A Day Trip to Cheung Chau Island
Cheung Chau Island seems a world away from the towering buildings and crowded streets of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Yet, the ferry to this small island only takes 45 minutes from Hong Kong’s Central Pier.
Cheung Chau is a small fishing community located between Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island. It is part of the area called the Outlying Islands which also includes Peng Chau Island, Lantau Island, and Lamma Island.
There are no cars here, instead, people get around on foot or bicycle. The tallest building is only four levels, and the lifestyle is considerably slower than the big city. It is quite similar to the Tai-O Fishing Village on the west of Lantau Island which I also recommend visiting if you have the time.
Here are a few things to do in Chaung Chau Island on a quick day trip. If you can’t fit everything in one day you can easily make another trip back.
Things to do in Cheung Chau Island
1. Walk Around the Harbour
The area around the harbor on the west coast is the most lively part of Cheung Chau Island. The harbor runs from the Cheung Chau Ferry Pier in the south to the Fire Station in the north.
As you explore the harbor you’ll notice the boats which sit idle in the bay. Along the coast, you’ll see men fishing, working on their boats, or just relaxing with their dog. In the afternoon you
2. Wander the Market
One of my favorite things to do in Cheung Chau Islands is to wander down Tay San Praya Road. This lively road runs parallel to the coast, but one street back. Here you will find a narrow street filled with lots of small stores and vendors. It is reminiscent of a small village in Japan or Taiwan.
Buildings are squeezed together tightly, separated only by a 2-meter wide concrete path. It is hardly wide enough to fit two passing motorbikes down side by side, let alone a car. None of the buildings reach taller than three or four floors. Many of the buildings are left open creating a welcoming community vibe.
It is common to see locals sitting around tables filled with beer bottles of Tsingtao and Blue Girl. If you’re game, you can try to join them for a conversation, but bring your own beer!
3. Visit a Tea House
A group of elderly men crowds around a table in an open shophouse while playing Mahjong. Further along, we pass the lively Hong Kong Jockey Club, where fortunes are bet and lost on the horses at Happy Valley Racecourse.
At the end of the street, I find what I’m looking for. There is a small shophouse stacked with wooden shelving containing bright red and gold packets, and an assortment of handcrafted teapots.
As I step into a welcoming young man named Andrew enters from the back room. He is slightly surprised to see two westerners in his shop. Before we can ask about his products, we are welcomed over for a pot of tea. We will accept this offer as we sit down by an ornate handcrafted wooden tea table.
Andrew tells us he was born on Cheung Chau Island but grew up in the high rise city of Kowloon. After school, he traveled to China in search of the best teas. When returning to Hong Kong he decided that Cheung Chau Island would be home. An opportunity to escape the busy city and start his young family.
We talk about cultural differences and various teas Asia has to offer for almost two hours. It is a truly rewarding experience.
4. Go to the Beach
There are a couple of beaches on the east coast of Cheung Chau Island. The largest is Tung Wan Beach which is about 1 kilometer long and quite popular with windsurfers. You will find lots of small shops, restaurants, and guesthouses along Tung Wan Beach.
Another more secluded beach on Cheung Chau Island is Tung Wan Tsai which is also called Coral Beach. Tung Wan Tsai is located to the north of Tung Wan Beach, accessible only by a walking trail. Don’t expect amazing bright coral like at these Thai islands though.
5. Eat Lots of Dim Sum
In the search for dinner, we discover a small Dim Sum shop. The menu is all in traditional Chinese and we are completely at a loss.
Noticing the confused westerners the store owner quickly assists. We order an assortment of cha siw bao steamed buns filled with roast pork, lung kong chicken steamed chicken topped with a tasty garlic dressing, minced prawn wontons and a healthy serving of water spinach drizzled in a soy-based sauce.
The huge meal costs only 60 HKD (about 9 USD) for two.
Riding the ferry back to Hong Kong Island I think how Cheung Chau really is in a time capsule. It has withheld the force of mass development and has retained character.
While many other old towns feel like theme parks, Cheung Chau Island is still a proper livable village. It houses real people with interesting stories to share.
How to Get to Cheung Chau Island
The best way to get to Cheng Chau Island is by the Cheung Chau Ferry. The ferry departs from Wharf Number 5 at Hong Kong’s Central Ferry Pier.
The Cheung Chau ferry departs every half hour from 4am to midnight. That means you can easily go for an early morning trip or stay for a late dinner.
The fast ferry costs HDK 25 one way while the standard ferry costs HKD 13 one way. There is a surcharge applied on Sundays and Public Holidays.