There was a time when this mountainous buffer between downtown Hong Kong and mainland China was populated solely by indigenous Hakka farmers and a scattering of old villages. That time wasn’t too long ago—just a mere number of decades. In the time that has lapsed since, however, the area known as the New Territories has exploded with growth and seen subsidized housing projects spring up as far as the eye can see. Although it’s now a sprawling suburb which houses 3.5 million people (half of Hong Kong’s population) there are still a number of worthwhile sights interspersed among the urban growth which transport visitors back to the New Territories of old.
Chief among the activities of most visitors is walking one of the historical trails such as Lung Yeuk Tau, a heritage trail which takes visitors past traditional walled villages constructed to guard against bandits and invaders. Pockmarked with rural parks—unlike the heavily urbanized areas of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon—the New Territories also feature legitimate treks and coastal walks where visitors can tackle trails such as the 1,400 foot (426.7 meter) Sharp Peak for a sweeping view of the city center.
For many the attraction of visiting the New Territories provides for a way to see how Hong Kong locals go about their daily life, yet attractions such as the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery still provide visitors the opportunity for some good old fashioned sightseeing. Those visiting the monastery will first have to climb a lengthy hill which is covered in plastic, golden arhats which peer out from bushes along the walkway. Once at the top, take in the 12,800 Buddha statues spread in all directions for a unique sight not to be found anywhere else in all of Hong Kong. Although this is just one example of the unique sights in the New Terrirories, the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery encourages visitors and locals alike to escape the city center for a spell and enjoy the slow pace of life found in the outer reaches of Hong Kong.