Laid back on Lamma

Lamma Island, Hong Kong

So we escaped China! The huge country had been enthralling and fascinating but we needed a break, and we found it on a small, tranquil island in Hong Kong. Technically still China, Hong Kong is an autonomous, separate special administrative region and it comprises of a number of islands and a peninsula {Kowloon} attached to mainland China. It was on one of Hong Kong’s islands that we found, surprisingly, peace and solitude.

We took the T99 Shanghai to Kowloon through-train in comfortable soft sleeper class, a four berth cabin we shared with a father and his twenty-something daughter. We almost missed our train by completely by missing the fact that this international train has a separate entrance at Shanghai station, we’d arrived super early and waited in the soft sleeper waiting room only to be rushed through immigration at the last minute when a member of station staff realised we were in the wrong place! Whoops!

The train pulled into Hong Kong’s Hung Hom station {called Jiulong, not Hung Hom, in China, just to be confusing!} at lunchtime and what a smart, spacious and airy station it is after all the chaotic stations in China! We took the metro to the central ferry piers on Hong Kong Island and were soon boarding a ferry from Pier 4 bound for Yung Shue Wan on Lamma Island.

Hong Kong

Half and hour later we were walking along the bike-encrusted jetty with a throng of locals and school children heading home to Lamma after school on the main island. The narrow street wove up from the shore through the village of Yung Shue Wan, past seafood restaurants, grocery stands and souvenir shops. We’d been recommended the Island by Arrah and Scotty {who we’d met on Olkhon Island, Russia} and we found the accommodation they mentioned easily, the Kathmandu B&B, a cheap and cheerful room without breakfast, it really should be called Kathmandu B!

> click on a photograph to open the gallery

The island is sparsely populated and has a chilled-out, laid-back, dare-I-say-it hippy, vibe combining east and west with a Chinese bakery, a cake shop, an organic store, a bookshop-cum-cafe, plenty of aquarium-to-table seafood restaurants and western food joints. It appeared to have a significant number of expat residents, lots of familiar British products in the local mini-markets. Oh Lyle’s Golden Syrup, how I’ve missed you!

Car-free Lamma is perfect for a day out from Hong Kong, it has reasonably easy hiking trails that takes you around the island through fishing villages, wild banana-filled jungle and pretty beaches. We set off in shorts and tees {oh sunny, if hazy, weather, finally!} along the paved path that leads south from Yung Shue Wan to Sok Kwu Wan, an hour and a half walk away.

The first place of interest on the path was Hung Shing Ye Beach, a popular, safe place to swim in the sea with its changing rooms, cafe and shark net, keeping unwanted visitors {and litter} from the bathing area. An idyllic location marred by a power station to the right, but pleasant nonetheless.

The path drops down to Sok Kwu Wan, a smaller fishing village on the east coast of the island, affording views over the harbour. We were thinking of grabbing some lunch here but it was all too fishy for my liking, lots more aquarium restaurants, so we snacked on our packed lunch instead.

Sok Kwu Wan also has a ferry to and from Hong Kong’s Central Ferry Piers and most day visitors do the walk and leave from here. We continued along the path as it headed up again away from the village. From here on we hardly saw anyone, it was the most peaceful hike we’d done for a while. The path becomes more interesting as it loops inland, we were walking through lush, green jungle with fruit-laden banana trees and abundant foliage.

The, still-paved, path cuts through some isolated hamlets, surrounded by jungle, you couldn’t feel further away from the gleaming vertical city across the water than here. The small properties looked lost amongst the encroaching plant-life, further along were some older, abandoned buildings that had been entirely engulfed nature.

The bush is alive with birdsong and black kites soar above rocky peaks. Butterflies flitted between colourful flowers along the trail and dragonflies zipped along the path ahead of us. We saw a huge hornet that freaked the hell out of me, effectively blocking our route, causing us to pause until it buzzed off!

The path opened out and we were back on the coast, we came to Tung O bay village and pretty, deserted Shek Pai Wan beach.  The haze that surrounded the island hid the huge tankers and boats from view, isolating Lamma from the world, occasionally one would materialise ghostly through it, and we’d be reminded of where we were.

We spied a pavilion up on a rocky hill, a kite wheeled around it, drawing us up to its viewpoint. As we climbed, the weather started to draw in from the direction we would be heading back. Up at the pavilion the breeze was cool, and a little ominous. We decided not to hang about and set off back to Yung Shue Wan.

> click on a photograph to open the gallery

The walk had been wonderful, so marvellous to get back to nature and breathe fresh air after all those weeks in Chinese cities. We were fortunate that we walked the trail on a week-day in December, the path was very quiet, I believe it gets very busy at other times of the year.

I would absolutely recommend Lamma as an easy trip out from Hong Kong city. The island couldn’t be more different from the bustling metropolis across the bay yet it’s merely a thirty minute ferry ride away.

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Lamma Island, Hong Kong

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Have you been to Lamma?

8 Responses

  1. A fascinating post. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Emma xx

  2. Dave Rowley says:

    What a change to go straight from Shanghai to Lamma! Sounds like you kicked off the next phase of your journey leaving the big cities of China for the smaller places to the south. I love your descriptions of hiking through jungle foliage, makes me want to go there! And I love the Kathmandu B, I guess they forgot about the other B…

    • haha, yes. Only one B for them!

      It was a blissful change to go somewhere so peaceful. We ended up going straight there as we had booked our AirBnB apartment in Hong Kong but then couldn’t get booked on the train for that date so took a train a few days early and headed straight to Lamma!

  3. mmmarzipan says:

    How lovely it looks! You’re having quite the adventure! 🙂 x