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Your neighbourhood guide to Kam Tin

By Jen Paolini 23 July 2020

Header image courtesy of Volodymyr Dvornyk (Shutterstock)

Not all day trips and weekend getaway destinations are cut from the same cloth; some will provide an overdose of nature escapes and others will be filled with cultural enrichment. If you’re looking to combine superb dining options with sides of historic exploration and hours of leisurely window-shopping, then the serene, rural neighbourhood of Kam Tin might just be the place for you.

Formerly known as Sham Tin and set on the alluvial plains around Tai Mo Shan, the Kam Tin valley is spread across a wide swathe of land in the Yuen Long District. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, the area is dotted with three-storey village houses and pastoral fields, with no skyscrapers or high-rises as far as the eye can see. One of Hong Kong’s Five Great Clans set their sights on this valley as their first place of settlement, building high brick walls around their communities with defensive towers to protect from threats such as roaming bandits and pirates.

From indigenous clan histories, walled villages, quaint flea markets, and acclaimed restaurants to arresting landscapes and chic coffee shops, this little place has it all—and it’s conveniently located right beside an MTR station. Take full advantage of our neighbourhood guide to Kam Tin to find out why this quiet residential area of western New Territories is surprisingly popular among day-trippers.

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Things to do

Go hunting for hand-painted murals

Kam Tin is the name for both the New Territories district and its main village, and within the village, you will easily come across façades, walls, and fences bedecked in whimsical hand-painted murals. From a humorous scene of cats preparing and serving dinner to a series of geometric animals and a long landscape of beautifully painted birds, there are plenty of opportunities to go mural-hunting around Kam Tin.

Funded by the Hong Kong Teachers Dream Fund and sponsored by Dulux, the Kam Tin Village Mural Project is led by art teacher Jess Kwok, who helped recruit a group of local creatives to come up with designs and paint the murals on all sorts of available surfaces, from shopfronts and shutters to corrugated metal fences and brick walls. What was once an isolated and “walled” village has since become exceedingly colourful, with new murals popping up every so often. It’s the perfect initiative to transform the quiet community and bring residents together, as well as present visitors with a playful scavenger hunt! Follow this map to go on a mural-viewing tour around Kam Tin village.

Photo credit: Go Green Organic Farm (Facebook)

Pet and feed llamas

If you thought the closest you would get to a llama in Hong Kong is the nearest zoo over in a neighbouring country or possibly the next flight to Peru, think again. Right in Hong Kong’s backyard is Go Green, a vast organic farm that specialises in pineapples and llama-petting. It might seem like an unlikely combination but don’t knock it ’til you try it: Go Green is especially popular for their family-friendly workshops and fruit-picking sessions. The farm’s four resident alpacas, who were imported from Australia just about a year ago, feature heavily as the farm’s irresistible main attractions, and once you give their fuzzy coats a good pet, it’s easy to see why.

Go Green Organic Farm, Si Pai Shek, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 5579 2178

Photo credit: Fruitful Organic Farm

Pick pineapples and strawberries

Well, you can’t leave Go Green Organic Farm without having a go at their pineapples, right? From pineapple-themed photo-taking installations and the pineapple souvenir shop, this speciality farm in Kam Tin will take your love for the tropical fruit to the next level. If you and the little ones are all worn out after a full day of fruit-picking, putz around the Go Green facilities for a while and keep the kids entertained with a jumble of toys and the equipment-filled outdoor playground.

If pineapples aren't quite your thing, head over to Kam Tin Country Club’s strawberry farm, which stretches over 100,000 square feet and grows strawberry breeds from various countries. Buy them by the pound and pick different varietals to your heart’s content, and be sure to go early to avoid the crowds. Strawberry-picking seasons are from December to April, and if you plan ahead for a complete day trip, the fields of the Kam Tin Country Club make for a perfect picnic spot to enjoy your fruity spoils.

Similarly, Fruitful Organic Farm in Kam Tin features even more fruit- and vegetable-picking opportunities and guaranteed fun for all ages. Rent a basket and get to work on their bountiful fields of lettuce, strawberries, different species of gourds, tomatoes, aubergines, and so much more. This charming little farm even hosts jam-making workshops and offer on-site barbecue facilities! If you’re a bit of a green thumb and always wanted to try and grow your own food, you can speak to the owner about renting out your own plot of farmland on their estate.

