Sam Tung Uk: A Traditional Hakka Home Amidst Hong Kong's Monster Skyscrapers


Sam Tung Uk Essential Information

Opening Hours

Monday and Wednesday to Sunday: 10 am to 6 pm.

Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year's Eve: 10 am to 5 pm

Closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year

Admission Fee

Free of charge

Contact Info

Tel: (852) 2411 2001

Fax: (852) 2413 9271

Email: [email protected]



2 Kwu Uk Lane, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong

How to Get to Sam Tung Uk Museum

To get to Sam Tung Uk Museum, take the MTR to Tsuen Wan Station and leave through exit B3.

After exiting the station, you'll see a set of red-railinged stairs that lead down to road level. Take those stairs and continue walking straight.

After going under a footbridge, you'll arrive at the museum in a couple of minutes.

Why You Should Visit Sam Tung Uk Museum

When it comes to preserving and understanding Hong Kong's vanishing Hakka culture, the Sam Tung Uk Museum (三棟屋博物館) shines as a great example.

The Sam Tung Uk museum is actually a traditional Hakka home that was originally constructed in 1786 by a Hakka clan named 'Chan'. The village house was built to house the entire clan and to protect them from pirates along the coast. This is why you'll see multiple interconnected 'homes' within the larger structure of Sam Tung Uk.

Sadly, Sam Tung Uk was officially vacated in April 1980. It was then restored by the Hong Kong government between 1986 and 1987.

The museum sheds light on important aspects of what life was like in a traditional Hakka walled village through interactive exhibits (that are great for kids), thought-provoking artifacts (that are super nostalgic for Hong Kong adults) and detailed leaflets.

Just beside the museum, there's also a very tranquil little park with a turtle pond, large trees and some great traditional Hakka architecture in it. I really appreciated the abundance of quiet areas that offer some respite from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong.

The Hallmarks of Traditional Hong Kong Architecture on Display

Sam Tung Uk displays all of the hallmarks of typical Hong Kong Hakka homes, which can be found below:

  1. Communal living structures: Hakka homes like Sam Tung Uk are characterized by large multi-family communal living structures that are designed to be easily defensible. These structures are typically built from brick, stone, or rammed earth and are unique to the Hakka people found in southern China.
  2. Defensive design: Hakka architecture is designed for defensive purposes and consists of one entrance and no windows at the ground level. The Hakka forts could withstand a protracted siege since they were well-stocked with grains and had an internal source of water
  3. Robust materials: Traditional Hakka buildings are made of rammed earth, wood, and stone. The use of these materials is influenced by the local environment and the need for durability and strength
  4. Ventilation design: In order to keep inhabitants cool during the intense summer heat, traditional Hakka buildings have a unique ventilation design that allows for natural airflow and temperature regulation. This is achieved through the use of courtyards, open spaces, and vents
  5. Artistic roof design: Hakka homes are characterized by sloping roofs, multiple tiers, decorative elements, specific roof colors and roof shape. These design elements are influenced by Confucian philosophy and are intended to provide protection and bring good luck and prosperity to the household.

Sam Tung Uk Museum Layout

From the layout plan, you can see that Sam Tung Uk has four 'dwellings' in the center with multiple 'row houses' on the outside. The center 'dwellings' were undergoing renovation when I visited in September, 2023, but I know from a previous visit that at least one of these 'dwellings' displays a traditional Hakka bed, amongst other home items.

The 'row houses' have all been transformed into exhibition halls, each focusing on a unique tradition, skill or facet of Hong Kong's Hakka community.

The open walkways between the 'dwellings' and 'row houses' make Sam Tung Uk feel airy and welcoming despite its original purpose, which was to be built for defense.

The Exhibitions

The images above are just a few examples of how Sam Tung Uk's 'row houses' have been converted into exhibition halls. Each exhibit illuminates the traditions, customs and reasons behind certain age-old practices, vocations and arts that Hong Kong's Hakka community thrived in providing. Many of these traditions are now being lost to time, so it's wonderful that Sam Tung Uk is keeping them preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Quite a few of the exhibits also have interactive elements like paper cutouts for kids, video interviews and even audio interactions.

My Favorite Exhibitions

A lot of the highlights of the museum (for me) relate to things that I've personally encountered in daily life around Hong Kong, but never really understood the historical significance of. For example, I used to have a teacher in grade school who was obsessed with teaching us riddles. I suspect many of them might have been Hakka in origin and translated into English!

The mailbox is part of a metallurgy exhibit. This piece stood out to me in particular because whenever you hike near villages (even in places like Sai Kung), you will often see a collection of these artistic-looking mailboxes outside the village. Up until this point, I had no idea that they were of Hakka design!

During large festivals, flower boards feature prominently. It was only now that I discovered this art was something that the Hakka people specialized in.

Dim sum is a staple of Hong Kong cuisine. Though there are loads of fancy variations on this traditional food staple now, it was awesome to see videos of masters making traditional dim sum from scratch! A must-visit for any Hong Kong foodie worth their salt.

After visiting Sam Tung Uk, definitely take a few minutes to check out the little park next to it. This little green space is truly a gem in Hong Kong. I visited on a Sunday and it was still practically empty, which is really rare! It's a lovely place to just hang out and marinate with your thoughts.

The museum and the park are also really close to where you'll be dropped off after taking the bus back from the Lower Shing Mun Reservoir hike, so pair the two together if you're keen for a full day out!