Peng Chau, Hong Kong | A Charming, Rural Island Walk

An island visit off the beaten tourist trails

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Peng Chau is one of the smaller Hong Kong islands. It was the smallest of the outlying islands we visited during our last stay in Hong Kong, having enjoyed exploring Lamma and Cheung Chau on other days. The island is shaped a bit like a horseshoe, and is located close to Discovery Bay and Disney Land, both of which can be seen from the island’s north side on a fine day. We took the ferry from the Central Ferry Pier, the boat was much smaller than the other ferries we had been on before and there were less tourists waiting to make the same day trip.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong harbour view

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong architecture

The island’s port is located at the mid point, between two hills, very much like the layout we had seen on Cheung Chau, except on a smaller scale. It seemed almost unbelievable to imagine that 7000 inhabitants live here. The island was once home to a thriving fishing community and also hosted many small craft outfits, which sadly have mostly been replaced by industries on main land China. After landing we found a little covered wet market just next to the ferry pier, along with a few small shops and restaurants.

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travel with kids children peng chau hong kong entrance door

Our walk took us towards the east along the waterfront, past a playground, before turning right onto Peng Lei Road, where we stumbled onto a brightly coloured temple with the unusual name, Seven Sister’s Temple. To me it looked completely out of place, the colours more fitting to a Mexican bar then a Chinese place of worship, but that made us like it even more in some ways. There also was a more traditional looking, smaller shrine right beside it and it made me wonder if they maybe worshipped different gods.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong seven sisters temple

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong seven sisters temple

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong seven sisters temple shrine

When we walked on we passed some larger housing estates, which were quite a contrast to the little crowded houses we had seen earlier in the village. Some of the apartment blocks had definitely seen better times. Some abandoned boats were just left on the roadside and overgrown with weeds. In the close distance we could also see the tall towers of the high-rise condos of Discovery Bay, imitating parts of Hong Kong’s skyline and making use of the limited buildable area on Lantau island, with its convenient proximity to the airport and Kowloon.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong condos

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong watercolour architecture

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong pontoon

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong harbour boat

The tarmac road ended at some point and the narrow Yu Peng path, which hugs the shoreline most of the northern side led us along the coast. We passed a deserted beach where we found lots of small shells and interesting stones. Close by I found some lonely, hidden graves in the hillside before the path started to slowly ascend into the hill.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong beach discovery bay

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong graveyard

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong hiking trail beach

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong kowloon

Despite the remoteness of this part of the island we found some small houses in the woods without any kind of amenities like running water or electricity, that looked like people actually still lived there. Shortly after, the trees opened out again and we walked past farmed vegetable and fruit fields. Life certainly appeared to stand still on this island, more so than the other two, which gave it a rustic charm and felt very much like being a world away from downtown Hong Kong. We were surprised to find ourselves back to the rear of the main village of Peng Chau quickly, which made us realise just how small an island it actually was.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong village farm

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong residential houses

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong vegetable farm

There was another temple, Lung Mo, and this one seemed to be very popular with the locals who were there to light incense sticks. Backing onto the street was Tung Wan beach, which probably never gets crowded, even on the hottest days of the year.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong tung wan beach

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong buddhist temple

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong beach

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong boat bike

Taking a right turn through the narrow alleys of the main town for two blocks, we strolled on and sought out the trail to the other side of the island, which heads back up another hill.

The lane wound itself parallel to the coastline before making a steep incline to the top of Finger Hill, which at 95m is the highest point of the island. There we found a group of about five people with their easels and paints creating their own picture of the scenic view across the sea. We watched them paint for a while. Jerome was amazed by their incredible painting skills. Taking in the views, we could easily understand why someone might go to the effort of carrying the painting equipment that is needed all the way to this remote spot. Shortly after, some noisy teenagers turned up to take selfies, which gave us good reason to walk on and leave this beautiful place behind.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong hiking trail finger hill view

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong hiking trail finger hill painters

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong hiking trail finger hill view painter

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong hiking trail finger hill

Our steps took us back down the winding path and into the village. There we found a long queue of elderly people, all standing in line, some of them in roll chairs, queuing! Unable to work out what they were after we strolled on, back to the centre of town. There we stopped at a bakery to buy some buns and drinks. We sat down on the harbour wall and waited for the ferry to arrive, which would take us back into the mayhem of Hong Kong.

travel with kids children peng chau hong kong oldies queue

Peng Chau was probably my favourite of the three islands, with its traditional and rural charm and authentic feel. Due to its small size it makes for a shorter day trip than the other islands. The walking trail can also be shortened or lengthened to your hearts content and during summertime a break on the beach should definitely be on the agenda. I would recommend this off the beaten track trip as an extra on a Hong Kong visit.

