Routinely branded Hong Kong’s hidden gem Peng Chau has probably attracted enough newsprint and guide features that this is no longer strictly accurate - but don’t let that put you off. This island may no longer be a secret but if you are bold enough to make the trip out here you’re unlikely to share the handful of square kilometers with more than a few other tourists. It’s also lost none of its charms.
The modest arrival of tourists has unspoiled life and the 6000 citizens who live here are mostly attracted by the lack of noise, unspoiled wilderness, and a laidback lifestyle. The whole island measures less than a square kilometer, and there are no motor cars.
Almost the entire island population is squeezed into a few hundred meters from the ferry port, and the waterfront and the streets around have an enjoyable bustle.
Peng Chau Heritage Trail
The Peng Chau Heritage Trail is an enjoyable ramble past some of the island’s modest historical sights; particularly worthwhile are the whitewashed walls of the former Peng Chau community school and also a traditional ancestral hall – as seen in several Hong Kong walled villages.
With less history but perhaps more interest is the Great China Match Factory. As surprising as it may seem now, this 1930s factory was once the biggest matchmaker in Asia and employed more than 1000 local employees. Alas, the advent of the cigarette lighter spelled doom for Peng Chau’s matchmaking days.
Hike up Finger Hill
Peng Chau’s highest point, Finger Hill offers premium vistas over the island, the South China Sea and onto Hong Kong Island. The 360-degree view is one of the complete panoramas in Hong Kong and if the weather is clear not to be missed. Hikes take around 45 mins.
Seafood on Peng Chau
It wouldn’t be a trip to an outlying island without mentioning seafood. While Peng Chau’s fishing industry is in decline – like much of Hong Kong – fishers still haul fresh catch in every day. Prices are even cheaper than on the more developed islands although by the same token service is a little more basic.
Expect plastic chairs and tables and a point and pick selection. Most of the restaurants can be found along the main drag on Wing On Street with Hoi King Seafood restaurant regularly receiving positive reviews. Don’t miss the shrimp paste – a local specialty.
Also worth mentioning for anybody who has already eaten their way through the contents of Davy Jones Locker during their stay in Hong Kong is Les Copains D’abord. This local institution is an authentically almost aggressively French café, and inside you’ll find cheeses, charcuterie, and fine wines.
Peng Chau Beaches
The beaches on Peng Chau are not necessarily the best in Hong Kong, and nearby Lantau and Cheung Chau can both boast better stretches of sand.
If you are looking to break out the bucket and spade head for Tung Wan beach on the northeast of the island. Historically this has been one of Hong Kong’s dirtiest beaches – littered with rubbish – but in recent years the government has made a substantial effort to clean up.
It’s worked, and Tung Wan is a fantastic spot to watch the fishing boats sink and fall against the waves - although our advice would be to stay out of the water unless you want to emerge with a diaper wrapped around your head.
Getting to Peng Chau
The ferry is the only way to Peng Chau. You can grab one from Central Pier 6 on Hong Kong Island. The island is around 4km from Hong Kong Island, and the journey time is 30 mins with ferries running at 40-50 intervals. The last ferry back is usually sometime after 11 p.m. but do check on arrival. Alternatively, there are also ferry connections with Mui Wo and Chi Ma Wan on Lantau and Cheung Chau.