Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong: A Quaint, Cozy Escape from the City Life
At first glance, you wouldn’t associate Hong Kong with anything “quaint.” It’s practically the New York of Asia, a melting pot of culture with something to offer everyone, whether you crave a taste of luxury shopping, the hectic city life, or even just the Wong Kar-Wai aesthetic. Slow living isn’t something you would think you would find in Hong Kong, but just a 30-minute ferry ride from the center of the city is Cheung Chau Island, one of the locals’ best kept secret.
Also read: The Very Best of Hong Kong: A Six-Day Travel Guide to HK in 2023
Cheung Chau Island is a small island populated with mom-and-pop shops, seafood restaurants, and Instagrammable cafes. A popular destination with HK’s youths, Cheung Chau is known as the place to go for quiet strolls, solo dates, and romantic getaways. For locals and expats, Cheung Chau offers a reprieve from the hectic lifestyle that comes with working in the city. For tourists and travelers, Cheung Chau is a way to appreciate the quieter, gentler side of Hong Kong. In many ways, Cheung Chau could be considered HK’s version of Tagaytay, a weekend escape for Hong Kongers after a busy week. Filipinos might even recognize Cheung Chau from Hello, Love, Goodbye as the little waterfront village that Joy (Kathryn Bernardo) visits to meet Ethan (Alden Richards).
To get to Cheung Chau, travelers will need to follow Joy’s footsteps. Ferries depart from Central Pier Number 5 every 30 minutes, and ordinary ferries take 55 minutes to get to Cheung Chau Island while the high-speed ferries take 35 minutes. There are almost no cars on the island, so tourists can rent a bike or just opt to walk around. The island is small enough that you don’t even need to pull out your Google Maps app—just follow the directions and street signs, and you’re good to go.
There’s plenty to do once you arrive, but to truly absorb the Cheung Chau vibes, head to the Mini Great Wall. Named after the Great Wall of China because of its granite railings, the trail is a gentle hike that’ll take you two hours, tops. The paved path overlooks the coast and passes by unique rock formations, many of which have unique names like Zombie Rock. Midway through the trail is the Chi Ma Hang Lookout Pavilion, where hikers can take a short break and indulge in an unobstructed view of Cheung Chau’s coastline.
The path to the Mini Great Wall starts and ends at Tung Wan Beach, the main beach on Cheung Chau Island, and another place to appreciate on your island tour. The golden sand beach is a popular hotspot for tourists who want to unwind in solitude with only the fresh ocean air as company. You can even engage in water sports on the beach where Hong Kong gold medalist Lee Lai Shan once practiced windsurfing.
After Tung Wan Beach, stroll through the back streets of Cheung Chau’s village. You’ll find small storefronts tucked in hidden corners, selling everything from gemstones to art supplies. You might even find your way to the Love Lock Wall, where tourists from around the world can add their own unique, handmade love locks to the wall.
When you’ve grown famished from your long walks, take a break by heading to Kwok Kam Kee, a famous family-owned cake shop tucked in the streets of Cheung Chau. The store sells the island’s red-stamped lucky buns, which are used in the famed Cheung Chau Bun Festival.
When you’re ready for a full meal, Cheung Chau’s San Hing Praya Street and Pak She Praya Road have unlimited options of food for you to try. There’s a reason Cheung Chau was once considered a fisherman’s town—you won’t find anywhere with better or fresher seafood. The Cantonese-style seafood restaurants all offer the very best of al fresco dining with the typical Hong Kong, Lazy Susan setup. There are plenty of places to choose from, but our pick would have to be Hong Kee Restaurant. The waterfront restaurant’s fish fillet in sweet corn sauce and stir-fried clams with black bean sauce are more than worth it. It’s so good that taking photos will be the last thing on your mind.
A slow stroll along the waterfront should be enough to digest the feast you just had. The parked bikes and anchored boats along the pier make for a unique view, and there’s no better place to watch the sunset than from this waterfront.
After a long day decompressing at Cheung Chau Island, end your day with a cup of coffee from HAIKA Coffee, one of Cheung Chau’s new establishments, or munch on some Kam Wing Tai Fish Balls to complete your experience.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Cheung Chau is quite literally a breath of fresh air. There are no skyscrapers or traffic jams here—just pedestrian-only lanes, colorfully-painted homes and storefronts, and a charm that you can’t quite find anywhere else in Hong Kong. At Cheung Chau, locals wind their bicycles between the meandering alleyways of the island’s picturesque neighborhoods. Tourists can follow their lead, all while enjoying the wafting smell of freshly-baked pastries or taking a long stroll on the easy hiking trails around the island. For travelers, Cheung Chau Island is the ideal mini-vacation while on vacation.