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Your neighbourhood guide to Tai Po

By Beverly Ngai 27 March 2019 | Last Updated 3 November 2020

Header image courtesy of @andrewncy.images (via Instagram)

Originally published by Virginia Chan. Last updated by Beverly Ngai.

Venture into the northeastern corner of the New Territories, where rural landscapes mix harmoniously with pockets of bustling urban life. Covering two distinct geographical areas, Tai Po is one of the larger districts in the city, but it actually has the third-lowest population density—that means there is no shortage of open spaces to enjoy! The sprawling greenery and mountainous landscapes certainly make Tai Po a blissful escape from the cramped, concrete quarters of the city centre, but nature is not all there is to this northern neighbourhood.

Back in the late Ming and Qing dynasties, Tai Po was a thriving fishing and pearling industry. When the colonial government took over, the neighbourhood transformed itself to become a vital administrative centre of the region. These days, remnants of both Tai Po’s humble village town heritage and colonial pasts co-exist with the new vibrant shopping malls and eateries, all nestled within natural surrounds. If you want to discover all the best things to see and do in this charming district, follow our guide and start exploring!

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Things to see & do

Tze Shan Monastery

Seeking for spiritual solace or a peaceful retreat? Restore your mind, body, and soul at this stunning Buddhist temple nestled in the undulating hills of Pat Sin Leng. Boasting spacious grounds, landscaped gardens, and sweeping views overlooking Tolo Harbour, Tze Shan Monastery truly breathes the atmosphere of peaceful meditation and prayer. The striking Tang dynasty-style compounds alone will have you in awe, but what truly makes this place one of the most sought-after tourist destinations is the towering 76-metre bronze-cast white Guanyin statue, proudly standing as the tallest statue in all of Hong Kong. If you’re planning a visit, one thing to note is that you must make a prior appointment online as there is a daily visitor quota.

Tze Shan Monastery, 88 Universal Gate Road, Tai Po | (+852) 2123 8666

Photo credit: @richarddio (via Instagram)

Hong Kong Railway Museum

It’s no secret that Hong Kong is home to one of the world's most cutting-edge transport networks, but if you want to get a deeper look into the colourful history of the city’s railway system and how it secured its present-day revered status, then you must visit the Hong Kong Railway Museum. Occupying the site of the former Tai Po Market Railway Station erected in 1931, this 6,500-square-metre open-air museum is chock-full of artefacts, old train models, and exhibitions that tell compelling stories of Hong Kong’s locomotive wonders. Visitors can even step into historical passenger coaches and imagine what rail travel was like in the distant past!

Hong Kong Railway Museum, 13 Shung Tak Street, Tai Po Market, Tai Po | (+852) 2653 3455

Photo credit: @charlottebinnsmcdonald (via Instagram)

Tai Po Hui Market

Meandering through the three-story Tai Po Hui Market is a fun way to experience local life, as the various produce attracts the locals in their droves. Located a short five-minute walk away from the Tai Po Market MTR station, this perennially bustling complex consists of over 260 stalls that sell a wide variety of wet market offerings like fresh fish, meats, fruits, and veggies, as well as non-food commodities including flowers and household essentials. If all the grocery shopping is working up your appetite, head to the Cooked Food Centre on the second floor and satiate your hunger pangs with an array of mouthwatering Chinese delicacies like dim sum, soup noodles, and seafood.

Tai Po Hui Market, Heung Sze Wui Street, Tai Po | (+852) 3183 9180

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Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Plover Cove Country Park

Covering 4,594 hectares of diverse natural terrain that spans from dense woodland to mangrove swamps, Plover Cove Country Park is a spectacular place to appreciate the great outdoors and all the greenery that Hong Kong has to offer. There are numerous hiking trails here that can be done alone or in conjunction with other connecting trails, depending on how strenuous of a hike you are after. If you’re into hardcore hiking, check out the Plover Cove Country Trail, which runs 20 kilometres long and takes between seven and eight hours to complete. For something easier, try the Bride’s Pool Nature Trail, named after the deceased bride whose sedan chair fell into the water on her wedding day. It’s a straightforward 45-minute hike and ends with a scenic waterfall spot.

Photo credit: @andrewncy.images (via Instagram)

Tai Po Waterfront Park

There is something profoundly calming about gazing out over azure waters whilst feeling the gentle sea breeze caress your skin. Slip away from the stresses of the city at this 22-hectare green oasis situated right along the Tolo Harbour. With sprawling lawns, well-manicured flower gardens, and comfortable sitting-out areas, Tai Po Waterfront park bears all the hallmarks of a spectacular urban park, but what really sets it apart is the majestic lookout tower overlooking the expansive harbour and its surroundings. The spiralling wooden structure alone is an architectural feat worth seeing, but add on the jaw-dropping panoramic views from the top and you will be left in utter awe.

Tai Po Waterfront Park, Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, Tai Po | (+852) 2664 2107

Photo credit: @kadoorie_farm_botanic_garden (via Instagram)

Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden

If meeting adorable animals and enjoying nature-related activities like short hikes, tree-planting, and woodblock printing are your ideas of a fun-filled sunny afternoon, then Kadoorie and Botanic Garden is the place for you. Originally established in 1956 to provide agricultural aid to poor farmers in the New Territories, the farm has evolved over the years into a major conservation and education centre as well as a hotspot for family weekend outings. Spanning over 148 hectares of land on the northern slopes of Tai Mo Shan, you’ll find here walking trails, theme gardens, picnic areas, and a host of exotic animal exhibits featuring pigs, mules, leopard cats, and more!

Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Lam Kam Road, Tai Po | (+852) 2488 6702

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Where to eat & drink

Photo credit: @greedy.skull (via Instagram)

Homeland Kitchen

If it weren’t for the neon-lit signs and the colourful, mural splashed exterior walls, this cosy café tucked in one of Tai Po’s residential corners might be easy to miss. Sporting an industrial yet creative aesthetic and showcasing a full-fledged menu of local craft beers, handmade pasta, pizzas, all-day breakfasts, and more, this two-story restaurant draws in large crowds of eager diners throughout the day. Their signature pan-fried Ibérica pork collar ($148) is beautifully seasoned and has just the right amount of marbling to yield a tender and juicy bite without being overly fatty. For something more adventurous, try the homemade ink udon with seafood ($118), which pairs fresh king prawns, clams, octopus, and blue mussels with a chewy, squid ink-infused udon, and is brought together harmoniously with a spicy tomato or a salted egg sauce. Talk about fusion food at its finest!

Homeland Kitchen, G/F, 2 Tung Cheung Street, Tai Po | (+852) 6602 6675

Photo credit: @himmy_food (via Instagram)

Burger Kitchen

Whipping up marvellously charred, juice-seeping, thick-cut patties, locals have fallen hard for this petit homegrown burger joint since it first opened in 2017. With nearly 20 burger options to choose from, ranging from the classic beef and chicken burgers to playful seafood and mushroom-based varieties, Burger Kitchen is will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Among the bun-bound offerings, notable standouts are the classic beef ($52), portobello beef ($68), and soft-shell crab ($82) burgers. Don’t sleep on the sides either—the crispy skin-on chips ($30) and the sauce-drenched buffalo wings ($36) are the stuff of dreams.

Burger Kitchen, Shop 3, G/F, Eightland Gardens, 2 On Chee Road, Tai Po | (+852) 9888 1525

Photo credit: @thehumanrice (via Instagram)

Eat Well Canteen

Eat Well Canteen is making sure that plant-based eaters don’t have to miss out on Tai Po’s spectacular dining scene. What was once the old Tai Po Police Station during colonial times is now a vegetarian restaurant serving up organic, tasty, yet affordable meals that tantalise the taste buds of meat and veggie eaters alike. Taking farm-to-table dining to a whole new level, this meat-free establishment grows some of its own produce on-site—you can’t get food fresher than that! The lunch set ($60) includes four dishes of your choice from the menu. Their offerings change seasonally, but if the red rice with pesto sauce or the chickpea falafel happens to be on the menu, don’t pass up the chance to try them!

Eat Well Canteen, Old Tai Po Police Station, 11 Wan Tau Kok Lane, Tai Po | (+852) 2996 2800

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Photo credit: @baldurgourmet (via Instagram)

Kwan Kee Clear Soup Beef Brisket (群記清湯腩)

This old-school, Hong Kong-style noodle shop has been a neighbourhood fixture in the Tai Po area for nearly two decades, feeding hungry customers with its soul-warming, beef-brimmed bowls. Keeping things simple and fuss-free, Kwan Kee offers just one option for the broth—the signature clear beef-based soup. But don’t let the name fool you—the clear soup is anything but bland. It’s infused with fragrant beef flavour yet tastes just light enough so that the natural aromas of the toppings shine through against the mildly sweet background. Speaking of toppings, you can practically find every part of the cow on offer, including the tongue, tendons, and even its unmentionables! But if you’re not ready to venture into oft-uncharted territories, the beef brisket ($63) and ox cheek ($48) are crowd-pleasing favourites.

Kwan Kee Clear Soup Beef Brisket (群記清湯腩), G/F, 26 Dai Ming Lane, Tai Po Market, Tai Po | (+852) 2638 3071

Santos (三多)

Up for a late-night grub session? Open until 3 am every day, Santos (三多) is where to turn up when those after-hour cravings hit. The unassuming storefront of this hole-in-the-wall eatery does little to give away the quality Hong Kong-style comfort food that lies within, but those in the know come wide and far for their moreish deep-fried chicken thigh ($30). Well-marinated and succulent meat wrapped in a thin yet oh-so-crispy coating, each bite of this aromatic dish is an explosion of juice and flavour. Other must-tries here include the stir-fried rice noodles with minced meat ($32), the soy sauce-marinated chicken thigh ($30), and the pepper-spiked deep-fried chicken cartilage ($48).

Santos (三多), G/F, 29A Pak Shing Street, Tai Po | (+852) 2651 6113

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Beverly Ngai

Junior editor

A wanderer, chronic overthinker, and baking enthusiast, Beverly spent much of her childhood in the United States before moving to Hong Kong at age 11 and making the sparkling city her home. In her natural habitat, she can be found baking up a storm in her kitchen, journalling at a café, or scrolling through OpenRice deciding on her next meal.