Tung Ping Chau is without a doubt the most unique island in Hong Kong!
Located in the northeast corner of Hong Kong in Mirs Bay, right next to the border with Guangdong Province in mainland China, Tung Ping Chau is one of nature’s finest creations.
The island has been formed over millions of years through solidified sedimentary deposits and erosion. Elements of nature – wind and water – have left behind unique wave-cut platforms and land formations! Along with the diverse marine life around the island, Tung Ping Chau feels like an alien ecosystem!
It should then come as no surprise that Tung Ping Chau is both a protected marine park and part of Hong Kong UNESCO Global Geopark.
Exploring the island of Tung Ping Chau is a fun full-day trip that should be on your to-do list in Hong Kong! And to learn about the main attractions and things to do on the island, we’ve created this detailed post.
How to get to Tung Ping Chau by Ferry
Note from our experience: Given the low frequency and high demand, we faced a problem when we reached the ferry pier at 8:30 AM for a 9 AM ferry. The line was already too long and the ferry could only accommodate about half the people in the line.
Fortunately, the ferry operator organised a second ferry at 10 AM for the remaining passengers. So, you might want to consider arriving at the ferry pier at 8 AM (or even earlier).
A return trip costs HK$ 100 and the ferry can take anywhere between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes, one way.
So, be fully prepared to entertain yourself for almost 2 hours on the ferry ride. It helps to carry snacks, drinks, and a portable charger for your phone.
It is also possible to reach Tung Ping Chau by hiring a speedboat from Sai Kung. However, this totally depends on the availability of a speedboat and will obviously be far more expensive than taking the ferry. From what I know, speedboats from Sai Kung take about an hour, one way.
So, if you’re travelling in a large group and are comfortable chartering a speedboat, consider this option.
Restaurants on Tung Ping Chau
One of the most burning questions I had before visiting Tung Ping Chau was about the presence of restaurants or shops on the island. Because this determines whether you need to carry your own food, snacks, and drinks.
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised with the eating options on Tung Ping Chau Island. I noticed two restaurants in Tai Long Village and another restaurant in Sha Tau Village, both close to the ferry pier.
We ate our lunch at the restaurant next to the beach in Tai Long Village and were treated to some very delicious seafood. However, each portion is prepared for 3-4 people. So keep that in mind.
There is another small eatery behind the restaurant at the beach in Tai Long Village. And we also saw a noodle shop in Sha Tau Village.
So, in short, we were able to eat lunch and stock up on drinks before we set off exploring the island’s unique landscape!
Tung Ping Chau’s Incredible Geology
“Ping Chau” literally translates to “flat island” in Chinese and is a fitting name for the island. For starters, the island is mostly flat terrain. The highest point on the island, Hok Ngam Teng, is only 48 metres above sea level.
The word “Tung” is added to the island’s name “Ping Chau” to avoid confusion with Peng Chau Island, which is located between Lantau and Hong Kong islands. Because Ping Chau is the easternmost point in Hong Kong, it makes perfect sense to prepend the name with “Tung”, which means east.
Ping Chau is composed of alternating layers of unaltered shale, mudstones, marlstones and siltstones. And at 55 million years old, the sedimentary rock formation on Tung Ping Chau is the youngest in Hong Kong. It is the only sizeable island in all of Hong Kong made up of sedimentary rocks.
It is now known that Tung Ping Chau was formed after volcanic activity in the area created a saltwater lake. Wind and water carried silt and ash into that lake and over time, the deposits in the lake solidified into rock, giving birth to the siltstones and chert of Tung Ping Chau.
Today, the sedimentation features and layers are visible across the island’s rocks, shores and cliffs. And not only that, but it is also visible below the island’s surface! If you happen to catch a glimpse, it gives the appearance of scales, making the island look like a giant sleeping dragon!
The erosion over the years has created fascinating wave-cut platforms and rock formations, that along with the variety of marine life, make Tung Ping Chau the most unique island in Hong Kong!
