Header image courtesy of Walk Hong Kong (via MyLocals)
Originally published by Annette Chan. Last updated by Alisa Chau.
While we love a good rooftop bar or homeware haul, Hongkongers know that there’s more to do in our SAR than eating, drinking, and shopping. If you’ve been keeping up with our nature and wellness posts—and we sure hope you have!—then you will have read all about hiking, outdoor rock climbing, kayaking, and even alternative watersports.
But with all of us having spent the last year or so in Hong Kong, we’re sure some of you—like us—are looking to do something a little different. From bird-spotting in the New Territories to making pearl jewellery from an oyster you shucked yourself, here are some of the most unusual and interesting things you can do in Hong Kong.
Did you know that there are almost 600 species of birds that have been recorded in Hong Kong? It might seem hard to believe when looking up and around at the gargantuan high-rises that dominate the city’s geography, but venture out to Yuen Long and you’ll find that the area is just perfect for observing these high-flying critters.
Bringing you to prime fishponds and marshes for bird-spotting, this half-day birding tour presented by MyLocals is one that will excite seasoned birdwatchers and novices alike. Privately guided, with reference books and binoculars provided upon request, you will experience a brush with water birds in addition to a variety of sub-tropical species that predominantly reside in the area. Visitors who hop on the tour between September to May can also catch a glimpse of migrants from other climates who have flown in for the colder months!
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You may have heard people refer to Hong Kong as the “Pearl of the Orient,” but did you know that you can harvest real pearls here? Located just minutes away from Hebe Haven in Sai Kung is Hong Kong’s only pearl farm, the Hong Kong Pearl Cultivation Association. The government-backed association offers a three-hour pearl accessory-making workshop, during which you will learn all about the history of pearls, how they’re cultured, and the importance of conserving the ocean. Afterwards, the instructors will teach you how to shuck, harvest, and grade the pearl before setting it in a piece of jewellery of your choice.
We don’t know about you, but being surrounded by beautiful butterflies in the peaceful countryside sounds like a dream to us—and an achievable one, at that! Head out to the 300-year-old Hakka village of Fung Yuen in eastern New Territories to live your best fairy or entomologist life.
The village, which is on the border of Tai Mei Tuk and Tai Po, is home to the eponymous Fung Yuen Butterfly Reserve, where you can find over 200 of the 245 butterfly species known to exist in Hong Kong. Out of those species, 130 are classified as uncommon, rare, or very rare—and there are plenty of friendly resident dogs, too, which counts as a huge plus in our books! Just make sure you call ahead before setting out, as the reserve has been closed to visitors on and off during the pandemic.
Enjoy the twin pleasures of being among unbridled wild beauty and doing something deeply fulfilling by planting trees in Ark Eden. Located in a peaceful green valley in the rural Lantau town of Mui Wo, this permaculture centre is on a mission to better the environment with regenerative agriculture, clean energy, and educational workshops.
Sign up for one of their regular workshops to enjoy a bevy of fun, eco-friendly activities like interactive classes on permaculture, guided hikes to Lantau beauty spots, outdoor yoga, movie screenings, and, of course, tree-planting.
As a protected marine park with great biodiversity and pristine waters, Hoi Ha Wan is one of our favourite places to go snorkelling and scuba diving. But beyond the coral reefs, fish, crabs, and starfish, Hoi Ha’s waters are home to one more interesting sight—the remains of a ferro-cement barge!
If you’re interested in exploring a seaweed-covered shipwreck while fish dart around you—mental replay of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid optional, but recommended—get in touch with a local dive centre to organise a trip to the area. Just don’t sign over your voice to any sea witches!
If you already have familiarised yourself with the pockets of forgotten spaces in Hong Kong and now find yourself wondering what this old fishing village might have been like before it was swallowed up by urban development, then this abandoned villages tour is the perfect adventure for you.
Offering a glimpse into the rural history of Hong Kong, contrasted against the always-slightly-visible outskirts of China not too far in the distance, the question of the housing crisis looms over and points to the concerns of Hong Kong’s residential future. Tracing a route along a line of mostly vacated and entirely abandoned villages in the fringes of the northernmost New Territories, this full-day journey is one that winds and rewinds the hands of time.
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