top of page

Find Inner Peace Just 1400 years and 40 Minutes away (on the MTR)

Having a family member in town is always a great excuse to open the guide books, don the walking shoes and head off in search of the unusual. We certainly found that in the guise of Choi Hung Estate Basketball Court (Rainbow Estate) and Nan Lian Garden.

Choi Hung Estate Things to do in Hong Kong
THAT view that's famous in so many commercials

The Father-In-Law took the family on remarkable guided tour of where he grew up, which happened to be the famous Instagrammable Choi Hung Estate (MTR Exit C4). Used as the backdrop for many a bio-yoghurt commercial, the estate is a remarkably well kept example of government housing from the '60s. So well designed was the estate, that in 1965 it won silver medal at the inaugural annual awards for the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. The Father-in-Law took us to Well Bakery where he used to buy bread as a child. The ovens are still firing and the bakery is as popular as ever. The bread was straight out of the oven and delicious and I highly recommend you visit. It's been running since 1963 and - heads-up - it still doesn't accept octopus cards, or any cards for that matter!

The estate has a wonderful community feel and was on my list of go-to places to visit, mainly due to its photographic fame, but it's only since visiting did I realise the impact the estate has on so many lives. Choi Hung Estate feels like a relic of Kowloon Walled City, without the lawlessness and complete disregard for planning regulations. Choi Hung represents the same industriousness, pride and passion to make the most of what you're given and turn it into something special. It's Hong Kong personified.

Choi Hung Estate meat market
If I had a table and some hooks, I'd probably do this too

A 15 minute walk from Choi Hung Estate (or 5 minutes on the number 10 bus) is the stunning juxtaposition of Nan Lian Garden. Built in the style of the Tang Dynasty - which was absolutely ages ago (about 1400 years). The gardens have been designed with an intricate delicacy of thought and character, from the immaculate topiary, expensive bonsai to pagodas and lighting that if you sit still long enough and ignore the modern architecture that surrounds the garden, you could be back in China's golden age of cosmopolitan culture.

Nan Lian Garden in Hong Kong

If you're only interested in the gardens, the nearest MTR is Diamond Hill. It's a short walk up a hill diverging away to the right from the mall escalators. Follow signs for the slightly more famous Cin Lin Nunnery which was unfortunately closed on our trip. Not sure why. Perhaps the nuns were on the run.

Anyway... Peace and tranquility. The garden was finished in 2000 but feels like it could have had its final smooth rock laid 2000 years ago. Speaking of smooth rocks, there is an odd little room filled with incredibly smooth rocks of which the translations of the calligraphy are really funny. I won't spoil them for you, so do check them out for yourselves.

Nan Lian genuinely feels like a place of peace and tranquility, as opposed to the many odd 'Disneyland' style places dotted around Hong Kong. It's not very big and can be 'visited' in under 10 minutes, but to be enjoyed I've leave yourself 2 hours. Come just before sunset as the places comes alive after dark.


bottom of page