May 1, 2022
Hong Kong has a lot of beautiful country parks to visit for free, and that includes reservoirs. In more than four years of living here, I never visited any reservoir. Probably because I only imagine water dams and lakes there. But one gloomy Sunday, my travel buddy invited me to visit one. I never thought that there are reservoirs with beautiful spots here in Hong Kong and not just simple water dams.
We traveled to New Territories one gloomy Sunday. And despite the gloomy weather, it didn't hinder us to pursue our plan to explore this enchanting reservoir. In between Tsuen Wan and Shatin is Shing Mun Reservoir, and probably one of the most beautiful reservoirs in Hong Kong.
If you wish to visit this place in the future, just a pretty reminder about the prohibited things to do while in the reservoir and water gathering ground:
- No fishing without a valid fishing license, and in spawning season.
- Do not litter or pollute the water.
- Do not swim or allow pets to swim in the reservoir or water-gathering ground.
- Do not release your pets or feed animals in the reservoir.
*Anyone who will violate rules is entitled to a HK$50,000 penalty and 2 years imprisonment.
*The reservoir has wild animals such as native monkeys and wild boars. Do not go near them or feed them.
The Shing Mun Reservoir also called the "fortified gate" has an interesting story written in its history. It was once a dense forest with villages in the area, and old settlers grew rice, tea, and pineapples. However, in 1923, to meet the heightening demand for freshwater, the reservoir was built and the construction began in 1933 and ended in 1937 with a capacity of three thousand million gallons of water and 280 feet in height. Villagers were then resettled to other areas, and some have submerged.
Enough with the little history of this reservoir. Let's start the exploration.
The place is perfect to spend a day wandering in nature. It took us more or less four hours to walk around the reservoir, and another few hours to hike the nearest trail. The concrete pathways made our walk on the nature trail easier.
There are many beautiful spots to visit in the reservoir, including the butterfly garden, pineapple dam, paperbark forest, leisure deck, and the main dam. There are also several trails that you can visit that start from the reservoir. We saw five trails if my memory serves me right. If you wish to visit them all, it is the best time to start your journey in the morning.
A few minutes' walk from the left entrance is a beautiful and tranquil lake where you could sit for a while before starting your journey. It isn't an ordinary lake, but part of the Pineapple Dam.
We headed forward and came across a sign to Butterfly Garden. We expected to see a butterfly sanctuary full of butterflies and flowers and so we opted to visit the garden first.
The place was out of our expectations as we only see a small fenced garden along the roadside. Nonetheless, it was still a beautiful place with different butterflies flying from one plant to another.
There are several species of butterflies in the garden enriched with larval and nectar food plants.
The place also serves as a breeding place to conserve rare species of butterflies, apart from giving visitors the opportunity for butterfly watching. The resting place at the corner of the garden seems enchanting for some reason.
Sadly, we only have seen a few species of butterflies in the area, compared to what was written on the information board. Probably, some have migrated to other parts of the reservoir to look for more nectar plants.
We left the area and continued walking, albeit, uncertain of where we were going, we just continued walking until we came across spots of beautiful attractions. A ten-minute walk from the butterfly garden is the Paperbark Forest which looks even more enchanting.
The lined paperbark trees along the reservoir road, probably 20 meters tall, are picturesque to behold and perfect for intagrammable photos, as well as for prenup and other kinds of photoshoots.
We stepped off from the main road and went down to the Waterside Paperbark.
We feel the tranquility of the place despite the number of visitors around the area. This place, perhaps, is the most beautiful part of the reservoir and the favorite spot of the visitors.
Paperbark trees of different sizes rear up in all lushness by the dam, and their tangled roots show that they have been standing there for centuries. Beneath the canopy of branches offers a stunning view overlooking the tranquil Pineapple Dam.
It's the best place to take a breather away from the bustling city. And for a moment, you could sit down for a while facing the water, appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the place, and let the scenic view wash away your stresses.
A perfect place for dating, isn't it?
It seems to be a perfect place to have a picnic with friends or family, but no, it isn't as bunches of native monkeys would dive onto your mat to grab your food. They are harmless but become wild once they see food or if someone provoked them.
They look pitiful though and seem hungry, but it isn't advisable to feed them for some reason. They tend to harass someone showing them food. But if you want to give them some food, it's better to put them on the ground away from them and let monkeys go over to get the food.
We continued walking on the nature trail along the dam and came across this part where more people were having fun and some were camping. This is the best spot for a family gathering. I didn't see any monkeys climbing on tree branches, so it's a safe place to have a picnic on this side.
Anywhere in the reservoir is truly a paradise and there are a lot of tranquil places to unwind while admiring the amazing beauty of nature. The lushness of the lined trees by the dam, the calming water, a picturesque to behold, and a must to visit in Hong Kong.
While walking inside the paperbark forest along the dam, we felt like we were not in Hong Kong, but in the woods somewhere in the countryside of a European country. You'll feel a Twilight vibe where Bella and Edward walking in the woods, and Jacob in a wolf form would suddenly come out from somewhere.
We walked farther and we came across a stream where we had to cross to the other side by walking cautiously on stones.
It was a little bit of adventure while crossing this stream on stones. Some were holding hands, but a saddening scene was one old man fell into the water. Gladly, he had no further injuries.
Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the starting point of this stream as we followed the other path. That would be the place that I would visit next time.
The next part of the trail is a wide green field perfect for camping. Kids could play and run around this field freely. Families could set up tents or lay their mats on the ground and have fun.
There are several resting sheds in the reservoir where you could sit for a while after a long walk.
Several picnic sites are also on different sides of the reservoir. Some have barbeque pits, but due to Covid protocols, they are temporarily closed.
We left the dam nature trail and went back to the main road to visit the next attraction and look for a place where we could have our lunch. We passed on windy paved road, a bamboo forest, crossed the bridge, and came across an intersection where we have to choose where to head to.
We took a break at the resting shed before going to the leisure deck and saw a group of Filipinos having a birthday celebration and some Chinese families.
Three hundred sixty meters detour from the resting shed is the Leisure Deck.
The stairway down to the leisure deck has a stunning view alone.
We reached the deck after ten minutes and we were awed by the scenic view from atop. A pagoda on the deck serves as an attraction and a resting place as well.
The Shing Mun Leisure Deck offers a stunning view of the mountain skyline, the nearest city, and the beautiful reservoir in a panoramic view.
The pineapple dam snakes beautifully through the forest and you could see the reservoir in full, as well as the visitors scattered on the water gathering ground along the dam.
It was a worth it four-hour walk around the reservoir and we didn't feel any tiredness at all as we have been unwinded by scenic views in different parts of the reservoir.
The best time to visit this place is during sunny days in Autumn as tree leaves in different colors are more vibrant and you could have a more stunning photo backdrop. Besides, the transition of green leaves to Autumn colors is certainly beautiful and worth capturing.
Meet my cute and pretty travel buddy, Rachelle (in the right photo).
We get back to the paved road and opted to visit one of the mountain trails from the intersection. And the new journey began...
Thanks for dropping by. See you in my next travel blog.
How to get to this place?
From any point in Hong Kong, take MTR to Tsuen Wan Station. Exit to B1 and look for minibus No. 82 at the bus terminus. It would go directly to Shing Mun Reservoir.
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