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. Since then, Sha Tau Kok has been accessible only to individuals with a closed area permit. Back in the days when Sha Tau Kok was closed to non-residents, visiting the border town also required a guarantee from a local resident. As it begins to open gradually, Sha Tau Kok has become a great choice for weekend getaways.
The first phase of the opening of Sha Tau Kok began in June 2022, followed by the second phase starting January 2024. Visitors can now join local tours to discover the area’s beautiful scenery, unique attractions and local delicacies; or take a ferry to explore nearby islands, such as Lai Chi Wo, Kat O, Ap Chau and Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark.
The second phase of the opening of Sha Tau Kok
Starting from 1 January 2024, the daily quota of visitors is 1,000 individuals (700 group visitors and 300 individual travellers) with the Tourism Closed Area Permit
Individual travellers must enter Sha Tau Kok by public transport. Private cars are NOT allowed
Area: Sha Tau Kok (excluding Chung Ying Street)
Opening hours: Every day from 7am to 9pm
Image courtesy of the Security Bureau
Application for the Sha Tau Kok travel permit
Starting from 1 December 2023, Hong Kong residents and overseas visitors can apply for a Tourism Closed Area Permit through Hong Kong Police Force’s online applications platform. All applications must be submitted three working days prior to the day of visit in a first-come, first-served basis.
The online applications platform will open on the first day of each month for applications of the following month. Applications are free of charge. You may also join local Sha Tau Kok tours operated by authorised licensed travel agents, who can handle the relevant application procedures on your behalf.
Word has it that Sha Tau Kok’s name came from a beautiful 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 see for yourself the beauty of this border town.
Image courtesy of the Security Bureau
Top 10 attractions in Sha Tau Kok
See with your own eyes the beauty of Sha Tau Kok as depicted in the poem. Enjoy the morning sun at the Sun and Moon Pavilion, marvel at the picturesque coastal scenery at the Cape of Sha Tau Kok, take a stroll along Sha Tau Kok Pier, the longest pier in Hong Kong... It’s a journey full of unique sceneries and tales of local history and culture.
Step into the streets and alleys of Sha Tau Kok, and you’ll discover a neighbourhood that blends traditional Chinese culture with the old days of Hong Kong. Explore century-old temples, visit shophouses with distinct architectural features, all while taking a deep look at the local culture.
Sha Tau Kok made an appearance in the Hong Kong film, Far Far Away. The film revolves around the male protagonist’s romantic entanglement with five females residing in different remote corners of the city, including Sha Tau Kok.
4 not-to-be-missed activities in Sha Tau Kok
Join the ‘Sha Tau Kok Stamp Hunt’
Collect stamps while exploring Sha Tau Kok and redeem a special gift! Download the Security Bureau’s ‘Safeguard HK’ mobile app and select the limited-time ‘Sha Tau Kok Stamp Hunt’ stamp collection game. Visit designated attractions, where you can scan the QR codes on the information boards and answer some questions to earn a stamp for each correct answer. Collect all 10 stamps to redeem a free gift, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis, while stocks last.
Take fun AR photos
Take your travel photos to the next level with fun AR filters by scanning specific QR codes via the ‘Safeguard HK’ mobile app. These filters feature local elements such as Sha Tau Kok landmarks, Hakka fish lanterns and fishing hats — your photos will surely be one of a kind!
Make a wish at the viewing deck
The Chung Ying Street Garden boasts a new viewing deck, which offers a panoramic view of Chung Ying Street. But that’s not all; you can also hang wishing plaques on dedicated railings to make a wish.
Send a postcard as a unique souvenir
Before ending your trip, don’t forget to visit the Sha Tau Kok Post Office to send a limited-edition postcard (or two) to your friends, family, or even yourself! Have it stamped with the post office’s exclusive cachets and make it a special memento of your Sha Tau Kok trip.
Nearby islands and areas
Departing from Sha Tau Kok Pier, explore nearby islands such as Lai Chi Wo, Ap Chau and Kat O, where you can go for a hike and experience local Hakka culture.
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 the Lai Chi Wo Story Room to learn more about Hakka culture and the village’s history while interacting with local villagers.
Ap Chau, or ‘Duck Island’ in Cantonese, got 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 visit the Lovers’ Tree on your way to the Kat O Story Room, and catch a falling leaf for blessings.
Which areas are included during the opening of the Sha Tau Kok Frontier Closed Area? Can I visit Chung Ying Street?
The second phase of the opening of Sha Tau Kok begins on 1 January 2024. The area is extended to all of Sha Tau Kok (except Chung Ying Street). The daily quota of visitors is a maximum of 1,000 individuals, including 700 visitors for tours and 300 individual travellers. Visitors can travel around Sha Tau Kok after applying for a Tourism Closed Area Permit.
Chung Ying Street is still a restricted area, but you may see it via the Chung Ying Street Garden.
Is it necessary to join a local tour in order to visit the Sha Tau Kok Frontier Closed Area?
You can either join a local tour or travel on your own with a valid Tourism Closed Area Permit.
After the opening of the Sha Tau Kok Frontier Closed Area, do visitors need to apply for a Tourism Closed Area Permit?
Yes. During the second phase of the opening, visitors are required to apply for a Tourism Closed Area Permit. Travel agencies will assist their clients in the application procedures, while individual travellers must apply online. Please visit the Hong Kong Police Force’s online application platform for more details.
take bus 78S (Express departures) from MTR Sheung Shui Station, or 78K from MTR Sheung Shui/Fanling Station; or
take minibus 55K from MTR Sheung Shui Station and get off at the terminal; or
take bus 277A from MTR Lam Tin Station.
(Some of the above bus routes only run at specific times. Click here to learn more about the traffic notice from the Transport Department, which provides details of public transport services for the second phase of the opening of Sha Tau Kok. Click here to learn more about the latest information on bus services traveling to and from Sha Tau Kok.)
How can I get to Lai Chi Wo, Kat O, and Ap Chau from the Sha Tau Kok Pier?
The Sha Tau Kok Pier will soon launch a new daily ferry service with three departures per day, giving passengers the chance to embark from the pier and enjoy delightful boat tours with stops at Lai Chi Wo, Ap Chau, and Kau Sai Chau. For more information, please visit the website of the Transport Department.