The Peak, Hong Kong | A Ride on the Peak Tram, a Stroll to Victoria Peak and the Incredible Night View of Hong Kong

An afternoon exploring The Peak in Hong Kong.

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According to most people that have visited Hong Kong, a visit to The Peak is a must, even if you have only have a few hours in town. Especially on a fine day, the spectacular views from the top, are among the finest in the world. However, the main attraction for us was the possibility to ride the Peak Tram to the Peak tower. Jerome as something of a transport addict had been very keen on the ride when I had shown him photos of the funicular car on one of the websites. Unfortunately we were not the only people with that thought in mind and had to join a long queue for the tram on the sunny afternoon. The time seemed to pass rather slowly, we could see a lot of the children, especially the younger ones getting fed up with the wait, so be warned.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak garden

travel with kids children hong kong the peak park

Obviously all was forgotten once we finally reached the queue and were allowed to board the tram car. We were perched into the carriage and luckily got a space next to the windows, albeit to the wrong side (try to get a spot on the right for the best views), without any chance of good views going up the hill. The tram slowly ascended to the top and despite the crush everybody seemed excited when we exited at the other end.

The tram conveniently dropped its passengers into the heart of an anvil shaped tower, where most visitors dispersed into the shops and restaurants, or some headed straight for the next queue for the viewing platform on level 5. Some families went to visit the small outpost of Madame Tussauds on level P1. We ignored either of these tourist sites and walked outside into the much cooler air of the plateau. In fact many people come here in the summer to escape the heat and humidity of Hong Kong’s streets.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak tram

Outside the Peak Tower we walked the short distance to the Lion’s Pavillion to take in the view of the skyline. The view has quite an impact with the sea of concrete sky scarpers below, built so closely together that they all seem to merge into one. The water of the bay dazzled in the afternoon sun and we could just about make out the mountains behind Kowloon.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak view

The crowds of people started to annoy us and we walked past the shopping centre and the Peak Tower towards Victoria Peak. As soon as we had left the tourist crowded area we found ourselves on Mount Austin Road. We saw some children on a playground, guarded by their nannies and lazily strolled up the steep hill. There were surprisingly many apartment building and residential houses along the ridge. When I read up on it, the Peak had been a popular place to live, ever since the Brits arrived. Those who could and still are, able to afford to live here, come to escape the heat and humidity – all at a price of course, the prices here are among the most expensive of all Hong Kong. While I was curious to look at the houses and architecture of these luxury condos, the boys walked ahead. Eventually I caught up and we arrived at the Victoria Peak Garden.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak walk

The focus point of the garden was a modern, Chinese style pavilion. At the far side of the pavilion, we were blown away by the sight of the bright rays of the setting evening sun on the sea below. The Chinese sea was glowing like molten lava, with the outlying islands sticking out like random rocks. The three towers of Lamma Island were very distinctive and Jerome immediately recognised them from having walked across the island a few days before. There were loads of ships and ferries going back and forth between the islands and the continent. Originally we had intended to walk the last few meters up to the top of Victoria Peak but the road was closed off and there did not appear to be another way of getting through. Instead we walked back down the way we had come from, we could have also taken the Harlech Fitness Trail back to the Peak station but were worried it might get too dark and we might get lost somewhere on the way down.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria pavilion

travel with kids children hong kong the peak garden

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak sunset

travel with kids children hong kong the peak victoria peak

The way down was completed much quicker of course than the ascent, Jerome running down the slope, fast. We just got back to the viewpoint to devour the lights coming on in the thousands of windows of Hong Kong and Kowloon. We could see the adverts shine from the ICC tower and some of the other high-rise buildings. We all agreed that the view by night was even more impressive than during the day which meant it had proven right to come in the afternoon rather the morning, even if that meant queuing for longer at the Peak Tram. The same applied for the return journey, as the sun had set and the lights gone on, everybody seemed keen to get out of the cool air and into the tram to make their way back into Central for dinner. Others went into the Peak Galleria for some retail occupation or dinner at one of the many restaurants.

