Header image courtesy of @rashnull (via Instagram)
If you think Hong Kong is all skyscrapers and nightlife, you are just scratching the surface! While it’s hard to get enough of the neon street lights in Jordan and Soho’s bustling streets, we cannot overlook the fact that Hong Kong is the perfect blend of concrete and nature. In fact, only 25 percent of the land is developed, while a whopping 40 percent is purposed for nature conservation. Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail in Sai Kung is the perfect first step to take in experiencing Hong Kong’s natural beauty. At the end of the trail, you can either walk back, continue to hike to Long Ke Wan or Po Kwu Wan, or boldly take on the challenge of a thru-hike on the MacLehose Trail.
Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail (北潭涌自然教育徑) is an easy escape from the city and easily reachable via public transport. Spanning just over one kilometre, this laid-back walk allows nature lovers to observe unique geographical features and native wildlife characteristically found in Hong Kong’s brackish wetlands. Meandering leisurely along the family-friendly path, this scenic route takes around an hour to complete (with plenty of time set aside for sight-seeing) and ultimately ends at the Chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows.
Distance: 1.3 kilometres approx.
Total ascent: 14 metres approx.
Total time: 1 hour approx.
Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail straddles the line between the Sai Kung West Country Park and Sai Kung East Country Park. If you are already in Sai Kung East Country Park, you can travel there from Wong Shek Pier via bus or hike on foot, which will take an additional hour and a half. You can also head there from Sai Kung Town.
At the entrance of the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail, you will already have come across your first point of interest. After the bridge, keep your eyes peeled for the sight of a channel entering the sea—it is a geological feature that lends the area its name. Pak Tam Chung (北潭涌) refers to the channel (涌; jung2) where freshwater and seawater come together at high tide. Different bodies of water join to create unique brackish habitats.
Follow the path to reach the next stop—mudflats with mangrove beds, where you will begin to see signs of Hong Kong’s native wildlife. Pandanus is a common plant that is native to Hong Kong’s mudflats. Apart from growing pineapple-like fruit, its kernel is popular in herbal medicine for relieving internal heat.
Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail continues along the edge of woodlands and bamboo groves. Plants foraged on this part of the trail were frequently used by villagers: the leaves of the sandpiper vine were used for polishing, particularly ivory chopsticks, while the fragrant extract from the incense tree was used for crafting incense.
At the end of the trail, you will enter Sheung Yiu village, which has turned into the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum. Right beside it is an old lime kiln. As a declared monument, the kiln serves as a great reminder of the village’s most prosperous period, where the kiln was used in the mortar, fertiliser, brick, and tile production for building houses. Sheung Yiu village’s restoration in 1983 enabled the later opening of the museum in 1984.
Located in the revived village of Sheung Yiu is the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum. It stands as one of only a few buildings in the scenic Sai Kung East Country Park. Free to enter, the museum’s exhibits will transport you back in time to the village life of the Chan family through the displayed model kitchen, domestic units, and animal sheds. You can also watch a video programme screening and peruse an audio-visual gallery to help you learn about the village’s history. Make sure to check the latest opening arrangements here.
A short distance from the Sheung Yiu Folk Museum, the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail officially ends at this petite chaplet. Established in 1900, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows (聖母七苦小堂) is presently still active, despite its weather-worn appearance, and open only on the last Sunday of each month, from 1 pm to 5 pm.
As mentioned earlier, the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail is just one amongst several other hikes in the area. Leveraging the hiking crowd as a source of foot traffic, Fat Kee Store (發記士多) at the start of the trail provides simple, light meals and snacks for nature lovers, no matter the destination. Pair their no-frills dim sum ($18) with a cold drink ($17)—perfect after burning all those calories on your trek. If you are looking for something more filling, their instant noodles with two toppings ($35) and diner-style French toast ($15) are for you.
Fat Kee Store (發記士多), 8 Tai Mong Tsai Road, Sai Kung
Orange River (奧蘭治河) is not, in fact, orange. Mirroring the ease of the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail, this river is similarly easy on the eyes. It is especially nice to snap a few photos while you cross the bridge to start your hike. Whether you make this trip alone or with family, you will certainly enjoy being one with nature. As the river wends its way along the entirety of the trail, you will feel the calmness of the water flowing along your walk.
Heading to this hidden gem of nature from the Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail is only less than an hour away. At the end of the trail, turn left onto the Sheung Yiu Family Walk and continue onto Sheung Yiu Country Trail. Once you have arrived at Po Kwu Wan Campsite, make a sharp right and walk along the path until you reach Po Kwu Wan.
Po Kwu Wan used to be a fish farm. Now, it is a must-visit for hikers and nature lovers. Its body of water is encircled by a walking path and has become a picturesque spot for Instagrammers, especially with the gorgeous, luscious mountains as a backdrop of your photo. Click here for our full guide to Po Kwu Wan.
For a more challenging excursion, why not head to Long Ke Wan? From Pak Tam Chung Nature Trail, the three-hour hike ends with a beautiful beach and crystal-clear waters! You might have to hike 10 kilometres to get there, but Long Ke Wan is the definition of a “high-risk, high-reward” adventure, and the inviting blue waters will make for a sure win. Click here for our full guide to Long Ke Wan and how to hike there.
Pak Tam Chung PHAB Site is a recreational area that is inclusive to differently-abled persons. With wheelchair access, tactile braille maps, tactile path guides, and disabled toilets available, this barbecue spot in the great outdoors caters to visitors with various ranges of mobility. Make sure to observe necessary social distancing rules when holding recreational activities at this site. Call (+852) 2792 4302 for more information.
Wong Yi Chau Youth Camp is filled with activities for the little ones! You best believe that children of all ages will have a great time here. Situated by the water, this campsite also offers water-based activities like canoeing, dragon boating, and stand-up paddling. Find out more about the campsite here.
Wong Yi Chau Youth Camp, DD 254, Wong Yi Chau, Sai Kung | (+852) 2792 4516