Located an hour and a half north of Central on the East Rail Line, Fanling might not be the most obvious choice for a day trip. However, it’s a worthy one: Composed of a collection of villages, including Luen Wo Hui, a historic market town known for restaurants and a friendly neighborhood atmosphere, Fanling is the destination for delectable eats, grand and sweeping landscapes, and hiking. Its remote area means that the air is cleaner; cheap rent keeps dining prices low, and a unique history spanning 800 years has created a unique local culture that one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Here’s where to eat and what to do in Fanling.
More from our neighborhood guide series.
Open since July, Cookhouse is a casual and cool dinner spot best known for prime cut steaks and comfort laidback western fare. Think grilled veggie pastas, a simple salad starter of buffalo mozzarella and tomato, lamb chops, and seared scallops served in an airy, cozy and colorful dining room with ultra-high ceilings.
G/F, 9 Luen Wo Road, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling, 2677-8181.
Unlike Island-side Hong Kong where the grand old tradition of dai pai dong are becoming more rarified by the day, in the historic market village of Luen Wo Hui, there’s no shortage of open-air dining space in which to take in a plate of sautéed water spinach and a deep-fried oyster pancake, washed down with some perfectly passable Blue Girl to start your night. Go to Gum Tsui Yuen | 金翠園小廚潮洲打冷, a collection of tables right outside the bus station that draws in the pre-party area youth as well as lingering smoking old men, for its hot pots and seafood.
G/F, 25 Luen On Street, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling, 3690-1713.
Be One With the Animals
One of the last places where Hong Kongers can actually taste a locally grown cucumber, Mapopo Community Farm in the Ma Shi Po area is a green gem of a space. You can walk between old village houses, commune with goats, bird watch, and pick up a few local handicrafts and locally grown produce in the market, open Wednesdays and Sundays.
Walk Through History
Trace 500 years of Fanling history in the 4.5 scenic kilometers that make up the Leung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail. The trail starts just outside Fanling Station at the bright orange-roofed Fung Ying Seen Koon Taoist Temple, and winds its way past 11 villages (including five walled ones), each with unique architectural details. Don’t miss the beautiful Tang Chung Ling Ancestral Hall, next to Tin Hau Temple, which dates back to the 1700s.
Make a Splash
A trip to the far side of the New Territories isn’t complete without some serious scenery scouting. Ping Nam Stream located 25 minutes from Fanling Station by minibus is the preferred excursion among hikers in the city. Its 20-foot Hula Skirt waterfall, natural rock pools and waterslides, and gorgeous landscapes (you can see Shenzhen from its peaks!) are not to be missed. Not for kids or beginners, this 5-hour hike abandons its trail in favor of rock and stream-trekking, but the dip in its clear, cascading streams makes the somewhat difficult hike worth it.
What the Food
Tucked away in an industrial loft in a pocket of Fanling best known for auto body repair shops and the sort of post-apocalyptic atmosphere one might find in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City, is the unassuming What the Food, which somehow manages to draw in all of Fanling’s hippest young families and cool youth with its large factory windows, plush couches and upgraded cha chaan teng fare. Come for the eccentric décor, stay for the truly righteous eel omelet rice set finished off with a perfectly sized taro cake cup.
Flat F, 1/F, Dormind Industrial Building, 13 Yip Fung Street, Fanling, 2677-1303.
Established in 2013 but already a veritable gem in Fanling’s dining scene, Pezzi Bistro serves throwback fine dining in a palatial setting. Imagine soft lighting, a wall of framed nautical landscapes, crisp white linens and a parade of afternoon tea canapés including wild mushroom consommé jelly, seared scallop and black truffle tarts, and foie gras pumpkin tarts. For dinner, PB specialize in upscale Italian favorites like rack of lamb, and cod fish tortellini.
G/F, 1 Luen Wo Road, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling, 2669-9166.
Pad Thai Restaurant
If, on your stroll through Luen Wo Hui, you come across the distinct aroma of shrimp paste and charcoal-grilled meats, you might just be right outside of Pad Thai Restaurant, the area’s preferred destination for, well, pad Thai, among other dishes. Encompassing two floors (though you’ll want to stay in the main dining room, even if there is a queue), this neighborhood favorite serves up perfectly succulent pork neck, crispy deep fried shrimp, and aromatic curries over a portable stove.
Shop 1, G/F, 53-56 Luen Wo Road, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling, 2676-2988.
Settle in for a dizzying menu of delectable sweets, including mountains of mango shaved ice and sago, sesame glutinous rice balls in sweet ginger soup, tofu pudding and a chocolate lava cake that has inspired poetry (literally!). With plenty of seating on the outside, sweet tooths can choose to take their dolce al fresco after a hearty meal at the dai pai dong next door.
75A Luen Wo Road, Luen Wo Hui, Fanling, 2565-8998.
From certain vantage points in Fanling, you can see the mountains and skyrises of Shenzhen. Two stops from the northernmost point of Hong Kong on the East Rail Line, Fanling is closer to China than it is the Hong Kong Island — so if you’re looking to staycate in exciting Shenzhen, stop in Fanling for a meal or a hike before continuing on your way.