A tiny island 12km southwest of Hong Kong, Cheung Chau is the smallest of the inhabited outlying islands yet it is the most populated and busiest. Urbanized, but in an odd China-style manner, the district is brimming with Chinese junks and sampans that crowd the island’s small-curving harbor.
The Cheung Chau community survives mainly on the sources of the sea. Its harbor is complete with all kinds of fishing boats in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Since the harbor is relatively small, these fishing boats compete with the omnipresent round kaido, small boats used as water taxis, to transport passengers between Cheung Chau’s ends.
Cheung Chau is a dumbbell-shaped island, with hills at the northern and southern ends and a village in between. The thin, middle part of the island is narrow enough that visitors can walk from Cheng Chau Harbour on its west side to Tung Wan Harbour on the east in just a few minutes. Cheung Chau Village, adjacent to the ferry dock, is a labyrinth of alleyways and cars are non-existent at this end of Hong Kong. A browse in any direction from the ferry terminal will pass both modern and traditional shops and restaurants.
Pak Tai Temple
The temple was completed in 1783 to commemorate Pak Tai, who is god and protector of the fishing clan. The temple, located a short distance to the left of the ferry dock, contains statues of two generals, Thousand Li-Eye and Favourable Wind Ear, who were said to be able to see or hear anything at any distance.
During late April or early May each year, Cheung Chau hosts a giant celebration for a four-day Bun Festival, known as Ching Chiu in Cantonese. The festival is highlighted with the erection of giant bamboo towers comprising edible buns at the courtyard of Pak Tai Temple. The buns are handed out for good luck in an orderly manner to participants of the festival. Another interesting feature of this festival is the ‘floating children’, colorfully clad children hoisted up on stilts and paraded through the crowds. Other performances, such as Chinese operas, lion dances, and religious services are displayed to entertain both locals and visitors alike.
Scattered about the island are several other temples dedicated to Tin Hau, Queen of Heaven and goddess of the sea. Tin Hau is well respected here by the fishing community who visit her temples to offer worship and prayers for a better fortune and to protect them when out at sea. Not only do the locals visit the many Tin Hau temples, but even those from Hong Kong sometimes come over to pray.
Tung Wan Beach
Cheung Chau’s primary beach is the Tung Wan Beach. However, despite its popularity, the beach is not really as excellent as others on the island. The beach sits on the other side of the narrow isthmus from Cheung Chau Harbour. Other beaches include those at Tai Kwai Wan and Tung Wan Tsai on the northern end.