Ping Chau

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Not to be confused with Peng Chau.
Aerial view from Northeastern tip
Location of Ping Chau in the Northeast corner of the territory.
Ping Chau
Ping Chau
Ping Chau
Tam Kung Temple on Ping Chau

Ping Chau (Chinese: 平洲) is an island in Hong Kong. It is also known as Tung Ping Chau (Chinese: 東平洲). Tung (Chinese: , meaning east) is prepended to the name so as to avoid possible confusion with Peng Chau, another island in Hong Kong with an identically pronounced name in the Cantonese language. Administratively, the island is part of the Tai Po District in the New Territories.


Geographically, Ping Chau is an offshore island located in the northeast corner of Hong Kong in Mirs Bay and is close to the border with Guangdong Province in mainland China. The island has an area of 1.16 km²[1] and consists of shale rock. The island is much closer to mainland China (4 km) than to the main landmass of Hong Kong. It is close to Nan'ao of Dapeng. The island is the most easterly point of Hong Kong.

The island's largest village, Sha Tau, is something of a ghost town, with many cottages boarded up. A large part of the island is country parkland, with footpaths overgrown with orchids, wild mint, and morning glories. At the island's southeastern end are two huge rocks known as the Drum Rocks, or Watchman's Tower Rocks (更樓石, Kang Lau Shek). At the north end is a chunk of land that has broken away from the island; the Chinese say it represents the head of a dragon.[2]

The island has the shape of a kidney bean with its concave side facing northeast. Its name "Ping Chau" means "flat island" in Chinese, suggesting that the island is flat. The highest points on the island are, in the south is 46 metres and the north is 37 metres. The eastern inner shore of the crescent hugs the Ping Chau Hoi with a few beaches. On the contrary, the opposite western coast of the island is fairly rocky. This is the results of inclined siltstones, and wave action being higher along the west coast while the east is relatively sheltered.


Ping Chau is now deserted and has a checkered history. Guns and opium were once smuggled from here, and during the Cultural Revolution many mainlanders swam through shark-infested waters in hopes of reaching Ping Chau and the freedom of Hong Kong.

The island was once home to a thriving fishing and farm community of 3,000 people, but political turmoil during the Cultural Revolution cut off commerce with the mainland and most villagers moved away.[3] In the 1950s, there were about 1,500 people living in the ten villages on the island. By the early 1970s, only a few elderly people remained on the island.[4] In 2004, the last permanent resident moved out of Tung Ping Chau. Some may return on weekends.


Ping Chau is unique in the fact that it is the only sizeable island in Hong Kong made up of sedimentary rock. Hong Kong is mostly formed of extrusive igneous rocks, after a series of major volcanoes erupted during the Jurassic Period. Following the volcanic activity, a basin formed in the northeast, with deposition in a brackish lake—producing the siltstones and chert of Tung Ping Chau, which have been dated from the early Paleogene period. It is also home to some spectacular cliffs and wave-cut platforms. Landforms such as these are very rarely found in the rest of Hong Kong.


The island has a temple dedicated Tin Hau in the village of Sha Tau, and a Tam Kung Temple. Many early residents of Ping Chau were from Shantou (Swatow) and they kept the tradition of worshiping Tam Kung after they settled on the island.[5] There are many ancient buildings dating to 300 years ago that can also be found there.

On one side of the island there are steep cliffs, below which is an amazing wave-cut platform, with jagged rocks, set at a 30-degree angle, like a staircase. Here there are many rock pools containing all manner of marine life, such as sea urchins and crabs. On the island's coastline at the pier side, there are over 60 different species of coral, and 35 species of algae. In fact, some say that Ping Chau has the only diveable sites in Hong Kong.

For most, the island is reachable by ferry from Ma Liu Shui ferry pier, near the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The landing point is the Tung Ping Chau Public Pier, the only public pier on the island, located at Wong Ye Kok (王爺角).[6] The ferry service is operated by Tsui Wah Ferry Services Co. Ltd on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays only.[7][8] The journey takes 1 hour 40 minutes.[9]

During the weekends, there are many people on the island. These include those who have come to dive, and those who have come to see the cliffs and wave-cut platforms. Some people also use it as a weekend home. There is a camping site as well as picnic and barbecue sites on the island, managed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.[10][11] 57,000 people visited Ping Chau in 2005.[3]


The Tin Hau Temple in the village of Sha Tau is listed as a Grade III Historic Building.[12]

Ping Chau has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest since 1978.[13]

Ping Chau is part of the Plover Cove (Extension) Country Park, designated in 1979.[14]

The Tung Ping Chau Marine Park was designated in 2001 as the fourth Marine Park in Hong Kong. It occupies a sea area of about 270 hectares which encloses the island of Ping Chau.[15]

Ping Chau is one of the eight Geo-Areas of the Hong Kong National Geopark,[16] which was inaugurated on 3 November 2009.[17]

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Coordinates: 22°32′36″N 114°25′50″E / 22.54333°N 114.43056°E / 22.54333; 114.43056