travel with kids children hong kong the peak view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak garden skyline view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak night view

travel with kids children hong kong the peak by night

We could not be bothered to queue again for an hour and strolled the Old Peak Road back down into town, we probably took less time than the queue! The first part was a quiet, peaceful stroll, the street winding down the hill, under the canopy of thick, mature trees. No one else was around until we reached Tregunter Path, where we were back in the valley of sky scarpers again. A hearty and warming soup at Tsim Chai Kee on Wellington Street was just what we needed for dinner, before taking the double decker tram back to the hotel.

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong | Wandering across the Rustic Island of Cheung Chau continued

Exploring another of the outlying islands of Hong Kong. Part 2

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This is the continuation of my last post:

I had read about the nice little Japanese Tea House in one of the guidebooks and thought it would be the ideal spot for us to stop for a bite to eat. The menu offered a small selection of hand rolls and doriyaki pancakes, filled with red bean paste. We were in a savoury mood and ordered a selection of the delicious hand rolls and some tea. The mamasan was very friendly when she discovered that we had been a few times to her home country she had a long chat with us about Japanese places. We also had to take the obligatory group photo with her, which unfortunately did not turn out well enough for me to send to her or to feature on the post.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong japanese teahouse

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong dog

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong balcony architecture

The next part of our hike first went along the back of the beach and then up onto the second hill. We first passed some houses before reaching another pavilion. There was a crowd of people gathered underneath the cherry blossoms. It almost felt like we were back in Japan and not in China with the people gazing admiringly at the rose coloured blossoms.

The Cheung Chau family walk guided us past a church with a large building complex, obviously a place to for dedicated Christians to come for bible seminars, in fact there are many religious retreats on this part of the island. Further along we saw a lot of abandoned houses, most of them looked like they once must have been family homes. I went into one of them, it was completely empty, no furniture left but graffiti on the walls and dirt gathering in the corners.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong ferry blossom viewing

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house gate

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong abandoned house

Eventually the path left the urbanised area, with just the sea and nature surrounding us. At some point the path turned into the Mini Great Wall Trail, which is a paved walkway with granite railings that is supposed to mirror the Great Wall of China. There are a few rock formations with names like “Eagle Rock” and “Rock of Ringing Bell” to either side of the path. Some of the rocks certainly had interesting shapes but we would have needed a lot of imagination to gather where the names might have come from and perhaps more to imagine we were on a real great wall. Maybe children still have a more fantastic mind to imagine the shapes, however Jerome seemed to be not able to make them out.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong hiking trail

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong

At Kwung Fam temple we walked down a few steps and ended up at one of the nicer beaches on Cheung Chau. Sadly the weather was much colder than on our trip to Lamma Island and therefore we did not feel like staying on the beach. There was another lifeguard tower, which I added to my collection of photographs before walking on.

Ahead at the end of the beach we could see a little café/bar overlooking the beach and a heliport. We sat down on the terrace and ordered some drinks. After a while, enjoying our drinks and taking in the view we could see a helicopter heading towards us. Jerome got excited but we told him that surely it would not be landing in front on the landing platform. We were proven wrong though, the noise of the rotating blades got louder and the helicopter slowly descended onto the landing spot right before us. We were wondering why it would be landing there on a day like today, especially with no one around, but soon enough we could hear the sirens of a police car and shortly after an ambulance followed. Some men left the ambulance car and opened its back door, they then carried an older gentlemen, on a stretcher, to the helicopter. As soon as the man was loaded in the helicopter it disappeared back into the air and out of sight, probably on to the closest hospital. The contrasting silence was notable. We afterwards realised just how many other people had gathered to watch the spectacle, most likely a highlight for some of the locals.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong beach

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong beach lifeguard tower

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong fishing

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong beach

Our walk that day ended with a stroll back into town and to the harbour, completing a figure of eight around the two hills. The timing could not have been any better, the ferry had just arrived and shortly after we were able to board. We took seats outside, to the back of the ferry and watched the colours of the clouds change from a greyish sky to a pink glow beneath where the sun was about to go down, as we cruised back to Hong Kong Island.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong shops

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong ferry

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong sunset

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong selfie

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong ferry ride

The hike along the family trail on Cheung Chau is definitely an option for families with children of any age, it can be lengthened or shortened depending on the age and ability of the little ones. It makes a contrast to the main city and is worth the time to explore a part of Hong Kong that is a little off the normal well beaten tourist tracks.

