Cheung Chau is a sleepy little island in the shape of a dumbbell about 30 – 60 minutes boat ride from Hong Kong Island. It’s a fishing village that’s most famous for its annual Bun Festival. Much like Lantau island, it’s known for its slower pace of life and seafood, as well as home to several historical sights. If you are looking for a day trip in Hong Kong that’s not too taxing with variety, Cheung Chau is the one for you!
- 1 A brief history of Cheung Chau
- 2 Ferry to Cheung Chau
- 3 Things to do in Cheung Chau
- 3.1 Cheung Chau Bun Festival
- 3.2 Colourful houses and murals
- 3.3 Tung Wan Beach
- 3.4 Pak She Praya Road
- 3.5 Pak Tai Temple
- 3.6 Pak She Tin Hau Temple
- 3.7 North Lookout Pavilion
- 3.8 Kwun Yam Wan Beach
- 3.9 Mini Great Wall
- 3.10 Kwan Kung Pavilion
- 3.11 Sai Wan Tin Hau Temple
- 3.12 Cheung Po Tsai Cave
- 3.13 Reclining Rock
- 4 Restaurants in Cheung Chau
- 5 Where to stay in Cheung Chau
A brief history of Cheung Chau
While traces of human occupance can be found as far back as three thousand years ago, Cheung Chau as we know it today started in the Ming Dynasty. It was affected by a plague in the 18th century which leads to the start of what is known as Cheung Chau Bun Festival. The fishing village flourished in the Qing Dynasty, during the time it was the hideout of the infamous pirate Cheung Po Tsai.
Ferry to Cheung Chau
As an island, the only way to get in and out of Cheung Chau is via ferries. There are a few ferry lines that connects Cheung Chau to the other parts of Hong Kong:
Central to Cheung Chau
The main ferry line that connects the island to the rest of Hong Kong, there is one ferry every half an hour between Cheung Chau and Central. There is a fast and a slow ferry, the former only takes 30 minutes while the latter an hour to reach the island.
Address: Central Pier 5
Fast ferry: Mon – Sat HKD $26.8 Sun & Public Holiday HKD $36.8
Slow ferry: Mon – Sat HKD $13.6 Sun & Public Holiday HKD $22.2
(elderly and children fare are half priced)
From Cheung Chau, you can also get ferries to and from the following locations:
- Chi Ma Wan on Lantau Island
- Peng Chau
- Mui Wo on Lantau Island
Unless you are doing a combination day trips or staying on Lantau Island, there’s little reason why you would take the ferry to or from these places. However, if you do happen to (or is curious), you can find the timetable here.
Things to do in Cheung Chau
Cheung Chau is a versatile place to visit with plenty to do no matter your interest. It’s an island where you find cute cafes and quirky houses, explore historic temples and even go on a short hike or two before chilling on the beach. Here are some of my top picks:
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Arguably the most famous attraction on Cheung Chau, the Bun Festival takes place annually on the Buddha’s birthday on the 8th April in the lunar calendar. As briefly touched on in the short history above, it stemmed from the villagers’ efforts to eradicate the plague in the 18th century as well as praying for safety from pirates and subsequently become a yearly celebration.
It is tied to the Pak Tai Temple, dedicated to the heavenly emperor Pak Tai, on the northern end of town. The religious aspect of the festival has faded with time, however, vegetarianism is still practiced during the period and many local restaurants – including McDonalds – will only offer vegetarian meals during the festival.
The most eye-catching part of the festival are the parade floats and the bun snatching. Traditionally, the parades involves villagers walking with the shrines or statues of the deities to symbolise the blessing of Cheung Chau. Now, we see the addition of floats from the 30s, each with its unique theme featuring kids dressed as characters from recent or ancient history. Political satire can often be found, too.
The Bun Snatching Ceremony takes place on the same day but close to midnight. Three 14m high bamboo cone is filled with buns on the surface, with participants scrambling up to collect as many buns from as high as possible at the sound of the gong. It was on paused between 1978 and 2007 due to a collapsing incident, and plastic buns are now used instead.
Note: if you do plan on visiting Cheung Chau for the Bun Festival, know that it is often extremely crowded and accommodations book out months in advance and are pricey. Many also attempt to take the last ferry out and it often means that some cannot get on.
Colourful houses and murals
The main part of town is situated right in the thinnest part at the center. The few long streets that runs across it lengthwise houses retain the scenes of old Hong Kong of old-fashioned mini-stores, vintage iron gates, and lazy cats lounging by.
Some of the iron gates and walls are painted with colourful murals and make for excellent photo backdrop.
Tung Wan Beach
The main beach of Cheung Chau, Tung Wan Beach is just a 7 minutes’ walk from the pier and a popular hangout for locals and visitors alike.
As a government run beach, there is a lifeguard as well as changing room facilities. While the beach isn’t that wide, it makes up for it for being long.
