Hong Kong's Preserved in a Wetland Park

Hong Kong Wetland park and the skyscrapers
••• See-ming Lee

Hong Kong Wetland Park is one of the world’s finest nature reserves. Its mudflats and mangroves support an incredible diversity of life - from geckos and pigmy frogs to goldfish and fiddler crabs, while tens of thousands of migratory birds call the area home each year. For most visitors, it's a completely unexpected side to a city more famous for its skyscrapers and shopping. 

Welcome to the Mai Po Marshes

The park is set over 60 hectares in the New Territories on the unique Mai Po Marshes. It’s an area of incredible biodiversity – from crabs and mudskippers to dancing dragonflies and a patchwork of butterflies. The park is, however, most famous for its birds and wildfowl. This is one of the most important locations in the world for migrating birds, with thousands using Hong Kong Wetland Park as a rest and refueling pit stop on their way north or south. These include the Siberian Stonechat, Marsh Sandpiper and Great Cormorant - with the latter particularly fond of stretching its huge wings to take in the sun.

 

What to Do?

Ok, so there are lots of animals but what do I actually do at the park? Well, you won’t need a tent and machete. The beauty of Hong Kong Wetland Park is the dedicated trails seamlessly carved through the park to help visitors explore.

The different walks are designed to take you through different habitats inhabited by different creatures and plants. For example, the stream walk takes you through the flats, where you can spot river otters, kingfishers and other birds, while the Mangrove boardwalk tours through the lush mangrove vegetation of the park. It might not offer the impressive animals at Hong Kong Zoo or the spectacular creatures at Ocean Park, the attraction here is seeing the animals in their natural habitat.

How long you spend in the park is really up to you, but for the blockbuster bird hides and bird watching walks budget for around 2 to 3 hours of actual walking.

Apart from the actual wetlands themselves there is also a very decent visitor center, which offers interactive, themed exhibits. While the static exhibitions are no match for the real deal outside, they are a good introduction to where you are and the Swamp Adventure playground is ever popular with kids.

Best Time to Visit

It depends on what you want to see. The park really is a wildlife haven throughout the year but there are some seasonal highlights. The best bird watching is during the annual migrations, mostly in October and November and then again in March and April. During summer you’ll find the park lit up with butterflies.

It can also be worth checking when the tide will be out as it’s usually easier to spot birds and crabs in the mud flats.

How to Get There

Hong Kong Wetland Park is in the northeast corner of Hong Kong, near the town of Yuen Long. There are a couple of options for visiting the park using either bus or train.

  • By Bus; The 967 bus from Admiralty station and the 269B minibus from Hung Hom station are the most useful bus routes to the park. Journey time is 40mins to an hour.
  • By Train; The train route is quicker but potentially trickier. You need to take the MTR to Tin Shui Wai Station and the change for the light railway lines 705/706 for Wetland Park station. Octopus cards are valid on light rail.

There is only limited car parking at the park itself so travel by public transport is advised.

What to Wear

Yes, they’re a problem. With such as a wide expanse of undisturbed water, Hong Kong Wetland Park is like a love hotel for mosquitoes. You should certainly wear long sleeves and trousers, even in hotter weather – and avoid sandals. It is also advisable to apply some sort of mosquito repellent. The Mosquito population is most active in the days after heavy rainfall.