It’s something I’ve found almost every expat group I meet talking about. The parks don’t have fields and, unless you’re route goes through a flower market, you’re unlikely to see any local flora when commuting to work on Hong Kong Island or in Kowloon.
Fortunately, Hong Kong is nothing if not full of hidden treasures. Just an hour away from Central is the Hong Kong Wetland Park, a treat for any greenery-starved city-dweller.
While the travel time is a little lengthy, at just HKD30 for an adult ticket, you really can’t argue with the price. And although it’s hardly as adrenaline-inducing as a day at Disneyland or Ocean Park, the Wetland Park is fun for all, in a relaxed kind of way.
The oasis boasts an impressive array of native birds, a multitude of butterfly species and – the big player of the park – the famous Yuen Long croc, Pui Pui.
The 60-hectare attraction is also educational, with informational posts explaining exactly what’s going down, nature-wise, at all points.
The park takes visitors through a variety of areas that demonstrate the real landscapes of wild Hong Kong – what it might have looked like if skyscrapers were never a thing.
Bridges take visitors over ponds, through swamp regions and even into the jungle, where you can see some odd creatures going about their daily business.
In the swamp region, you’ll come across a collection of freaky fish/frog creatures flapping around and taunting each other. These so-called mudskippers have the ability to draw in any observer with their comical antics.
In the heart of the park is an interactive centre where some invasive species are housed in tanks. There are scheduled shows for children, a small play area (also for children, sorry), and some fun eye glasses that show you how vision works for different species. Pretty groovy stuff!
One of the most noticeable aspects here, however, is the relative silence you encounter. After a few weeks of living in Hong Kong, we all grow accustomed to blocking out the white noise. Standing in the park, though, you hear nothing but the wind in the trees, the muted chatter of an inquisitive visitor or the chirp of an unfamiliar creature.
Just incase you’re worried about feeling too cut off from the world, however, in true Hong Kong fashion, you can still see the towering buildings in the distance. Phew!
If you fancy spending a warm (and no doubt sweaty) afternoon at the Wetland Park this summer, a quintessential Hong Kong lunch is also an option with a Café De Coral sitting right in the main lobby of the park. Next to the restaurant is an excellent gift shop with some pretty cool items for sale at expectedly bloated prices, and there’s also a Wetland Postcard service so visitors can keep family members abreast of your brand new experience of finding grass in Hong Kong.
To reach the park, hop on the MTR West Rail Line to the Tin Shui Wai Station, change to the 705 or 706 Light Rail Line and alight at the Wetland Park station. From there, it’s a quick five minute walk to the entrance. Alternatively you can take the 967 bus from Admiralty MTR Station Exit B or the 276B bus from Sheng Shui MTR Station Exit C.
Hong Kong Wetland Park, Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, (+852) 3152-2666