Sha Tau Kok, Hong Kong’s northernmost town, will fully open to tourists in January 2024. Visitors — both groups and individuals — can apply for permits to visit the Frontier Closed Area using a new online platform run by the Hong Kong Police Force, starting December 1. The permits are free and take at least three full working days to process.

Visitors applying for a permit to visit Sha Tau Kok must provide paperwork such as travel agents’ documents, an itinerary, and proof of identification. Each permit is valid for one day only. Currently, only the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong and licensed travel agencies are authorised to conduct tours of the town.

sha tau kok
Visitors can apply for permits to visit the Frontier Closed Area of Sha Tau Kok from December 1, 2023.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post, a maximum of 1,000 visitors can travel to Sha Tau Kok every day, and they can remain in the area from 7am-9pm. The quota covers 700 people under tour groups and 300 individual visitors. While first-time permits are free, re-issued permits will cost up to HK$125.

The plan to open up Sha Tau Kok to visitors was announced during Chief Executive John Lee’s second policy address, when Lee revealed that the government will establish the Sha Tau Kok Cultural Tourism Zone that will cover the town and its nearby outlying islands. However, even visitors with permits cannot visit Chung Ying Street, as one side of the street belongs to Hong Kong and the other comes under Mainland Chinese jurisdiction.

At present, only the Sha Tau Kok Pier is open for group tours on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. These tours began in June 2022, and allow visitors to travel from Sha Tau Kok Pier to outlying islands in the northeastern part of Hong Kong, such as Lai Chi Wo and Kat O, which is also known as Crooked Island.

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Image credits: Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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