Culture

There’s more to Hong Kong than just dim sum and shopping at Tsim Tsa Tsui. It’s worth taking some time off to appreciate the local culture by visiting museums, ancient temples or going on guided walking tours. You might just discover a different side to the bustling city that you’d never seen before.

Ping Shan Heritage Trail

Need a break from the urban landscape of Hong Kong?

Try the New Territories, a hidden gem whose rural beauty is often overlooked by travellers with little time to spare.

Photo: Discover Hong Kong
Ping Shan Traditional Poon Choi

Certainly not a sanitised tourist attraction, the rustic kampung life provides a stark contrast to the skyscrapers and extravagance of Central and Hong Kong Island.

A first in Hong Kong, the 1.6km Ping Shan Heritage Trail is a self-guided tour through a village still inhabited by descendents of the Tang Clan. Linking up 12 traditional Chinese buildings within easy walking distance of each other, the trail is ideal for history buffs who are curious about the culture of Hong Kong.

Highlights on the trail include the Tang Clan ancestral hall, a study hall, and the ancient Tsui Sing Lau Pagoda which was built more than 600 years ago during the Ming dynasty.

Offering a glimpse into pre-colonial Hong Kong, visitors have an opportunity to learn more about indigenous life in a convenient one-day excursion. Admission is free.

Note to visitors: Not all of the historic buildings on the Trail are open to the public and the opening hours of those that are may change from time to time. Visit http://www.amo.gov.hk for more information.

Address
Sheung Cheung Wai, Yuen Long District

Nearest station
Tin Shui Wai Station

Wishing trees and Tin Hau Temple

Make a wish at the wishing trees in Lam Tsuen, in Tai Po. The two 'wishing trees' are popular amongst locals and tourists.

The place was a residential area 700 years ago and villagers would make their wishes and throw joss paper into these two trees during festivals.

Photo: Wikimedia
Tin Hau Temple, Causeway Bay

Locals believe that the higher the branch the paper lands and stays on, the more likely their wish will come true. Visitors can also toss oranges along with their wishes onto the tree branches.

Photo: flickr.com/David Valentine
The Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

However, if you must visit, note that it's especially busy during the first 15 days of the Chinese New Year.

Although the real trees have sadly been replaced by artificial ones, it's still a fun and different thing to do especially if you need a break from the city.

Since you're already in the area, you might as well drop by the historic Tin Hau Temple located near the trees to experience more of the Chinese culture.

Address
Sheung Lam Tsuen, Tai Po, New Territories

Nearest station
Tai Wo Station

Dragon Garden

This heritage garden located at Tsing Lung Tau could be Hong Kong's best kept secret.

Hong Kong Dragon Garden is the biggest private park in Hong Kong with over 100 plant species found within. The size of the garden measures to about 8 hectares.

Photo: Wikimedia

While it is mostly closed to the public, there are monthly openings and private tours.

According to CNN, the spectacular garden near Sham Tseng is a "20-year labour of love from the late Hong Kong business tycoon and philanthropist Lee Iu-cheung".

The gorgeous area was almost sold to Sun Hung Kai Properties - which had plans to use the space to erect an apartment building. Fortunately, a few of Lee's descendents stepped in and prevented the move.

Getting to Dragon Garden could prove to be a challenge as it is not near any MTR station. The closest one would be Tsuen Wan Station on the Tsuen Wan Line.

Address
No. 32-42 Castle Peak Road, Tsing Lung Tau

Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre

This is definitely for art enthusiasts all around. For those who enjoy art forms such as ceramics, glass art and more, head over to the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre.

Photo: Discover Hong Kong
Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre

There's even a glass rooftop where carnivals and exhibitions are held. Look out for art workshops, guided cultural tours, the quarterly JCCAC Arts and Crafts Fair and more.

If you're planning a trip in December, make time for the annual JCCAC Arts Festival.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre

Address
30 Pak Tin Street, Shek Kip Mei, Kowloon

Nearest station
Shek Kip Mei Station

Wan Chai livelihood museum

Another cultural site to visit is the Wan Chai Livelihood Museum that opened back in 2007.

It also goes by another monicker, The Blue House, thanks to its hard-to-miss blue exterior.

Photo: Wikipedia
The osteopathy clinic in the Blue House

This came about because the painters at that time only had blue paint with them, so there's no special reason as to why this building stands out aesthetically.

The four-storey house was built in the 1920s and is currently home to the Hong Kong House of Stories, where visitors can have a look at the building's living quarters.

Although it might seem like a historical place, there are still people who live in the building.

Walking tours are also available, which are conducted by Wan Chai residents themselves.

So if you're keen on looking at unique collectibles from the olden days, stop by this place on Stone Nullah Street.

Address
G/F, No.74 Stone Nullah Lane, Wan Chai

Phone
+852 2835 4372

Nearest station
Wan Chai Station

Peninsula Academy

Photo: hongkong.peninsula.com/

Pick up some Shao Lin Wushu skills or learn how to make dim sum at The Peninsula Hong Kong Academy.

The experiential programme organised by The Peninsula Hotel provides a selection of classes that cover a wide range of interests.

From a lantern-making course to hopping onto a helicopter for a UNESCO Geopark tour - there is definitely something for everyone.

Even the kids aren't left out. There are cooking lessons available for the tots.

However, it's best to check on the availability of courses and tours before making a decision.

Visit http://hongkong.peninsula.com/en/discover/peninsula-academy for more information.

PMQ

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Local artists and vendors have found their home at this creative hub located in Sheung Wan.

Known as the former Police Married Quarters (PMQ) on Hollywood Road, it has been reincarnated as one of Hong Kong's most hipster places.

Art and design lovers might want to visit this place as it is packed with interesting stores - over 100 of them, in fact.

There are also different programs and events held every month, such as music performances and exhibitions, so it's worth looking these up before you go.

Address
No.35 Aberdeen Street, Central

Nearest station
Sheung Wan Station / Central Station