Kat Hing Wai/Kim Tin Walled Village

Features

  • The Kam Tin Walled Village is a Punti walled village that was first built in the 1500s or so in the Kam Tin area.
  • The named of the village itself is Kat Hing Wai (吉慶圍).
  • It is one of the best preserved walled villages in Hong Kong, and it has walls and battlements for cannon at the 4 sides.
  • It has thick brick walls that are 5.4 meters or 18 feet wide. The shape of the town is rectangular. It measures 90 meters by 100 meters or 98 yards by 109 yards. Part of a moat remains outside a wall.
  • It is still privately owned. The inner houses are modern.
  • Some people may wear traditional-style hats and may pose for photographs.

Overview

Kat Hing Wai village is a walled village in the area known as Kam Tin. It is one of the ancestral villages of the Tang clan. The village has a history of about 500 years. The traditional walls are preserved, but the houses inside are residences and have been rebuilt. The wall shows what a Chinese town looked like hundreds of years ago. They needed a moat and towers for cannon emplacements. There was warfare among the clans and pirates or gangs of ruffians attacked. Sometimes tigers would attack also, but they probably couldn't jump over the walls. The walls are made of brick and are about 4.5 meters or 18 feet thick. This is very thick. The Kam Tin Walled Village is an example of the style of construction of villages in Guangdong Province several hundred years ago.

Architecture buffs may want to visit this small village just to see how the outside of a village once looked. The village only has one entrance with iron doors that date from at least the 19th century. The doors have a long and complex history and traveled around the world. There isn't an entrance fee, but people expect donations.

History

Writers differ both about the origins of the village and about whether it was first built by Hakka or Punti people. The date when the village was first constructed isn't clear. The Hakka came from central China over a thousand year period. They speak the Hakka language. The Qing Dynasty in particular encouraged the Hakka to move south to repopulate the coastal areas. The native Punti people speak Cantonese that is the language of much of Guangdong Province and of Hong Kong. The two ethnic groups fought long and bloody wars, and they fought during the Tai Ping Rebellion in the 19th century. The clan villages needed strong walls for defense. There were less Hakka than Punti, and the Hakka were defeated.

In 1898, the Qing government leased the New Territories to the British. The Punti people of the Tang clan in the Kam Tin area organized a resistance against British rule. Kat Hing Wai village and another village called Tai Hong Wai were their forts. A small force of British troops destroyed the walls flanking the iron gates of both villages. Then the villagers carried the two pairs of gates to the British army as an act of submission. It is said that one door of each of the two gates were damaged by pigs, so Govenor Blake used one door of each pair and had them put up at his home in Britain. But in 1924, the Kam Tin residents petitioned to have the doors returned. The residents of both villages recognized their half of the door. There was much discussion because the villages each wanted their half back. Finally, the complete door was put up on the Kat Hing Wai walls. About 400 people live there now.

Touring Activities

  • Look at the fortifications and the remains of a moat.
  • Walk around and take pictures.

Travel Essentials

  • Location: On Kam Tin Road. It is in the northern part of the New Territories area about 5 kilometers south of Lok Ma Chau. It is near Highway 3.
  • How to go there:
  1. MTR Trains: West Rail Line MTR Kam Sheung Road Station Exit B.
  2. Buses: No. 51, 54, 64K and 251M.
  3. Vehicle: It is only about a kilometer or less than a mile from where Tsing Long Highway 3 meets with Kam Tin Road.
  • Best Time to Visit: There is a lot of rain in the summer. Hong Kong is still fairly warm and is drier in October and November.
  • Fee: There isn't a fee to get in, but a donation is expected. People in costumes may pose for pictures with you.

Nearby Attractions

There are hiking trails in the New Territories area. Most of it is country parkland. Most of the tourist sites are in the Kowloon area, Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island. Tsim Sha Tsui has four good museums and the Hong Kong Cultural Center and can be toured in a day’s tour with a guide map. Without a map, the area is confusing to walk around in.

It is said that Hong Kong has five main ancient clans and that the Tang clan is one of them. Another ancient clan was the Man clan. A family of the Man clan built a Chinese-style mansion that is called Tai Fu Tai in 1865 in San Tin in the New Territories area of Hong Kong. It is a Qing Dynasty-style mansion that looks like a little fort with hardly any windows. It too was built for defense during the bloody years of inter-clan warfare in the 1800s. San Tin is close to Kam Tin. The Tai Fu Tai is about 10 kilometers north of the Kam Tin Walled Village.

Questions and Answers About Kat Hing Wai/Kim Tin Walled Village

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Hi, I'm Gavin Van Hinsbergh
I updated this article on March 13, 2013
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