Gleaming skyscrapers, neon lights, and bustling markets are what most tourists expect to see when they visit Hong Kong. These exciting elements are only one aspect of the region - Hong Kong has beautiful mountains, forests and beaches, which make up about three quarters of Hong Kong’s area. If you need to stretch your legs or simply ‘get back to nature’ there are several great places to go.
Hike Along Hong Kong’s Mountain Ridge
The ‘Dragon’s Back’ trail winds its way along Hong Kong Island’s forested mountain ridge. This is part of a much longer string of trails, but is perhaps the most rewarding and accessible. Time Magazine declared it the Best Urban Hike in Asia, saying the trail is, "the city's finest and most surprising ramble … you're so close to the city, but could hardly feel farther away”. This undulating eight-kilometre walk is best done in the cooler months (October to April) and is a perfect way to get spectacular views of the coastline and offshore islands, from the sightseeing platform on 284m-high Shek-O peak.
The walk takes about four hours, but there are many stops on the way. It finishes at Shek O village or Big Wave Bay, where you can swim or eat at one of the many food stalls – seafood is the specialty here. Hong Kong is one of the safest areas in the world, and you will meet a variety of fellow hikers on the trail – from hardened bushwalkers to families. There is something for everyone – shaded forest walks, open platforms for viewing and taking photographs, and glimpses of traditional Chinese culture … and look out for the paragliders too!
Wetlands, Water Birds and Wonderful Photos
If you love photography and birdlife, then Hong Kong Wetland Park is a great place to visit, especially with kids. This is an environmentally important site at the northern part of Tin Shui Wai, New Territories. Here the rich biodiversity of Hong Kong's amazing wetland ecosystem is on display. The 61-hectare Park is very popular with locals and tourists alike, and the Wetland Interactive World has themed exhibition galleries, a 3-D cinema and the Swamp Adventure indoor play area. Outdoor features of the Park include a Stream Walk, Mangrove Boardwalk, and Butterfly Garden.
Near the Wetland Park is Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site, which has lush mangroves, vast tidal-flats and traditionally managed shrimp and fishponds. The site is home to 60,000 migratory water birds. The best time for bird watching is in the spring and autumn, when birds come to forage for fish, shrimps and crabs among the mangroves. The knowledgeable staff at the Visitor Centre can direct you to trails and the best viewing points. There is also a written guide showing all of the walkways and best bird viewing spots.
Get Out There!!
Enjoying ‘the other’ side of Hong Kong is as easy as hopping on the MTR bus, train or ferry. Whether it’s hiking a mountain trail, strolling along a riverside boardwalk or beachcombing with an ice cream in hand, Hong Kong has something for every nature lover.
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