Header image courtesy of Gorma Kuma (via Shutterstock)
Apart from ascending its eponymous saddle-shaped peak or perhaps visiting a friend who happens to live in the area, Ma On Shan is not the most thought-of destination for tourists or even homegrown locals planning a weekend excursion—after all, what business has one got in this far-flung, sleepy residential neighbourhood? If that’s what you’re thinking, we’ll just stop you there, because there’s more to this coastal new town than you would assume at a cursory glance.
Lining the eastern shore of Tolo Harbour, this former iron ore-mining town has undergone rapid urban development since the 1980s. Ma On Shan is now peppered with shopping malls and public estates, but it has managed to retain its laid-back atmosphere, as well as a wealth of natural splendour and historical traces. Read on to uncover the best things to do and our favourite places to dine in this off-the-beaten-track neighbourhood!
Get a fascinating glimpse into Ma On Shan’s iron-ore mining past at the Mining Heritage Centre. This educational centre nestled within the charmingly ramshackle Ma On Shan Village is dedicated to showcasing Hong Kong’s rich mining heritage and revitalising the former mining village. Back in its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, the once-thriving mining hamlet had a population of over 10,000 residents, largely consisting of miners and their families. With the closing of the Ma On Shan Iron Mine in 1976, most of the inhabitants vacated the village, leaving behind a number of structures and buildings that, with time, would earn their historical significance.
Among the many historic monuments covered in the site, the revitalised Lutheran Yan Kwong Church stands out with its distinctive all-white façade. After a mini photo session for the ‘gram, make your way to the mining-themed café next door, where you can tuck into the quirky eats like mine rock cookies ($25) and fermented bean curd steamed buns ($15)—a nostalgic snack for mine workers in Hong Kong!
Mining Heritage Centre, 35 Upper Village, Ma On Shan Tsuen, Ma On Shan | (+852) 3421 1436
Hop off at Ma On Shan MTR station and you’re a few steps away from MOSTown, a veritable mecca for shopaholics of different budgets and tastes. Spanning three floors and over 500,000 square feet, this convenient one-stop shopping destination offers a broad suite of retail options catering to all your wardrobe, dining, entertainment, and lifestyle needs. Here, you’ll find an eclectic mix of small, independent boutiques, recognisable chain outlets like Catalog, G2000, and Mabelle, as well as an enormous supermarket outlet of Market Place by Jasons! Need a few hours respite from the endless shopping? Catch the latest movie screening at Emperor Cinemas for a fraction of the price you would normally find elsewhere!
MOSTown, 18 On Luk Street, Ma On Shan | (+852) 2643 9110
Just a footbridge away from MOSTown is another bustling shopping complex worthy of a spot on your itinerary. Ma On Shan Plaza might be smaller than its adjacent mall, but it sure packs a punch on the entertainment front. Featuring an indoor animal-themed merry-go-round, an impressive water-operated clock tower, and a Jumpin Gym USA arcade, it's not hard to see why this shopping destination is particularly adored among local families and children. Make sure to look out for their themed exhibitions as well—there is routinely something Instagrammable on display in the atrium!
Ma On Shan Plaza, 608 Sai Sha Road, Ma On Shan
Ma On Shan Country Park is a haven for adventure-seekers looking to enjoy a host of outdoor activities and take in Hong Kong’s magnificent natural landscapes. Occupying the central neck of the Sai Kung Peninsula, the park’s whopping 2,880 hectares of verdant green land make for great hiking, barbecuing, camping, and even wildlife-spotting!
The most popular hike here is the Ma On Shan Country Trail, a moderately difficult, 3.9-kilometre trail leading from Ma On Shan Village to Tai Shui Tseng and bypassing the stunning Ngong Ping Plateau. But if you are up for a lung-busting challenge, the epic Ma On Shan hike will guarantee you a gruelling haul up the famous 702-metre peak. You may have to get on all fours to scale up the steep inclines, but the dramatic vistas that await at the summit will make your efforts worthwhile.
If the idea of venturing deep into the mountainous terrain does not appeal to you, then perhaps a leisurely stroll along the Ma On Shan Promenade might be more your speed. This urban waterfront park stretching 3.2 kilometres along Sha Tin Hoi and Tolo Harbour offers fresh air and spectacular water views the whole way. In addition to the spacious, paved walkway that attracts joggers and recreational walkers in droves, there is also a slew of facilities to be enjoyed by visitors of all ages, including a children’s playground, a tai chi corner, a fitness station, and even a dog park for your furry friends to frolic about!
Tatami-style dining, bright and spacious environment, and simple yet minimalist décor are just a few reasons why there's always a queue outside this homely Japanese café. Grab a few pals and spend a lazy afternoon here catching up over hearty entrees such as eel don ($78), deep-fried chicken don ($75), or Kansai beef bento ($50). And make sure you leave ample stomach space for dessert—it’s the star of the show, if you ask us! Their well-crafted selection of sweet nibbles covers the usual suspects like brownie and cake rolls, as well as unique mash-ups like matcha hazelnut oat crumble soufflé ($69), tiramisu waffle ($53), and charcoal black sesame chiffon cake ($50)!
Uchi Coffee, Shop 4A, G/F, Double Cove, 8 Wu Kai Sha Road, Ma On Shan | (+852) 2662 0102
Hankering for authentic Cantonese fare? This unassuming eatery right down the street from Phase V of MOSTown has been around the block for well over a decade, slinging some of the best siu mei (燒味; Cantonese roast meats) and wok-fried plates around! If the Chinese-only menu and whole ducks and chickens hanging on display at the restaurant’s storefront are any indication, you’re in for a truly local and authentic feast. Among the popular cha chaan teng classics and homestyle Chinese dishes, our favourites include the char siu rice ($48) and the sweet & sour ribs ($78). Alternatively, choose the black pepper & beef stir-fried udon noodles ($58) for an intense “wok hei” flavour explosion!
Yut Fai Siu Mei Kitchen (一輝燒味小廚茶餐廳), G/F, 63–64 On Yuen Street, Ma On Shan | (+852) 2643 3945
An enticing waterfront view can elevate any meal from great to outstanding—just pull up a seat at this quaint café on the Ma On Shan Promenade and see for yourself! Complete with nautical interiors and a wide-ranging menu of Western gastronomic delights, Casa Café & Bistro is just the place to go when you’re longing for a chill coastal holiday. From scrumptious all-day breakfasts, pasta, and pizzas to lights bites and speciality drinks, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to tongue-tantalising options. A must-try is their 10-inch, thin-crusted pepperoni pizza ($128), which layers pepperoni, olives, and mozzarella on top of a light, crispy crust for an uber-satisfying bite without the heavy and bloated aftermath.
Casa Café & Bistro, Shop 4, G/F, Horizon Suite Hotel, 29 On Chun Street, Ma On Shan | (+852) 3520 0865
For premium Japanese cuisine at wallet-friendly prices, head to this lovely Japanese eatery located inside MOSTown. This spot serves up all sorts of Japanese rice and noodles bowls, hot pots, and teppanyaki, but they’re most famous for their fresh and flavoursome raw fish. You can’t go wrong with the fatty salmon ($75) and the bluefin tuna ($78), but if you want to indulge in the ultimate sashimi feast, the supreme sashimi set ($428) is the one to get. Featuring salmon, yellowfish, scallop, sweet shrimp, white meat fish, supreme fatty tuna, and sea urchin, the colourful platter is bound to sate all your fishy cravings!
Midaibashi Japanese Restaurant, Shop 6, G/F, MOSTown Street (Phase 3), 8 On Shing Street, Ma On Shan | (+852) 3611 6060