Header image courtesy of @stevensonhkig (via Instagram)
Sha Tin has come a long way since its rural farmland roots. Since its massive new town development in the 1970s, what used to be a sleepy village along Shing Mun River has now become a thriving community of over 650,000 residents—taking the spot for the most populous district in Hong Kong. Covering vast swaths of residential areas, this corner of the 852 is often overlooked, seen as having little to offer in the way of entertainment and excitement. Yet, if you take the time to explore Sha Tin, you will quickly unearth its multi-faceted charm. Combining numerous cultural and heritage attractions with pockets of vibrant urban activity, and lush greenery, this gentrified town is a unique blend of urban and rural, modern and historic elements.
Whether you want to shop till you drop, soak up some history and culture, reconnect with nature, or just grab a good bite, this eastern part of New Territories has something for everyone. Plus, it’s well connected to all parts of Hong Kong by bus or train via the East Rail line. So hop on board and we’ll guide you through all the best spots in Sha Tin!
If you’re looking for the ultimate destination for one-stop-shopping, on top of some great dining and entertainment options, look no further than New Town Plaza. The giant nine-story shopping complex located in the heart of Sha Tin spans 1,300,000 square metres of retail space and is home to over 350 speciality shops, over 50 restaurants, a large cinema, a rooftop garden, and more! When you exit the Sha Tin MTR station and enter the spacious atrium of the mall, you will see a slew of luxury brands and international chains selling everything from cosmetics to clothes to electronics, but head over to the neighbouring Sha Tin Centre, Sha Tin Plaza, and Lucky Plaza and you will find affordable boutiques and small local shops carrying electronics and daily necessities. They are all connected by sky bridges so it’s easy to get around.
And if your little ones get crabby after a long afternoon of shopping? Take them out to Snoopy’s World—a charming little outdoor theme park sitting on the third-floor podium of New Town Plaza. Featuring a relaxing boat ride, colourful cartoon-style buildings, and over 60 adorable oversized figures of Snoopy and all his friends, this place will fill your inner child’s heart with glee!
New Town Plaza, Sha Tin Centre Street, Sha Tin | (+852) 2608 9329
The seven-kilometre river running through Sha Tin is perhaps the town’s most iconic feature. Boasting dense vegetation along the banks and peaceful, scenic views, Shing Mun River is an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Although the river used to get a bad rep for poor water quality, years of pollution prevention work have managed to turn the river into the popular site for rowing and dragon boat racing it is today.
Besides water sports, there’s also plenty to do along the riverside! Go for a relaxing sunset stroll, a breezy jog, or a comfortable traffic-free bike ride. You can start the cycling from either Tai Wai or Sha Tin, and the track will take you northward through the beautiful coastline of Tolo Harbour to Tai Po Waterfront Park, where you can choose to call it a day and start heading back, or continue on and ride all the way to Tai Mei Tuk!
Revel in the dazzling array of artworks, ceramics, and artefacts on display at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, which sits snugly along the banks of the Shing Mun River. Beautifully modelled after a traditional Chinese si he yuan (四合院; a historical courtyard residence), the much-overlooked museum preserves some of the most intriguing aspects of local culture and history, all the while educating and enlightening visitors on the prized treasures of our heritage.
In addition to the five permanent themed exhibitions, including ones dedicated to Chinese art, Cantonese opera, and the Hong Kong literary giant Jin Yong, the museum also holds a steady stream of special exhibitions covering a diverse range of topics. One that has been running since 2013 is “Bruce Lee: Kung Fu, Art, Life,” featuring artefacts and memorabilia from the legendary martial arts film star.
Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin | (+852) 2180 8188
Just a short walk away from Sha Tin MTR station is the starting point of a 400-step climb leading to one of Hong Kong’s most extraordinary cultural sites—the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. The pathway to the monastery is a steep, but stunning one. As you trek your way to the top, you will be greeted with hundreds of life-sized golden Arhat statues lining both sides of the route, each sporting a unique pose and a quirky facial expression that will surely distract you from the discomfort of the strenuous uphill journey.
The monastery itself is a bit of a misnomer, as there are actually no monks inhabiting it, but as you approach the main square of the monastery you will find the main hall flanked with some 12,000 miniature buddha statues, four smaller temples, ornate pavilions, and a majestic red brick pagoda standing nine stories tall. The panoramic views at the top overlooking Sha Tin round off the appeal of this cultural hot spot.
Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, 221 Pai Tau Village, Sha Tin | (+852) 2691 1067
Despite the massive gentrification that Sha Tin has undergone over the past few decades, there are still definite traces of the town’s rural past, and this well-preserved walled village is testament to that. Located within walking distance from Che Kung Temple MTR station, Tsang Tai Uk was constructed by a Hakka merchant in 1848 and continues to be inhabited by the Tsang clan to this day. The Grade I historical building retains much of its original construction material, architecture, and layout. So as you walk through the complex surrounded by the thick walls and guard towers, you will feel as though you have been transported back in time to the Qing Dynasty. Visitors are permitted to explore the main courtyard and ancestral hall, but mind you that the remaining areas are private.
