The cotton-soft beaches, Emerald Hills, close encounters of the wild kind, the description practically reminds us of Amazon rainforest.
But it’s Hong Kong we’re talking about. That neon-lit metropolis of frantic lives lived distractedly. Not many tourists would ever have thought that three-quarters of its 1,104 square kilometers of land are actually green, rural and nearly pristine.
- Kiu Tsui Country Park
The Kiu Tsui Country Park archipelago is Hong Kong’s own tropical island vacation site.
The most popular points within the area are the beaches. Find a private ferry service along the Sai Kung promenade near the bus terminus and get to the sandy strips at Hap Mun Bay or at Kiu Tsui, also known as Sharp Island.
On a good day, the beaches are full of glistening bodies and the vista is of an endless aquamarine sea dotted with blindingly-white yachts.
The park even has fun geological features. Low tide reveals a tombolo, connecting Sharp Island with a tiny islet called Kiu Tau. You can walk between the two at the right time of day.
The beaches have full facilities, including toilets, showers and barbecue.
- Lantau South Country Park
It’s the best place to see a sunrise in Hong Kong. Head to Lantau peak in Lantau South Country Park for Hong Kong’s best dawn experience.
Hike to the summit in the dark and arrive just in time for dawn. It sounds a little tree-hugging radical, but it is worth it as one of Hong Kong’s most unique experiences in nature.
Save some time by spending a night at the Ngong Ping Youth Hostel not too far away. The climb takes around two hours.
How to get there: Take the ferry to Mui Wo at Central Pier 6. At Mui Wo Pier bus terminus, there are bus routes to all parts of Lantau. Or take the MTR to Tung Chung station where you can take Ngong Ping 360 cable car or bus to Ngong Ping. Lantau Peak sunrise trail entrance is near the Wisdom path.
- High Island
High Island is one of the best sites within the Hong Kong Geopark. A collection of 12 special geological sites spread around Hong Kong, the Geopark is a rock enthusiast’s dream.
High Island alone has some of Hong Kong’s most spectacular rock formations. The mounds of rocks form angular patterns, as though someone went at it with a giant chisel. At Po Pin Chau, there’s a hill that was broken clear into two sections by natural forces.
How to get there: Take bus 94 at Sai Kung Market or 96R at Diamond Hill MTR station (service on weekends and public holidays only). Get off after Pak Tam Chung and walk along Tai Mong Tsai Road to the junction ahead. Turn into Man Yee Road of Sai Kung on the right and walk on for about nine kilometers to the High Island Reservoir East Dam, the starting point of High Island Geo Trail.
- Lion Rock Country Park
Lion Rock is a huge rock formation perched at the top of a hill. Squint hard, exercise some imagination and you may see the rock’s resemblance to a lion.
It has become a symbol of Hong Kong and is an inspiration for pop culture. The hiking trail to the peak is relatively easy but can be quite steep and challenging near the “head” of the Lion Rock. Unobstructed views of Hong Kong take the edge off the pain of the hike.
Amah Rock on the hilltop near the entrance of Lion Rock Tunnel is another famous giant rock formation. It looks a bit like a woman with a baby on her back.
The story is that a woman stood to carry her baby, waiting for her husband to return home. She and the baby waited so long, they turned to stone.
How to get there: Lion Rock Country Park is a very accessible destination, with bus routes stopping or passing through from all parts of the territory.
- Hong Kong Wetland Park
The Hong Kong Wetland Park in the New Territories has a stunning variety of animals in Hong Kong. As such, it has become a hub of conservation, eco-tourism and education.
It is also home to Pui Pui the crocodile, Hong Kong’s endearing reptilian mascot.
You can make a day out of visiting the Wetland Park and its facilities for visitors. The stream walk, mangrove boardwalk and the bird hideouts placed right next to the fish pond gets you up close and personal with wildlife.
How to get there: At West Rail Tin Shui Wai Station, change to Light Rail Transit 705 or 706 to Tin Sau Station or Wetland Park Station to get to Hong Kong Wetland Park.