So Lo Pun is perhaps one of Hong Kong’s oldest, most “haunted” and most rural abandoned villages.

Encircled by thick forest and beautiful mangroves, its name translates literally as “the compass is locked.” This is because hikers have supposedly reported that compasses tend to stop working when they enter the area.

There is evidence that the village was inhabited since 872 AD but by the 1980s, it had been almost completely deserted.

Crumbling houses, some small temples and decrepit storage houses remain.

Located deep in Plover Cove Country Park, it is only accessible on foot – over three-and-a-half hours from the nearest road.

Some believe that, many years ago, all of the villagers died in a boat accident on the way to a wedding banquet.

Others claim the area is haunted as a visitor once had a heart attack after seeing ghosts there.

In reality, it shares a similar anatomy to other villages in Plover Cove. Political and economic upheaval between the 1950s and 70s prompted most inhabitants to claim their residency in Britain and beyond or move closer to the city.

For much of its history, the village was known as So Nou Pun – which referred to its location in a wide basin.

Nestled in a valley, but with access to the sea, the village is said to be perfect from a Feng Shui perspective.

Those who retain rights to the land continue to protest against government attempts to incorporate the area into the surrounding protected country park.

Land-owners are against selling to the government and more environmental protection, as it forbids reconstruction.

Also, many believe they can sell to private developers for a more lucrative sum.

In an effort to reinforce the land claim, an ex-villager attempted to clear a stretch of encroaching forest in 2008.

The powerful rural affairs body Heung Yee Kuk is behind the ex-villagers and is said to be ready to confront the government should it attempt to fold Plover Cove’s ghost towns into the park.

For now, So Lo Pun remains a quiet escape from the bustling city, attracting just a handful of eco-tourists and hikers each weekend.

How to get to So Lo Pun village:
  • So Lo Pun is best visited as part of a whole-day tour of Plover Cove’s ghost villages.
  • Another semi-abandoned village – Lai Chi Wo – can be visited en route. Transport links are more reliable if you begin the day at Tai Po Market MTR. Head to Exit B for a green taxi (HK$100) to Wu Kau Tang. Bear left then out of the village, following signs for Sam A.
  • Continue to Lai Chi Wo > So Lo Pun > over the ridge to Yung Shue Au > Kuk Po > Fung Hang > Luk Keng. Minibuses from Luk Keng run regularly to Fan Ling MTR.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.