Visions of pink and white blossoms most likely bring to mind Japan or Washington DC. But right here in Hong Kong, it’s possible to partake in hanami, the flower viewing rite of spring. In 2018, 400 cherry trees and other spring-flowering varietals were planted at Ngong Ping, making it the city’s newest blossom hotspot. Here are five other places where you can stop and smell the sakura.
Kwan Kung Pavilion, Cheung Chau
Once a cluster of fishing villages, the small southern island of Cheung Chau still moves at a slower pace than much of Hong Kong. It’s also the setting of Kwan Kung Pavilion, a traditional red Chinese pavilion with burning incense, a green tiled roof and, come spring, the pink petals of 10 Taiwanese cherry trees. Step into the temple to admire a 2.5-metre-tall statue of its namesake, a Han dynasty general deified as the ‘God of War’, made from a single camphor tree.
When to visit: February to March
How to get there: Take a ferry from Central Pier 5 to Cheung Chau and walk about 10 minutes to reach the pavilion on Kwun Yam Wan Road
Tai Po Waterfront Park
At 22 hectares, Hong Kong’s largest public park spreads out along Tolo Harbour in the New Territories. Its gardens and lawns have several varieties of cherry blossoms, including the yoshino cherry, a gorgeous flowering tree with almond-scented blossoms that turn white as they mature. Tai Po also features the Fuji cherry, notable for its light pink, paper-thin blooms and zig-zagging branches. You’re likely to encounter palm trees, camellia and rose species, too, while strolling the grounds.
When to visit: March to April
How to get there: Several KMB bus routes are available from Tai Po Market MTR Station with stops near Dai Fat Street; click here for details
Hong Kong Velodrome Park, Tseung Kwan O
This 5.3-hectare park at 105-107 Po Hong Road has 11 cherry trees from Taiwan and Japan as well as artificial lakes. The pink bellflower cherry trees next to the velodrome and central lawn are popular spots to snap an Instagram-worthy panorama of cherry blossoms – with soaring skyscrapers in the background. A skatepark and sport climbing wall are added draws, as is the park’s excellent access to public transit. While the velodrome’s 250-metre-long wooden track is only open to professionals, there are extensive public cycling trails around Tseung Kwan O.
When to visit: March to April
How to get there: Hang Hau MTR Station Exit B or Tseung Kwan O MTR Station Exit A; KMB bus and GMB green minibus routes also available; click here for details
Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden
Kadoorie Farm is an urban oasis spread along the northern slopes of Tai Mo Shan Country Park – and not far from the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree (where, in the past, locals would toss a wish written on paper and tied to an orange into the branches during Chinese New Year – they now tie their wishes to wooden racks nearby). The tall pines of its T.S. Woo Memorial Pavilion are punctuated by 230 Taiwan cherry trees. These bell-shaped clusters of pink flowers, along with birds clinging to the branches, create an idyllic spring scene. Walk along the Kadoorie Brothers Memorial Pavilion for a spectacular view and the pleasant fragrance of apricot blossoms. There are hiking trails, waterfalls and opportunities to meet farm animals and pick produce – more than enough for a day’s outing.
Rotary Park, Tai Mo Shan Country Park
The country park takes its name from the 957-metre peak – Hong Kong’s tallest – but lower down near the visitor centre is the picturesque Rotary Park, which counts among its ranks 38 cherry trees native to Taiwan’s mountain regions. Set out along the Rotary Park Nature Trail to enjoy the scenery, including many other wildflowers and trees. A bamboo-lined family trail leads to a campsite with barbecue pits and a campsite, should you want to sleep over.
When to visit: End of February through early March
How to get there: Take Bus 51 (towards Sheung Tsuen) from Nina Tower Bus Terminus or the bus stop atop of the Tsuen Wan Railway station. Get off at bus stop “Country Park” and walk 5-10 minutes
This story was originally published in March 2019 and was updated in February 2020