Outside the busy city of Hong Kong, deep into the New Territories exists the village of Yuen Long. Cows are everywhere, grazing in the fields and walking on the roads.
Well, not anymore, but that is still an image that a lot of Hong Kongers from Kowloon and Hong Kong Island have. Many years ago there were lots of cows, but nowadays it is a fully developed town with over half a million people living there.
It’s also really easy to get to, just 30 minutes by MTR from Tsim Sha Tsui. In addition to that, it has its own modern tram (Light Rail) for getting to those places a little further out into nature.
If you want to enjoy a day with nature, learning historical things about old Hong Kong and also good food, then Yuen Long will be a great place for you. Here are some activities you can pack into a fun filled day exploring the Yuen Long area.
Cycle around Nam Sang Wai
Nam Sang Wai Jetty, often referred to as Nam Sang Wai Bridge, is the signature of Yuen Long wetland area. Many Hong Kong costume dramas have been filmed there and it is a top spot for couples taking wedding photos. In fact, it is a perfect spot for anyone to take a photo.
There are few ways to get into Nam San Wai; driving, walking and cycling. We decided on cycling so we rented bikes near Yuen Long station and cycled to the entrance of the park.
You can’t just cycling into the main area of the park because there is a river in the way, and no bridge!
To cross the river you’ll need to go to Shan Pui River Pier and take a small ferry, which costs HKD 6 per person, and an extra 1 HKD for your bike.
It is the only river-crossing ferry in Hong Kong
Be careful when you are waiting for the ferry because there are quite a few hungry insects hanging about. We were both distracted with taking pictures and then Ben felt an itch on his leg. He looked down, saw loads of insects feasting on his legs and let out a yelp.
It’s not painful, just very itchy for quite a while afterwards, so take precaution when you are there. Winco didn’t have any insects on her, so maybe foreign blood is more tasty for them.
After crossing, you can start riding and enjoy the nature. Breathing the fresh air around all the trees made us feel refreshed and healthy.
On the road, you can see families playing ball games with the children, dogs jumping and running around excitedly and people working out how to fly their drone.
If you get a bit peckish on the way, there are some restaurants on the way to try some local food. We recommend you to try “tofu flower”. That’s the direct translation from Cantonese, and it’s actually a bean curd desert.
Renting a bike and cycling at a relaxed pace, with plenty of photo stops, will take around 2 – 3 hours.
Walk Ping Shan Heritage Trail
Just underneath Yuen Long MTR station, is the Light Rail station. You can hop on that and go to Ping Shan Station where the start of your heritage journey will begin.
On the Heritage Trail, you will see varying sized temples and local old houses, which are unlikely to be seen in the city. There are local people relaxing outside their houses, playing with children or chatting with neighbours.
The views you see will just make you forget the pressures of life and you can get lost in the history. As with all places in Hong Kong, there are plenty of places for you to stop for a drink or a bite to eat.
We went in this F1 Cafe, which doesn’t really fit in with the large amount of heritage in the area, but nevertheless, it is a pretty cool place. You sit in racing seats in a cafe that is lit by traffic lights. The clock is on a wheel and there are lots of other car related things inside.
You can find the map of the trail and some history on the Hong Kong Tourism Board website. It will take 1 – 2 hours to stroll Ping Shan Heritage Trail.
Go up to Aviary Pagoda in Yuen Long Park
From the heritage trial you can walk to Yuen Long Park. There are some nice walkways and you’ll be able to see loads of fish and turtles in the pond. But the main event is Aviary Pagoda.
Aviary Pagoda is the highest building in the surrounding area. As you may have guessed from the name, there is a diverse number of birds inside for you to watch as you walk up to the top.
The tower is free to walk up and once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with views of Yuen Long, other parts of Hong Kong and even China.
Near the tower, it is sometimes possible to spot tiny frogs. They almost look too small to be real, but when they jump away, you’ll know they’re real.
The frogs tend to wander out on to the empty parts of the path, so if you’re walking to an empty area, try not to step on one. They will jump into the bushes when someone gets too close, but they are a bit slow.
You can spend 1 – 2 hours in Yuen Long park. Just make sure you are there when Aviary Pagoda is open!
- April to September: 8am-12pm, 1pm-6pm
- October to March: 8am-12pm, 1pm-5:30pm
- Closed for cleaning 12pm-3pm every Wednesday
Have a “Dai Pai Dong” Dinner
“Dai Pai Dong” translates to “big licence stall” and that’s exactly what it is; a cooked food stall with a big licence, so they can sell lots of different foods and entertain many patrons.
Lots of tables are set up outside of the restaurant, so you can enjoy the warm Hong Kong evening whilst satisfying every single tastebud!
Head to Kam Fai Path, a short walk from Yuen Long Park, where you will find a street seething with tables, people, food, drink and loads of atmosphere.
You will order dishes to share with the table, rather than an individual meal per person, so you can try many different things.
Dai Pai Dong is a very popular way of eating in Hong Kong, and even though there are a lot less Dai Pai Dongs than in the past, it is still very much a large part of Hong Kong food culture.
Here are some of our favourite “Dai Pai Dong” foods:
- Sweet and Sour Pork
- Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Beef
- Tong Choi (Stir Fried Water Cress with Garlic)
Just order the food you like, most menus have English or pictures, and you can always look at another table for inspiration. Food is one of the best thing to experience in different cultures, and with so many options to choose from, you may find that your eyes are bigger than your belly!
Have dessert at the famous and time-honoured dessert restaurant
Have you ever heard about Kei Kee Dessert (B仔涼粉)? Most people from Hong Kong would tell us they’re jealous when they know we are eating there. It’s the most famous dessert restaurant in Yuen Long and people travel to Yuen Long just to eat there.
Their most famous dessert is B仔涼粉. It’s grass jelly with a bunch of different fruits on the top. We suggest you order it when you are with at least 3, or 2 very hungry, people as the portions are large.
However, there are lots of other choices, all worthy of your belly. Ben always chooses something with mango and Winco’s loves the “水蜜桃黑珍珠”, which is Chia seeds with some peaches.
Kei Kee Dessert is close to the Dai Pai Dong street, and you can walk to the MTR station after. We hope you enjoy your day!