Diamond Hill is a mostly residential neighbourhood in eastern Kowloon, famous for two beautiful landmarks – the Chi Lin Nunnery, and the Nan Lian Gardens.
Getting to Diamond Hill is easy enough by public transportation. It takes just 25 minutes on the MTR from Central Station, and 20 minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui Station.
The Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian Gardens are right next to each other, and a few minutes walk from Diamond Hill MTR Station. Once you exit the station, you’ll see the pink tourist info signs pointing you the right way, so don’t worry about getting lost.
What to see and do in Diamond Hill
The Chi Lin Nunnery has been a retreat for Buddhist nuns since the 1930s, but was rebuilt in the 1990s using traditional Tang Dynasty architecture. There’s one unique feature about the architecture—–the wooden halls were built without using a single nail. Instead, the massive cypress wooden beams all interlock perfectly, making it the world’s largest ‘handmade’ wooden building, and the only one of its kind in Hong Kong.
It’s a tranquil walk around the compound, through a series of large gates, with the first courtyard leading you to the beautiful Lotus Pond Garden, with manicured bonsai trees, intricate carvings, and stone lion heads, spurting out water in the fountain.
The courtyards are open for free to the public daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Chi Lin Nunnery is connected by a pedestrian footbridge to Nan Lian Gardens, where a walking path takes you through ornate gates that circle a pond. In the middle is a red bridge, leading to the Pavilion of Absolute Perfection. This is without a doubt the most photographic spot, and one full of contrast, with the golden pavilion shining in the sun, framed by Hong Kong’s ubiquitous dull high rises, and lush green mountains.
Back by the MTR Station, you’ll find Plaza Hollywood, a modern mall with shops like H&M, UNIQLO and Levis, if you’re in the mood for some shopping. The mall also has a cinema, Broadway Hollywood, to take in a show.
What to eat and drink in Diamond Hill
There are two really special places to eat within Nan Lian Garden. The first is the Song Cha Xia tea house, a long wooden building with a lovely verandah overlooking the ponds. This is a great place to rest your legs, and sample some fine tea in a classic Chinese tea house.
But even better is the vegetarian restaurant Long Men Lou, discreetly tucked away behind the garden’s waterfall, which serves lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner.
You’ll definitely find a huge selection of restaurants in the Plaza Hollywood mall, from coffee shop chains like Starbucks to fast food like McDonalds. There are also many Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malay and Italian restaurants to choose from, plus Hong Kong-style cheap eats, and high end Chinese food.
However, venture out of the air conditioned comfort of the mall and you’ll find great local eats. King of Soybeans (San Po Kong), with Shanghai style sticky rice rolls with hearty fillings, is highly recommended.
Where to stay in Diamond Hill
There’s really only one hotel in proximity of Diamond Hill MTR Station, the Pentahotel Hong Kong. However, it’s actually a great option, if you don’t mind being a bit further away from the downtown core. Pentahotel has a beautiful outdoor pool and a gym, plus big, modern, nicely decorated rooms. It also offers really good prices compared to staying right downtown.