Exploring the Hidden Fish Farms, Marshes and Wetlands of Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai


Essential Information on Nam Sang Wai

Address: Nam Sang Wai, Yuen Long or Tai Sang Wai, Yuen Long

Chinese Address: 南生圍 (Nam Sang Wai) or 大生圍 (Tai Sang Wai)

(You can show the above addresses to a taxi driver to get to either Nam Sang Wai or Tai Sang Wai.)

Opening Hours: You can go whenever you like. Just don't trespass anywhere since parts of Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai are private property.

Why Visit Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai?

People often ask me where they can go to find some escapism from Hong Kong's brutal pace of life. While I often point people in the direction of some epic mountain to hike up and forget their worries, this option just isn't suitable for everyone. Instead, I've found the abandoned fish ponds, open grassy plains, muddy mangroves and winding rivers of Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai to be some of the most diverse, easily accessible and beautiful scenery I've ever laid eyes on in Hong Kong. No hiking or uphill sections involved!

I found this area quite by accident on a random weekday where the temperature had soared to a brutal 35-degrees and 90 percent humidity. Deciding against a hike, I came across Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai on Google Maps. I'd never heard of these places, let alone visited. Curiosity piqued, I started researching how to get there and set off to check out what Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai had to offer.

A quick ride to Yuen Long MTR station and a short bus journey thereafter (I'll leave detailed instructions on how to get to both Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai in the below section), had me in complete wonderment!

I didn't have a set plan in mind and just started walking, which I think is sometimes the best way to really discover a place. I made plenty of missteps and went off the beaten path, quite by accident, regularly. I'll outline some of the highlights that I feel people should check out and also which areas are the best for an easy walk that's completely flat and perfect for just about any age group!

You'll find incredible scenery at every bend and the kinds of landscapes that truly transport you away from feeling like you're in Hong Kong. Just be respectful while exploring as there are pockets of private property that you should definitely not trespass in!

The Different Types of Habitat


Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai, which are part of the Deep Bay Area, is of critical ecological importance, serving as a vital stopover site for numerous migratory birds. This unique ecosystem supports a diverse array of wildlife, including endangered species such as the black-faced spoonbill. The wetlands provide crucial habitats for birds to rest, feed, build nests, and breed.

Fish Farms

Fish farms have been an integral part of Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai for over 40 years (these days, Tai Sang Wai is the better place to see fish farms). They were established in response to the growing demand for freshwater fish in Hong Kong during the mid-20th century. These ponds were created as part of a larger trend in the northwestern New Territories, where wetlands and mangrove swamps were converted into agricultural land and aquaculture facilities to meet the increasing food needs of a rapidly growing population. The fish farms you'll see primarily cultivate species such as Grey Mullet, Grass Carp, and Bighead Carp. However, it's worth noting that many of these fish farms are now deserted, with only a small number still in operation.


Nam Sang Wai's river environments play a crucial role in its ecological significance. The area is bordered by two major rivers - the Shan Pui River to the west and the Kam Tin River to the east and south, which define its roughly triangular shape. The confluence of these rivers immediately south of Nam Sang Wai creates tidal mudflats that are excellent for birdwatching, especially from autumn to spring. These river environments provide vital habitats for various waterbirds.

Gei Wai

Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai's gei wai, or traditional tidal shrimp ponds, are an important part of the area's aquaculture history. Gei wai culture began in the 1930s to 1940s. These shallow ponds were designed to trap shrimp and fish during high tides, allowing them to grow before being harvested. The gei wai system thrived in the 1960s. However, today, gei wai culture has significantly declined and most of the original gei wai have either been abandoned or converted into modern fish farms.

Rare Animals Found in Nam Sang Wai and Tai Sang Wai

  1. Black-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor): Classified as "Endangered" by the IUCN Red List.
  2. Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola): Also classified as "Endangered" by the IUCN Red List.
  3. Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra): Considered rare in Hong Kong and a species of conservation concern by the government.
  4. Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga): Classified as "Vulnerable" by the IUCN Red List and categorized as "Global Concern" and "Rare" in China Red Data Book.
  5. Common Pochard (Aythya farina): Listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.
  6. Bent-winged Firefly (Pteroptyx maipo): An endemic species found in the mangroves and marsh habitats of Nam Sang Wai.
  7. Dalmatian pelican: Nam Sang Wai supports 15% of the regional, East Asian population

How to Get There

There are actually two different areas that can be explored. First is Nam Sang Wai and the second is Tai Sang Wai. They're often referred to interchangeably but to simplify things, I'll outline how to get to both locations below since the scenery in each place is quite different. Personally, I think Tai Sang Wai is the better of the two areas to explore.

For Nam Sang Wai, you'll want to get the 76K double-decker bus (towards Sheung Shui) from Yuen Long MTR Station and for Tai Sang Wai, you'll be taking the 36 green minibus also from Yuen Long MTR Station.

Detailed instructions with photos are below for both options.

How to Get to Nam Sang Wai

How to Get to Tai Sang Wai

What You Can See at Nam Sang Wai

Nam Sang Wai will have you walking beside the Kam Tin River for most of your journey. I found it particularly interesting to watch how the river started out pretty full of water and slowly shifted to more of a muddy environment as the water level dropped.

To see the abandoned fish farms, you'll have to take detours off the main road and be willing to explore a bit. Keep in mind that some areas are still owned by villagers, so do not trespass on any private property.

Beyond that, may the spirit of adventure claim you!

What to See at Tai Sang Wai

Tai Sang Wai has a much broader range of scenery types to enjoy. You'll be able to walk along narrow embankments between many fish farms. You'll also get the chance to admire quaint little villages and experience a totally different lifestyle compared to that of typical Hongkongers.

If what you're after is amazing views in a relatively small area, then I'd recommend starting out at Tai Sang Wai and then heading to Nam Sang Wai if you have the energy for it.

There is also a high chance of spotting some amazing wildlife here. I saw my first ever kingfisher scanning the surface of one of the ponds. I also witnessed a vibrant skink of some kind, several stunning species of dragonfly and lots more!

To have the best chance of spotting wildlife, stay still for a while and just observe. Movement and noise startles nearby animals but they're much more likely to reemerge if you take the time to stay still and watch your surroundings carefully.

A general word of advice: stay on the clear gravel trails at Tai Sang Wai. The overgrown ones are often used by native animal species that shouldn't be disturbed.

Google Route Map and GPX File

Tai Sang Wai to Nam Sang Wai GPX

The below map shows how you can walk from Tai Sang Wai to Nam Sang Wai. Feel free to explore as you like and you can use the below map as a sort of general guide. The route I took was about 3 hours and included plenty of time to stop and admire the scenery.

There's zero shade so expect to be roasted alive on a hot summer day.