Cheung Chau Island has long been one of Hong Kong’s most popular island retreats. Smaller than Lantau but bigger than nearby Peng Chau, Cheung Chau offers more to do than clamber around on rocks and play castaway but is still several gears down from the bullet pace of the city.
For many Cheung Chau’s attraction is as much to do with its no nonsense, traditional village lifestyle as the sea and the sand. And, while the island’s 20,000 plus residents have long since tucked into the benefits of tourism, the village has lost none of its charm. This is a world away from the suits and skyscrapers of Central. Fishing boats still ply the harbour – if in declining numbers – while the waterfront Praya bustles to family run grocery shops, clicking mahjong tiles and – in a nod to tourism – waiters mopping down plastic chairs and tables for the evening rush.
It’s easy enough to while away an afternoon sipping freezer fetched beers in the handful of simple bottle bars that line the front relaxing and letting the steam of the city float away. But –for the more ambitious – there are also places to point your compass on Cheung Chau.
What to See on Cheung Chau
Undoubtedly the island’s most famous sight is Cheung Po Tsai Cave. It’s said Cheung Po Tsai was a pirate who sailed the South China Seas and Pearl River Delta presumably pillaging villages, terrorising locals and swigging rum. Given the area’s history it’s a very plausible story. Unfortunately a cave is a cave and there’s not a great deal to see here.
More interesting are some of the hikes that take in Cheung Chau's natural rock sculptures – somewhat of a Hong Kong obsession – as well as local temples. The mini great wall in southeast Cheung Chau reached from Kwun Yam Wan beach is worth a few hours of walking. Despite the grandiose name, the wall is actually a path but it takes in some stunning vantage points over the South China Sea, Many of the wind beaten rocks along the mini wall have been moulded by the weather into natural shapes, including Flower Vase Rock and the more impressive Human Head Rock which sports a pair of ears and a nose.
Beaches on Cheung ChauCheung Chau is blessed with a curtain of golden sand and there are a couple of fine beaches on the island. The most popular is Tung Wan which has beautiful sands, full facilities and can be full to bursting at weekends. It also has a dedicated windsurfing school. A little further on is the smaller but more picturesque Kwun Yam Wan beach.
Seafood on Cheung ChauAs with much of Hong Kong’s island dining scene seafood rightly dominates and while it is hard to recommend a particular restaurant you’re unlikely to have a bad meal and prices are generally cheap. The best – if unoriginal - advice is to look for a restaurant busy with locals. Tourist traps do exist and while the bill is never likely to be upsetting it’s certainly possible to pay over the odds.
Most of the seafood restaurants can be found down by the waterfront.
The Cheung Chau Bun FestivalCheung Chau’s annual bath in the limelight; the Cheung Chau bun festival is hands down one of the world’s oddest festivals - impressive, given Hong Kong is arguably the home of barmy celebration. Each year thousands of locals and tourists alike gather to watch hundreds of participants claw their way up the side of a 60ft ‘bun tower’ and pluck of bags of plastic buns. An unmissable spectacle.
Staying on Cheung ChauFor the sightseer there isn’t much to keep you on Cheung Chau overnight but if the laid back atmosphere is inviting you to linger the Warwick Hotel offers accommodation. This slightly dated concrete block comes nowhere near the standards of three star hotels back on Hong Kong Island or in Kowloon but – in a way – that’s part of its charm. Getting to/from Cheung Chau
There are regular ferries from Central ferry piers to Cheung Chau. They run at 30 min intervals - except later in the evening - and take between 40-60 mins.