Founded in 1871 the Hong Kong Zoological & Botanical Gardens is among the only gardens that were open to the public years before it was fully completed. In fact the park has been open since 1864; it is located in the northern section of Hong Kong’s Victoria Peak and stretches across 5.6 hectares. Once a private garden to the governor, the splendid park was initially called Bing Tau Fa Yuen. While some say the name relates to the head of the soldiers or even the Commander-in-Chief, others however believe that it was a local way of pronouncing the word botanical. Since its opening the park has been a favourite spot for lovers.

With over 1000 species of plants, the place is very rich in flora. Most are indigenous but also includes rare and exotic species. These include the Dawn redwood, Ailanthus, several varieties of Camellia including Grantham’s Camellia, Yellow Camellia and Crapnell’s Camellia. Sweet fragrances fill the garden all year round with the scents of Orange-jasmine, Roses, Mock Lime, Chinese Privet, Kwai-fah and the White Jade Orchid Tree. Even autumn has a beautiful display of multi-hued leaves. The plants are separated in to various thematic gardens. Bamboo garden, Camellia garden, Magnolia garden, Palm garden, Bauhinia garden and Azalea garden are the different themes.

The fauna is also impressive with 40 reptiles, 70 mammals and over 600 bird species calling the park home. Because of space issues the premises cannot house large animals but there is plenty of variety. Orangutans, ring-tailed lemurs and black & white lemurs keep grownups and kids entertained with their antics for hours. Watching the Chinese alligator and Burmese python gives a different kind of feeling. Admission to all areas of the park is free and the fountain terrace area is open from 5am-10pm while the green house/ education centre is open from 9am – 4.30 pm and all other areas are open from 6am – 7pm.

There is plenty of accommodation in the vicinity including Cosmo Hotel Mongkok. It is one of the most visited Mongkok hotels Hong Kong has to offer. There are many other interesting sites in the area that are in close proximity to this hotesl in Kowloon.

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry. Google+