One of the things that I miss here in Hong Kong is large expanses of grass to sit on. The parks here are lovely, but they are all landscaped with plants and benches and paths. But last year, Tom and I took a trip out to Grass Island (also known as Tap Mun in Cantonese) in the New Territories where, as the name suggests, we found some grass!
Tap Mun lies just north of the Sai Kung country park. To get to it, we took a ferry from Ma Liu Shui which goes past Plover Cove and through the Tolo Channel to get to the island. It’s a really beautiful boat trip.
Firstly, the practicalities. To get to the Ma Liu Shui ferry pier, leave University MTR station by Exit B and head along Chak Cheung Street, following the path over the main road and through a subway until you come out by the cycle track by the waterfront. Turn left and walk along by the cycle track until you reach the ferry pier. The ferry leaves at 8.30am, 12.30pm and 3pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays (the 12.30pm ferry does not go on weekdays) so we took the 12.30pm ferry. All the ferry times I mention in this post are available on the Android HKFerry HD app (on the Kaito page in the app), which I talked about here. We arrived quite early for the ferry (you really don’t want to miss it!) and the ferry pier got pretty busy by the time the ferry arrived.
The ferry itself is nothing to write home about. The top deck is open on all sides although they had tarpaulins down on most of the sides when we were on it – so pick your spot whether you want to be able to the see the view or be a little protected from the wind!
We started off sitting in the middle of the boat but went out to the front to see the view, which was lovely – even on a hazy day like ours.
The ferry stops at Sham Chung and Lai Chi Chong before reaching Tap Mun and takes about 75 minutes in total.
Upon arrival, we turned left out of the ferry pier and followed the path up. Firstly we passed a nice temple and then we just kept going and after a very short walk (I can’t remember but something like 10-15 minutes) we came out onto a viewpoint with the grass! Maybe the quality of the grass isn’t what you get in the UK, but to be fair it was spring when we went so the earth was a bit dry (summer is the wet season here).
As you can see there were plenty of people around but it never felt too busy, there was space for everyone.
If you wanted to explore the island thoroughly, you could start by turning left here and going up the hill (but I don’t think there’s much grass on that side).
We didn’t do that, so after consuming our picnic lunch we turned right and followed the path along the coastline.
As you came to the south side of the island you could see the north side of the Sai Kung Country Park across the water. This village is Ko Lau Wan Tsui.
There is a famous(?) rock formation here as well called Balanced Rock, which is on the left side of this photo.
Keep following the path round the coast and you end up back at the main village with the ferry pier. I don’t remember the walk being particularly long, maybe an hour in total. We took a few snaps while we waited for the next ferry.
We then took the 4.20pm Wong Shek ferry from Tap Mun and got off at Chek Keng (there are quite a few ferries to Wong Shek from Tap Mun, but only the 10.00am, 2.00pm and 4.20pm ferries stop at Chek Keng). We went there before (see this post) and really liked it, it’s very peaceful and serene. This time there were people picking things out of the water. If this was the UK I would guess that they were cockle pickers or winkle pickers, but I don’t know if you get those in Hong Kong!
Unfortunately, we didn’t have long in Chek Keng because the last ferry left at 5.20pm for Wong Shek (ferries go every hour from 10.20am to 5.20pm) so we had to head back to the ferry pier. At Wong Shek we took the bus back to Sai Kung and had dinner there.
N.B. On Sundays the 698R bus goes all the way from Wong Shek to Siu Sai Wan, via North Point. A very easy way to get home if you live in or are staying on Hong Kong Island!
Alternatively, if you want to go back to Ma Liu Shui instead of going to Chek Keng or Wong Shek, you can take the same ferry back as the one you took out. It leaves Tap Mun at 11.10am, 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays (or 11am and 5.30pm on weekdays).
This was a really lovely way to see some of the further reaches of Hong Kong without hiking for miles and miles. I was pregnant at the time and didn’t want to do too much so it was great for me to be able to get out this far. I’d really recommend it if you are looking for something a bit different to do in Hong Kong!
Thanks for reading!