Monday, September 29, 2008

Walled villages of Hong Kong

Most of the walled villages in Hong Kong are located in the New Territories.

A walled village is a kind of traditional building which is completely surrounded by thick defensive walls, protecting the residents from the attack of wild animals and enemies. Usually, people living in the walled village are extended families or sharing the same surname. Walled villages can be found in mainland China and Hong Kong.


During the and Dynasties, the shore of Guangdong suffered from pirates. The area of Hong Kong was particular venuable to pirates' attacks. Winding shores, hilly lands and islands and far from administrative centres made Hong Kong an excellent hideout for pirates. Villages, both Punti and Hakka, built walls against pirates. Some villages even protected themselves by cannon guns.

In Punti Cantonese, ''Wai'' and ''Tsuen'' were once synonym.

Famous walled villages

Kat Hing Wai

Kat Hing Wai is a famous Punti walled village in of Hong Kong. It often mistakenly believed to be Hakka, whose people have similar traditions. However the Punti people were from Southern China and the first to settle in Hong Kong. Kat Hing Wai's residents speak , rather than . Popularly known as ''Kam Tin'', from the name of the area, it is home to about 400 descendants of the Tang Clan, who built the village back in the 1600s.

Kat Hing Wai is a rectangular walled village. As a family stronghold, Kat Hing Wai has served the Tangs well through the centuries, protecting the residents against bandits, rival clans, and wild tigers. In the Qing Dynasty, a five-metre high blue brick wall and four cannon towers were added to defend against bandits. Today, the village is still completely surrounded by 18-foot-thick walls, outside which are the remains of a moat. However, most houses within the walls have been rebuilt in recent years. There is only one narrow entrance, with a pair of iron gates that were once removed to Britain when the villagers rebelled against British colonial rule and which only one was eventually returned. The current standing gates are a mismatched pair, the left hand side originally belongs to Tai Hong Wai and was given to Kat Hing Wai as a gift upon the gates return.

Route: or bus routes 51, 54, 64K and 251M.

Tsang Tai Uk

Tsang Tai Uk , also known as Shan Ha Wai, is another well-known Hakka walled village in Hong Kong, and one of the best preserved. It is located close to the south of the Pok Hong Estate, not far from the Lion Rock Tunnel Road.
Built in the 1840s, it was constructed in 1848 as a stronghold for the Tsang Clan. It is a preserved Hakka fortified village in Sha Tin. It is said to have taken 20 years to build the village. The village is built with granite, grey bricks and solid timber.

Sheung Shui Wai

Sheung Shui Wai , also known as Sheung Shui Heung , is one of the very few rural settlements having retained its original moat which was built in 1646. Characterized by its magnificent moat and landscape setting, the walled village is the core of the Liu clan, of which ancestors came originally from Fujian during the Yuan Dynasty . The village is located in Sheung Shui.

Fanling Wai

Fanling Wai is a walled village in Fanling built by the Pang clan. It is recognisable with the distinctive pond and layout including features such as cannons and watchtowers. All these elements were crafted to form an integral part of the village setting. Fanling Wai is the centre of the Pang clan who arrived in Hong Kong from Guangxi province late in the Song Dynasty.

Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen

Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen is a walled village in , New Kowloon. It is the one of the few walled villages left in the urban built-up areas of Hong Kong. On July 18, 2007, the government announced its plans to reconstruct Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen.

List of walled villages

A village name ending in "Wai" usually indicates a walled village, but in some cases the walls have been partly or totally demolished. Remaining fully or partially walled villages in Hong Kong include:

North District

* Fanling Wai
* Sheung Shui Wai
* The "Five Wais" of Lung Yeuk Tau:
** Lo Wai
** Ma Wat Wai
** Wing Ning Wai
** Tung Kok Wai
** San Wai

Sai Kung District

* Sheung Yiu Village, now Sheung Yiu Folk Museum , a former Hakka walled village at Pak Tam Chung in Sai Kung .

Sha Tin District

* Tsang Tai Uk
* Chik Chuen Wai , commonly known as "Tai Wai" , and located in Tai Wai
* Tin Sam Wai , in Tai Wai

Tsuen Wan District

* Sam Tung Uk , a former Hakka walled village in Tsuen Wan, which has been converted into the Sam Tung Uk Museum, and is now a .

Wong Tai Sin District

* Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen

Yuen Long District

* Kat Hing Wai
* Sheung Cheung Wai , in Ping Shan, part of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail

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