage of the opening, visitors are required to join local tours organised by travel agencies to enter the Sha Tau Kok Designated Area. The travel agencies will apply for closed area permits on behalf of the visitors.
What are the restrictions for tourists during the gradual opening of the Sha Tau Kok Frontier Closed Area?
The first stage of the opening of Sha Tau Kok starts on 3 June 2022. The designated area (Sha Tau Kok Pier) is open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Participants of the local tours can stay for 30–60 minutes. Only 500 tourists are allowed per day. Entry to Sha Tau Kok on weekdays still requires a closed area permit as well as a guarantee from a Sha Tau Kok resident.
Is it necessary to join a local tour in order to visit Sha Tau Kok Frontier Closed Area?
Yes, visitors of Sha Tau Kok Frontier Closed Area are required to join a local tour at the first stage of the opening.
Can I visit Chung Ying Street?
No, Chung Ying Street is still a restricted area.
Click here to download the Sha Tau Kok tourist’s guide for more details of the attractions.