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong | Wandering across the Rustic Island of Cheung Chau

Exploring another of the outlying islands of Hong Kong. Part 1

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On a prior day we had enjoyed our hike across Lamma Island, one of the outlying islands near Hong Kong, so much that we wanted to explore more of these less well-known islands.  Cheung Chau once was a refuge island for pirates but has grown into a modest fishing port so this became our next target to visit. The island is slightly further from Hong Kong and the ferry also takes slightly longer to get there than Lamma. As the ferry entered the harbour of Cheng Chau it was immediately noticeable that the island was more densely populated then either of the villages of Lamma Island. Most of the buildings appeared to be built on the flat, narrow strip between the hills rising to either side. We were greeted by American convenience stores mixed with local souvenir shops and restaurants. The fisher boats were also much grander in size then the small ones we had seen at Sok Kwu Wan the day before. They also seemed to be much more prepared to go out for a big catch in the Chinese Sea.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong neon lights

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong old ladies

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong fishermen

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong fisher boats

After landing we wove ourselves through the crowd of locals who were going about their daily lives as usual, completely unaware of the few tourists that de-boarded with us. A fisherman sat on the harbour wall repairing one of his nets and Jerome curiously watched him. A shop sold live fish and other sea creatures in water tanks, ready to be fished out and cooked for lunch or dinner. While cycling is also great option for exploring the many temples and beaches we planned on walking some of the many trails that criss-cross the island.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong restaurant

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong fresh fish

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong architecture

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong new years decorations

The colourful Pak Tai temple was our first stop along the walk, set behind a football pitch it is the focus of the annual bun festival. Cheung Chau is well known for its steamed, savoury buns, and you will not fail to notice them when visiting the island. They can easily be recognised by their red stamp and you can even buy their form in all kinds of souvenirs, from pencils to pillows in the shops throughout the village.

Pak Tai temple is the oldest on the island, dating back to 1783, it was recently renovated and is back to is full splendour now. Two rainbow coloured dragons adorn the temple’s roof, however, do take a closer look, especially children might like to discover the little details underneath, where little wooden figures show scenes of the daily life. Inside the familiar scent of incense surrounded us and we could see a few courtyards leading off to either side. Stepping through a moon gate we reached a beautiful, mosaic picture of a tiger with its cub. Jerome really liked the mosaic and the bright colours of the tigers. We then ventured into the other courtyards looking at the details of some of the colourful wooden carvings before leaving the temple.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong pak tai temple

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong pak tai temple dragons

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong pak tai temple decorations

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong pak tai temple moon gate

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong pak tai temple

Our walk continued from the end of the football pitch, along the road next to the shoreline. We passed some residential apartment blocks and run down buildings, before reaching a small beach with the cemetery on the other side. Just past a public toilet and the entrance to a posh villa complex we turned right, walking on the tarmac road up the hill.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong architecture

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong cart

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong old umbrella

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong residential housing

After a short incline we reached a viewpoint with a Chinese looking pavilion. We could just make out the skyline of Hong Kong in the mist and had wonderful views of the town of Cheung Chau below. We realised just how narrow the town was, built between the two hills, with the harbour to one side and a long sandy beach to the other.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong view

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong beach

The path led us back along the islands family trail towards the town. This time we passed the top of the cemetery and as I am always interested in visiting them we made a brief stop to look at the graves. Most of them had photos of the deceased, some were obviously urns buried behind plates of marble whereas the other graves were in the ground and had proper graves stones. Past a playground and down a few steps and we were back at the temple where we had started from less than an hour before having completed one loop of one side of the island.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong cemetery

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong cemetery

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong flowers

To cross the town this time instead of walking on the harbour front we headed for Pak She Street, which goes through the centre of town, parallel to the harbour and the beach. There were lots of small shops, selling all kind of goods, including a small toyshop where we had to stop. Jerome was browsing through the array of toys, mostly cheap, plastic goods before continuing our stroll. Once we reached the end of the road we turned left and ignored the little shed, called Lock of Love, consisting of nothing else but a fence with thousands of lovelocks and heart shaped plates latched to it. The idea was probably taken from one of the many love locks bridges found all over the world these days, a concept I have never been able to fathom at all.

