Located just 10km southwest of Hong Kong Island, Cheung Chau looks and feels a world away. It is loved by locals and visitors alike for its delicious street food, family-friendly hiking trails and beaches.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Cheung Chau is famous for its annual bun festival, where competitors climb up steamed bun towers with the aim of gathering as many as possible. The three-day festival usually happens in April or May and coincides with Buddha’s Birthday, though it’s actually a Taoist ceremony marking the end of spring.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival. Photo: GovHK.

The celebration has been cancelled for the past two years due to the pandemic, but Cheung Chau is worth a visit any time of the year. There’s plenty of lucky buns for everybody without the need to scale a bamboo tower.

How to get to Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau can be reached by ferry from either Central or with the inter-island ferry from Peng Chau, Mui Wo or Chi Ma Wan. The one from Central departs from Pier 5 every half an hour or so. The timetable can be found on the NWFF website. The fast ferry takes 35 minutes while the slow one can take up to an hour.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The island is shaped like a dumbbell, narrow in the middle and voluptuous on either side. There’s a lot to do, so it’s a good idea to conquer it one part at a time or to rent a bike to see it all in one day. Daily rental costs around HK$50 and rental shops are located on Tai Hing Tai Road.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Tai Hing Tai Road is the island’s main artery and runs along the waterfront. It’s lined with dessert shops and snack vendors selling giant frozen pineapples and watermelons, fishballs and Cheung Chau’s famous mango mochi. Some visitors never make it past the first mochi stand but we recommend you check out the beaches, hikes and temples.

Tung Wan Tsai (Coral Beach). Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Hikes and beaches

  • Tung Wan Beach and Kwun Yam Wan Beach – easily accessible family beaches.
  • Tung Wan Tsai or Pak Tso Wan Beach – secluded beaches a short hike away.

As islands go, there are plenty of beaches on Cheung Chau. Tung Wan and Kwun Yam Wan are both a short walk from the ferry pier and have all the usual amenities; lifeguards, changing rooms and bathrooms. Near Tung Wan beach, just below the Warwick Hotel, you’ll also find rock carvings from the Bronze Age that are worth checking out.

Tung Wan Tsai (Coral Beach). Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

If you’re looking for something a bit more secluded head to Tung Wan Tsai (Coral Beach) or Pak Tso Wan beach, both of which are a half-hour hike from the ferry pier.

Tung Wan Tsai (Coral Beach). Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

To reach Tung Wan Tsai beach take a left from the ferry pier and walk along Pau Chong Road until you reach a fork in the road. From there continue up Cheung Kwai Road. By now you’ll see beaches along the coast. After another 10 minutes of walking you’ll see a staircase to your right: take the steps and from there follow the signs to North Lookout Pavilion and Tung Wan Tsai. If you’re headed this way it’s worth checking out North Lookout Pavilion. It’s the highest point on the island and offers beautiful views of nearby Lamma island.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Pak Tso Wan or Italian beach, named after the expats who used to frequent it, lies on the opposite side of the island from Tung Wan Tsai. To reach Pak Tso Wan head along the waterfront towards Sai Wan pier and Sai Wan Tin Hau temple. From there join the Family Walk and follow the signs to Pak Tso Wan. Near here you’ll also find Cheung Po Tsai cave, where some believe the legendary Guangdong pirate Cheung Po Tsai kept his treasures, and reclining rock – a giant boulder that looks as if it’s a nudge away from falling into the sea.

Saiyuen Camping Adventure Park Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

In the way of adventures there’s also the Saiyuen Camping Adventure Park with a glamping ground and an array of outdoor activities, including disc golf, a goat pen and a bubble waffle making workshop.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

If you’re looking for a reason to stay, Cheung Chau Mansion may be just that. This beautiful colonial-style AirBnb with four bedrooms is no W Hotel. However, with the view and the size of the place it almost feels like the real thing – a vacation from all the staycations of the past two years.

Temples in Cheung Chau

As on many islands, the sea goddess Tin Hau is held in high regard. One of the temples dedicated to her, Sai Wan Tin Hau Temple, is situated on a rocky hill overlooking the sea. It’s a beautiful spot well worth a visit.

File Photo: GovHK.

In the town centre, you’ll find Yuk Hui temple or Pak Tai temple. The original settlers of Cheung Chau were Taoist fishermen who worshipped the Taoist sea god Pak Tai. Legend has it that in the 18th century there was a plague on the island, but when fisherman brought a statue of Pak Tai to the island the disease miraculously disappeared (here’s hoping) .To thank Pak Tai the villagers built this temple for him.

Chaung Chau’s abandoned cinema. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Be sure to also glimpse Cheung Chau’s abandoned cinema, as documented last year by urban explores.

Shopping on Cheung Chau

If you want to take a piece of the island home with you, check out some of the boutique shops. Myarts has great Hong Kong merch including Lion Rock pins, Hong Kong maps and posters, and lots of postcards, trinkets and jewellery.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Island Workbench sells Cheung Chau-made jewellery, bags, accessories and cards, some of which are made out of recycled ocean trash. They’ve also got a little coffee shop with snacks and pastries.

And BnB The Creative Shop is the arts and crafts centre of the island. They offer jewellery-making workshops, henna tattoos and activities for children.

Where to eat on Cheung Chau

Seafood reigns supreme on Cheung Chau and there’s lots of places to get a taste or to grab a drink and watch the sun go down after a day of exploring.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Delicious Seafood Restaurant Cheung Chau, one of the many seafood restaurants, lets you pick your dinner from the aquariums in front. From clams to shrimps to fish, there’s something for everybody. Other recommended local seafood restaurants include So Bor Kee and New Baccarat Seafood Restaurant.

Chinese Bayview Restaurant at the Warwick Hotel has a gorgeous view of the sea and is the perfect place to see the sunset with a meal or a cold drink in hand.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Gogi Ice House made a splash on Lantau when it launched with its delicious dumplings in 2019. It’s got all the classics and also has a daily menu with modern munchies, including salted egg yolk and kimchi dumplings.

Cheung Chau is known for its buns, so it only makes sense to try some when you’re there. Head to Kwok Kam Kee for some delicious lucky buns filled with sesame, lotus or red bean paste.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

And for dessert, pay a visit to Cheung Chau Bing Sutt for classic Hong Kong desserts piled high with chewy, bouncy toppings. And then fill your pockets with some more mochi from the street vendors on the way to the ferry back home. 

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Teele Rebane

Teele Rebane is a final year journalism student at the University of Hong Kong.