Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrIf you’re looking for an idyllic, nature-filled haven when visiting Hong Kong, then you need look no further than these extensive gardens found on Victoria Peak’s mid-levels. Home to 25 small animal species (birds, mammals and reptiles), as well as thousands of endemic plants and flowers showcased in a multitude of themed gardens, Hong Kong Zoo and Botanical Gardens are one of the most treasured attractions in the city. Particularly loved by families, these magnificent gardens are easy to access and free for all to enjoy.
Overview of the ParkIn order to avoid any possible disappointment, a visit to this park ought to be seen as a stroll through superbly kept botanical gardens, which happen to house a few animals, rather than a full-day tour of a flower-filled zoo. If you have teenagers to impress, then this may not be the best place to take them (Ocean Park would be a better option), yet if you have small kids with excess energy to burn, and you are all in need of a few hours away from the noisy crowds, then this will definitely tick all your boxes.
The lack of space in Hong Kong means that both the number of animals and their size has to be kept to a minimum, yet this translates to a fantastic haven where creatures have space, the enclosures are inconspicuous and the place is never overcrowded. You’ll still find orangutans, several different kinds of lemurs from all over the world, as well crocodiles, pythons, and a few other reptiles.
The first section of the park was officially opened to the public in 1871, even though access to the gardens had been granted since 1864. The first wild animals arrived in 1876 and, thankfully, due to land restrictions, no animal larger than a small ape was ever kept here throughout the history of the park.
A Detailed LookThe gardens are split in two sections, separated by Albany Road and connected via an underground tunnel; making strolling back and forth an easy and relaxing affair. On the lower section you’ll find Old Garden, which comes complete with a kid’s playground, an extensive aviary with hundreds of birds, as well as numerous gardens and greenhouses containing over 1,000 different flowers. Visit when the plants are in full bloom and you’ll find the colorful carpet an absolute feast for the senses.
The upper level is where you’ll find all the mammals and reptile exhibits, all immaculately kept in enclosures which seamlessly blend into the luscious surroundings. Swinging monkeys and snapping crocodiles are the big crowd pleasers here and this section is an absolute delight for animal lovers. As opposed to most other attractions and landmarks in Hong Kong, you’ll find neither souvenir shops nor any Subway branches. Some would argue this is, in fact, the biggest draw card of all.
Dedicated flower gardens in the park include the Magnolia, Orchid, Camelia, Bamboo, Palm and Azalea gardens, home to more species of each particular flower than you ever knew existed. We suggest you put aside at least two hours to enjoy this park in its full glory, and to wear comfortable shoes as there is quite a lot of (up and down) walking involved.
The only two incongruous features of the park are a bronze statue of King George VI , to commemorate British rule over its former subject, and a 1928 granite arch which pays homage to local residents who gave their lives to help the Allied forces during World War II.
Bring a packed lunch and sit by the fountain for a brilliant alternative to a dim sum feast, or head here at dusk to see the park magically lit up. It is at this time that Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens reveal themselves to be, by far, one of the most romantic spots in the entire city.
Should you have more time up your sleeve, and desire an extra nature-kick, then head down past the lower gardens, turn left on Garden Road and walk up until you reach Hong Kong Park , another one of the city’s amazing (and free!) public gardens.
Hong Kong ParkThis park is slightly larger than the botanical gardens and home to a walk-through aviary (one of the largest in the world), ponds; streams, waterfalls; children’s playground, squash court facility and even a museum of tea wares. You’ll find a gorgeous restaurant in the park and small refreshment café in the squash center as well. History lovers may enjoy a visit to the three remaining colonial buildings which are housed within the park, and were once part of the British colonial-area military zone known as Victoria Barracks. Rawlinson House was the living quarter of the deputy general (now a marriage registry office), whilst Cassels Block and Wavell House were both quarters assigned to married officers, and are nowadays home of the Visual Arts Center and Aviary Education Center, respectively.
Between the two parks, one could easily spend an entire day immersed in incredible natural surroundings forgetting, for a brief moment, that they are in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities.
How to Get ThereBy Bus: 3b, 12 and 13 from Central; 23A and 23B from Causeway Bay, all stop in front of the gardens.
By MTR : to Central and follow the signposts.
- Victoria Peak
- Hong Kong Park
- Lan Kwai Fong
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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Jan 27, 2015