Header image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
In a city where action and adventure can be found at every corner, it can be easy to overlook the quieter and lower-profile communities away from all the usual tourist spots. One such place in Hong Kong is Fanling, a far-flung town nestled in the North District of the New Territories. Although Fanling is accessible via the East Rail line, it’s fair to say that this corner of Hong Kong is rarely sought out by the average day-tripper—and only the savviest of travellers know of its rich natural and historical endowment. From heritage walks to bargain bites, our guide to Fanling will help you explore and eat your way through this under-the-radar neighbourhood like a pro!
It’s no secret that the New Territories is home to Hong Kong’s oldest and most established indigenous communities, but did you know that two of the Five Great Clans of the New Territories—namely the Tang and the Pang—have bases in Fanling? Unsurprisingly then, this far-flung town is brimming with cultural treasures and historical charm.
The best way to experience a cohesive collection of ancient landmarks in one go is by embarking on the Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail. Capturing the legacies of the Tang clan, this 2.6-kilometre trail running through the northeastern part of Fanling takes you through the clan’s five walled and six unwalled villages, complete with ancestral halls, temples, and shrines along the way. Many of these structures have been listed as declared monuments and still retain much of their original character, including the famous 500-year-old Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall.
Another traditional village that’s worth paying a visit is Fanling Wai, which is located just 10 minutes away from Fanling MTR station on foot. Having served as a family stronghold for the Pang clan for over 400 years, the site comprises a walled hamlet and two of its extensions—Pak Wai and Nam Wai—set against the backdrop of a serene pond that exudes rural enchantment. Before wandering into the cluster of blocky, low-rise buildings, make sure to check out the old watchtowers and preserved cannons displayed near the entrance gate of the walled village as well.
Venture into this colour-splashed wonderland and seek out whimsical murals amidst the idyllic farm setting of Ping Che. Dubbed “Ping Che Mural Village,” this slice of artsy paradise tucked away in the far northeastern reaches of Fanling came to life in 2013 when local residents launched a campaign to rally against government development plans that threatened to demolish the village. Instead of leading protest marches, hundreds of university students and artists banded together to paint the entire village in vibrant hues in an attempt to attract tourism and save it from being bulldozed.
Reminiscent of Taiwan’s Rainbow Village, this quaint hamlet is decked out in all shades of the rainbow. While the village itself is small, there is no shortage of photo opportunities at every turn to keep you amused. From the village shed exteriors to benches and signposts, hand-painted artwork is ubiquitous, but for the most Insta-worthy shot, keep an eye out for the stunning orange-and-black butterfly wing on one of the corrugated fences!
There are few joys in this world more satisfying than picking and eating juicy, ripe fruit fresh from the farm. Boasting broad swaths of lush fields, Fanling’s Lo Yu Strawberry Farm offers an unparalleled venue to enjoy this family-friendly activity. Entry is free and visitors are welcome to fill their baskets with French, Korean, and Japanese varieties of strawberries for $65 per pound—with no minimum charge!
Apart from strawberries, the farm also cultivates a large selection of other fresh produce like tomatoes, cabbage, starfruit, sweet potatoes that are up for grabs. After your time in the fields, you can take even the fun a step further and learn to make your own strawberry jam at their jam-making workshop.
Lo Yu Strawberry Farm (老徐農莊), Ping Che Road, Fanling (near Wun Chuen Sin Kwoon) | (+852) 9168 8931
Lying just a stone’s throw away from Fanling MTR station, there’s really no reason not to include the majestic Fung Ying Seen Koon on your itinerary. Founded nearly a century ago, this architecturally striking Taoist temple complex was named after two fairy island in the Bohai Sea—Fung Lai and Ying Chau—which are said to be where deities reside. Follow the central flight of stairs to the heart of the complex, and you will reach the Grand Temple. This stunning worship structure, dedicated to the ancient Chinese philosopher Taishang Laojun (太上老君), is boldly dressed in red and gold tones and embellished with ornate designs—a guaranteed feast for your eyes.
Other highlight features within the premise are the Guanyin and Yuen San temples, a carving of the ancient drawing “The Scroll of Eighty-Seven Immortals,” as well as a colourful sculpture of the Yellow Emperor. Starved for food after all that exploring? Hit up the vegetarian canteen on the left of the main temple and fill your belly with some moreish Chinese vegetarian dishes!
Fung Ying Seen Koon, 66 Pak Wo Road, Fanling | (+852) 2669 9186
If nature is your calling, then Lau Shui Heung Reservoir is the perfect getaway for you. This tranquil body of water sitting snugly in the northwestern corner of Pat Sin Leng Country Park is fringed by dense woodland and part of the Lau Shui Heung Country Trail, which provides access to pristine views of the area.