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong buns

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong souvenirs

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong cat

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong kong dried octopus

travel with kids children cheung chau island hong shrine

To be continued in my next post

Lamma Island, Hong Kong | A Hike along the Island’s Family Trail … continued

Our walk across the island with a break on the beach and sunset view on the ferry ride back into town.

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For the first part of our walk across Lamma Island please read here.

From The top of the hill, we could see the sandy beach at Hung Shing Yeh. Jerome could not wait to get there and almost ran ahead, down the hill. Considering the last few days in Hong Kong had been a pleasant temperature of around 20C but certainly not warm enough to go for a swim in the sea, we were lucky that on this day the actual temperature was much higher and warm enough for us to change into our swimming costumes and laze on the beach. The beach was equipped with changing rooms, showers, toilets and a convenience store. The boys played in the water, while I watched them and the other people on the beach. The beach had a different designed lifeguard tower in a happy go lucky pink, with a stripy sunshades, a contrast to those on our previous walk. No lifeguard in sight though, most local people would probably not consider it swimming season yet.

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island hung shing yeh beach

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island hung shing yeh beach sand castles

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travel hong kong with kids children lamma island hung shing yeh beach lifeguard tower

There also was a man with a straw sunhat and a rake pulling a basket behind, raking up the dirt and rubbish from the sandy shores. I went to put my feet into the water, which was pleasant, but not warm enough to tempt me to rush in. To the left side we could see the huge power station, which is responsible for illuminating Hong Kong and the outlying islands. Some people might be concerned about coming to an island that is home to a coal power station like found on Lamma, but checking websites and forums, everyone agrees that the pollution is pretty much the same everywhere in Hong Kong. The water quality on the beaches of Lamma is also always rated as very good and if you fancy a beach away from the tourist trap of Hung Shing Yeh, head to Lamma Power station beach only a few minutes walk away. Lots of locals come here to avoid the tourists or to walk.

After our time lazing we went for lunch at the restaurant behind the beach. We luckily grabbed some free seats on the terrace, overlooking the walking trail and the beach with the sea shining through the trees. The restaurant does not deserve to praised in any kind of form for the taste of its basic food, but it surely must be in line for the longest French fries in the world.

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Leaving the beach behind we wandered on towards Yung Shue Wan. The trail winds its way along, beneath the shady canopy of trees and past the lush green hillside. There was the odd residential house perched in between. We reached the outskirts of the village fairly soon and the path turned into a wider road. Children on their bikes passed us, there were locals returning with shopping bags and woman hanging their washing out onto the line in the sunshine or on the balcony. There are no cars allowed in the village, which makes it a very pleasant stroll but watch out for some crazy cyclists rushing around the corners.

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Hung Shue Wan village itself is slightly bigger than Sok Kwu and in the street behind the seafront we could see a selection of shops selling daily essentials and there also were plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from if anyone wanted to stay on for dinner. We made a little detour to the village temple, Tin Hau, with its two stone lions and the signature incense spirals slowly burning under its roof. Opposite the temple was a playground and sports field and we watched some of the kids playing football for a while.

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Walking back down the main street that follows the curve of the bay to the other end we found the pier for the ferry. The walkway to the pier was decorated with red Chinese lampions and colourful bunting. There were bikes upon bikes parked all the way down the pier, which was no surprise as this is the easiest and fastest way for locals to get around the island.

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Some people might consider returning to Sok Kwu Wan for dinner, which is definitely a possibility, as the return four kilometre walk would only take about an hour or so if you just keep on walking non-stop. The other option is to take one of the ferries to Hong Kong Island.

With children in tow Lamma makes a great day out, away from the city, especially if it is warm enough for a swim in between. The Family trail is paved the whole way and there are no steps which would make it possible to take a pushchair, but I personally would advise against it as it is not too far for little legs, but that is just my personal preference.

