Few places in Hong Kong can match the New Territories for nature, whether walking through mountain ranges, sailing off Sai Kung or bird- watching at Mai Po Marshes.
This is about as far north in Hong Kong as many residents get. The New Territories, or NT as some call it, was once known as Hong Kong's garden, or the 'land in between' Kowloon and the border with Shenzhen. At least 200,000 people a day cross the border either way, using the six land and sea routes. It's a familiar journey to many who live in the central New Territories, often on either side of the East Rail Line near Tai Po, Fanling, Sha Tin or Tai Wai.
For road users, the trip is just as easy using the Lok Ma Chau boundary crossing in Yuen Long in northwestern NT. It is in the nearby new town of Tin Shui Wai where luxury serviced apartments in Harbour Plaza's Resort City hotel can be found. In the neighbourhood is Hong Kong Wetland Park, home to migratory birds, rare fauna and Pau Pau the crocodile. Next to the sprawling new town are ancient monuments and walled villages.
The MTR's Light Rail links Yuen Long and Tuen Mun to Kowloon and Central. Hong Kong's expanding rail infrastructure has brought the curious from Central to Kam Tim for hiking, restaurants or cheaper accommodation.
Tsuen Wan West is a good stopping off point to get your bearings of a one-time fishing village that now boasts the eye-catching Nina Tower. Along Castle Peak Road are the Bay Bridge and Gold Coast serviced apartments. Tsuen Wan's hidden marvels include its proximity to forest and lake scenery. Shing Mun Country Park stretches to the edges of Sha Tin and Tai Wai, two places that are in the shadow of Lion Rock Country Park and Amah Rock to the east.
THE LAND IN BETWEEN
Across from Che Kung Temple station is Che Kung Miu in Tai Wai. Worshippers visit the temple every Lunar New Year in the hope of good fortune.
Beaches can be found along the Gold Coast, but the prized ones are at Tai Long Wan, the islands off Sai Kung and at Clearwater Bay. In Sai Kung you can try bargaining with a Hakka-speaking sampan owner.
Choose a town serving food with a cult following such as Shaffi's curry in Yuen Long, roasted pigeon in Tai Wai and roast goose at Sham Tseng, near Tsuen Wan.
To the fore
The Hong Kong Jockey Club runs regular ferries from Sai Kung to the public golf course on Kau Sai Chau, but you need a decent handicap to play.
Heritage can be found in the most unlikely places. Next to Tin Shui Wai MTR stands Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda, a good place to start the Ping Shan Heritage Trail.
In a remote part of Sheung Shui, motorbikes can scramble around a muddy circuit run by MX Club Hong Kong.