Hong Kong is my favourite city, I just love the way it writhes with life through most of the day. It is a city of many faces, and one of the things that I like to do when I visit Hong Kong is to visit the outlying islands.
Cheung Chau is a dumbbell-shaped, car free island that many locals flock to at weekends for a bit of respite from the city. It has a famous temple called the Pak Tai Temple that is dedicated to the Taoist God of the Sea. Each spring the temple is the focus of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival which celebrates the end of an ancient plague. The weeklong festival climaxes with a large, carnival-like street procession featuring costumed children on stilts held aloft above the crowd, lion dances and other colourful participants. The parade winds its way through the narrow streets to the grounds near the Pak Tai Temple, which are dominated by enormous bamboo towers studded with sweet white buns, and where the main festivities take place. At midnight, athletes scramble up one of the towers in a contest to grab the top-most ‘luckiest’ ones.
Cheung Chau has a good beach, lots of excellent restaurants and accommodation. It is easy to walk around, and it best to visit midweek.
It has some nice beaches and a mountainous spine with Mount Stenhouse being the tallest peak. The two most popular villages on Lamma are Yung Shue Wan and Sok Kwu Wan, both of which are accessible by ferry. Many people catch the ferry to Yung Shue Wan and walk the trail across the island to Sok Kwu Wan, where there a great many popular seafood restaurants.
Because of its greater size, and the fact that it has a hinterland comprised of natural bush, Lamma is quieter than Cheung Chau but both islands are very interesting to visit. Even if you didn’t wish to spend much time on either island, it is worth going just for the experience of sailing across Hong Kong Harbour, which is a hive of activity and is plied by all types of vessels from magnificent cruise ships to traditional junks. Just the views of sailing down the harbour with Hong Kong Island on one side and Kowloon on the other and the incredible skyscrapers which seem to soar ever upwards makes for a fascinating journey alone.