Header image courtesy of @travelwithmefromnowon (via Instagram)
Part of why we love the seasons of spring and autumn so much is because they are when we get to enjoy fleeting glimpses of natural beauty in cherry blossoms and autumnal red leaves. Luckily, we don’t have to journey all the way to Japan or to Canada to view these sights, because our fantastic city actually also has certain spots with the right plants and flora to do the job. Read on to find out where you can see seasonal flora and foliage in Hong Kong—and prepare to pack a picnic basket!
Contrary to the maple leaves that dominate autumnal vistas in western countries, the red leaves we have in Hong Kong are mostly from sweet gum trees. These do have a similar shape to maple leaves though, and will turn a fetching orange-red shade, eventually falling to create that crisp, crunchy layer on forest paths.
This park in Yuen Long is one of Hong Kong’s most popular places to view autumn foliage, especially with photography enthusiasts, because the sweet gum trees that grow here are dense, quite closely packed together, with a good number of low-growing trees. This means that this is the perfect spot for close-range viewing and photo opportunities. Consider packing food for a barbecue at the designated pits within the park. One of the best vantage points where the Tai Lam Nature Trail intersects with Tai Tong Shan Road.
From Long Ping West Rail Station, take the K66 bus, or hop onto a red minibus at Hung Min Court in Yuen Long and alight at Tai Tong Shan Road.
There’s no need to trek out to the New Territories if that’s not your thing—you can actually still view red leaves right in the heart of Central! The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens is home to an Avenue of Sweet Gum, which is lined on both sides with these sturdy trees that are half a century old. As the leaves yellow and start turning a vivid shade of rust, they’ll also drift down and eventually cover the path with a beautiful red carpet. Needless to say, the views in this location aren’t going to be nearly as stunning or expansive as out in the mountains, but that’s the price we have to pay for convenience.
From Central MTR station, come out of Exit A and head to the Exchange Square Bus Terminus. The number 12 bus will take you to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens.
The red leaves here are not shaped like maple or sweet gum because they are mostly of the sabino variety. What sets this location apart from others is that its swathe of autumnal trees are situated by an ornamental lake with waterfalls, sitting within a park that has a European design instead of the traditionally Chinese ones mostly found in the city. Beautiful shades of red and gold are reflected and amplified by the body of water, resulting in views that resemble Central Park in New York City more than an urban bit of garden in residential Hong Kong.
Take the Tung Chung line to Tsing Yi Station. Take Exit C and walk towards Tsing King Road. From there, you’ll clearly see Tsing Yi Park sprawling ahead of you; all you have to do is find a safe opportunity to cross Tsing King Road.
Autumn red leaves are as good a reason as any to visit the secluded campus of CUHK. The Lake Ad Excellentiam has both sweet gum and sabino trees planted around it, so while strolling along the paths that run alongside the lake, you’ll get to see the orange and red shades lining both sides of the water. As a university campus, this is also more of a peaceful spot for a bit of quiet serenity.
From University MTR station, come out of Exit A. Turn left and walk along Pond Crescent, or go right to Station Road; either road will lead you in a loop to the lake.
Since Hongkongers are such Japanophiles, it makes sense that we do love us the yearly bout of spring blossoms. We might not be able to travel to Japan any time soon—fingers crossed, though—but that doesn’t mean we can’t still indulge in a bit of hanami (花見, spring flower viewing) during springtime. Cherry blossom season typically runs from mid-March to April each year, depending on temperature.
Running along Tolo Harbour, this is Hong Kong’s largest public park and fittingly contains a diverse range of cherry blossoms compared to other spots. Look out for the Yoshino cherry (also known as the Japanese flowering cherry) which emits a soft almond-like scent, the Fuji cherry, with its light pink blossoms and wafer-thin petals, as well as some of the Taiwanese variety bearing peach-coloured flowers.
From the Tai Po Market MTR station, come out of Exit A1 and hop onto the K17 bus.
Who knew this small, sleepy island also houses about 10 Taiwanese cherry trees? The setting of the Kwan Kung Pavilion itself is nice, with its traditional Chinese style, red colour scheme, and green tiled roof. Inside the temple there is also a 2.5-metre-tall statue of Kwan Kung the God of War, carved from a single camphor tree. It’s all sure to make a pretty picture with the pink petals in the same shot.
From Central Pier 5, take a ferry and head to Kwun Yam Wan Road; it’s only a ten-minute walk or so.
This park containing a professional wooden cycling track is also home to roughly a dozen Taiwanese and Japanese cherry trees. Most of these are of the Taiwanese variety, which bear peach-coloured blossoms. Located next to the central lawn and the velodrome, you’ll be able to snap some snazzy photos of these pretty flowers with the city’s buildings in the background.
From Hang Hau MTR station, take Exit B and walk down Sheung Ning Road.
This idyllic farm on the slopes of Tai Mo Shan Country Park contains possibly the largest cluster of cherry blossom trees in Hong Kong. Most of these are Taiwanese varieties which bear bell-shaped pink flowers and, interspersed among the pine trees of the park, make for an extremely pretty sight. One of the best spots to view them from is near the Kadoorie Brothers Memorial Pavilion.
From either Tai Po Market, Tai Wo, or Kam Sheung Road MTR stations, change to the 64K bus and alight at Kadoorie Farm stop.
Towards the foot of Hong Kong’s tallest mountain lies the serene Rotary Park. They’ve got about 40 cherry blossom trees of the Taiwanese variety near the entrance to Tai Mo Shan Country Park, and the park itself is also home to various indigenous flora. Part of the family trail is also lined on both sides with bamboo, which is probably our answer to Arashiyama’s bamboo forest in Kyoto.
From Tsuen Wan MTR station, come out of any of the A exits to get to the Railway Station Bus Terminus perched on top of the station. The 51 bus will take you to the Country Park stop, and from there the Rotary Park is roughly a ten-minute walk, near the Country Park Visitor Centre.
In 2012, 20 Japanese cherry trees were planted outside Chih Hsing Hall to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of CUHK’s Department of Japanese Studies. They are still there to provide a beautiful hint of Japanese influence to the campus with its yearly round of light pink flowers—and are understandably extremely popular with the resident students when they bloom! You’ll also find a few Taiwanese cherry trees with flowers in a darker shade of pink near the bus stop at United College.
From University MTR station, come out of Exit A. From there, it’s roughly a pleasant 20-minute stroll through the campus to reach New Asia College at the north-eastern end of the grounds.