Unless you live in the northwest New Territories, you might think there isn’t a very good reason to travel so far up to the new towns of Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai. But this less-visited corner of Hong Kong is full of wildlife reserves, wetlands and other natural attractions that are well worth a trip.
Hong Kong Wetland Park
If you know nothing about Hong Kong’s wetlands or the animals that inhabit them, the Hong Kong Wetland Park is a great place to start.
The indoor visitor centre features several exhibitions about wetlands and their environment both in Hong Kong and around the world. The interactive displays and games help you learn about these ecosystems and why they are important.
Outside the centre, there are a couple of paved pathways and boardwalks that lead you around the marshes, but the main attraction is the two bird-watching sites. These wooden buildings not only provide shelter from the sun; there are also binoculars so you can observe the wildlife from afar
How to get there: Take the Light Rail service 705 from Tin Shui Wai Station and get off at Wetland Park.
Lau Fau Shan
This rural fishing village sits on the coast of Deep Bay and is famous for its oyster farms, seafood restaurants and great views of the sunset.
Increasing water pollution and the time-consuming nature of oyster farming means that many people have given it up, although seafood fanatics may still want to try out some of the many restaurants still in the village.
Head out towards the beach to get some stunning shots of the sun setting behind the Shenzhen Bay Bridge and wooden sampans floating on the harbour.
How to get there: Take the K65 bus from either Yuen Long or Tin Shui Wai Station.
Nam Sang Wai
Nam Sang Wai is a popular place for cycling, picnics and photography, and you can find picturesque rural scenery all around the wetland area.
it is far from the city, which makes it a great place to relax and escape urban life for a day. The main highlights are the highly Instagrammable tree-lined paths and fish ponds. There is also a famous wooden pier that extends out into a fish pond, and at weekends, you’ll find many people lining up to take photos there.
The best way to explore Nam Sang Wai is to circle the wetlands and fish ponds, starting at Nam Sang Wai Road and finishing near Shan Pui Tsuen. There’s a small wooden ferry that carries passengers and bikes about 20 metres across the San Pui River, which is the last river-crossing ferry service in Hong Kong.
How to get there: Nam Sang Wai is a 20 minute walk away from Yuen Long Station exit G2.
Mai Po nature reserve
The marshes in Mai Po – spread across 600 hectares – are an important pit-stop for around 90,000 migrating birds seeking shelter in these internationally-recognised wetlands.
The area is filled with fish ponds and mangroves, and at the right time of the year, you will be able to see some of the hundreds of species of birds (pictured above) that visit the nature reserve every year.
It is a protected area, and access is restricted. You’ll need to join a tour run by conservation group WWF-Hong Kong if you want to see Mai Po up close. The tours last for about five hours, and take you inside the reserve where you can try your hand at bird-watching. A guide will take you around the reserve and explain all you need to know about it.
How to get there: Take the 76K bus from either Sheung Shui or Yuen Long, get off at Mai Po and walk about 20 minutes to the visitor centre.
Castle Peak is the highest point in northwest New Territories, and its rocky terrain makes it one of the hardest to climb in Hong Kong. There are very few trees to provide shade, making the trails leading up to the peak very hard work during the summer months.
The entire mountain range is spread over a large area, and there are many different walking routes that you can take. But if you decide to take the path up to the top of Castle Peak itself, you’ll get a 360-degree view looking down at Tuen Mun and Lantau Island, as well as the rocky outcrops of the Castle Peak Basin.
Be aware that part of the Castle Peak area is used as a firing range by military and police forces on certain days of the week. To avoid getting yourself into some serious trouble, check those times in advance and look out for red flags or red lamps that indicate when it’s not safe to go.
How to get there: To hike to the top of Castle Peak, take the Tsing Shan Monastery Path, near the Tsing Shan Tsuen Light Rail stop.