The easy, 4.4-kilometre hike takes you through the forested terrain of the country park, multiple picnic areas, and a campsite, all before finally making its way back to the starting point along the southeastern stretch of the reservoir. While the scenery here is stunning year-round, come on a windless autumn or winter day and you will be able to witness the unparalleled sight of vibrant red foliage reflecting into the glassy surface of the reservoir’s water like a flawless mirror.
Those who are exploring the Fanling neighbourhood for its rich historical ambience will appreciate the taste of colonial Hong Kong as they delight in a meal at TeamYum Café. This relaxed and spacious café occupies the site of the Former Fanling Magistracy, which was established in 1961 as the first magistracy in the New Territories. Currently standing as a Grade III historical building, the former courthouse displays a style of Neoclassical architecture, complete with elegant white pilasters and symmetrical windows.
Just as intriguing as the café’s location is its menu. In addition to the usual suspects like all-day breakfasts and pasta, they also serve creative offerings like char siu omelette with teriyaki sauce ($88), crab meat & Granny Smith brioche bun ($128), and longan latte ($48). Not to mention, many of their ingredients are locally sourced from nearby farms, so freshness is a given. Be sure to make a reservation in advance via Whatsapp though, as they are usually fully booked.
TeamYum Café, G/F, 302, Jockey Club Road, Fanling | (+852) 6759 9141
When it comes to purveyors of local street food in Fanling, there is none more notable than the legendary Glasses Man Rice Roll (四眼仔腸粉). With just a small handful of staple Hong Kong street snacks on offer, the menu at this local tuck shop is as condensed as they come. Given that they have been a neighbourhood stalwart for over a decade, you know they must be doing something right.
Regulars will tell you to mix and match to create your own snack platter—with the must-order being their namesake dish, freshly steamed rice rolls ($7). You will notice that all the items on the menu are priced under $10, which means you can gorge yourself silly and barely put a dent in your wallet!
Glasses Man Rice Roll (四眼仔腸粉), 43–45 Wo Fung Street, Fanling
High-quality Italian restaurants are a rarity in the North District, but one that has managed to exceed expectations is Pezzi Bistro. Situated in close proximity to the abandoned Old Luen Wo Market, this stylish and modern eatery is a surprising but welcome addition to the otherwise relatively unassuming area. The dimly-lit interiors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and botanical-clad walls give this place an upscale dining atmosphere that stacks up against its Hong Kong Island-side counterparts, but for a fraction of the price! Opt for their handcrafted parma ham pizza ($178) or black truffle with seafood risotto ($108). Remember to leave room for dessert—you don’t want to sleep on their popular chocolate lava cake ($78).
Pezzi Bistro, G/F, 1 Luen Wo Road, Fanling | (+852) 6138 6698
Don’t let the small and nondescript storefront fool you—Tang Hing Cha Dong (known near-exclusively by its Chinese name) is easy to miss but not easy to forget. Open at the crack of dawn, this local cha chaan teng is a go-to breakfast destination for the neighbourhood’s early risers—whom you may likely catch tucking into the eatery’s signature corned beef & egg pancake. Differing from the usual omelette-like rendering of the classic corned beef and egg combo, Tang Hing Cha Dong’s renowned dish is presented as a thick patty that is grilled to a light char to create a crispy exterior. It is served alongside either toast ($20) for a light snack or noodles ($22) for a hearty meal that will keep you going for hours.
Tan Hing Cha Dong (漢興茶檔), Shop B, G/F, 3 Luen Hing Street, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling | (+852) 2675 5188
If it’s Vietnamese fare that you are after, then this casual yet chic eatery will fix you up just right with its varied and enticing menu of phở, springs rolls, noodle salads, and other Vietnamese specialities. The selection of phở alone will have you spoilt for choice, with accompaniments that range from classic raw beef ($48) to grilled pork neck ($52) and lemongrass chicken wings ($46).
Other standout dishes include the sweet and sour pork chop noodle salad ($48), the basil pork lettuce wrap ($78), and the soft shell crab spring rolls ($58). Wash down your meal with the three-colour bean drink ($30) for the ultimate Vietnamese dining experience!
Vietnamese Inn (越瀧棧), G/F, Fu Kwai Building, 3 Luen Wo Road, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling | (+852) 3480 9220
Need some envy-inducing Instagram fodder? Bittersweet has you covered! Their caffeinated beverages and toasted sandwiches ($48) are always delicious and beautifully plated, but it’s their over-the-top honey toast ($78) and eye-catching banana chocolate marshmallow pizza that will get you all the attention on the ‘gram. If that’s not enough, this place has lovely interiors to match the attractive food, too. Honing in on an industrial-chic vibe, the combination of the café’s polished wooden furniture, white-brick accents, and quirky chalkboard menu practically begs to be the backdrop for your food photos.
Bittersweet, Shop 4, G/F, Wo Fung Court, 2–12 Wo Fung Street, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling | (+852) 2602 6711