Red-leaf season has officially begun in Hong Kong, as the territory’s famed Sweet Gum Woods are changing colour from yellow to red. According to the city’s red-leaf index, the foliage on the sweet gum trees is “turning red”, the second-highest level on the index.

The government’s red-leaf updates for 2023-2024 began on December 1. However, the leaves — which usually turn red by mid-December — were green at the beginning of the month and only started to turn yellow in the last two weeks of December. The website, which is updated every Friday, currently shows that, as of December 29, the leaves are transitioning from yellow to red.

The sweet gum trees at Tai Tong changing colour from yellow to red (© jessica_lkw and @marvphotograhy_ via Instagram)

The city’s sweet gum (Liquidambar formosana) trees typically change colour due to dry weather in autumn, along with low temperatures and strong sunlight hastening the decomposition of chlorophyll (green pigment) and facilitating the production of anthocyanin (red pigment). The trees at Tai Tong line the road of Tai Lam Country Park, and the contrast between the fiery reds and yellows of the sweet gum and the greens of the surrounding evergreens make for stunning photographs.

Every year, the MTR arranges a special red-leaf bus service, the K66A, to ferry visitors between the Long Ping Station and Tai Tong Shan Road. The bus runs between Long Ping and Tai Tong Shan Road from 9am and 2pm, and returns to the station from the woods between 1pm and 7pm. The service will be in operation on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays until January 14, 2024

Those who head to the woods by car should note that the section of Tai Tong Shan Road between the Pavilion and Tai Tong Shan Road Car Park will be intermittently closed between 7am and 7pm on the days that the K66A is in operation.

See also
13 Places To See Autumn Leaves In Hong Kong

Tai Lam Country Park is also home to the famous Tai Lam Chung Reservoir, which is one of the Top 10 Natural Wonders of Hong Kong, courtesy the Thousand Islands Lake that were once hills before Tai Lam Chung Valley was flooded.

Header image credits: Derek Yung via Canva

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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