The hillside Hong Kong Park is a fusion of artifice and nature. It features a soaring aviary surrounded by a twisting, elevated walkway from which visitors can spot exotic birds perched in the rain forest canopy. The park also has a visual arts centre, tai chi garden, game hall, playground and viewing tower. Both the Peak Tram and Botanical and Zoological Gardens are up the street.
Kowloon Park between Canton and Nathan roads is best visited during early mornings, when locals can be seen exercising to a soundtrack of chirping birds and Cantopop. Everywhere you look, from the Chinese Garden to the Loggia, the whitewashed Islamic Centre to the Sculpture Park—even in the hedge maze—locals are stretching and jogging. Reward yourself for waking early with cheap, tasty dim sum at Very Good across from the Islamic Centre.
Hop on the KCR East Railway to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery in the northern New Territories. The 400-stair ascent is lined with life-size gold statues of the Buddha’s disciples, and leads to an ornate courtyard. The soaring walls of the main temple are lined with miniature sitting Buddhas—hence the name. Watch out for mischievous macaques lingering near the douhua (tofu in sugar syrup) booth and along the descent.
Kowloon Walled City Park in New Kowloon was once a crime-ridden slum, but the local government appropriated the land and turned it into a walled park dotted with Eastern staples: banzai trees, sculpted hedges, lunar year statuary and traditional buildings linked by paths and promenades. The park is a short trip from the centre by bus or MTR (mass transit railway).
For a more complete view of Victoria Peak, take the tourist tram to the top, but hop bus 15 on the way down. The open-air, double decker swerves along the 552-metre descent, making hairpin turns on a tightrope artery that offers great views of luxurious residences, little streets and cemeteries tucked into the mountainside. At the base, bus 15 continues into Soho and Central.
Or if you really want to explore the Peak, you can hike the Peak Circuit Trail and/or the Pok Fu Lam Country Park Trail from the top. The trailhead is located near the Peak Tower and Galleria.