Header images courtesy of @lysalotte and @zivachung
Originally published by Sophie Pettit. Last updated by Jen Paolini.
For the next instalment of our Island-Hopping Series, we’re zooming in on the teeny tiny island of Peng Chau. Nestled off the northeast coast of Lantau, this quiet, leafy island is a superb place to rediscover the joys of personal space. With a scattering of beaches, temples, and local restaurants to keep you entertained, as well as panoramic views over the ocean and surrounding islands, it’s a pleasant place to spend the day—or part of your day, depending on how long you can make the handful of activities last.
Pop down to Central Ferry Pier 6 and hop on the ferry to Peng Chau, which runs every 30 to 45 minutes. If you manage to board a fast ferry, you’ll be on the island in just half an hour, or alternatively, 50 minutes if the regular ferry is your vessel of choice. The last outbound boat leaves Central at 12.30 am, followed by one at 3 am, and the start of regular service at 7 am. Four-legged pals are welcome to board all vessels but are asked to settle down in the front two rows to ensure snacks are not snaffled from unsuspecting passengers. Click here to check out the ferry schedule.
Fairly clean and quiet, Peng Chau’s beaches are in keeping with the theme of all-things-miniature but are well-suited for an outdoor wander or catching some summer rays away from the crowds. Feeling peckish? Check out Tung Wan Barbecue Area on the east of the island, overlooking Tung Wan Bay. Alternatively, you could bypass the faff of firelighters and stoking flames with a good old-fashioned picnic. Think gingham blankets and wicker baskets—just make sure you don’t get any sand in your sandwiches!
As a small fishing island, it’s no wonder that seafood is the order of the day in Peng Chau. Wander around and browse the local menus for freshly-caught fish dishes, but when it comes to cafés, Kee Sum Café on Wing On Street serves up as good a snack as any. Setting you back only a few pennies, this may not be the place to while away the hours, but it will certainly fill you up. For around $30, a bowl of noodle soup is yours. Alternatively, try the prawn toast—a favourite with returning customers.
Similarly, Ma Fa Bing Sutt, a no-frills local eatery also located on Wing On Street, dishes up quality Hong Kong-style French toasts and macaroni soups at bargain prices. If you’d like to revisit a moment of Hong Kong history frozen in time, give The Old China Hand a bell. This old-fashioned British establishment that has called Peng Chau home for over forty years. From fish and chips to Shepherd’s pie, you’ll find classic pub grub aplenty with a side of old-timey vibes.
Definitely falling into the category of ‘hill’ rather than ‘peak’ or ‘mountain,’ Finger Hill is the highest point on the island, reaching 60 metres above sea level. Compare that to Victoria Peak’s 550-metre elevation and you’ll start to understand just how gentle an incline we’re talking. Nevertheless, not ones to judge by size, we found the views from the summit to be absolutely divine. You can spy Disneyland on neighbouring island Lantau, old-school fishing boats bobbing around on the ocean, and the Tsing Ma Bridge. Get your timings right and you can watch the sunset from the comfort of the pavilion—the perfect way to wrap up your day of exploration.
Likewise, as it’s possible to walk around the entire island in just over an hour, you’ll have no problem swinging by all of the temples on your day out. The largest of Peng Chau’s temples, Lung Mo, is a picturesque red and gold building on the high street, within which is a dragon bed thought to bring good luck to those who touch it.
If the pitter-patter of tiny toes is the sound you’re longing to hear, then pay a visit to the Seven Sisters Temple and enlist the help of these Chinese deities. Though helping young ladies improve their needlework skills is their usual calling, family planning has popped up as a sideline activity. As a result, this temple is particularly busy during the Spring Lantern Festival (aka Chinese Valentine’s Day).
Part of Peng Chau’s appeal lies in its old-world charm—you’d be forgiven for feeling like you'd stepped off the ferry and into a 1970s time capsule. The seaside town still boasts a lot of old architecture, including an old theatre (recognisable now only by the sign on its facade), a former matchstick factory, and vintage shop Sun Sat Store—a veritable treasure trove full of little curiosities you’ll want to take home. Keep in mind that it is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, hence the curious name.
Owing to the island’s flatness, Peng Chau’s Family Trail caters for all ages and capabilities. If avoiding anything too strenuous whilst feasting your eyes on gorgeous views is your aim, then the Family Trail is the path you should take. Head down the main high street, Wing On Street, when you come out of the ferry pier and admire the quaint, abandoned buildings along the way. These empty shops and houses hark back to Peng Chau’s period of industrial boom back in the 1960s and 1970s. Their vintage charm makes a welcome photo spot—totally photogenic and very Instagrammable. Then it’s up to Finger Hill where you can soak up the panoramic views, a short stroll along the beachfront, and back to the ferry pier. In little over an hour, you will have toured the entire island!
Peng Yu Path, on the other hand, is a picturesque, 10-minute stroll along the north coast of the island runs between Tai Lei Bridge and Old Fisherman’s Rock. Again, views are the central attraction here, as are the leafy surroundings which become so exciting when you live in a concrete jungle.