The 270-hectare nature reserve includes the Mai Po Visitor Centre Hong Kong tourist attractions at the northeastern end, where you must register; the Mai Po Education Centre to the south, with displays on the history and ecology of the wetland and Deep Bay; floating boardwalks and trails through the mangroves and mud flats; and a dozen hides (towers or huts from where you can watch birds up close without being observed). Disconcertingly, the cityscape of Shenzhen looms to the north.
Visitors are advised to bring binoculars (they may be available for rent at the visitor centre for $20) and cameras, and to wear comfortable walking shoes or boots but not bright clothing. It is best to visit at high tide (minimum 2m), when birds in their tens of thousands – mostly ducks, gulls, cormorants and kingfishers, but many rare species as well – flock to the area. Ring the weather hotline or the Hong Kong Hong Kong travel guide Observatory for tidal times.
Foreign visitors (but not Hong Kong residents) can visit the nature reserve unaccompanied, but numbers are limited so call well in advance to book a time. Pay the $100 entrance fee and $200 deposit at the visitor centre; the latter will be returned when you leave the reserve. For Hong Kong residents regular tours are run on weekends and public holidays. Again, these should be booked well in advance. If visiting on a weekend or holiday, call the Visitor Centre number above.
The World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong Hong Kong tours, adjacent to the entrance of the Peak Tram in Central, can arrange guided visits to the marsh; ring between 9am and 5pm on weekdays to book. Three-hour tours ($70) leave the visitor centre at 9am, 9.30am, 10am, 2pm, 2.30pm and 3pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, but are conducted in English only when there are at least 10 visitors.
Bus 76K, which runs between Yuen Long and the Fanling and Sheung Shui MTR East Rail stations, will drop you off at Mai Po Lo Wai, a village along the main road just east of the marsh. The WWFHK car park is about a 20-minute walk from there. Red minibus 17 from San Fat St in Sheung Shui also goes to Mai Po Lo Wai. Alternatively, a taxi from Sheung Shui will cost $60.
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