Hong Kong’s rural communities take you back in time
In Hong Kong’s North District you’ll find Chinese walled villages hundreds of years old only minutes from high-rise post-war public housing estates. Here along the border with Mainland China, the landscape shifts from urban to small town, then to rural. The frenetic pace of Hong Kong city life slows. Minibus routes weave along back roads where farmers harvest strawberries, lettuce, watercress and taro. Steep green mountains enclose lush valleys that at one time produced much of Hong Kong’s food.
While most of the district is accessible via MTR and Hong Kong’s superb public bus network, this is an area that is especially rewarding to explore on foot. There are roads and paths for all kinds and levels of walking, whether you prefer to meander from village to village, or embark upon a challenging hike along rugged hilltops in a country park.
During Hong Kong’s British colonial days, the North District was an important posting for police and civil servants, since it was so close to the border. While most visitors to Hong Kong look for colonial buildings in Central, there are just as many remnants of the city’s British heritage to be discovered in the sprawl of the district’s two main towns, Fanling and Sheung Shui: magistracies, police stations, civil servants’ quarters and military camps dating back to the turn of the last century.
This is a district undergoing rapid change, and all you have to do is look up at those rolling mountaintops to see why. The skyscrapers of Shenzhen, and its 23 million people are just a stone's throw away. Construction cranes are sprouting everywhere, and new highway projects well underway. Nevertheless, North District remains a place where you often have to pinch yourself to be reminded that you are still in Hong Kong.
Explore centuries-old Chinese Hakka walled villages on the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail
Hike Hong Kong’s most dramatic mountain ridge, the Pat Sin Leng trail.
See traces of colonial architecture on a walking tour of Fanling.
Visit the fascinating 400-year-old Lai Chi Wo village.
Sample delicious local and Hakka food on a day trip to North District.