Fancy exploring the outermost reaches of Hong Kong? Then buckle up as Rory Mackay, founder of Wild Hong Kong, takes you on a journey to the most northern areas of New Territories. With a variety of landscapes, lakes and mountains, and world-class wildlife sanctuaries on offer, Hong Kong’s wet and wild wonderland, Mai Po, has it all.
Sitting immediately to the north, the ever-intensifying skyline of Shenzhen provides an astonishing visual and environmental contrast to what lies on the Hong Kong side of the border. Running from Lo Wu in the east, to Deep Bay in the west, the northern plains of Hong Kong are home to a whole host of beautiful wetlands. Easily reached via the MTR West Rail, there are a couple of enjoyable options for a fun day out in the wild.
Mai Po Nature Reserve
The Mai Po Nature reserve is a protected zone, comprised of mudflats, ponds, and mangroves. Offering an extensive habitat for resident and migratory birds, it’s a must-see for any aspiring ornithologist. Home to approximately 72 percent of the territories birdlife, the avian biodiversity here is impressive. However, it’s not all just flocks and feathers, as the Mai Po area provides sightseeing for many other animal species. Not to forget the simple tranquility of the place – you don’t have to be big on wildlife to appreciate the calmness and visual beauty of the peaceful backwaters, and sounds of long grasses blowing in the breeze.
In order to reach the nature reserve, disembark upon reaching Yuen Long Station on the MTR West Rail, and walk down to the transport interchange. At this juncture, one can either ride the 76K bus to Mai Po Village and walk 20 minutes, or simply take a taxi there for around $70.
The only snag with Mai Po is that entry to the area is controlled, and you will have to join a tour or obtain a permit to go in. Unless you’re a serious enthusiast with affiliations to the World Wide Fun for Nature (WWF) and other such organisations, my tip is to join a guided tour which are fun and affordable, with a range of offerings. Visit the WWF website for more information on how you can join the tours.
Hong Kong Wetland Park
Perhaps more appropriate for casual visits and families with younger children, the simpler alternative to Mai Po is the Hong Kong Wetland Park. One can easily spend a couple of hours strolling along footbridges and enjoying the many exhibits that are on show here. Getting to the park is pretty simple compared to Mai Po, as the site is just located on the edge of Tin Shui Wai.
Once at Tin Shui Wai Station on the MTR West Rail, transfer to the MTR Light Rail and catch the 705 tram. Hop off at Wetland Park station, and follow signs across the road to the Wetland Park. Entry tops out at $30 for adults, and once inside, you will have full license to explore every inch of this place. Departing from the grand visitor information centre, wonder over elevated boardwalks and floating mangrove walkways. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for birds, crabs, and mudskippers along the way.
Overall, this is an adventure location for all. It’s a safe and pleasant excursion catering to the needs of families, yet one that is engaging enough to keep the most intrepid of wildlife gurus and outdoor adventurers engrossed. If you want to catch some wildlife in action, anytime between April through to July would be ideal as the weather begins to warm up, and typhoon season has yet to arrive. So get out there, explore, and see for yourselves the incredible wetlands we have right here in Hong Kong.