Go Green Organic Farm, Si Pai Shek, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 5579 2178

Kam Tin Country Club, Lot 109, Shui Tau, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 2442 0909

Fruitful Organic Farm, Si Pai Shek, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 9478 7797

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Explore an ancient walled village

Sure, most parts of our city are chock-full of history, but did you know that in this quiet pocket of western Hong Kong, you can stumble into the 500-year-old ancestral village of the Tang clan, one of the Five Great Clans of New Territories? Kat Hing Wai is a Punti walled village that dates all the way back to the Ming dynasty and stands as a rectangular-shaped settlement encircled by seven-metre-high brick walls that were added a bit later in the seventeenth century.

Aside from its fame as the family headquarters of the Tang clan, Kat Hing Wai is also notable as the battleground of the short-lived Six-Day War, fought between the British Empire and major Punti clans of the New Territories from 14 to 19 April 1899. It all started when the resident Tang clan rose up in rebellion against British colonial rule, fortifying themselves within the walls of Kat Hing Wai to mount their defence. After a few days of unsuccessful attacks, British troops finally managed to blast their way through the formidable gates (which were then confiscated by the British as war spoils. They were eventually returned to the Tang clan in 1925 following demands to the Hong Kong governor at the time).

These days, the walled village of Kat Hing Wai is home to about 400 descendants of the Tang clan and retains its unique place in local records as both a historical and architectural icon. Two more walled villages, Tai Hong Wai and Wing Lung Wai, are just a short walk away.

Kat Hing Wai, Kam Tin, Yuen Long

Photo credit: Stewart (Wikimedia Commons)

Discover an overgrown tree house

Considered sacred and significant in select Asian cultures, banyan trees are often rumoured to be the favoured hang-out spots of the gods and spirits of deceased ancestors. Does it come as any surprise then that one such ancient specimen has, over time, swallowed up an unfortunate stone house to create what the locals now call the Kam Tin Tree House?

Numerous folk tales and legends surround this long-abandoned structure; the most popular among them is a story that the original owner had planted a small banyan beside their house, but was forced to evacuate their home during the Qing dynasty. Sadly, the owner never returned, and the adjacent banyan tree eventually engulfed the stone house completely in their absence. Not quite a ghost story by any stretch of the imagination, but if you want to have a look for yourself, you’ll find it located within the Shui Mei village playground.

Kam Tin Tree House, Shui Mei Tsuen, Kam Tin, Yuen Long

Stroll through a cluster of historic villages

While you’re around the Kam Tin Tree House, don’t miss out on other historical buildings in the area and nearby villages. You’ll likely stumble across many such sites and structures, but the most notable among them are the Tang Kwong U Ancestral Hall, the Yi Tai Study Hall, the Tang Ching Lok Ancestral Hall, and the Miu Kwok Monastery, all with their own fascinating stories.

The Tang Kwong U Ancestral Hall (also known as Loi Shing Tong) is situated in Shui Tau village. Built during the Qing dynasty by members of the interminable Tang clan in commemoration of another forebearer, the Ancestral Hall is an example of common Qing architecture with a two-hall, one-courtyard layout. Spacious side chambers with patterned windows open up to the central courtyard, and in the rear hall is an altar for the worship of Tang ancestors. Rough grey bricks, a tiled pitched roof, ornate woodcarvings, and elaborate plaster mouldings on the façade make up the rest of the marvellous building.

Just a stone’s throw away is the Yi Tai Study Hall, also known as Yi Tai Shu Yuen. Established by a group of local scholar-gentry from Tang Yi Tai Wui (The Tang Society of the Two Immortals) during the Daoguang reign (1821 to 1850) of the Qing dynasty, the Study Hall’s main purpose was to accommodate the statues of Man Cheong (God of Literature) and Kwan Tai (God of Martial Arts). It became an important academy, playing host to prominent scholars from around the region. Later, in the early twentieth century, Yi Tai Study Hall was used as a primary school for about 30 students, but the school was discontinued after the Second World War.