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The ferry came shortly after and there were plenty of people disembarking, returning home from a day of work in down town Hong Kong. I have to say the island feels like being in a different world and yet it is so close to this vast city. People living here, surely must have a better way of life than being cramped into one of these huge tower blocks on the main island. We enjoyed our ride back on the ferry. The sun was just setting behind the skyline of Sheung Wan and Central, which made the window fronts of the buildings glow like gold. The perfect ending to a beautiful day in the city state.

Lamma Island, Hong Kong | A Hike along the Island’s Family Trail

The first part of our walk across Lamma, through a charming little fisher village and with amazing views across the island and the Chinese Sea.

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A hike on the Lamma Island Family Trail had been high on our list of things to redo during our stay in Hong Kong. We remembered walking the popular route last time and had especially liked the mixture of charming villages on either side of the island with a stop on the beach in between away from the traffic of the main city. We went to the Central ferry terminal straight after breakfast for the short boat ride to the island. We had packed some snacks and water and very important, our swimming stuff into our backpack to take along. Many tourists do not venture outside of the main Hong Kong and Kowloon areas but visiting the other islands and districts gives a very rewarding experience and I can certainly recommend finding the time for that if you are there.

The walking tour can be started either by taking the ferry to Yung Shue Wan or Sok Kwu Wan village. We did the latter, the time before we had taken the walk from the other end of the island. We decided to start at this end of the island, as the ferries from Yung Shue Wan were more frequent. Having boarded our ferry at pier number 4, we chose seats on the deck outside, to get some fresh air and enjoy a window less view during our ride. There were a number of other hikers and a few locals with us on the boat when we left the pier. The skyline of both Hong Kong Island and Kowloon was still shrouded in misty clouds as we chugged out of the docks, but we could see that further away from the city the sky was blue and the sun was shining, another benefit of escaping the high rises in the centre. We admired the soaring buildings and tower blocks from afar, with “The Peak” rising up behind and Jerome took a special interest in the passing boats.

travel hong kong with kids children central ferry pier

travel hong kong with kids children central ferry pier view kowloon

travel hong kong with kids children victoria bay ferry ride

travel hong kong with kids children central skyline view

travel hong kong with kids children first ferry watching

On the way out of the main harbour we spotted the Star Ferries, some junks sailing up and down the harbour and the fast ferries to Macao, lifted up in the air, overtaking us at superfast speed. There also were some car ferries, laden with trucks and huge container ships waiting to enter the massive container port at Kowloon. After a short while we left Victoria Harbour and the bay of Hong Kong behind and were out at sea where we could see some of the outlying islands on the horizon. Lamma Island can easily be recognised by the three tall power station chimneystacks towering over the islands hilly landscape. After sailing past a lush, green hill with a winding road the outskirts of Aberdeen were visible to our left. Ocean Park came into sight, where we had spent some fun times on the crazy rides a few days before.

travel hong kong with kids children fast ferry macao

travel hong kong with kids children car ferry mamma island

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu fisherfolk village

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu fisher boats

Shortly after the boat turned into Picnic Bay. We could see the stilt houses of Sok Kwu Wan village and the fishing rafts of the Lamma Fisher Folk ahead of us. After exiting the ferry we walked past the many restaurants that are raised over the water here and make the village a popular food destination. I particularly liked the row of restaurant with their checked tablecloths and plastic flowers but we have yet to have the chance to enjoy lunch or dinner there.

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu restaurant

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu restaurant terrace

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu restaurant chefs recommendation

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu early lunch

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu dried mushrooms

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu restaurant menu

After a short walk through the village we soon had come to the end of the small settlement and reached Tin Hau temple, which dates back to 1826.

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu tin hau temple

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu advertising

Once outside the village we got a better view of the Fisher Village on floating rafts in the bay. Sadly the number of traditional fisherman in Hong Kong has been on the decline for years now but here at Sok Kwu the community has set up a new concept to attract tourists and therefore help to support the local fisherman and their families. Unfortunately the set up for the Fisherfolk Village was not yet finished during our stay but I am sure it would make a great addition to the Family Trail on Lamma Island to learn more about the history and daily life of the people here on these floating rafts.

