This week our family field trip found us cycling from Sha Tin Park along the waterfront towards Tai Po. If you missed last week, it was fun and games in the Toy Library, and you can read about our experience here.
This week the intrepid field-trippers were: two thirty-something parents (in search of much needed fresh air and outdoor space),Granny Sue, aged 69 (she’ll kill me for publishing her age but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it) and one very determined toddler; Gracie, 2 ½ years (who won’t kill me for publishing her age).
Once in Sha Tin Park, we followed the blue signs for the bike kiosk and hired our bikes from the “Good Luck Bike Shop” (well, with a name like that we thought that luck would be on our side navigating the busy bike lanes with a toddler and granny in tow). We were impressed with the selection and quality of bikes (many of them new) that the Good Luck Bike Shop had on offer, including bikes with baby seats, children’s bikes, tandems, racing bikes and family bikes, i.e. three wheelers… for one strong driver with a small seat at the back for two little butts (or just one big butt).
Once on the designated bike path you can ride all the way from Sha Tin Park to Tai Po Waterfront Park. From Sha Tin, you ride along the Shing Mun River passing Sha Tin Racecourse. You end up at Tai Po Waterfront Park having taken in the scenic Tolo Harbour with its views of Ma On Shan. The parks at either end of the bike trail are worth a visit in their own right; both are packed with child friendly facilities.
The distance between the parks is 11.1km, so as we had a toddler and limited time we decided to take the bikes out for just an hour (which proved eventful enough) and then allowed Gracie to enjoy the delights of Sha Tin Park with its two themed playgrounds with castles. There was plenty more that we didn’t have time to cover, including a rock garden, sand pits, dinosaurs, a waterfall and lawns especially for “family games”.
Hits: It’s cheap! Rental of bikes costs from $60 per day, per bike. You should be able to knock them down on price if you only want to go for an hour or so. It’s scenic… cycling along the river from Sha Tin to Tai Po Waterfront Park you can pretty much forget your worries and the hustle and bustle of city dwelling. Fresh air… the air definitely feels fresher than in Central. It’s fun! Who would have thought you’d be riding a bike in Hong Kong?? Cycling along the river, you can watch the rowing boats go by, but do keep your eyes on the road… Granny Sue didn’t and ended up going over the handlebars and landing in a hedge. (At 69 that wasn’t a happy moment for any of our party, but I’m pleased to say she dusted herself off and got straight back on… now that’s the spirit!) There’s a designated bike path, which means no cars, so it’s safe (but see ‘misses’ below about our fellow bikers!).
Misses: It’s busy at the weekend… be ready for a lot of traffic (i.e. fellow bikers) on weekend afternoons and public holidays and in narrow places on the bike path this can be a little hairy at times (especially when people – no names mentioned – me – stop to take photos and nearly cause a mass pile up… the things I do for this blog). Not everyone remembers how to ride a bike (again no names mentioned – Granny Sue) and cyclists of all levels from wheel-wobblers who can’t ride in a straight line, to those training for the next Tour de France will be whizzing or wobbling past, so at times you need your wits and rear view mirrors about you. Check your bike before you cycle off. Go for a little test ride, change gears, wriggle around on your seat and look out for wonky peddles, seats that don’t stay put – which we had on one of our bikes, soft tires, and dodgy gears.
Need to know before you go: not all bike hire shops stock baby seats (we tried to hire first from bike shops in Tai Wai but they didn’t stock baby seats), but Good Luck Bike Shop does – see below.
If you’re hungry: Sha Tin Park is 5 minutes walk from New Town Plaza which has a CitySuper, Shakeys Pizza, Bo-Lo’gne, Pizza Hut and The Spaghetti House as some of the child-friendly dining options on offer.
Opening hours: Bike shops are normally open daily from 9am to 7pm (but check ahead for public holidays).
The bike shops in both parks are related, so if need be you only have to ride one way, starting at one park and returning the bike at the other park. (This incurs a small drop off fee per bike though).
Seasons: although available all year round, it’s not so enjoyable when it’s belting hot, so it’s best to go from November to April.
Age: suitable from toddler up provided you and your toddler are happy to be on the same bike together. But in hindsight, probably best for kids that are competent on a bike, especially at weekends when it’s busy, although we would take our toddler again as it was great to get out in the fresh air and do something different.
Snoopy’s World: if there’s energy still be burnt off and you have time there’s a Snoopy’s World themed playground above City Super in New Town Plaza. Alas, we didn’t have time to visit but I feel this might be another family field trip on the horizon.
How to get there:
By MTR: From Central or Admiralty take the Tsuen Wan (red) line to Mongkok, transfer on to the Kwun Tong (green) line to Kowloon Tong. Pick up East Rail line at Kowloon Tong and take it to Sha Tin.
From Sha Tin station take exit marked New Town Plaza. Follow signs for Sha Tin Plaza and Sha Tin Town Hall. Once at Town Hall head towards the water and you’ll find the Park, once in the Park look for the bike kiosk signs. The bike shops are located down on the waterfront to the left of the Northern Playground if you’re looking at the water.
Sha Tin Park
No.2 Yuen Wo Road, Sha Tin Park, Sha Tin, New Territories
Map: available here.
Good Luck Bike Shop, a.k.a. Shatin Park Bike Kiosk No.2
Tel: 2606 6878
and Tai Po Waterfront Park Bike Kiosk No.2
Tel: 6605 9978