While it may be known as a concrete jungle to most, there is a surprising amount of wildlife in Hong Kong. Here are our top 5 wildlife experiences in Hong Kong:
1. Cows & Water Buffalo
Feral cows and water buffalo roam around Ngong Ping Lantau island near the Tian Tan Buddha (aka the Big Buddha). They often follow tourists and eat out of the rubbish bins. The cows are not vicious and are accustomed to being around a lot of people. Although in saying that, exercise caution when you try to take any selfies. Don’t get too close to them as they are still wild animals.
Another place to see cows and water buffalo is Tap Mun (aka Grass Island). It is one of the remote islands in Hong Kong and is a 1.5 hour ferry ride from Ma Liu Shui ferry pier. You can go there for the day and do an easy 7km walk around the island. Eat at one of the local restaurants or pack you own picnic. There is also the option to camp the night, but be sure to bring your own camping gear. When visiting you will be surrounded by cows. Don’t be surprised if a cow walks through your campsite in the middle of the night.
2. Chinese white dolphins (aka pink dolphins)
Chinese white dolphins (aka pink dolphins) are found in the waters near Lantau Island and Peng Chau Island. While the dolphins are actually white in colour, they can often appear pink. This is because of the blood vessels under their white skin, giving them a pinkish tinge. The dolphins can be seen year round, but as with nature there are no guarantees. There are a number of tours that offer boat trips out to find the pink dolphins. KKday offers a tour to see the dolphins, and see the impressive new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. This is all while drinking wine from a luxurious boat. The good thing about this tour is that you can go on another cruise within a month if you don’t see any dolphins on your trip.
3. Wild boars
Unlike the cows (where you need to travel to more remote parts of Hong Kong to see them), the wild boars can be found close to the city on Hong Kong Island. My favourite wild boar sighting was in Quarry Bay when I was doing the Jardines Lookout hike. Up ahead I saw a wild boar dart across the path. I was very scared and cautiously walked up ahead to where the boar had passed. I turned back to see if the boar was still there and was lucky to see 5 baby boars one by one running across the path following their mother. Further up ahead I found the father so I cautiously walked past him as well. At the end of the hike I also met two more adult boars digging around in the rubbish. While my experience with the boars was peaceful, some others in Hong Kong have not been so lucky. There are a few instances of people being attacked.
Some tips to follow if you see a wild boar:
- don’t feed them
- don’t get too close to them
- slowly walk away from them, and keep an eye on where they are
- if they are charging at you, try and get up high
Cheeky and aggressive are the two words to describe the monkeys in Hong Kong. The monkeys are mainly found in: Kam Shan, Lion Rock, and Shing Mun Country Parks. There have also been sightings at the 10,000 buddhas in Sha Tin and other urban areas.
If you are hiking or visiting any of these areas it is best not to bring any food with you, because the monkeys will sniff it out and steal it from you. Also do not deliberately feed the monkeys as it is illegal. You will get hefty fines (max $10,000 HKD ~$1,200USD).
On the positive, as long as you don’t have any food, seeing monkeys in the wild is a rewarding experience as you can witness how playful they are in their natural habitat.
Before you get too excited, you aren’t going to see any wild Pandas in Hong Kong. However, you can see two giant pandas in Ocean Park, along with a variety of other (mainly marine) animals. I have included this on the list, because who doesn’t love pandas? And also at Ocean Park you can become an honorary Panda keeper for the day. While I personally haven’t done the panda keeper experience at Ocean Park, it sounds like a great opportunity to get up closer to the Pandas. Unfortunately you do not get to touch the pandas, but you do get to feed them. Note this experience seems to be geared towards kids, but I am sure adults who love pandas (like me) would enjoy it. Details including price can be found on the Ocean Park website.