Tai Po may be a little more out of the way, lying just a few MTR stops away from Lo Wu station (Mainland China), but making a trek out to Tai Po is so worth it, given its endless options for food, outdoor activities, and entertainment. Virginia Chan, founder of local tour operator, Humid with a Chance of Fishballs Tours, lets us in on the best things to see and do in the district.
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This is the perfect area to appreciate the great outdoors and all the greenery that Hong Kong has to offer, and it's ideal for hikers and cyclists. Please note that some attractions start near the Tai Po MTR station but may require more transportation afterwards. There are lots of hiking trails here that can be done alone or connected with other trails, depending on how strenuous of a hike you want. If you’re into hardcore hiking, check out the Plover Cove Country Trail, which is about 20km 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, which is an easy 45-minute hike and ends with a nice scenic waterfall spot.Those looking to cycle can rent bikes and helmets near the Tai Po MTR station, and cycle over to Tai Mei Tuk – but don’t forget to stop by the roadside tofu pudding place; it’s a real must-try. For explorers, the Sam Mun Tsai quaint fishing village is a hidden gem worth exploring, while Lai Chi Wo, an ancient 300-year old village, is one of the oldest surviving Feng Shui woodlands in Hong Kong.Those looking for a more serene and tranquil option to more well-known temples such as the Big Buddha and Wong Tai Sin will love Tsz Shan Monastery. Its main attraction is the huge bronze 76-metre tall Guanyin statue, which is truly a sight to behold. Note that you must make an appointment online prior to your visit to the monastery as there is a daily visitor quota.
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Tai Po Hui Market Cooked Food Centre is the place to feast on fish balls, as two big rivals, Yum Kee and Hong Kee, are located there. Go early, as they’re often closed or sold out before 2pm. Also located in the same complex is Ping Kee, which boasts some of the best dry noodles with shrimp roe to be found. This venue also won over the late travel journalist Anthony Bourdain, who once visited it for his show, No Reservations. Alternatively, try clay pot rice and freshly made rice rolls at Chan Hon Kee, or slurp up some beef brisket noodles at local joint Kwan Kee. Finish with some tofu pudding at Ah Por Tofu-fa and a Hong Kong-style apple pie at Wah Fai Restaurant and Cake Shop. If you’re looking for something with a bit more atmosphere and a nice view, try the Royal China Aqua Garden for some delicious dim sum. Those looking for a nice, easy pint should head over to British pub King’s Belly, while those opting for more cocktail options can try Noc Noc or The Right Place.
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Meandering through the Tai Po Hui Market Cooked Centre is a fun way to experience local life, as the various produce attracts the locals in their droves. As the name suggests, Tai Po Mega Mall is a 600,000 square-foot mall filled with the usual brands that you might be used to seeing in Hong Kong shopping malls, and it's great if you’re looking for everyday necessities. Those looking specifically for Japanese groceries and imports will be happy to know that YATA is also conveniently located within the mall.
Image via Wikimedia Commons / See-ming Lee[/caption]
Hong Lok Yuen is a large-scale development of standalone homes which has quite a close-knit expat community. It even has its own international school and kindergarten set up within it. Those seeking a true local experience might be interested in renting a small house in villages such as Lam Tsuen. Along Tolo Harbour’s coastline, you’ll also find lots of large housing estates, such as Casa Marina and The Beverly Hills on one end, and Savannah Garden or Constellation Cove on the other, to name just a few.