This is a guest post by Katy Yam of Hong Kong Travel Blog
Many people imagine Hong Kong to be nothing more than a tiny island jam-packed with skyscrapers and people. Actually, there are over 200 individual islands in Hong Kong, each with beautiful natural scenery and local culture. Believe it or not, Hong Kong Island is only the second largest island in Hong Kong, while the largest one is Lantau Island (147.16 km²) which nearly doubles the size of Hong Kong Island (78.52 km²). (Don’t believe it? Have a look at the map).
So, what exactly is Lantau Island? Is it worth visiting? What about the other islands? Fancy island hopping? Okay, I’m going to show you the four most popular outlying Islands in Hong Kong. All of them can be easily reached by regular ferries from Central Ferry Piers.
The 4 Best Outlying Islands in Hong Kong
1. Lantau Island
If you arrive in Hong Kong by air (I guess most of you do), you will pass by Lantau Island when you travel all the way downtown as Hong Kong International Airport is located on Chek Lap Kok, off North Lantau. Therefore, even if you just stopover in Hong Kong for a few hours, you will still have time to explore the largest island.
What to see and do in Lantau Island?
For day or half day trippers, take the cable car to Ngong Ping to visit the Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery. Other than the well-known Hong Kong Disneyland, Tai O fishing village and the Big Buddha, there are so much more to do and see on Lantau Island. One of the hidden gems is Tung Chung Fort, a historic military fortress that has survived to the present day. You can see six intact muzzle-loading canons on the main wall and some exhibits within the Fort. This declared monument was used to defend the coast from pirates. Check here for directions.
In addition, there are some best hiking trails of Hong Kong. Two of them with majestic views are: Tung Chung to Tai O (coastal route) and Ngong Ping to Lantau Peak (uphill route).
The Tung O Ancient Trail
This was once a key route for villagers to commute between Tung Chung and Tai O. This route, taking you around 4 hours walk, offers you different views of Hong Kong Airport and unbeatable sea views.
Route: Tung Chung > Tung Chung Battery > Hau Wong Temple > Hau Hok Wan > Sha Lo Wan > San Shek Wan > Sham Wat Wan > Tai O (*Wan means Bay)
This is the second highest peak in Hong Kong, also a popular place to watch the sunrise and take some great photos. Many sunrise watchers stay overnight in Ngong Ping to catch the beautiful scene. Climbing up the mountain takes about 2 hours and it’s more suitable for experienced hikers. Allow 2 more hours to backtrack to the foot of the mountain. The entrance of this section of Lantau Trail is right next to the Wisdom Path.
Feeling tired after the hike or the 268 stone steps to the Big Buddha? You can easily return to urban life and enjoy a meal at Citygate in Tung Chung.
2. Lamma Island
Being one of the favorite living locations for expatriates, this is the third largest island in Hong Kong. There you can find famous and delicious seafood in Cantonese style, little shops selling Hong Kong street food and snacks, Asian and Western eateries, multicultural arts and crafts shops, temples, fish farms, beaches, hiking trails, Kamikaze Cave and Hong Kong’s first wind turbine – Lamma Winds.
Exploring this distinctive island is fairly simple – just walk along the Lamma Island Family Trail from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan or the other way round and you can see everything I’ve mentioned above. The whole journey takes you around 2 hours walk. If you walk non-stop, you can finish it in less than an hour. There is only one main road connecting the two places. So just follow the signs and the crowd, you won’t get lost! Don’t miss the spectacular views of Lantau Island and Cheung Chau. Get your camera ready!
Best Route To Explore Lamma Island:Yung Shue Wan Main Street > Lamma Winds > Hung Shing Yeh Beach > Hilltop pavilion > Lo So Shing Beach > Sok Kwu Wan
Lamma Island is one of my favourite places for weekend breaks in Hong Kong and is recommended for you!
3. Cheung Chau
In contrast to Lamma Island, Cheung Chau is busy and crowded as it is the most densely populated outlying island in Hong Kong. The main street along the ferry terminal is full of local seafood restaurants and western eateries. There are many tourist scenic spots, for example, Cheung Po Tsai Cave, Pak Tai Temple and the ancient rock carving. Cheung Chau rock carving is a declared monument located between two popular beaches, Tung Wan (East Bay) and Kwun Yam Wan. It is believed that the carving is at least 3,000 years old.
Cheung Chau is also famous for the annual Bun Festival. It is the largest traditional festival on the island attracting loads of tourists. In addition, there are numerous historic buildings and temples on the island such as Yuk Hui Temple and Kwan Kung Pavilion. Other famous attractions include the aforementioned East Bay Beach, one of my favourite beaches, and the Mini Great Wall.
Mini Great Wall is part of Cheung Chau Family Trail which located on the south-east of the island. It’s got the name due to its circuitous road and granite stone fencing. Walking along this all-ages hiking route, you can enjoy the magnificent coastal views as well as some natural rocks in special shapes, such as the Human Head Rock and Vase Rock. Try to use your imagination and let us know which rock you like most!
4. Peng Chau
Do you find the islands of Lantau, Lamma and Cheung Chau to be too crowded? Then Peng Chau is the choice for you. Island culture, local Hong Kong street food, rustic temples and hiking trails all await. As it is not that busy, you can hardly find any chain store there except a supermarket, which is very rare in Hong Kong. Visiting the local shops there seems like going back to Hong Kong in the 1950s. It’s even more unbelievable that this tranquil island was once a thriving industrial center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
To enjoy the panoramic view of Peng Chau, it’d be good to climb the Finger Hill. You can overlook the Tsing Ma Bridge and Hong Kong Disneyland at the hilltop pavilion. It would be the best to stay until the evening, watch the sunset and take some shinny golden photos. Simply walk along the Peng Chau Family Trail, which starts near to the ferry pier, and get to the top point of the island.
These are the highlights of four of our favorite islands in Hong Kong—but it only scratches the surface of all there is to see and do here! Start planning your Hong Kong vacation with our ultimate guide here.
Have you visited any of these Hong Kong outlying islands before? If yes, which one is your favourite? If not, which island(s) is/are listed on your travel plan?
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