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu fisherman

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu fisherman rafts

We crossed a little bridge, with residential houses on either side and walked along the trail next to the shoreline. Jerome had remembered the caves and soon enough we could see the dark entrance to one of them. These caves, also called “Kamikaze” caves date back to WWII. Jerome and I ventured into one of them and were slightly disappointed to find they looked just like any ordinary cave, dark and damp. They were built by the Japanese occupying forces and were supposed to house motorboats loaded with explosives to disrupt allied shipping during the war, however, these were never used. From here on the path slightly inclines and passes a modern pavilion next to a rubbish-strewn beach. This is one thing we noticed during our entire stay again and again in Hong Kong in different places that rubbish would just be left everywhere.

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu architecture

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu flowers

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu local architecture

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu kamikaze cave

Higher up we strolled through the small settlement of Lo So Shing, consisting of a few houses and some locals working in their fruit and vegetable gardens.

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island lo so shing village

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island lo so shing village farm

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island lo so shing village field

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island lo so shing village shop

The higher we got the better the view of the bay, with the many boats and rafts and the houses below. Once we had reached the highest point of the trail we finally got a view of the chimneystacks poking out behind the hills and with the outline of Cheung Chau, one of the many other islands in the calm waters of the South Chinese Sea. We could also see a deserted beach, which is accessible from the path by a longer detour but as we had not brought a full picnic and lots of drinks with us we gave it a miss.

We walked a bit further and found a quiet spot where we had a break and ate some of the dried mango and refreshing water from our knapsack looking at the view.  Perhaps we should have waited slightly longer before resting, because as we turned a corner and reached a Chinese style pavilion, there was a lady with her cart, selling fresh pineapple and coconuts in the middle of no where. We bought a fresh coconut and an ice-lolly for Jerome.

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island sok kwu village view

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island lo so shing village view

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island landscape

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island hung shing yeh beach

travel hong kong with kids children lamma island chinese pavilion

Part two will follow very soon, I decided to divide the post into two parts, as I had too many photos…

Kowloon, Hong Kong | Afternoon Tea at the Ritz and a Ride on the Star Ferry at Night

An afternoon with tea at the Ritz, a stroll through the busy streets of Kowloon and a ferry ride back to Hong Kong Island.

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This is the follow up post to our morning wandering through the many markets of Mong Kok.

Next to the entrance to King’s Park on Nathan road we visited the atmospheric temple of Tin Hau. This small temple is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the ever-present incense smoke could be smelled and seen from outside of the building. Underneath the open centre were rows of coiled incense spirals, slowly burning beneath the grey Hong Kong sky. Outside on the square we saw beggars and fortune-tellers with their tarot cards. We knew what our immediate future and started to walk through the Temple Street Night Market, where the vendors and food stalls were just starting to set up for the afternoon and evening.

hong kong with kids children kowloon tin hau temple

hong kong with kids children kowloon tin hau temple

hong kong with kids children kowloon tin hau temple incense spirals

hong kong with kids children kowloon tin hau temple

A few blocks west from Tin Hau Temple we found the Jade Market.  A covered market hall, with around 400 stalls selling jade and other semi precious stones in forms of pearls, necklaces and braces.  We did not want to buy anything at the stalls but it was certainly a different and interesting sight so see.  Unless you are familiar with stones it might be advisable to not spend too much money there as you can never be sure you are actually getting the real thing justifying the price you would pay.

hong kong with kids children kowloon tin jade market

hong kong with kids children kowloon jade market

The Night Market is a great place to try some Chinese Street food. Seated at one of the tables on stools under the chain of bare light bulbs we had had dinner here on our last trip.  It is a popular location for an inexpensive dinner with authentic food and the possibility to share a table with locals from the area.  It is perhaps an experience no one should miss on a visit to Hong Kong.

hong kong with kids children kowloon street market yam

hong kong with kids children kowloon street market stall

hong kong with kids children kowloon street market shopper

hong kong with kids children kowloon street market stalls

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hong kong with kids children kowloon street market seller

After a brief pause here and then walking on to the corner of Jordan road we turned right towards the tall and modern towers of Austin and Kowloon metro station. It is incredible to see how many flats are squeezed into these skyscrapers and such a foreign concept for us, being used to live in low storied apartment blocks or detached houses in London.  Imagine the amount of people living in these blocks, thousands…but I guess with the ever increasing demand of housing in these vast cities it is the only way forward and maybe many of the world cities will follow suit over the coming decades.  We soon reached the complex of buildings of Union Square, with the ICC Tower as the main stand out super skyscraper on Kowloon’s side of town.  The ICC tower is the highest building in Hong Kong, 469m tall and it serves mainly as an office building with an exclusive designer shopping mall on the first three floors, the Sky 100 observation platform and the luxury Ritz Carlton Hotel on the top six floors.