Tung Ping Chau’s Main Attractions
There are three main geological attractions on Tung Ping Chau Island.
- Cham Keng Chau (斬頸洲, “Chopped Neck Island”), in the northwest
- Lung Lok Shui (龍落水, “Dragon Descends Into Water”), on the southwestern coast
- Kang Lau Shek (更樓石, “Watchman’s Tower Rocks”), on southeastern end
Not to mention that each attraction is amplified by the presence of wave-cut platforms of sedimentary rocks, filled with lime-green algae!
Here’s a quick video showcasing the raw beauty of these three attractions.Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Tung Ping Chau Hike – Best Way to Explore The Island’s Attractions
The best way to explore Tung Ping Chau is to hike along its perimeter on the Ping Chau Country Trail. The 6 km trail is a loop around the island that passes the three attractions mentioned above.
The island is in the shape of a kidney bean, with its concave side facing northeast and the convex side facing southwest.
In the middle of the concave (northeast) side is the ferry pier (Wong Ye Kok Pier). There are two bays to the north of the pier (Tai Tong Wan and Cheung Sha Wan) and one bay to the south of the pier (A Ma Wan). Most of the villages on the island are located on the shores of these bays.
The convex side (southwest) is mostly uninhabited and consists of rocky cliffs.
Although the Ping Chau Country Trail loops the island, there are also two shortcuts that cut across the island.
And finally, I think it’s worth pointing out the numerous signs across the island to beware of snakes. Maybe because we visited in the springtime, we didn’t see any snakes.
But having seen plenty of snakes on our other hikes, our advice is to watch your step!
With this information, you can plan your visit to Tung Ping Chau. Or you can follow our recommended guide and how we went about exploring the island.
Ping Chau Country Trail
The moment we stepped off onto the Wong Ye Kok Pier, we were completely taken aback by the natural beauty of the island.
From the pier itself, we could see a kelp forest on one side and the algae-covered shale rocks on the other side.
The view of Tai Tong Wan, to the right, with turquoise water and white sands was mesmerizing!
As we arrived by an unscheduled ferry at 11:45 AM, we immediately headed towards the village at Tai Tong Wan to grab lunch. Which, as I already mentioned above, surpassed our expectations!
After that, we returned to the pier to start our hike on the Ping Chau Country Trail, as we wanted to complete the loop in a clockwise direction.
Wong Ye Kok Pier to Sha Tau Village
To start your hike on the Ping Chau Country Trail, head towards A Ma Wan, southeast of the pier.
Although the trail is covered by trees, the occasional view of the water and the shale rocks is beautiful. You can even see a few beach resorts across the bay in mainland China.
Keep walking on the trail for approximately 400 metres till you arrive at Sha Tau village (平洲沙頭). Although Sha Tau is the largest village on the island, it is mostly abandoned.
The houses at the start of the village seem occupied, but as you walk through the village, it’s hard not to notice the number of abandoned and empty houses, overtaken by nature.
The most famous abandoned house has a fig tree growing around its exterior wall. Next to this house is the 100-year-old Tam Tai Sin Temple.
Keep walking on the trail till the end of the village, which is where the ancient Tin Hau Temple is situated. The temple was built some 250 years ago during the Qing Qianlong period.
Step into the temple’s courtyard to admire it. But exit from the opposite side onto the beach as the next section of the Ping Chau Country Trail continues on the shoreline.
A Ma Wan
The Ping Chau Country Trail continues on the shoreline after the Tin Hau Temple.
From here, mainland China seems like a short swim away, which it is! But other than the proximity of the international border, what’s fascinating is the rocky shoreline filled with shells, corals, and laminated sedimentary rocks. What’s worth mentioning is that among the 84 species of stony coral recorded in Hong Kong waters, 65 can be found around Tung Ping Chau.
This stretch is a beautiful reminder of the diverse marine life in the surrounding water!
At the end of the shoreline is Ma Kok Tsui, where you can find a portable toilet and a camping area with tables for picnics or barbecues.
However, the first main geo-attraction is just around the corner from Ma Kok Tsui.
