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Tradition and transformation in a suburban town

Over the mountains there’s another Hong Kong: one where cacophonous streets are replaced by the quiet whir of bicycles, where concrete gives way to lush greenery. Welcome to Sha Tin, which lies on the other side of Lion Rock from the congested urban areas of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

Sha Tin was once a rural backwater of fishing and farming settlements, but it was transformed into a suburban new town in the 1970s. Today, it is Hong Kong’s most populous district, home to 641,000 people, but it still retains the flavour of the countryside, with historic walled villages, lush hills and a string of green spaces along the Shing Mun River.

Though it isn’t typically regarded as a top tourist attraction, Sha Tin offers some unexpected rewards. The Hong Kong Heritage Museum has crowd-pleasing exhibitions on everything from ancient ceramics to kung fu pop culture. Not far away, Sha Tin Town Hall plays host to public art and regular theatrical performances, while New Town Plaza is one of Hong Kong’s largest shopping malls — just in case you need a break from nature and culture.

Sha Tin is served by two MTR lines, the East Rail Line and the Ma On Shan Line, and you don’t need to go far from either of them for adventure. In Fo Tan, old factory blocks have been colonised by artists, while Che Kung Temple is one of the city’s largest places of worship. In the hills above MTR Sha Tin Station, you’ll find the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery and the idyllic pathways of Pai Tau Village, lined by lychee trees and bougainvillea.

It may have been conceived as Hong Kong’s first bedroom community, but Sha Tin is anything but sleepy.

Highlights
  • Explore the eclectic art and history exhibitions at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

  • Learn about Chinese ceramics at The Story House of Ancient Chinese Culinary Ware.

  • Go for a bicycle ride along the Shing Mun River.

  • Discover the rich collection of Chinese art at the CUHK Art Museum.

  • Have a sunset beach barbecue at To Tau Wan Village.

Experiences in Sha Tin

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