Pak She Praya Road
Love seafood and photography? The Pak She Praya Road is essentially the seafood promenade, one side is the sea and the other side a plethora of seafood restaurant. Since it faces the protected bay, there are many fishing boats that makes for good photo ops. There are fairly little road traffic on the island but many locals (and tourists) will whiz by on their bicycles, so watch out for them when you pause to take photos.
Pak Tai Temple
The most famous temple on Cheung Chau, Pak Tai Temple is also called Yuk Hui Temple, a Taoist temple that dates back to 1777. It is set behind a basketball court atop a flight of granite stairs, guarded by two stone lions.
Aside from Pak Tai himself, the temple also houses Tin Hau, Lady Buddha, and Chinese Cupid. This is the center of the Bun Festival and houses many relics as well, including an iron sword allegedly from the Song Dynasty.
Pak She Tin Hau Temple
Not to far from the Pak Tai Temple, the Pak She Tin Hau Temple was built in 1767, making it the oldest temple on the island. Its architecture is much simpler, with a Qing Dynasty bronze bell inside.
North Lookout Pavilion
From the Pak Tai Temple, head left and up a paved trail that leads up the mountain to the North Lookout Pavilion.
The path extends up and down the surrounding hills where hikers can explore the northern part of Cheung Chau, but most stop here to take in the view before turning back.
Kwun Yam Wan Beach
Right next to Tung Wan Beach, Kwun Yam Wan means Lady Buddha’s bay and is a quieter beach for those who want to escape the crowd. It’s enroute the the Mini Great Wall and a good place to hang out with friends.
Mini Great Wall
An 850 m stretch of trail in the southeast part of Cheung Chau, it was built in 1997 as part of Cheung Chau’s country trails.
Its nickname comes from the granite railing that resembles those of the Great Wall, but much smaller. The highlight off the walk along the coast as well as various rock formations in curious shape.
There are maps and signposts along the way, so you definitely won’t get lost.
Kwan Kung Pavilion
Much lesser known than Pak Tai Temple, Kwan Kung Pavilion is more well hidden. A red pavilion built in the 70s, its highlight is the wooden statue of Kwan Kung – the god of Mercy and Martial Art – made from one single piece of cephor.
Sai Wan Tin Hau Temple
The younger of the two Tin Hau Temple, Sai Wan Tin Hau Temple was built in 1772. It is easier to spot than the Tin Hau Temple in the north part of the island and enroute to Cheung Po Tsai Cave.
Cheung Po Tsai Cave
A famous pirate from the Qing Dynasty, Cheung Po Tsai used a ave in Cheung Chau as his hideout. Although it now devoid of loot, many visitors are still lured to come here to witness the famous hideout. You can head inside the cave for a quick look, but not recommended if you don’t have good footwear.
If you have made it to Cheung Po Tsai Cave, you might as well head a little further to see the seemingly going to fall over Reclining Rock.
Restaurants in Cheung Chau
New Baccarat Seafood Restaurant
Seafood is undoubtedly one of the main attractions on Cheung Chau. The Pak She Praya Road is lined with seafood restaurants and it can be difficult to choose one.
I’ve been to the New Baccarat Seafood Restaurant a few times and find it pretty good, although it has mixed reviews online.
Address: 9A G/F Pak She Praya Road, Cheung Chau, Cheung Chau
Opening times: 10:30 – 22:30
甘永泰魚蛋 fish balls
One of Cheung Chau’s most famous delicacies is their fish balls. And not just one type of fish balls! You can get them in small, large, medium size, made from different fish, or shrimps, or squid. It’s best to go with friends so you can each order one and share.
Address: G/F, 106 San Hing Street, Cheung Chau
Opening times: 7:00 – 19:00
康蘭餅店 Hon Lan Bakery
A good and affordable bakery in the center of Cheung Chau, my favourite here is their small egg tart – you can get 4 for 10 HKD. They sell various buns and tarts as well as the Ping An ‘Peace’ Bun that you see in the Bun Festival!
Opening times: 6:00 – 19:30
Valor Cheung Chau
A simplistic modern cafe in white-grey tones, Valor’s coffee is approved by my coffee snob friend. It’s a calm place for those who want to retreat into the quiet island vibe with quality coffee, this is the spot.
Address: G/F, 4 Sun Hing Street, Cheung Chau
Opening times: 10:30 – 19:00
Where to stay in Cheung Chau
There isn’t a lot of options on Cheung Chau in regards to hotel, at least, not great ones. It was once a hotspot for youngsters on weekend getaway so there are numerous B&B and guesthouse options. You can also have a look on AirBnB. Here are some suggestions if you want to extend your stay on the island:
Note: if you are looking to stay over the Bun Festival booking as early as possible is recommended.
Fong Che Ho Hau Summer House is a local guesthouse that offers decently priced rooms with basic amenities.
The Lychee Sunset Hotel Cheung Chau is newly open in 2019 with a rooftop facing the sunset. It is associated with B & B Cheung Chau and both have great reviews. Rooms are modern and spacious, however soundproofing is not the best.