We were meeting a friend for afternoon tea at Café 103 of the Ritz Carlton.  After a walk through the maze of shops in the malls we ended up at the posh lift lobby for the hotel. We were guided into one of the lifts by a friendly staff member and whizzed up to the 103 floor, which almost felt like being back on a roller coaster at Ocean Park thanks to its fast ascend.  We received a very warm welcome and were guided to our table in the luxurious café, overlooking one of the restaurants on the floor below.  Sadly we were not able to get a table next to one of the windows to enjoy the amazing view but the food made up for that.  We had a delicious chocolate themed afternoon tea, with plenty of cakes and savoury bites with our friend who lives in Hong Kong.

The brief journey to the toilet afterwards was almost more rewarding than the meal itself as the floor to ceiling windows gave an impressive view of the harbour and Hong Kong Island.  The sunrays shone though the gaps of the clouds and reflected on the sea and the boats below, it incredibly beautiful to see.  If I would have the chance to stay in the hotel, I probably would never leave the room and just enjoy the changing views from its window, what a sight it must be at sunset and night time with the colourful neon lights shining on the other side of the bay.

hong kong with kids children kowloon highrise architecture

hong kong with kids children kowloon highrise architecture close up

hong kong with kids children kowloon ritz carlton restaurant

hong kong with kids children kowloon ritz carlton view

travel hong kong with kids children kowloon ritz carlton hotel view

We could have taken the metro from below the complex but Jerome wanted to take the Star Ferry back across to Hong Kong island side.  We strolled through Kowloon Park past the indoor and outdoor swimming pool, the Aviary, pretty lakes with flamingos strutting along the shores and at the Kowloon Mosque at its far corner.  Once we excited the park, which is a great place for a refreshing escape with children away from the hustle and bustle of Kowloon’s hectic streets, we found ourselves on Nathan Road. This part of Hong Kong is much more commercial and less authentic than the parts we had explored earlier that day.  We saw plenty of Asian and western shoppers on the hunt for the next retail fix, outside some of the designer shops we even saw long queues.  We ignored all the stores and dodgy men approaching us, trying to sell us fake designer goods, heading for the quay.

hong kong with kids children kowloon park pavillion

hong kong with kids children kowloon park flamingos

When we finally reached the Star Ferry terminal the sun was just setting and we could watch the lights across the bay light up one after another. We waited until it was completely dark and then took the next ferry across Victoria harbour to the New Wan Chai Ferry Pier. Jerome has always loved a ride on the ferries, any child or adult would and no trip to Hong Kong is complete without having taken a ride on one at least once. This wonderful fleet of electric-diesel ships with their unique green and white design have been a long-standing institution since 1870 so remain a must see site for any traveller and especially with children. To get the most dramatic ride, take the short ride across the bay at night from Kowloon to Central like we did, grab a seat on one of the wooden seats or benches on the upper deck next to the window at the front and enjoy the ride – if you are lucky, you might even see one of the junks with their signature sails gliding past. To use the Star Ferry use your Octopus Metro card or purchase tokens at the Star Ferry Terminal.

hong kong with kids children kowloon star ferry tsim sha tsui

hong kong with kids children kowloon central skyline

hong kong with kids children kowloon skyline by night

On our walk back through Wan Chai and some of the seedier parts of town with clubs and bars we were transported straight into the atmosphere a Wong Kar Wai film.  The brightly lit, rainbow coloured neon lights were shining up on us from everywhere. We did not know where to look, completely overwhelmed by the buzz of the lights.  This is another mesmerising side to Hong Kong that should not be missed.  We could so easily get lost in the streets and admire the signs.

hong kong with kids children wan chai by night neonlights

hong kong with kids children wan chai neon lights

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A short hop on the tram back to our hotel left us with a complete set of Hong Kong modes of transport for the day.