Ping Shan Heritage Trail – a slice of history in a modern city

There’s very little that’s actually ‘old’ in Hong Kong – buildings that are past their best are often pulled down to make way for new developments. There are a few colonial buildings dotted here and there and the odd oldish temple but to see some old Chinese architecture you really have to go out of central Hong Kong and explore the New Territories.

The Ping Shan Heritage Trail is a very easy short stroll around an area that has preserved a little of its history. I have to admit that I saw better examples of older Chinese architecture in Guangzhou (see my blog post on that here) but this is the best I’ve seen so far without leaving Hong Kong!

The HK Antiquities and Monuments Office has a map of the Ping Shan trail on their website.

To start the trail, take the MTR to Tin Shui Wai station and leave by Exit C. You should already be able to see the Tsui Sing Lau pagoda from the station exit, so make your way over to that to start the trail.

Tsui Sing Lau pagoda

There is also a handy map by the pagoda. I took a photo of it so we could follow the trail!

Ping Shan Heritage Trail map

The next stop was the Sheung Cheung Wai walled village. There are people still living here!

Sheung Cheung Wai walled village

Inside the Sheung Cheung Wai walled village

I have to admit we couldn’t get very excited about the Yeung Hau temple. It probably didn’t help that we didn’t know anything about it, but we have seen quite a few more interesting temples in our time!

Yeung Hau temple

Yeung Hau temple detail

I quite liked the fact that there was the odd old building dotted around on the route.

Ping Shan old house

The Tang Ancestral Hall and the Yu Kiu Ancestral Hall are next door to one another. This was probably the most impressive sight on the whole trail (although the parked cars really ruin the photo!).

Tang and Yu Kiu Ancestral Halls

They were pretty interesting inside too.

Tang Ancestral Hall Ping Shan

Tang Ancestral Hall Ping Shan Heritage Trail

My favourite building was the Kun Ting Study Hall. It was just a really pretty example of Chinese architecture.

Kun Ting Study Hall entrance

Kun Ting Study Hall upper floor

Kun Ting Study Hall Ping Shan Heritage Trail

I think this photo is of the Entrance Hall of the Shut Hing Study Hall, but I can’t quite remember!

Shut Hing Study Hall entrance

The last port of call (for us, as we didn’t go to the Ping Shan Tang Clan gallery) was the Hung Shing Temple. Again, it was hard to get a good photo!

Hung Shing temple

The building next door was also old, but it was being lived in! It had a very scary looking man painted on the main door.

Building next to Hung Shing temple

Door on building next to Hung Shing temple

At this point we were very near the Ping Shan light rail station so we caught a train to Yuen Long and got the MTR home.

Hong Kong light rail

The Ping Shan Heritage Trail probably took us as far out of central Hong Kong as we’ve been yet but it was very enjoyable – worth a visit if you’ve done all the main sights in HK!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery

If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway for a couple of hours in Hong Kong, then I’d recommend the Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery, which are right next to each other. They are also very easy to find – leave Diamond Hill MTR station by exit C1, turn left and walk round the corner (to the left). Cross the road and you are at the entrance to the gardens.

Both the gardens and nunnery were built very recently (there isn’t much in Hong Kong that is old!), but in a traditional style which is very attractive. The gardens have a recommended route which you are directed to walk round and you are not allowed to eat or drink (or presumably have any fun!).

One of the first things you come across in the gardens is a building housing a number of scale models of wooden structures from around China which are made without the use of any fixings such as nails (both the models and the original buildings). In fact, the Chi Lin Nunnery is made like this.

Other highlights from around the gardens include a banyan tree grove with tables and benches (a nice place to sit and chat or read a book):

Nan Lian Gardens banyan trees

There is also a tea house where you can learn about Chinese tea and have some tea ceremoniously made up for you, which is a lovely traditional pastime although the tea house is a little expensive. The tea house is housed in this long, low building:

Nan Lian Gardens tea house

There are also lots of structures, such as this bright pagoda in the middle of a pond:

Nan Lian Gardens pagoda…and other traditional style structures…

Nan Lian Gardens bridge

If you have been following the path marked for you, you will finish by the viewing platform, which has a nice view over the park.

Nan Lian gardens

Continuing along the viewing platform (so that you are walking away from the park) takes you over a bridge right to the entrance of the Chi Lin Nunnery, which is just across the road. If you don’t want to go over the bridge, there is an exit from the park by the viewing platform, which takes you to the road – simply cross the road and you are outside the nunnery.

Whilst you may spend an hour or so in the Nan Lian Gardens, you will probably spend significantly less time in the Chi Lin Nunnery as it isn’t very big (but you may wish to spend longer worshipping at the Buddhist shrines). The pictures below show the first main courtyard where you can admire the beautiful wooden structure and look at the lily ponds. However, you must not sit on the walls or steps – you will be moved on pretty quickly! There are a few chairs around the edge of the courtyard if you desperately need to sit for a bit.

Chi Lin Nunnery

Chi Lin Nunnery lily ponds

Chi Lin Nunnery 2

Continue straight on to reach the second courtyard which has a number of shrines around the edge. I didn’t take any photos in this area as I didn’t wish to cause offence. Each shrine is dedicated to a different Buddha and has an accompanying explanation.

The Nan Lian Gardens and Chi Lin Nunnery are beautiful examples of traditional Chinese style architecture, although they are very new and pristine so some people don’t like them. I’ve visited them a couple of times now and always found it to be a very relaxing and interesting experience.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel