Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence: A Military Fort Repurposed for Education


Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence Essential Information

Opening Hours

March to September
Monday to Wednesday, Friday to Sunday: 10 am - 6 pm

October to February
Monday to Wednesday, Friday to Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm

Closed on Thursdays (except public holidays), the first two days of the Lunar New Year

Admission Fee

Free of charge (which is genuinely amazing given the superb quality of this museum)

Contact Info

Enquiries: 25691500
Booking hotline: 25691248
Fax: 25691637
Email: [email protected]




175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong

How to Get to the Museum of Coastal Defence

  1. Take the MTR to Shau Kei Wan Station
  2. Leave through Exit D1 and walk along Tung Hei Road past the white 'Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence' sign
  3. At the crossing, take the pedestrian subway and turn left, following the 'Eastern District Cultural Square' sign
  4. Take the stairs back up to road level next to the pink 'Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence' sign
  5. Walk past Tam Kung Temple
  6. Follow the next two blue 'Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence' signs
  7. You'll see a guard post that marks the entrance to the museum

Why Visit the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence?

The Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence is somewhere I first visited as a young boy and revisited just recently as an adult. At both points in my life, I was fascinated by the exhibits, the location and the atmosphere of this amazing museum. If you have half a day, or even a few spare hours, I can't recommend this place enough.

Probably the most fascinating thing about the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence is that it's built on the site of the decommissioned Lyemun (Lei Yue Mun) Fort, which played a huge role in Hong Kong's coastal defense efforts - particularly in The Battle of Hong Kong, 1941.

Knowing that this place has seen real warfare and was manned by soldiers in the past to protect Hong Kong made every exhibit hold that much more weight and increased my investment immeasurably in the museum.

Another thing I love about this museum is that many of the exhibits are sympathetically restored; meaning they show their age. Too often, places of historic interest are given a garish new coat of paint so they look brand-new, which ironically erases all traces of patina and history.

Historic Timeline of the Lyemun Fort

  • 1887: Lyemun Fort was built by the British to defend the eastern approach to Victoria Harbour
  • 1928: The Lyemun Fort serves as one of Hong Kong's main coastal artillery sites
  • 1941: During the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941, the fort played an important role in defending the city, which ultimately fell to the Japanese
  • Post WW2: After the war, the Lyemun Fort was no longer strategically important
  • 1987: British Forces continued to use Lyemun Fort as a training ground until its decommission in 1987
  • 2000: The Lyemun Fort was converted into the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

Lyemun Fort's Role in the Battle of Hong Kong

During the Battle of Hong Kong in World War 2, the Lyemun Fort played a significant role in the defense of the territory. The battle begun on December 8 to 25, 1941, when the Japanese forces launched an attack on Hong Kong, which was then a British colony.

Lyemun Fort, also known as Lei Yue Mun Fort, was strategically located on the eastern side of the narrow channel that separates Hong Kong Island from Kowloon and consisted of a series of coastal defense batteries and fortifications. The fort, at the time, was manned by an international contingent of troops, who aimed to defend the eastern entrance of Victoria Harbour and prevent the Japanese from accessing Hong Kong Island.

On December 19, 1941, the Japanese launched an assault on the Lyemun Fort. The fort came under heavy artillery and air attacks from the Japanese forces. Despite fierce resistance, the defenders at Lyemun Fort were ultimately overwhelmed by the superior firepower and numbers of the Japanese troops. The fortifications were heavily damaged, and the defenders were forced to surrender on December 20, 1941.

The fall of Lyemun Fort was a significant blow to the British defense of Hong Kong. It allowed the Japanese to gain control of the eastern entrance of Victoria Harbor, which facilitated their subsequent advance into the heart of Hong Kong Island. The battle as a whole resulted in the eventual surrender of British and Commonwealth forces on December 25, 1941, marking the beginning of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, which lasted until the end of World War 2, in 1945.

The Layout of the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

The Hong Museum of Coastal Defence is essentially split into an outdoor 'Historic Trail' and a more traditional indoor museum.

Being someone who loves the outdoors, I immediately fell in love with the 'Historic Trail'. This portion of the museum feels particularly immersive and exciting, bringing the history of the Lyemun Fort to life. There's an element of adventure involved, which is backed up by incredible views across the Lei Yue Mun Channel, which was a strategic defense point in Hong Kong's coastal military history. You'll see lookout points, old buildings of the Lyemun Fort and plenty of weaponry on the Historic Trail.

The indoor portion of the museum has plenty of rare and valuable items on display, each with informative signs to explain the historical significance of every object.

It's easy to get completely lost and engrossed in the amazing stories and pieces on display as your imagination runs wild, particularly when you visit fascinating exhibits like the one about underground resistance.

Several of the exhibits are actually interactive. Of particular note is the amazing video that plays in the indoor part of the museum. From the decor of the room to the lighting and imagery involved, the video details how the Battle of Hong Kong played out in 1941, when the city fell to Japanese occupation.

The Lyemun Fort was Run by Soldiers of Multiple Ethnicities

The Lyemun Fort was not just manned by British officers. Many soldiers from other commonwealth regions such as India, Nepal, Canada and Hong Kong, helped maintain the fort and fought in the Battle of Hong Kong.

Many artistic sculptures around the museum depict some of the ethnic minorities that helped fight for Hong Kong in World War 2, especially in Lyemun Fort.

How the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence Builds Atmosphere

When it comes to building atmosphere, the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence goes above and beyond. Their informative signs could have been plain text, but they make use of period-correct images and diagrams to help you really understand how things worked and how events played out.

The attention to detail put into even mundane things like lights around the museum is truly staggering. Sculptures depicting soldiers of different ethnicities (including the differences in their uniforms) are also a nice artistic touch.

Certain parts of the museum purposefully ensure that you feel claustrophobic and a sense of trepidation while walking through them because of how true to the era they are.

There's even a war memorial that really hammers home the sacrifices made in the Lyemun Fort during times of peril.

My Favorite Spots in the Museum

Just about every outdoor exhibit was enthralling because of how easy they made it to visualize the inner workings of the fort during times of battle.

Inside the museum, the stories surrounding wartime objects were fascinating and made me appreciate just how many places on Hong Kong Island were important points of defense and were the sites of major skirmishes.

Who Should Visit the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence?

Anyone who wants to develop a deeper understanding of Hong Kong's WW2 history should definitely check this place out. There are even exhibits detailing the city's coastal defense efforts prior to WW2, including in the 1800s (during the Qing Dynasty) when pirates were a big problem in the area!

Any families with curious children will find that the museum is fun, informative and exciting enough to keep young ones of all ages entertained.

Even if you aren't interested in history whatsoever, the views from the museum are stellar and it's worth visiting just for that alone!