Tsang Tai Uk, Sha Kok Street, Sha Tin | (+852) 2264 5789
Immerse yourself in the lush greenery and vibrant flora of the largest university campus in Hong Kong. Sprawled over a hillside, The Chinese University of Hong Kong has an abundance of beautiful green spaces and tranquil areas where you will often find students relaxing in between classes. Drink in the serene sight of water lilies and lotus flowers floating on top of the glimmering Lake Ad Exellentiam or make your way up to the Pavillion of Harmony to witness jaw-dropping views overlooking Tolo Harbour. If you’re into the arts, you’ll be excited to hear that there’s also a cosy art museum on the main campus that houses an impressive collection of over 15,000 artworks, ranging from Chinese antiquities to paintings to ceramics.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Central Avenue | (+852) 3943 7000 / (+852) 3943 6000
Elegant décor, comfy upholsteries, and natural light streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows make Sha Tin 18 an unbeatable spot to enjoy authentic Cantonese and northern Chinese cuisine. Located on the fourth floor of the Hyatt Regency, this hotel restaurant presents a carefully crafted menu of exceptional Chinese dishes—from dim sum and hand-pulled noodles to steamed crab and barbecued pork. But if there’s one dish you should try it’s the Peking duck ($398).
The duck is served in three courses—first there is the crispy skin that is wrapped in pancakes, followed by the wok-fried minced duck meat paired with iceberg lettuce, and finally comes the soul-warming duck bone soup. There is also a lively show kitchen, so prepare to be dazzled as culinary masters whip up the gourmet platters right before your eyes!
Sha Tin 18, 4/F, Hyatt Regency, 18 Chak Cheung Street, Sha Tin | (+852) 3723 7932
Longevity is usually a tell-tale sign of a quality restaurant, so it says a lot that this local cha chaan teng tucked away in Lek Yuen Estate has been around for over 40 years, withstanding the drastic changes that history has brought to its surrounding areas.
Serving up generous portions of cha chaan teng classics like satay beef noodles, pork chop rice, and char siu macaron for extremely cheap prices, this place always draws crowds of students whenever lunchtime rolls around. You can’t go wrong with the set meal available all-day, which comes with buttered toast, an omelette, a main noodle dish, and a cup of coffee or tea—all for just $37!
Wing Lok Café, Shop 7, 1/F, Fu Yu House, Lek Yuen Estate, Sha Tin | (+852) 5138 6572
Another long-standing favourite among Sha Tin locals, Shing Kee Noodles oozes nostalgia and old-school vibes. Experience a blast from the past as you walk into the space decked out with piles upon piles of old books, vintage knick-knacks, and black-and-white photos.
Don’t be fooled by the name either—Shing Kee Noodles is much more than a noodle shop. By day, the family-run restaurant offers a variety of noodles and rice dishes, but by night it becomes a popular venue for hotpot and poon choi (盆菜; Chinese casserole), a traditional Cantonese dish consisting of meat, seafood, and vegetables layered and served in a large basin. The list of ingredients for the hotpot is endless but the homemade dumplings and beef meatballs are absolute must-tries!
Shing Kee Noodles, Shop 5, Lek Yuen Estate Market, Sha Tin | (+852) 26926611
Walking into this laid-back café is like walking into a cosy library. Nestled in the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, The Alchemist Café is a great hangout spot for the artsy creative types. It touts a relaxed and inviting ambience, with its low-lit interiors, dark wood furnishing, and massive book-lined shelves at the back wall. Get your creative juices flowing as you browse through the library of travel books and quirky trinkets, or spend some quality time with friends over a tasty meal. With an extensive menu covering everything from all-day breakfasts to pasta to sharable snack platters to indulgent cakes, you are spoilt for choice.
The Alchemist Café, Shop G6, G/F, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin | (+852) 2706 2267
Botanical-clad walls and leafy potted plants fill this café with an enchanting aura that is sure to liven up your dining experience. Atmosphere aside, the food here is also incredible—with options ranging from classic pastas and pizzas to fusion dishes and creative homemade cakes. We can’t get enough of the soft-shell crab black truffle spaghetti ($98) and the shredded BBQ pork rib burger ($116). Don’t skip dessert either! The giant lava toasts ($49) are a feast for both the eyes and the tastebuds. The glorious molten filling comes gushing out when you cut into the beautifully plated dessert—totally an Insta-worthy moment. If it’s a sunny day, grab an outdoor seat on the spacious patio and enjoy your meal under the nice open sky!
Beans The Greenhouse, Shop 503, 5/F, Grand Central Plaza, 138 Sha Tin Rural Committee Road, Sha Tin | (+852) 2777 7078