Improvisation plays a big part in life as a parent, and after almost two years in a COVID world, with social distancing and no travel, we’ve gotten creative at carving out fun outdoor excursions for the whole family in our own “backyard”.
Scroll down for some adventure ideas, as tested by a three-year-old, a five-year-old, and their frazzled parents.
Located in the northern section of Tin Shui Wai in New Territories, the Hong Kong Wetland Park was established in part to compensate for the habitat loss created by the land development of Tin Shui Wai New Town in the 1990s. The 61-hectare wetland reserve serves as an ecological mitigation area for wildlife and migratory birds. There’s a mammoth 10,000-square meter gleaming glass-and-steel visitor center packed with educational sensory activities and interactive displays, as well as a treehouse play area. Take a walk along the many trails weaving through mangroves and lily ponds, or venture into a bird hide to observe the elusive black-faced spoonbill while they forage on the muddy banks. Be sure to visit Pui Pui’s House to visit the resident gator.
Cost: $30 for adults, $15 for concessions, $200 for an annual family pass for 4
Click here for more details.
WWF hosts a variety of activities that package historical facts alongside ecological and conservationist messaging in fun, informative eco tours around Hong Kong. Three main visitor centers, spread out between Mai Po Nature Reserve, Hoi Ha Wan, and Island House, specialize in introducing guests to the unique ecological environments of each location. Hop on a glass-bottomed boat at the Hoi Ha Wan to explore local coral reefs, or venture through the mangrove boardwalks at Mai Po to learn about the unique ecosystems that make up Hong Kong. One of our favorite tours is the Island House in Tai Po, featuring a historical Arts-and-Crafts style mansion built in 1906 on 1.75 hectares of land. There are two tours available, ranging from a visit to the English-style gardens to spotting various sea creatures along the coastline.
Cost: Ranging from $300 to $500 depending on the activity. There’s a 50% discount now with the code ECOVISITS21
Click here for more details.
Part of a 20-hectare marine reserve, Cape D’Aguilar is located just south of Shek O and offers spectacular views, awe-inspiring rock formations, and even a lighthouse near the coastline. The paved, gently inclined path is bike- and stroller-friendly, although there’s a fair bit of pushing up the ramp when you ascend from sea level back up the mountain to the main roads. The vegetation and scenery trick the mind into thinking we are in Hawaii. Swimming here is prohibited due to dramatic waves pounding against giant rocks, but there’s plenty of tidal pools to hunt for little sea creatures like the ironically fast-moving sea snails. The little ones always demand to see Miss Willy, a whale skeleton that was washed ashore in the 1950s and is currently on display outside the marine center.
Located on Po Fook Hill in Pai Tau Village in Shatin, the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery was founded in 1949 by Reverend Yuet Kai. It took close to a decade of construction to complete and is the site of several worshipping halls and a 9-story pagoda. Following Reverend Yuet Kai’s death, his body was embalmed with Chinese lacquer, painted with gold leaf and set on display in a glass case at the main alter. There’s plenty of space for a wander, but just make sure to keep excitable voices down as a show of respect. Another highlight is walking through the neighboring village and spotting monkeys roaming about. There’s also Wing Wo Bee Farm in the village, a tiny mom-and-pop operation that charges visitors a rather steep entrance fee through purchases of their honey. However, we would only advise a visit when the jovial grandpa founder is on site, as he will take visitors on a detailed tour of his little bee farm. The wife is rather grumpy and won’t provide tours or explanations otherwise.
Click here for more details on the monastery (although the website is in Chinese only).
Out in the far reaches of Tsuen Wan District is a relaxing 1.5-kilometer family walk that loops around the Ho Pui Reservoir. The fairly flat path is not paved and has some steps, so stroller access may be hindered. However, there’s a section of the walk that weaves through a picturesque, calming bamboo grove. There’s also a short detour to a mini waterfall at the Ho Pui Campsite. The family walk is fairly easy, but keep in mind that there is quite an incline to scale before reaching the reservoir, so be armed with some treats to bribe little legs up the mountain! On the way up, there’s a scenic view of MTR Pat Heung Maintenance Centre for little ones to ogle.
Situated in Clearwater Bay Country Park, the scenic Tree Walk is a relatively short one-kilometer jaunt that takes visitors past expansive views overlooking Tsing Chau and the Ninepins Islands, as well as sweeping visages of Clearwater Bay and Po Toi O. The walk cuts through woodlands, and there are some steps involved. There’s also plenty of signs along the way to showcase local fauna. The path circles around to a picnic area. For kite enthusiasts, it’s a great spot to test your gear as the grassy area is fairly breezy.
A short 15-minute boat ride from Sai Kung public pier lies the little island of Yim Tin Tsai, which literally translates to “little salt pan” from Cantonese. The UNESCO-recognized historical site has been producing salt since the 1600s, and is the only place in Hong Kong today where salt is still produced. For hundreds of years, the Hakka clan that inhabited the island made a tidy living from trading the salt that flooded the flat lands. Before the age of refrigeration, salt was a very valuable commodity in the preservation of food. However, they were outcompeted by the rise of global trade and the inhabitants eventually moved away from the island, leaving the jungle to reclaim their old dwellings and turn the village into a “ghost island”. Starting in the early 2000s, a cultural revival of the island began, transforming the ghost island into an educational center to preserve the heritage of its past. Visitors can visit the quaint St. Joseph’s Chapel and learn about the salt distilling process at the restored salt pans. We also like wandering about the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the old village.
Staring at the glittery, bustling metropolis of Hong Kong, it’s hard to imagine that it started off as a sleepy fishing community. Intrepid visitors can relive a piece of Hong Kong’s history at the Lamma Fisherfolk Village, located on a 20,000-square foot floating platform in Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island. There’s plenty of hands-on experiences for the little ones and adults alike to try, including beating the drums on a dragon boat, trying your luck at fishing and handling various sea creatures in the touch pool — from starfish to puffer fish. Our favorite part is heading onboard an authentic fishing junk, and exploring how fisherfolk families used to live.
Click here for more details.