If you don’t already know, Hong Kong is more than a densely populated city state like Singapore. You can still easily escape the city chaos in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island, and get to nearby outlying islands for a weekend retreat. There are 4 main outlying islands: Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau and Peng Chau. Lantau is probably the most travelled destination for tourists. Being my 4th time back in Hong Kong, I’ve decided to explore a new island and see how it’s different from the Hong Kong I used to know.
Cheung Chau, also known as the ‘Dumbbell Island’ because of its shape, is perfect if you’re up for some hikes, explorations and adventures. Follow through to check out how you can utilise your time well on this island!
The only way to get there is via a ferry ride. Catch it from Central Ferry Pier #5, just further down from the IFC mall. There are 2 options for the ferries: fast ferry (35 – 40min) and ordinary ferry (1h). The fast ferry also costs about twice the price of the ordinary; HKD $24.40 vs HKD $11.80. Do also note that prices are more expensive on Sundays and PH.
More information on timetables and fares can be found here.
WHAT TO SEE, DO & EAT
Once you alight from the ferry terminal, you’d be greeted by random pushcarts of hotel/hostel representatives who would try to get you to purchase a night’s stay at their lodging. It’s quite weird because I would think in this day and age, such hard sell tactics wouldn’t work especially when you’re just a short ferry away from downtown.
Thereafter you’ll have to make a decision to turn left or right. Either is fine, because you’ll probably end up covering both sides by the end of the day.
EAT SEAFOOD ALONG PAK SHE PRAYA ROAD
What a mouthful to pronounce. This is the main road you’ll walk on when you turn left. You’ll be greeted with a full row of seafood restaurants and tourists crowding around deciding where to indulge. Being a fishing village, a sumptuous seafood meal is a must if you’re a seafood lover. Pair it with some iced cold beer and you’re good for the day.
CHILL AT TUNG WAN BEACH & KWUN YAM BEACH
You can’t miss this beach in Cheung Chau. It’s one reason why many locals head there as well. The waters are clear, and the beach is long enough for you to find your own little spot if you’d want a picnic. When we were there, they were hosting a swimming marathon right over here, in this beautiful waters. Windsurfers are welcome as well – apparently this was where Hong Kong’s first Olympic Gold medal holder for windsurfing used to train.
HIKE THE MINI GREAT WALL & NORTH LOOKOUT PAVILION
Follow the trail further down from the beaches and you’ll be at the Mini Great Wall and and highest vantage point in Cheung Chau, the North Lookout Pavilion. We had missed this because we were planning to go Dragon’s Back the day after for the view, so we prioritised doing other things like walking through the little streets (see below). Nonetheless, if you’d have ample time, definitely make a point to head here during sunset!
VISIT THE LITTLE INNER STREETS
This is an attraction in itself. The inner streets where the stalls are are cramped, just like how downtown Kowloon is, but less rowdy. Allow yourself some time to just walk through and look at their way of life. It’s quite interesting, because these residents of Cheung Chau are definitely more relaxed than their Mong Kok counterparts.
RENT A BIKE OR WALK OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE
Now that you’re done with the left side, head in the opposite direction for more scenic adventures! There’s a bicycle/ trishaw option if you hate walking. We chose to walk nonetheless, and that took us about half an hour.
GET ADVENTUROUS AT CHEUNG PO TSAI CAVE
Probably one of the highlights of Cheung Chau for the adventurous. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-do, but it’s cool to experience it. It’s essentially a pitch dark cave that you could walk through, and when I said pitch-dark, it’s really pitch-dark-you-can’t-see-anything even during daylight. Torchlight is essential, but with the smartphones we have, you don’t have to pay for one (there’s a dude selling it right outside the cave). The climb down and up from the other side is quite steep, so beware and girls, I hope you don’t decide to wear a skirt. The walk in the cave itself was unexpectedly short, so that’s probably the “disappointing” part.
BE GREETED WITH AN AMAZING VIEW
After you get out of the cave, you’d be greeted with this amazing #instagrammable view. I’d say I like this more than the beach, and it’s like a little treat after you “survived” the pirates hole. Also, you could walk over to the Reclining Rock (see the tip of the rock in the background) for more scenic vista.
CHASE THE SUNSETS WHILE YOU’RE AT IT
Stay until the sun sets because it’s worth it. Just look at that. #brbchasingsunsets
GRAB A BEER OR TWO BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Because you’ve had a long day of hiking and an iced cold beer is what you deserve.
HOW LONG WOULD YOU NEED
I would say 8 hours is all you need to cover all the above, unless you find yourself chilling at the beaches longer than usual. We took the fast ferry back to Central at about 7pm, good enough for a late dinner back in the city chaos.