A little over in Fung Kat Heung village, home to expansive fields of purple water hyacinth flowers, the Miu Kwok Monastery is a serene oasis, encircled by lush foliage and accompanied by a pristine Guanyin statue standing in a shallow lilypad pond. Remember to be respectful as you poke about and take in the sceneries, as this is a place of worship first and foremost.

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Where to eat & drink

Kok Kok

Fans of long-closed Kowloon City stalwart Chaophraya will rejoice to know that the establishment’s third-generation owner is determined to keep his family’s flavourful spirit alive. Ah B, the grandson to Kowloon City icon Lung Jie, has revived the well-loved Thai restaurant off the beaten path under the rebranded name of Kok Kok, and yes, you’ll have to travel to Kam Tin for a taste.

Modern colour palettes and chic street-stall aesthetics aside, we love the signature Fried Soft-shell Crab Curry ($158), served in a hollowed-out pumpkin that soaks up the creamy curry, creating heaven in a spoonful. Their flavourful take on Thai-style Boat Noodles ($68) is also worth a mention and tastes best with a fruit slushie on the side, like Kok Kok’s blended Mango Ice ($36) or Longan Ice ($32). With the added vegetarian-friendly options and plant-based Omnipork dishes to the menu, you’ve got yourself a winner that is worth the mission out to Kam Tin.

Kok Kok, G/F, 90 Shing Mun San Tsuen, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 9889 8579

CoHee Studio

This charming Japanese-inspired café serves up artisanal roasts and speciality coffees, and it’s pretty much the best coffee shop in the neighbourhood. Bathed in a minimalistic palette of earth tones and greys, it’s easy to see why CoHee Studio is so popular with day-trippers—the serene atmosphere and lethargic experience are well worth it.

Come for a bite of the Hokkaido Scallop, Salmon Roe, Scrambled Eggs & Onions on Toast ($78) and Duck Breast, Avocado & Yuzu Sauce on Toast ($78), which you can customise with either a thick-cut slice of country bread or ciabatta and a mesclun side salad. Of course, you have to try one of their handcrafted beverages; their espresso-based drinks are the most obvious choices, but we prefer the nutty Genmaicha Latte ($38) and Hojicha Latte ($38).

CoHee Studio, 152 Kam Tin Shi Street, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 6344 5575

Takashi

World-class food can be found in all corners of Hong Kong and in the quiet neighbourhood of Kam Tin, Takashi sticks out like a sore thumb—in the best way possible. Divided between booth seats and counter seats, this petite, understated Japanese restaurant specialises in teppanyaki tasting menus, with a focus on fresh seafood and premium cuts of meat.

Treat yourself and your boo to the 11-course Deluxe Lobster Teppanyaki Set ($1,980) with dishes such as lobster, scallop, Japanese whelk, and more, or go on a solo dining adventure with the Selected Teppanyaki Set ($580), featuring A5 Kagoshima wagyu, Japanese sliced pork, and U.S. Prime tenderloin. Hidden food gems have rarely tasted better—or been this much fun to discover!

Takashi, G/F, 108 Ko Po Village, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 2882 8962

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O Veg

Make your great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city for a night and plop down to a rustic dinner at O Veg. Its tranquil wooden patio lures you in from afar, and its mismatched furnishings exude a simple charm that is unlike anything you’ll come across in the urban areas of Hong Kong. Organic farm by day and private dining establishment by night, O Veg focuses on home-cooked vegetarian cuisine, with ingredients plucked straight from neighbouring farmland.

Meals are presented in an omakase manner, with healthy ingredients at the forefront. Expect vibrant salads, flavourful seasonal soups, and creatively plated main courses. Plus, you’ll have the unique opportunity to relish your food to the dulcet tones of chirping crickets, babbling waterways, and O Veg’s resident cats and dogs. Do note that O Veg is only open for service on Fridays and Saturdays, so it’s best to call ahead and make a booking for this exclusive, home-style dining experience.

