Slow living on Peng Chau Island

peng chau


While I was in Hong Kong, the weather was greyer and cooler than usual and I hardly saw the sun. Hence when the sun came out one day, I decided to take the opportunity to get out of the city. But where? I browsed through the little booklet on Hong Kong’s outlying islands that I picked up from the Hong Kong tourism Association office and I decided to head for Peng Chau, a small island that I have never visited before. I took a cab to the Central ferry pier and boarded onto a (fast) ferry heading towards Peng Chau, and less than 30 mins later, I felt like I was on a different planet!


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Another reason why I picked Peng Chau is to do with the fact that it is still considered as ‘rural’ and much less developed than other islands. From what my friends told me, Lamma island is now full of expats and trendy cafes and bars, and even Cheung Chau is becoming more touristy than ever.

For someone who wants to get away from city life and be in touch with nature, Peng Chau is ideal. There were hardly any tourists on the day (it was a weekday) and when I arrived on the car-free island, I saw mostly elderly sitting in groups by the pier or riding leisurely on their bikes. The pace here is slow and laidback, so immediately I felt relaxed and calm.


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Unlike other outlying islands of Hong Kong, the ‘centre’ of Peng Chau is rather sleepy and I did not come across any Western bars/restaurant/cafe except for one on near the main square. On the main covered high street (Wing On Street), there is a stretch of inexpensive shops and Hong Kong-style cafes but many were closed on the day. I had a quick and inexpensive lunch at a Vietnamese cafe before setting of to explore the island.

I was quite taken aback to see the centre being so run down, the huge blue building where the former Peng Chau theatre once stood reveals that it wasn’t always the case. Peng Chau was once a thriving centre for lime and matchsticks productions during the 70s and 80s. Public can visit the former sites of the lime kiln and match factory (now just ruins), but I skipped them and visited some nearby temples instead.


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Top & second row left & middle: Tin Hau temple; 2nd row right & 3rd row left: The Golden Flower Shrine; 3rd row right: Temple of Morality (Taoist); Bottom left: A small shrine near a village; Bottom right: Seven sisters temple


There are several temples on this small island, the easiest one to locate is the historical Tin Hau temple, located about 5 mins walk for the pier near Wong On Street. The temple was restored in 1798 and rebuilt in 1882, but the exact history of the original temple has yet to be traced. Tin Hau Goddess is the most worshipped deity in Hong Kong, there are over 100 temples dedicated to her in Hong Kong. She is said to protect fishermen and sailors, and the island celebrates a yearly Tin Hau festival on the 21st day of the 7th lunar month.

Not far from it is The Golden Flower Shrine dedicated to Lady Golden Flower, which sits under an old banyan tree. Worshippers believe that Lady Golden Flower can grant many generations of descendants.

Another interesting temple is the Seven sisters temple on Pak Wan. The ‘seven sisters’ are somewhat versatile deities; while they usually help young women improve their needlecraft (not sure how many women would be praying for this nowadays), at this temple, they aid couples who want to start families.


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Nature on the island


After visiting the temples, I walked up to the highest point of the island, Finger Hill to check out the view. I was hoping to see a panoramic view of the island from the top but was disappointing to find the trees blocking the view. Hence I walked towards the sea and chilled out at the pavilion where I could see Hong Kong island from a distance.


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It didn’t take me too long to walk around the island, but it would have helped if there was more signage for directions. Though I was happy to see many empty beaches, I was also bothered by the rubbish on these beaches esp. by the Fisherman rock. I am not sure if the rubbish came from the sea or was left by visitors, either way it is a nuisance when people do not respect the environment and nature.

After spending about 5 hours on this island, it was time to leave… as I was approaching the pier, commuters were starting to return home from Hong Kong island. I felt incredibly exuberant as I headed back to the city, and I sincerely wish that the island will continue to remain ‘local’ and not be over-developed like the other outlying islands. Yet this may be wishful thinking because new modern housing is already being developed now, and Peng Chau may soon loses the authentic and tranquil quality. I hope that this will not be the case but the government needs to protect Hong Kong’s nature and not sacrifice the citizen’s quality of life for economic growth/development. As a so-called international city, Hong Kong is very behind in its environmental effort ( air pollution is a good example) and urban planning, when will they wake up and smell the roses? If they continue to ignore these important issues, then there will be no roses to smell soon!


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6 thoughts on “Slow living on Peng Chau Island

  1. Having lived in HK for most of my life. I have never visited Peng Chau. A work Colleague of my wife lives there but is moving soon. Thanks for posting this article. I am now enrolled in visiting this place at least once, since I have access to a boat that can get me anywhere in Hong Kong in about an hour or less – from anywhere too.

  2. Peng Chau Island looks like a great alternative to Lamma Island. I hope that whatever housing that is being developed currently will be the last. It’s great to hear of places that are still authentic and natural. Thanks for your informative article and photos.

    • Hi Rose, I am glad that my article has triggered some interests on the small island! I also hope that it will stay authentic, but you’d never know because there are just too many greedy developers in HK!

  3. Hmm? Looks very “real” HK, but wondering what it must be like to LIVE there? … too authentic? no conveniences? especially with a small child… looks a bit TOO remote…

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