Whether you’re looking for starfish or climbing up waterfalls.
Hong Kong. Asia’s oriental pearl. A cosmopolitan city covered in skyscrapers, red taxis, and people from all walks of life. It’s easy to become immersed in the city’s bustling nature. Yet, a short train ride from downtown can unveil another world. Whether you’re looking for starfish or climbing up waterfalls, Hong Kong has it all. The nation is abundant in lush forests, harrowing mountain trails, and white-sand beaches. It’s recommended to visit the oriental pearl in early October to December.
1. The Three Dragon Gorge 三龍峽
The Three Dragon Gorge is like a ‘Mission Impossible’ movie in the wilderness. Locals call it the “Three-Dragon Gorge” as three waterfalls mark the beginning, middle, and end of the trail. Located on Lantau Island, the hiker’s paradise is a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport. You could even squeeze an adventure between a long layover. Hop on jagged boulders and swim in the natural pools of the Three Dragon Gorge. Tip-toe around waterfalls and trudge through raging rivers. Finish your adventure by scaling the mountains and reaching Lantau Peak. Once reached, discover astonishing views of the remote oasis. There, snap a picture of the rivers and forests stretching to the horizon.
2. Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park 海下灣
“Hoi Ha Wan” means bay beneath the sea. Located north of Sai Kung Peninsula, the bay acts as a haven for many marine species. There are 60 types of coral and more than 100 kinds of fish. Through the clear waters it’s easy to spot unique sea life such as the lion’s mane jellyfish, sea hares, and enormous blue crabs. The park offers activities such as snorkeling and kayaking. Observe the mangrove system, or paddle around the coral peeking out of the water. One can even scuba dive and swim through the Hoi Ha Wreck – the remains of a boat used to carry concrete materials.
Take the green minibus from Sai Kung Town. The bus runs from 8:25 AM to 6:45 PM.
3. Hong Kong National Geopark 香港國家地質公園
Hong Kong National Geopark is full of sea caves, tidal spits, and exotic rock formations. Formed by volcanic eruptions and weathering, the rocks stand as the heart of the park. Locals claim that mother nature has painted rock-murals on the sea cliffs. Geo-formations such as the Devil’s Fist is a must-see in the area. The UNESCO park consists of eight sites: High Island, Double Haven, Ung Kong Group, North and South Coasts of Tolo Channel, Ninepin Island, Port Island, Sharp Island, and Tung Pin Chau. Hike on the MacLehose trail and reach Hong Kong’s highest mountain peak. There, hikers are able to look back on the winding paths through beaches and grasslands, while reservoirs wait for them at the end of the hike. Surrounded by cows and honey colored, column-shaped rocks, reservoirs are the perfect place to rest after a long hike. The most popular reservoir to visit is on High Island. Nature-lovers can also take boat tours to take in the dazzling waters and exquisitely-formed sea caves and arches.
Take a green cab from Sai Kung Pier. The ride is 30 minutes and costs HK $70 (which is USD $8.92).
4. Hong Kong Wetland Park 香港濕地公園
Created as a refuge for wildlife, the park exudes a tranquil, inviting atmosphere for all nature-lovers. Architects and conservationists designed the park as an education center and eco-travel destination. The area includes a 60-hectare wetland reserve, a resource center, a mangrove park, and a 3D cinema. Wildlife such as birds, amphibians, and dragonflies call this particular wetland their home. Visit in March to see the birds use the park as a pit-stop in their migration cycles. The area is also known for its unique flora and fauna. Stroll down its pathways to visit the celebrity crocodile, Pui Pui. Greet the birds in their hides, or observe the beauty of the butterfly gardens. From spotting river otters to cruising through exhibition galleries, the area is full of endless activities. There’s even an indoor play area for children in the Wetland Interactive World.
Take Bus 967, which connects the park with Admiralty station. You can also take the 269B minibus from Hung Hom station.
5. Kadoorie Farm And Botanic Garden 嘉道理農場暨植物園
Built on a side of the nation’s highest mountain, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is a haven for humans and animals. Looking to gain a green thumb? The area includes a farm museum, vegetable gardens, and greenhouses. There are organic vegetable kiosks if you don’t feel like farming. The vicinity also includes butterfly gardens, cactus greenhouses, and rehabilitation centers for animals. Barking deer, flamingos, and birds live in sections of the park. Watch the marmosets swing from the trees, while porcupines roam the grounds. There is a cafe near the entrance of the farm, so nature-lovers can have a quick bite and rest. There are four main hiking trails around the area, some of which lead to the peak of Tai Mo Shan. There, the mountain offers breathtaking views of the country side beneath a sea of clouds.
Take the train to Tai Po Market, or ride the 64K bus going to Yuen Long. The bus ride will take 20 minutes.