Hong Kong is known as a great metropolis, a city of shopping, of commerce, of soaring skyscrapers and beeping taxis. Many visitors do not know that Hong Kong is also home to majestic bamboo forests, mangroves teeming with organisms, mountains that far exceed the skyscrapers in height, and perfect, empty beaches. In fact, rural areas account for around 70% of Hong Kong’s landmass. Get away from the busy central urban areas and you will quickly find yourself alone in verdant country park, with just the sound of the birds in your ears.
This is exactly what I found when I recently travelled to the city for the fifth time – I wanted to do more than the usual tourist attractions, I wanted to do something different and to see a side of Hong Kong that most tourists don’t. So, each day I donned some comfortable shoes, packed a map and plenty of water, and left the luxurious surroundings of my hotel in Hong Kong city centre for the great outdoors. Here are just a couple of the outdoor attractions that I discovered in Hong Kong.
Tai Long Wan Beach
Hong Kong has many beaches but the ones that are easily accessible by public transport, such as Repulse Bay and Deepwater Bay, can often be crowded, especially in the summer. Tai Long Wan beach, on the east coast of the Sai Kung Peninsula, involves a hike to be reached, however it is one on which you are constantly rewarded by stunning views, empty trails, and, at the end of it, the beautiful beach. White sand, turquoise sea, rugged headland, and usually not a soul in sight. This is truly one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets and an ideal place to escape the crowds and noise of the city. If you don’t fancy a long hike, Big Wave Bay is a fun alternative. I rented a body board and spent the entire afternoon body-boarding the waves.
The Mai Po marshes in the north-western New Territories and the marshes and mudflats of Inner Deep Bay are a haven for more than 300 species of migrating birds, many of them rarely seen outside the region. The wetlands provide a sanctuary for some 20,000-30,000 birds in the winter months, including the rare and endangered Black-faced Spoonbill, where they can feed on fish, shrimp and crabs amongst the mangroves. I visited in the late autumn and was rewarded with not only a wide variety of birds but also colourful butterflies and even otters!
This long-distance footpath crosses into each of the five country parks on Hong Kong Island, starting from Victoria Peak and ending at Big Wave Bay. It is 50km in total but is divided into eight sections (ranging from 4km to 8.5km), only one of which I managed on my short trip. All sections guarantee a fantastic walk, from sparkling reservoirs backed by thick forest, to stunning views of the city and over the parks atop steep ridges. In my opinion, one of the great things about tackling a hike in this city is that I know that when it’s over I’ll be returning to a luxury hotel in Hong Kong and will have more than deserved the delicious meal that awaits me!Published in