Po Toi

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Po Toi
HK Po Toi Island Public Pier view Ferry Oct-2012 Tai Wan.JPG
Tsui Wah Ferry vessel arriving at Po Toi public pier
Po Toi Location.PNG
Location of Po Toi Island within Hong Kong
Area3.69 km2 (1.42 sq mi)
Po Toi
Traditional Chinese蒲台島
Simplified Chinese蒲台岛
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese蒲苔島
Simplified Chinese蒲苔岛
Palm Cliff (佛手巖) resembles the shape of a human hand
Rock formation – Tortoise Climbing up the Mountain (靈龜上山)

Po Toi (commonly Chinese: 蒲台島, originally Chinese: 蒲苔島) is the main island of the Po Toi Islands and the southernmost[citation needed][clarification needed] island of Hong Kong, with an area of 3.69 km².[1]


It is said that the island used to produce dried seaweeds (苔), which were shaped like the cattail hassock (蒲團) used by the monks for sitting; therefore the island was originally called 蒲苔島, the present common name being a corruption. Another explanation states that Po Toi looks like a floating platform (浮台) when viewed from a distance on sea. 蒲 is another character meaning "to float" in the local dialect, thus giving the island its name.


The island historically had a maximum of about 1,000 fishermen and farmers, whose economic activity consisted mainly of fishing, farming and seaweed harvesting.[2] The population lived mainly in two villages, Chang Shek Pai (長石排) and Shan Liu (山寮). The population decreased sharply over the past decades, with the younger generations moving to the city.[3]


Po Toi is famous for its rock formations, such as the Buddha Hand Rock aka. Palm Cliff (佛手巖), the Coffin Rock (棺材石), the Tortoise Climbing up the Mountain (靈龜上山) and the Supine Monk (僧人石).[4][5]

Ancient rock carvings on the island, believed to date back to the Bronze Age (around 1500–700 BC),[6] were discovered in the 1960s. They have been listed as declared monuments of Hong Kong[7][8][9] since 1979.[10] These may be viewed on a spur-track on the track that runs between the main harbour (Tai Wan), and the lighthouse.

A Tin Hau Temple is located on Po Toi, facing the bay of Tai Wan (大灣). While its construction date is unknown, it is documented that the temple was renovated in 1893.[2][11]

Mo's Old House, or the "Deserted Mansion of Family Mo" (巫氏廢宅), usually referred to as the "Haunted House",[12] is a popular venue of "adventure" for the young visitors. The existing house was built in the 1930s at Chang Shek Pai and has fallen into ruins.[3]

There is a lighthouse on Po Toi.[13]


The island is accessible by kai-to or water taxi. Tsui Wah Ferry provides scheduled ferry services connecting Po Toi Island with Aberdeen and Stanley.[14][15]

In fiction[edit]

The climax of John Le Carre's novel The Honourable Schoolboy (the second in the 'Karla trilogy', featuring George Smiley) takes place on Po Toi.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lands Department (February 2011), Hong Kong Geographic Data (PDF), retrieved 26 November 2011
  2. ^ a b Brief Information on proposed Grade Nil Items. Item #1254. Tin Hau Temple Archived 15 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Brief Information on proposed Grade Nil Items. Item #1207. Mo's Old House Archived 15 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Rocks in Po Toi", Varsity, Issue 118, December 2006
  5. ^ Exploring Islands. Po Toi sights: Supine Monk
  6. ^ Meacham, William (2008). The Archaeology of Hong Kong. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 123–129. ISBN 978-962-209-925-8.
  7. ^ Antiquities and Monuments Offices: Rock Carving on Po Toi Island
  8. ^ Exploring islands. Po Toi sights: Rock Carving
  9. ^ Davis, S. G., S. Edelstein, and M. H. Tang. 1974. "Rock Carvings in Hong Kong and the New Territories". Asian Perspectives 17 (1): 1–4.
  10. ^ Environment Protection Department – List of Declared Monuments as on 1 January 1999 (archive)
  11. ^ Exploring islands. Po Toi sights: Tin Hau Temple, Po Toi
  12. ^ Exploring islands. Po Toi sights: The Old Mansion of Family Mo
  13. ^ Lighthouses of China: Hong Kong
  14. ^ Tsui Wah Ferry website
  15. ^ Transport details for Po Toi Islands
  16. ^ Cornwell, David (1977). The Honourable Schoolboy. Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 696–738. ISBN 978-0-340-93762-4.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°10′8.8″N 114°15′48.2″E / 22.169111°N 114.263389°E / 22.169111; 114.263389