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Nga Tsin Wai: The Last Walled Village of Kowloon

The entrance to Nga Tsin Wai Village 衙前圍村
The entrance to the last walled village in Kowloon.

Nga Tsin Wai Village 衙前圍村 is widely known as the last walled village of Kowloon 九龍. Located not far from the former location of the infamous Kowloon Walled City 九龍城寨, the village traces its history back to the 1352 founding of its modest Tin Hau Temple 天后宮. It was fortified in 1724 to defend against bandits and pirates but has, in modern times, lost the moat, walls, and watchtowers that once protected residents from harm. As the very last of its kind in the urban heart of Hong Kong 香港 it has become a flashpoint for conflict between the Urban Renewal Authority and the many activist groups and citizens passionate about preserving what remains of Kowloon’s cultural heritage.

Postcards From Kowloon 九龍明信片

Vibrant shades of Kowloon
Vibrant shades of Kowloon.

Kowloon 九龍 was my first experience of Asia back in 2012. Anytime I return to Hong Kong 香港 I stay there for at least a couple of nights. It helps that many of the most affordable hotels are located in Kowloon—but I also like how gritty, rundown, and real it is, particularly when compared to the naked display of wealth and privilege seen on the other side of Victoria Harbour on Hong Kong Island itself.

Last weekend I crossed the strait for a brief visa run and, after finding an excellent deal on a hotel on Agoda, once again found myself lost in the immensity of Kowloon. Naturally I spent a good part of my trip wandering around the city documenting my impressions. Collected here are several of my photos from this trip…

An Abandoned Slaughterhouse in Kowloon

Behind the Cattle Depot Artist Village in Kowloon
Immediately before I was captured.

Urban exploration in Hong Kong 香港 usually involves getting out to the New Territories and one of the outlying islands. There isn’t much to see on the big city streets, not with property values being what they are. Hong Kong also seems to have a culture of safety and orderliness that ensures abandonments, particularly urban ones, are secured from idle curiosity. It is quite a treat whenever I stumble upon something I didn’t plan on finding.

A Pilgrimage to the Site of Kowloon Walled City

A monument to Kowloon Walled City
A monument to Kowloon Walled City.

On my third trip to Hong Kong 香港 I made a pilgrimage to the site of the legendary Kowloon Walled City. Almost nothing remains of the city apart from the Yamen, sanitized and restored to its Qing Dynasty appearance, and this modest monument. It is hard to imagine that this small plot of land was once home to some 33,000 people, a temporary autonomous zone of vast proportions.