Header image courtesy of @catdingmama (via Instagram)
Let’s be real, Hongkongers love picnicking outdoors when the weather dips below 30 degrees Celsius as much as Hong Kong malls love premature Christmas decorations. This concrete jungle many call home is not just a tight-knit network of skyscrapers or high-end shopping malls; it also offers plenty of outdoor sites in every nook. And what better time than the autumnal month of October to go for a picnic?
Then comes a realisation that we live in a chock-a-block city of nearly seven million minds that think alike! Hence, popular spots like Tamar Park and West Kowloon Cultural District will be thronging with picnic-goers. But we at Localiiz are always on the search of the path less known to avoid overwhelming crowds. Here we have the five best alternative picnic spots in Hong Kong for you to lay out picnic sheets on the days where you’re not scramming with spreadsheets.
This little island off Sai Kung is so far from the main communities of Hong Kong that it’s hard to get phone signals here (well, good thing that picnics are for unplugging, anyway). Tap Mun, also known as Grass Island, has ample space for everyone to get nestled in their tents. It is also a perfect spot for stargazing so you’ll often see some picnic-goers opting to camp here overnight. You may have to keep an eye on your refreshments though, as some hungry cattle might want to steal a bite or two off your food! In the area, there is a smattering of local shops that sell snacks, handmade goodies, and even real seashells bigger than the size of your fist (which got me shell-shocked)! Tap Mun also boasts a beautiful and quiet Pebble’s Beach, which, yes, has a ton of pebbles and rocks where you can just sit back, relax, and watch the calming waves of the ocean.
From Wong Shek Pier in Sai Kung, you can board a kaito for $9.5 on weekdays and $14 in the weekends. For thrillists who want to skid off in the middle of the sea, you can take a private speedboat from the pier for about $200, which gets cheaper per head the more people you share the ride with. Bear in mind that Wong Shek Pier is further than the main Sai Kung Pier and there are no means of transport from the main Sai Kung Pier to Tap Mun.
The Clear Water Bay Peninsula sure has some spectacular scenic spots, where you get a perfect unfiltered view of the glistening sea (on a clear sunny day, of course). Clear Water Bay Country Park has plenty to offer for one (or more!) to easily spend a day picnicking and hiking around the emerald coasts. At Tai Hang Tun, take advantage of the 72 barbecue pits for an epic grilled feast, and after bloating yourself with great food, you can spend a leisurely afternoon flying a kite at Tai Au Mun Kite Flying Area or admiring the gorgeous flora in Clear Water Bay Tree Walk. For the active picnickers among us, there are also various hiking trails nearby that vary in difficulty. One of the shortest and easiest yet most rewarding hikes is the Lung Ha Wan Country Trail. It takes about 60 minutes from the Tai Au Mun Kite Flying Area to reach the summit, where you see the line where the sky meets the sea—with no skyscrapers in sight.
You can either take minibus 103M from Tsuen Kwan O Station or minibus 16 from Po Lam Station. There’s also bus 91 from Diamond Hill Station, which could be a generally longer ride. Alight at Tai Au Mun Road near Clear Water Bay Road, which should be a roundabout.
If you work in Kwun Tong, the Kwun Tong Promenade is the perfect place to bring a meal of takeaway food and enjoy your lunch (trust me, I have done that and it’s so worth it). Come here to escape your busy work schedule for a bit, though it does prove tempting to not go back to work at all with views like these! You can also opt for a night picnic here, as it’s a well-lit space where you can dine on either benches or on the grass. You may occasionally catch glimpses of soon-to-be-newly-weds doing their pre-wedding photoshoot or photographers capturing a unique perspective of overhead highways or the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal that is clearly visible from the promenade.
Get off at Kwun Tong Station (Exit B1) and walk straight along Hoi Yuen Road. For buses 11D, 23, 268C, 269C, 40, 74C, 74X, 80, 80P, 80X, 83X or 93A, which come from all across Hong Kong, you can also alight at the last stop, which is Kwun Tong Pier.
Conveniently located in the vicinity of Tung Chung, this former artillery battery was built in 1817 (that is 24 years before the Brits arrived). Despite its long history, the Tung Chung Battery was only rediscovered in 1980 and was later declared as a monument. Tung Chung Battery is little known amongst locals, making it the perfect destination for a pleasant day off all the while learning about this historic realm in Hong Kong. Upon reaching the Battery, you will come across a grassy area (great to lay down your picnic mat) overlooking the cable cars of Ngong Ping. If you walk a wee bit further, you can get to Ma Wan Chung Pier, where you’ll catch people trying to catch a fish and there’s an awesome three-dimensional mural on the ground. There are also a couple of old stilt houses and fishing boats—it is basically a mini Tai O! There’s also a seafood restaurant to serve you some fresh crustaceans.
There is a shortcut at Shun Tung Road, about five minutes on foot from Tung Chung Station (Exit A). From there, start on the Tung Chung Battery Trail, which is quite steep but should only take 10 minutes to reach. Alternatively, from Yat Tung Estate, walk to Tung Chung Road and follow the path. You will pass by the Tao Yan Youth Camp on your way.
Yuen Long is Hong Kong’s underrated paradise and this place can vouch for that! Though Nam Sang Wai is more well-known as a cycling spot, it is also the ideal spot for a picnic. You can sit by the fish pond and enjoy your tasty bites whilst the pond perfectly reflects the trees and shrubs, probably the place to be for sunset but it is just as pretty in broad daylight. There is also a grassland for having your picnic so worry not about space. Afterwards, you can rent a bike (at Tin Fung Bicycle Company for $50) and tour around the abandoned farms and empty fields. Late autumn is the migrating season of birds, so you might be able to spot grey herons, black kites, great cormorants, or black-faced spoonbills by the mangroves. Be sure to bring your camera along to act like you’re shooting for National Geographic!
Nam Sang Wai is a long walk from Yuen Long Station. If you’re not familiar with Yuen Long itself, we suggest you take a bus from Yoho Mall 2. Get off at Exit G2 and cross the road to go directly opposite. From there, you can board bus 76K or minibuses 36, 37, 38, 75, or 76. Alight at Hung Mo Kiu and walk along Nam Sang Wai Road. Or you could also hail a cab from Yuen Long Station for about $50.
Let us be responsible citizens—please be sure to clear away the rubbish you generate after your picnic. It may be common to hear but it’s worth repeating because it’s dreadful to still see remaining cartons lying about when you head to Hong Kong’s beautiful outdoors. Try to minimise the usage of disposable utensils as well; they may be convenient but they cause a hefty amount of waste. It has become increasingly popular to get picnic baskets with reusable plates and utensils attached and this is a great environmentally-friendly alternative! Also, please do not be aggressive to any wild animals you may encounter in the picnic spots; they mean no harm!