What to Do in the New Territories: Tai Po
The name “Tai Po” derives from the Chinese words for “Big Step”: Some say this refers to the strides that farmers and pearl fishers took to escape the jaws of local beasts. But in post-New Town Tai Po, you’re more likely to be hurrying to sink your own teeth into something at the town’s popular cooked food center
Today’s high-speed rail construction projects got you down? Take a chugging journey down memory lane at the Hong Kong Railway Museum, which occupies a well-preserved station built in 1913. Its original trains, ticketing office and semaphores remind us there really was a time when we were happy with little engines.
13 Shung Tak St., Tai Po, 2653-3455.
Not content with owning disproportionate amounts of Hong Kong’s physical space, Li Ka-shing recently made headlines with the Tsz Shan Monastery, a $1.7 billion venture into spiritual terrain. But despite boasting the world’s second-tallest Guanyin statue and bulletproof windows, Li’s version of Nirvana got off to a shaky start when it opened earlier this year. Visitors found themselves turned away from its “Gates of Wisdom” for not having secured a booking months in advance. Don’t make the same mistake.
88 Universal Gate Rd., Tai Po, 2123-8666. Free to visit, book at www.tszshan.org.
Make a Wish
A collection of 23 mini-villages with a mix of indigenous and Hakka communities, Lam Tsuen’s settlements date back to the 1100s. Here you’ll find temples, ancestral halls and more. Jot your wildest aspirations down on joss paper and hang them up by the famous (but sadly now artificial) wishing trees at the Tin Hau temple.
Lam Kam Rd., Tai Po.
We’d say head to Yat Lok Barbecue Restaurant for its famed goose, but if you’re extra hungry they do a mean char siu too. The owner speaks English and is very friendly—especially if you ask about the photo of him and Anthony Bourdain behind the counter.
G/F, Block A, Po Wah Building, 5 Tai Ming Lane, Tai Po, 2656-4732.
Cycling to Tai Mei Tuk (where you’ll find villages and BBQ spots) will take you a good 1.5-hours along Tolo Harbor, once the home of pearls and pirate vessels. Rent a bike at Tai Po’s Waterfront Park, which features a not-too-creepy insect house, a pool for model boats and a lookout from which to survey the journey ahead.
Yuen Shin Rd., Tai Po.
Head in the Clouds
Head to Cloudy Hill for the best view of Tai Po. You’ll find it via section 8 of the Wilson Trail, beginning near Fan Sin Temple. The climb is well worth it, and just beyond are Hok Tau village and strawberry fields forever (though they’re only pickable in spring).
Wilson Trail Section 8, Wun Yiu Rd., Tai Po.