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Antiquity

Aberdeen Harbour: travel ‘back in time’ on water tour of fishing village

Written by South China Morning Post (Morning Studio)

Old photographs of the ‘floating villages’ in Aberdeen Harbour, located between Hong Kong Island’s southern coast and the outlying islet of Ap Lei Chau — showing thousands of fishing families living on traditional Chinese junk houseboats in the mid-1900s — are among the city’s most iconic and enduring images.

Some tour companies offer a one-hour boat tour — or 90 minutes with lunch — that recounts historical moments during the area’s development into a bustling urban town. It is a time-efficient way to take in local landmarks along the waterfront while enjoying the spectacular vistas looking out to sea.

  • Ap Lei Chau Hung Shing Temple

    Ap Lei Chau waterfront is home to Hung Shing Temple — built in 1773 — to worship Hung Shing, the ‘God of the South Sea’, to help protect fishermen. The official monument — one of Hong Kong’s oldest and best-preserved temples — is also the start and end point of the sampan tour. It’s one of the few Hung Shing temples largely unaffected by reclamation and has kept its original serene, feng shui setting — facing the sea. Inside you can see an original bell, cast in the year it was built, and prized Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Shiwan pottery. People always visit the temple to make offerings during the Hung Shing Festival, on the 13th day of the second lunar month. A stone’s throw away from the temple is the Ap Lei Chau Market Cooked Food Centre inside the Ap Lei Chau Municipal Services Building, where you can sample some of the local delicacies.

    Get me there
  • Aberdeen Promenade

    The tree-lined Aberdeen Promenade — a walkway running beside Aberdeen Harbour — is a popular spot where visitors can relax and take selfies with the boats. But it offers more than stunning waterfront views: early risers can rub shoulders with elderly locals looking for bargains as moored boats sell freshly caught fish.

    A jar of freshly ground plaice powder — a natural fish stock commonly used for soups — will make a perfect souvenir of your lunch tour. You can buy a jar from fishermen on their boats moored beside the promenade.

    Get me there
  • Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market

    If you buy live seafood in Hong Kong, there is a good chance it has been sourced from Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market. Built in 1950, it’s the oldest and largest fish wholesale market in Hong Kong, which drew fishers from Cheung Chau, southern islands and even Macao to Aberdeen, supplying more than 70 per cent of the local live seafood. Looking at the cream-coloured structure with a green-tiled roof from afar, you can peer into various large fishing boats that line the market pier. The fishermen’s canteen inside the market serves freshly caught offerings from 4am daily. There is also a souvenir shop offering fish-related products and gifts.

    Get me there
  • Ap Lei Chau Wind Tower Park

    As your sampan cruises to Ap Lei Chau across the harbour, you can see Ap Lei Chau Wind Tower Park ahead of you. Visitors can climb the 10-metre-high lookout tower, designed in the shape of a fishing boat, to enjoy the scenery. Solar panels power rows of LED lights, which change colour according to the wind speed detected by a sensor: all green when calm, increasingly orange as it grows breezy, and all red during gales or hurricanes. The park also features an exhibition gallery on Hong Kong's traditional fishing customs and the fishermen’s way of life.

    Get me there
  • Ocean Park

    First opened in 1977, this iconic theme park — built on undulating hills along Hong Kong Island’s southern shore — features thrill rides and attractions that aim to educate the public about the natural world and conservation. When viewed from the sampan, you can see the Whirly Bird — a floorless flying vintage airplane ride — the 72-metre-tall Ocean Park Tower with a rotating observation deck, as well as a swing that spins 22 metres upside down in the air, called the Flash.

    Get me there
  • Ap Lei Chau Shipyards

    The sampan trip also offers visitors a rare glimpse into Ap Lei Chau’s shipyards — normally hidden from view on land behind trees and hills — which maintain and service yachts and other boats moored at Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, near Sham Wan. You can see various boats and yachts being hoisted out of the water at the shipyards, built mostly of huge steel frames covered with corrugated iron, and a few workers sanding wood on the shore, exchanging curious glances with sightseers on the sampan ride.

