How to enjoy quaint and laid-back Peng Chau island in very hot weather

My Secret Garden, also known as the Leather Factory, is located along Peng Chau’s Wing On Street. Photo: Coconuts Media
My Secret Garden, also known as the Leather Factory, is located along Peng Chau’s Wing On Street. Photo: Coconuts Media

Given the blistering heat in Hong Kong (it’s the 13th continuous day we’ve been under a very hot weather warning), I’ve got to admit that I’ve been hiding in cafes and shopping malls with air conditioning on full blast.

But since it’s my passion (and also my job) to be out exploring the city, I finally pulled myself together last week to head outdoors to breathe in some fresh air. 

After many recommendations from Coconauts, I decided to go to Peng Chau, a quaint little island located off the northeastern coast of Lantau Island, with a friend. 

Here’s some background information about Peng Chau, which is Cantonese for “flat island”.

While its total area is less than 1 square kilometer, the island has a population of over 7,000. 

Historical records show that Peng Chau has been developed continuously since the middle of the Qing Dynasty. At that time, most settlers made their living by fishing. Some engaged in commerce and farming. 

While the heatwave was proving to be quite a challenge, we were excited about this escape from the daily barrage of news and fast-paced city life. 

We were also super hyped about our first trip in a while to an outlying island, but still we had to take heed of the very hot weather warning with some precautionary measures. 

A liter of drinking water for each of us (check), a cooling towel (check), an umbrella (check), a handheld fan (check).

Central Pier No. 6, off we go!

Since it was our day off, we had a bit of difficulty waking up in the morning, but hey, they say Peng Chau is a chill, laid-back island, so we’re just embracing the vibe.

We took the 12:15pm ferry from Central to Peng Chau. Photo: Coconuts Media

We got on the 12:15pm ferry toward Peng Chau. The air conditioning on the ferry was on the cold side, so do bring a hoodie along if you need to. But for us, the roughly 30 minutes of blasting cold air was just what we needed before setting off to explore Peng Chau in this hot weather.

The air conditioning on the ferry from Central to Peng Chau was on the cold side. Photo: Coconuts Media

With the sun directly overhead, we scuttled off to have lunch first.

We opted for Shing Hing Restaurant, an old-style yum cha place along Wing On Street, the island’s main street.

We had lunch at Shing Hing Restaurant, an old-style yum cha place. Photo: Coconuts Media

There was a nice traditional feel to the restaurant, with a lady serving dim sum off a trolley, just like the good old days.

A lady served dim sum off a trolley at Shing Hing Restaurant. Photo: Coconuts Media

We highly recommend their cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), which were especially soft and smooth, and their osmanthus rolls, made with fish meat in beancurd skin (oops, we were too hungry and ate almost all of them before taking the photo).

We highly recommend the cheong fun and osmanthus rolls. Photo: Coconuts Media

Here’s what the osmanthus rolls looked like when served.

Osmanthus rolls. Photo: Coconuts Media

After the hearty lunch, we headed to My Secret Garden, also known as the Leather Factory, a grassroots art initiative.

The Leather Factory is located along Wing On Street. Photo: Coconuts Media

Hidden along Wing On Street, you might miss the former factory site if you don’t look carefully.

We especially like the juxtaposition of traditional Chinese vernacular architecture with the eclectic mix of graffiti and installations at the site.

We both agreed this is the prime Instagram spot. Photo: Coconuts Media
A coronavirus-themed graffiti. Photo: Coconuts Media
An installation made with clocks and umbrellas. Photo: Coconuts Media
A graffiti with the theme of catching a star. Photo: Coconuts Media
An installation made with chairs. Photo: Coconuts Media
A metallic installation. Photo: Coconuts Media

The Leather Factory has been accorded a grade 3 historic building status.

There are some shaded areas at the site, so do get some rest there in between your Instagram shots to prevent getting heat exhaustion.

After that, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along Wing On Street

Wing On Street. Photo: Coconuts Media

With Peng Chau being relatively less developed and not having any cars (besides small motorized carts), it is especially relaxing to walk around on foot and just take in its sights and sounds.

The now-defunct Peng Chau Theatre. Photo: Coconuts Media

After all the strolling and photo-taking, we took a break from the heat again with tea at The Edible Projects.

The cafe had a relaxing vibe and we enjoyed this chocomisu made with coconut milk and tropical soda drink.

Chocomisu and tropical soda drink at The Edible Projects. Photo: Coconuts Media

We also like the fact that it is a social enterprise that hires young people with autism as part of its staff.

We went to The Edible Projects for tea. Photo: Coconuts Media

After taking our cool-down break, we initially wanted to go for a hike up Finger Hill, but decided against it in the end as it was too hot.

So we went for a laid-back stroll by the sea instead. There were still plenty for our eyes to feast on, including the greenery and sea views.

Beautiful greenery and sea views in Peng Chau. Photo: Coconuts Media

We especially like seeing how the islanders dry fish along the promenade and this temple with bright colors.

Islanders dry fish along the promenade. Photo: Coconuts Media
A temple with bright colors. Photo: Coconuts Media

Before we made our way back to Hong Kong Island, we visited this bakery called A NOY, which is known for its fermented soybean sesame biscuits. They were very aromatic and crunchy, and make a good souvenir.

A NOY is known for its fermented soybean sesame biscuits. Photo: Coconuts Media

Overall, we enjoyed our visit to this quaint and laid-back island, with it being a good escape from the hustle and bustle of city life in Hong Kong. While it can be quite hot on the island, which doesn’t have a lot of shady spots, there are quite a number of charming eateries to cool off so, if you’re smart, you can still have a great time in Peng Chau, even in this heat.

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