Ma Wan is a tiny island (less than 1 sq km) located between Tsing Yi and Lantau Island. But unless you live in Park Island, the private residential estate that occupies most of Ma Wan, there isn’t any reason to visit the island. And this would be true if it wasn’t for Ma Wan’s ghost town, which has become quite an attraction in the recent past.
December 2021 update: While passing Park Island the other day, I noticed the old village being demolished. It seems like there might be something new developed to replace the old Ghost Town.
May 2021 update: I have been informed (thanks, Colin) that “to preserve and rejuvenate the historical buildings and architectural heritage in the Ma Wan Old Village” one can no longer access the ghost town.
The period of closure is from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2024.
What was once a thriving fishing village, Ma Wan’s old abandoned town now lies in ruins. And much like Yim Tin Tsai in Sai Kung, curious visitors and photographers occasionally visit to explore this ghost town.
Before we start, here’s a quick clip showcasing the two worlds on Ma Wan island.
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How to get to Ma Wan Ghost Town
There are plenty of options to get to Ma Wan. There are buses that ply between Park Island and Tsing Yi MTR, and Tsuen Wan MTR stations. And there’s also a fast ferry between Central and Park Island Pier that departs from Central Ferry Pier No. 2.
Assuming you take the ferry, once you arrive at the Park Island Pier walk towards the towers and turn left. Stay on Pak Lai Road as it runs alongside the housing complex.
On the other side, you get amazing views of the Tsing Ma Bridge, the 14th-longest suspension bridge in the world. You can also see Noah’s Ark, a Christian-themed theme park on the island.
Once the road reaches the back of the housing estate, continue straight on what is now Fong Yuen Road. Walk past the village houses on your right. These are new houses where the people from the abandoned village were relocated.
When you reach Ma Wan Rural Committee Road turn right, and almost immediately you’ll notice a lane on the left, with signs for the Salvation Army Camp. Take this lane. I’ve marked the path up till this point on Google Maps.
Walk till the end of this path and turn left, and then right. From this point on, walk straight down the path till you arrive at Ma Wan Main Street. This is where the abandoned village of Ma Wan starts.
About Ma Wan’s Abandoned Town
The eviction story of Ma Wan’s town is relatively recent. This 250-year-old fishing village was once thriving with several thousand living here till the 1980s. It was home to one of Lantau’s stilt house (pang uk) communities, like the one in Tai O. And just like Tai O, Ma Wan was also known for its seafood restaurants, and farms of dried seafood and shrimp paste.
But by 2011, the majority of the residents had been evicted after the developer of Park Island bought most of the land on Ma Wan.
The developer offered villagers a three-storey house or three units in the new Park Island complex, which was completed in 2006. While most accepted the deal, others held out in protest. Eviction efforts continue to this day.
Walk Around The Abandoned Village
From Ma Wan Main Street, you can walk about the entire abandoned village quite easily. Most of the crumbling houses now have been fenced up with signs prohibiting visitors from trespassing. But there are a few houses that can still be accessed.
Some of the houses have been overrun by trees and vines. In fact, we saw one house that was held together by roots and branches of a tree that reminded us of the temples in Siem Reap. It really was quite picturesque!
It’s a funny feeling walking around an abandoned village that is literally in the shadows of a giant suspension bridge and a modern housing estate next door. That’s why it’s no surprise that many enjoy visiting Ma Wan’s ghost town for its juxtaposed Instagrammable spots.
On one side of the abandoned town is the Ma Wan Public Ferry Pier and the Tsing Ma Bridge, and on the other a floating fishing village. And the entire abandoned village is in between these two ends.
Ma Wan’s Ghost Town
If you enjoyed your visit to Ma Wan’s ghost town, I would highly recommend visiting Yim Tin Tsai in Sai Kung. It’s another abandoned village but with a bit more character.
Other than this abandoned village, there’s not much else to explore on this tiny island, unless you’re curious to learn more about Noah’s Ark and that Solar Tower that can be seen from the ghost town. If you do plan to combine your visit to the abandoned village with Noah’s Ark, be sure to book your tickets online to avail of a 52% discount.