Daytripper is a regular column that aims to help people get the most out of their PRD experience by proposing fun excursions that can be made in a single day to explore the local culture and nature of the region.
So, you find yourself in Dongguan: don’t fret! The little town of eight million has a few options to divert your time. If your night wasn’t filled with too many craft brews in Xiaba Fang, wake up bright and early to explore the hiking trails of Shuilianshan Forest Park.
Of Dongguan’s six forest parks, Shuilianshan is the most popular… which is a pro and a con, as families flock to the 6,000-acre space each weekend with rowdy kids in town. Get there around the 7am opening for a more peaceful saunter to the peak. It’ll be cooler then, of course, which makes all the difference this time of year.
Enter from the north, past the parking lot and up a wide paved boulevard. From there you can spy the namesake waterfall, distant enough to appear tiny but a pleasant sight nonetheless. Diverge from the main route to the lepidopterological pleasures of Butterfly Canyon (RMB20) – but skip the other animal attractions, as the conditions may cause some heartache.
Continue ascending until the road diverges into tributaries of winding, narrow forest paths. The paved gradient is never very difficult as you pass pavilions and rest stops to the 378-meter peak. Linger a while by the man-make lake – you can even hop in a boat to take a spin on the water – or divert yourself to the wide community space built up around a renovated Xishan Temple. When we visited, families burned incense, admired a large collection of sun-bathing turtles, tossed around the shuttlecock and photographed the costumed ayis as they danced. There’s food available – if you’re brave enough to savor RMB2 hot dogs – and water to purchase before ascending on.
Give yourself three hours if you want to pashan straight to the peak, or five hours if you want to linger with a picnic or the other diversions.
It might not surpass our favorite hikes in Hong Kong, but Shuilianshan Forest Park is a fine way to divert a morning if you find yourself in Dongguan.
How to get there:
Once in Dongguan, a No. 10 bus from Xiping MRT station should get you to Shuilianshan Road in 48 minutes. But a taxi is by far the fastest way to get there – just remember that only the Chinese version of Didi Dache works in Dongguan. Search for 水濂山森林公园.
For more Daytripper click here.