Looking to live in Tai Wai? Expat Living reader, Amy Overy, shares some insight into the neighbourhood. Tai Wai is in the New Territories of Hong Kong.
Name: Amy Overy
Occupation: Owner and Tour Guide, Hong Kong Greeters
Where do you live? A really quiet street that heads up Monkey Mountain in Tai Wai, New Territories.
How long have you lived here? We’ve been here for nine years out of 14 in Hong Kong. I think it’s fair to say we love it!
Why here? Tai Wai has always been a brilliantly central location for accessing every corner of Hong Kong, and it has gotten easier and easier over the time we have been here. The new East Rail line extension opened in May 2022 and has been a complete game-changer. We can now be on Hong Kong island in 17 minutes without any MTR changes.
However, Tai Wai itself remains unabashedly the same – local family-run eateries and stores, the only recognisable brand is McDonald’s; plus a good mix of old and new residential property overlooked by Lion Rock. I think for those of us that live here, we share a love of its charm.
Describe your Tai Wai lifestyle. It’s very friendly and relaxing with beautiful scenery and clear air. And it’s so quiet, especially in the evenings, so we really appreciate leaving the hustle and bustle behind when we get home. We love the family and community atmosphere; my kids have grown up on the street, so I’m happy for them to be out exploring with their friends. We still get together to trick or treat every year. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to have the regular evening meet-ups we used to, but when we do again, we usually take up most of the space in Speak Easy, a great (tiny) local bar.
When you walk out of your place, what’s the first thing you see? The Shing Mun Reservoir and Lion Rock – plus the odd monkey or two. We live on a hill behind Kam Shan Country Park, so we’re used to seeing a lot of greenery, birds and other wildlife. My neighbour and I recently helped relocate a two-metre python back into the woods (by taking lots of advice from the lovely volunteers from the Hong Kong Snakes Facebook page). It really didn’t want to move but it had chosen a location in the middle of the road to take a rest!
What’s your closest store? Texas, the meat and fish wholesaler – great value and super convenient. We have a Cozy Coffee that has popped up near the station as well, but it only opens at 10am and I usually need my caffeine hit before then! Tai Wai seems to have consolidated all the bike shops into one massive rental street led by Good Luck Bike on Chik Sau Lane. They have every bike that you can imagine (including pedal cars and seats for small children). It gets busy on weekends but I would recommend it for variety and accessibility to the river cycle path, over the hire places in Sha Tin.
If a celebrity moves in, who would it be? They already have! The loveliest sisters, Jill and Janice Vidal, Hong Kong pop stars, live along the street.
What’s a mandatory stop if you have guests? Lion Rock. If you have a passion for the outdoors, this hike is one of the best, with magnificent views over Sha Tin and Kowloon at various points along the way as your reward. If you’re super keen (and I’ve only done this once), hiking Needle Hill is incredibly challenging but equally satisfying. I enjoyed it for the workout plus the wonderful views across Tai Wai.
Best local food in your area? My son would never forgive me if I didn’t mention the Po Po Dumpling House (婆婆 家餃子館) for homemade dumplings and special chilli sauce. It really is one of the best things to eat in Tai Wai – we order at least once a week.
Date night – what and where? Firstly, we would go to Shatin Inn, The House of Satay. It has been going since the 1950’s and even made it into a few Hong Kong black and white movies. It’s such a classic and pretty much everyone has heard of it – they just may be surprised it’s still going! They do the best charcoal-grilled satay as well as a simple and delicious menu that includes curries and rice dishes. Then, I would drag my husband over to Top Nail so I could get a manicure, and he can have a foot massage.
Best thing for kids in your area? The Heritage Museum is very close and has an excellent kids’ discovery room. Hin Tin Pool is next to the MTR and has a maze of outdoor slides, bridges and bubble pools – my kids love it. The cycling down by the river is perfect for families and there are a couple of options for learners, including the Bicycle Safety Park for novice cyclers in Sha Tin Wai, complete with road markings, traffic lights and Belisha beacons! Cycle Adventure Park in Shek Mun is for the more adventurous – both are easy to get to via the designated bicycle lane network.
Favourite places in your area? Tsang Tai Uk is one of the best preserved Hakka walled villages, and still has its own piece of farmland, along with corner guard towers that were once used for shooting at pirates and looters coming up the Shing Mun River. I also love to take people to see the Ten Thousand Buddhas because it’s quite hard to find if you don’t know it – and so surprising when all the statues are revealed.
Strangest thing you’ve seen in your area? Some very rare wildlife sightings, including giant monitor lizards, giant porcupines and barking deer! Guiltiest pleasure in your area? Coffee and cakes at Cozy.
What would you never change about your area? Tai Wai is till a very traditional town and has some amazing local cuisine. There are very few signs of commercialisation; instead local business thrives.
Best thing about living in your area? Apart from the amazing people, brilliant food and wealth of activities? I think it’s the accessibility to all the other brilliant parts of the city: a night out in Sai Kung, eating in Tai Po, shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui, getting kids to school in Kowloon Tong, boating in Plover Cove, hiking up Tai Mo Shan, and now travelling to work on Hong Kong Island in under twenty minutes.
We hope you found this article on living in Tai Wai interesting. See more neighbourhood guides in our Living in Hong Kong section.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2022/23 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.