O Veg, G/F, 53 Tai Kong Po, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 2893 3037

Photo credit: HeungpingCheung (OpenRice)

Wealth Banquet

For a true glimpse into the life of Kam Tin villagers, there’s no better place for it than Wealth Banquet, the epicentre of all social activity on Saturdays and Sundays. Local families from surrounding villages and residential compounds flock to this dim sum restaurant for weekend yum cha sessions, and even though the Kam Tin outlet is just one amongst many branches of a widespread Chinese restaurant group, the food here is well-executed. Granted, it’s not the most luxurious banquet hall you’ve ever seen, but all of your dim sum staples are on hand and we recommend arriving early on weekends in order to get a table without long waits.

Wealth Banquet, G/F, 110 Kam Tin Road, Kam Tin, Yuen Long | (+852) 2628 9818

K&K私房菜

Operated by the amiable Kwok family, K&K is a homely sort of place, no bells and whistles but extremely welcoming. Gander at their fusion menu of dishes like Fried Salmon with Dark Vinegar Sauce ($95), Baked Beef Brisket in Puff Pastry ($80), Veal Sausage Pizza (starting from $60), and Roasted Baby Chicken ($80). Reservations are highly recommended, and it’s advised to clear your schedule if you’re planning to dine at K&K—the point of the experience is to take things slow and spend time enjoying your meal and each other’s company. Snag one of the tables on their ceramic stone patio for a peaceful alfresco dining experience.

K&K私房菜, Kam Tin Red Brick House, Kam Tin, Yuen Long

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By Catharina Cheung 26 February 2020

Where to shop

Photo credit: Beibei Bookhouse (Facebook)

Beibei Bookhouse

Getting tired of hidden gems? Of course you’re not, and here’s another one for you: Beibei Bookhouse. Founded and operated by an old elderly couple on the outskirts of Tai Kong Po village in the Kam Tin valley, Beibei Bookhouse is packed from floor to ceiling with all kinds of books. Aside from showcasing their impressive collection of literature, the retired duo also uses the space to host workshops on baking and ceramics, as well as encourage impromptu live music sessions. Swing by and bring a book or two to exchange for their fresh, organic produce from their farm next door, and don’t forget to say hi to their sweet dog who shares the cottage with them.

Beibei Bookhouse, 67 Tai Kong Po Tsuen, Kam Tin, Yuen Long

Kam Sheung Road Flea Market

One of the best ways to round up your day trip to Kam Tin is to finish it off with some souvenirs. The Kam Sheung Road Flea Market might take you an hour or so to go through, but you’ll be quite surprised as to what you can unearth. From herbal teas and mushroom coffees to bargain socks, a vast assortment of toys, pet accessories, essential oils, and plant-based insect repellants, just a casual stroll through is enough to make your head turn and keep you highly entertained on your journey to discover all sorts of knick-knacks to take home.

Kam Sheung Road Flea Market, Kam Sheung Road, Kam Tin, Yuen Long

Red Brick House

If digging through troves of bric-a-brac is your thing, then Red Brick House is your heaven. What used to be a candle-making factory is now a preserved Victorian-style building, home to an extensive handicraft market and various food stalls. From vintage outlets and candle workshops to a health foods retailer, local handicrafts, and a nostalgic collectables shop, the Red Brick House has more than 50 independent businesses under its roof and is well worth a browse if you’re looking to score a rare memento or a kooky set of furniture.

Red Brick House, Kam Sheung Road, Kam Tin, Yuen Long

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Photo credit: Volodymyr Dvornyk (Shutterstock)

The Richfield

Repurposed shipping containers are all the rage now, and this quirky outdoor shopping complex makes the most of this upcycling trend. The Richfield is just a short walk away from the Kam Sheung Road MTR station and features an eclectic mix of independent vendors, including an underground tattoo shop, a quaint café, pet groomers, a children’s play area, a ceramics workshop, and a stacked snack shop. The Richfield also frequently plays host to community events, such as during Chinese New Year and other important festivals, transforming the shopping square into a vibrant sea of fabulous decorations and engaging play zones for kids.

The Richfield, 236 Kat Hing Wai, Kam Tin, Yuen Long

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Jen Paolini

Content director

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Germany, and educated in the U.S., Jen is an award-winning creative with a background in illustration, communication design, art direction, and content creation. When she’s not getting lost in a good book, you’ll find her doing crosswords, eating dim sum, covering both sides of a Disney duet, and taking naps.

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