Attraction 1: Keng Lau Shek
At the southeast tip of Tung Ping Chau is Keng Lau Shek (更樓石, “Watchman’s Tower Rocks”).
Keng Lau Shek offers visitors the most stunning example of a wave-cut platform, filled with rock pools and algae. It is the largest and most famous one in Hong Kong and extends more than 33 metres inwards from the sea.
At the centre of the wave-cut platforms are two sea stacks (or towering rocks) that give this attraction its name.
Not only are the rocks very photogenic and Instragramable, but as the easternmost point in Hong Kong, they’re also popular sunrise spots.
Standing on top of the rocks, I couldn’t help but admire the natural wonders around me!
This wave-cut platform is a stunning example of erosion on layers of sedimentary rocks. And although I could only see it with my drone, the sedimentary layers continue all the way to the ocean floor! Because that’s how this island was formed, millions of years ago!
I could have just stayed at Keng Lau Shek and continued to admire the tilted and eroded flat rocks. But I knew there was more to see ahead.
To Hok Ngam Teng
The next section of the Ping Chau Country Trail is the only section that requires a bit of climbing.
The trail continues from behind Keng Lau Shek and moves away from the shoreline and into the shade.
Follow the trail as it gently begins its ascent. I honestly wasn’t expecting any climbing at all on Tung Ping Chau, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy the steps.
But “Ping Chau” literally translates to “flat island”, so naturally the steps don’t last too long and soon arrive at Hok Ngam Teng.
At 48 metres above sea level, this is the highest point on the island. I couldn’t spot a triangulation station, but I found the compass on the peak quite interesting.
To the A Ma Wan shortcut
The Ping Chau Country Trail gently descends after Hok Ngam Teng.
The trail remains shaded and relatively quiet with hardly any views.
However, as we visited the island during spring, we did see shrubs of pink flowers that added a touch of colour to the trail.
After approximately 600 metres from Hok Ngam Teng, the Ping Chau Country Trail arrives at a juncture with a notice board.
The trail to the right is a shortcut back to A Ma Wan via Cha Tau village. But to continue hiking around the island, keep walking on the trail to the left.
To Lung Lok Shui
As you continue walking on the Ping Chau Country Trail, expect more of what you just covered. A flat, shaded, easy trail.
Except along this section of the hike, there are a few areas without any obstruction. And if it’s a clear day, you can see Sharp Peak in the distance. If you’ve ever been to Tai Long Wan, this view should give you a good idea of how far you are even from Sai Kung!
After another 600 metres of walking from the shortcut, the trail descends to sea level. And shortly thereafter, it splits in two with a shortcut to the beach on the left.
Take the trail and steps to the left and it arrives at the beach with the next attraction.
Attraction 2: Lung Lok Shui
Lung Lok Shui (龍落水) literally translates to “Dragon Descends Into The Water”. The attraction gets its name from the zigzag slab of white siliceous rock that starts from the northern end of the beach and gently enters the sea.
To see the entire slab, walk down towards the water and look back at the layer of rock that seems as if it was uprooted from the ground. From a distance, the slab looks like a dragon’s spine descending into the water.
Once again, the aerial views of Lung Lok Shui truly show its magnificent form and structure!
As it descends into the sea, there is a flowing kelp forest along the “dragon’s spine”. And on the section outside the water, the naturally cut triangular grooves are perfect for sitting.
There are two other attractions at Lung Lok Shui. The wave-cut platform and sedimentary rocks to the west are just as spectacular as they were at Keng Lau Shek.
And there is also Hoi Lo Tung, a cave, along the southeast shoreline that is accessible during low tide.
Once again, I found it hard to leave Lung Lok Shui and could take my eyes off this incredible geological attraction!
To the Tai Tong Wan shortcut
To continue hiking on the Ping Chau Country Trail, climb onto the “dragon’s spine”. Walk up till the slab reconnects with the trail, and then turn left.
Once you’re back walking on the trail, carry on hiking. The trail continues to be flat and shaded.
