Hong Kong, like New York is a concrete island. Also like Manhattan, Hong Kong has built a ‘Central Park’ as an oasis in the middle of the bustling metropolis – Kowloon Park.
Once a British military base, the park offers over 13 hectares (33 acres) of greenery, sculpture, swimming pools and quiet gardens and buildings. There’s even a large piazza for concerts gracing the park. Visitors to Hong Kong could easily spend a weekend vacation in Kowloon and still not see it all.
For those who want to relax in an active way, the park provides several athletic facilities. For younger kids there are two playgrounds with supplied equipment and the bruise-proof floor helps parents’ minds rest easy. Kids will love The Discovery Playground, reconstructed from some of the old British fort components, including cannon.
Older ‘kids’ of all ages can enjoy soccer, handball or take a ride along one of the many bike paths. The Sports Centre features regular events and anyone can have a game of squash or basketball.
For those who like their physical activity a little more serene there are still dozens of choices. A simple walk down the lane among the greenery is an option in many parts of the park. Birdwatching is an often enjoyed activity along the way. Bird Lake hosts a variety of species and the aviary holds nearly forty local waterfowl types.
Tai Chi is a common activity in Kowloon Park, often with advanced masters leading a group of regulars and drop-ins from the local stock exchange who want to relieve a little stress. Guests are welcome to join in.
For purely mental exercise there are numerous tables in Banyan Court with chess games always in progress. Visitors can watch quietly or test their skill against one of the elder experts who frequent the park.
Just walking along to see the sights is a pleasant combination of physical and mental exercise. The many sculpture in Sculpture Park provide a mini-outdoor museum. The multi-colored bird sculpture spiraling around the fountain is a particular favorite of the locals. One of the more unusual offerings is the large totem pole, a gift from Canada.
Any of the Chinese gardens will delight fans of botanical gardens. Woven throughout the park, they offer a variety of local plant and flower species. Set off among them are several ponds, including the delightful turtle pond holding several who happily while away the day in the cool shade and clear water.
If you feel like emulating the turtles, there’s a public swimming pool in Kowloon Park that’s open to locals and tourists alike. A swim is often a good way to get information about Hong Kong that isn’t in the tour guides from a friendly resident.
But visitors don’t need to feel pressured to do anything. Just sitting in one of the many quiet nooks, reading or merely soaking in the surroundings is a commonly enjoyed pastime in Kowloon Park.