After approximately 800 metres of walking, the trail arrives at another juncture with a sign for the pier.
The trail on the right is a shortcut back to Wong Ye Kok Pier via Tai Tong Wan. It also is the route to the Ping Chau Camp and the police station on the island.
But to reach the final attraction, continue walking straight.
To Cham Keng Chau
From this juncture, it’s a short 250-metre walk till the trail reaches the edge of a cliff with the sign for Cham Keng Chau.
To reach Cham Keng Chau, carefully walk down to the rocky beach. Although it might be tempting to admire another gorgeous wave-cut platform, turn around to admire the real attraction!
Attraction 3: Cham Keng Chau
The first photo that I ever saw of Tung Ping Chau was of Cham Keng Chau.
Literally “Chopped Neck Island”, Cham Keng Chau (斬頸洲) is a narrow gorge that was once a fractured rock with several sets of vertical fissures. Over the years, the rocks were eroded by wind and water, leaving behind a sea abrasion canyon.
The narrow canyon (or corridor) has also created a tiny chunk of land that is separated from the rest of the island. Also on either side of Cham Keng Chau are beautiful wave-cut platforms featuring rock pools with marine life.
Cham Keng Chau is perhaps the most photographed spot on Tung Ping Chau island. Stand at one end of it and the narrow corridor acts as a gateway to another world!
While inside the canyon, make sure to check out the lone tree that has been growing by clinging onto the cracks in the rocks!
If you’re feeling adventurous, cross the canyon to the other side to explore the shoreline of sedimentary rocks, honeycomb erosion rocks, and fascinating-looking marine life!
But remember to return to the gorge and climb back up to the trail to continue on the final leg of Ping Chau Country Trail.
To Chau Mei Kok
From Cham Keng Chau, climb back up to the Ping Chau Country Trail and follow the signs for Chau Mei Kok.
Once again, the trail runs above the coastline with limited views of the sea.
It remains shaded for the most part, except for a short distance halfway into the walk.
After approximately 1 km, the trail descends into Chau Mei Kok, the northernmost tip of Tung Ping Chau.
The shores of Chau Mei Kok are all filled with chunks of shale rock, showing their stratified layers, and more rocks with honeycomb erosion.
Chau Mei Kok is also the site for the Tung Ping Chau Marine Park sign. So, be sure to snap a picture next to it.
Return to the ferry pier via Cheung Sha Wan and Tai Tong Wan
As you turn the corner from Chau Mei Kok, you’re greeted with the familiar sight of Cheung Sha Wan, Tai Tong Wan, and the Wong Ye Kok Pier.
The rocky shores soon give way to the white sand beach of Cheung Sha Wan. I must admit that the beach looked far more spectacular in the daylight and during high tide.
Behind the beach is the small fishing village of Chau Mei.
Although you can choose to walk on the beautiful beach, there is also a cemented path just behind the beach.
After crossing Cheung Sha Wan is Tai Tong Wan. This is where the restaurants and eateries are located and where we had eaten our lunch earlier in the day.
As we had plenty of time to catch our ferry, we decided to sit at the same restaurant and enjoy a drink to cool us down. And also, take a sneak peek at the church in Tai Tong Wan.
And after that, we casually sauntered back to the pier to catch the ferry which took almost 2 hours to return to Ma Liu Shui, bringing our incredible day at Tung Ping Chau to an end!
Camping at Tung Ping Chau
Although this post focused mostly on exploring the main geological attractions of Tung Ping Chau, it’s worth noting that the island is equally popular for camping.
During our visit, we noticed many happy campers scattered across various beaches and campsites. After reading this post, I’m sure you don’t need a reason to not consider Tung Ping Chau as your next camping destination in Hong Kong!
Tung Ping Chau Island Guide
We hope you found our guide to Tung Ping Chau and its marine park resourceful and that it inspires you to visit the island and explore its unique geological attractions!
Even with the 1-hour ferry delay, we found that we had more than sufficient time on the island to explore all its attractions.
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