    Get me there
  • Aberdeen Houseboat

    The tour’s last stop is Aberdeen Houseboat, a small heritage museum anchored in the harbour, which explains how Hong Kong families lived on these traditional houseboats. The museum — modelled on an authentic houseboat — features numerous artefacts, videos and photographs showing the history of Aberdeen’s boat community. Those who have signed up for a lunch sampan tour will enjoy a bowl of boat noodles, traditionally prepared by fishermen with ingredients such as fish balls, duck’s kidney, roasted meat, veggies and vermicelli in soup.

    Get me there

Transport

Getting to Ap Lei Chau

To get to the meeting point for the Aberdeen Fishing Village Tour (Aberdeen 1773), take the MTR South Island Line to Lei Tung Station. Exit from A1 and head harbourside via Wah Ting Street. Turn right at the promenade and walk until you see Hung Shing Temple on your right. The pier is on your left.

Leaving from Ap Lei Chau

After the tour, you will return to the same point, beside Hung Shing Temple on Ap Lei Chau.

Local Tour

Aberdeen Fishing Village Tour (Aberdeen 1773)

Embark on a boat ride in Ap Lei Chau and dive deeper into the harbour’s history on this one-hour tour. View 13 landmarks along the route, listen to the commentary from an audio guide, set foot on a houseboat and experience the daily life of Hong Kong’s fishermen. Local drinks, snacks and traditional boat noodles are available on lunch tours. The one-hour tour costs around HK$200 per person.

Average time: 1–1.5 hours (boat tour)

Seayou HK
Tel no: +852 2368 7000
Website: https://www.seayou.hk/en/packages/aberdeen-tour

Disclaimer:
Details of the local tours are subject to the terms and conditions of the operators. The Hong Kong Tourism Board and the local operators reserve the right to amend, change or cancel any details concerning the tours at any time without prior notice. Customers can refer to the local operators if they have any enquiries.

More Routes

Antiquity

Aberdeen Harbour: travel ‘back in time’ on water tour of fishing village

Written by South China Morning Post (Morning Studio)

Old photographs of the ‘floating villages’ in Aberdeen Harbour, located between Hong Kong Island’s southern coast and the outlying islet of Ap Lei Chau — showing thousands of fishing families living on traditional Chinese junk houseboats in the mid-1900s — are among the city’s most iconic and enduring images.

Some tour companies offer a one-hour boat tour — or 90 minutes with lunch — that recounts historical moments during the area’s development into a bustling urban town. It is a time-efficient way to take in local landmarks along the waterfront while enjoying the spectacular vistas looking out to sea.

Ap Lei Chau Hung Shing Temple

Ap Lei Chau waterfront is home to Hung Shing Temple — built in 1773 — to worship Hung Shing, the ‘God of the South Sea’, to help protect fishermen. The official monument — one of Hong Kong’s oldest and best-preserved temples — is also the start and end point of the sampan tour. It’s one of the few Hung Shing temples largely unaffected by reclamation and has kept its original serene, feng shui setting — facing the sea. Inside you can see an original bell, cast in the year it was built, and prized Qing dynasty (1644–1911) Shiwan pottery. People always visit the temple to make offerings during the Hung Shing Festival, on the 13th day of the second lunar month. A stone’s throw away from the temple is the Ap Lei Chau Market Cooked Food Centre inside the Ap Lei Chau Municipal Services Building, where you can sample some of the local delicacies.

See more...
Get me there
Aberdeen Promenade

The tree-lined Aberdeen Promenade — a walkway running beside Aberdeen Harbour — is a popular spot where visitors can relax and take selfies with the boats. But it offers more than stunning waterfront views: early risers can rub shoulders with elderly locals looking for bargains as moored boats sell freshly caught fish.

See more...

A jar of freshly ground plaice powder — a natural fish stock commonly used for soups — will make a perfect souvenir of your lunch tour. You can buy a jar from fishermen on their boats moored beside the promenade.

Get me there
Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market

If you buy live seafood in Hong Kong, there is a good chance it has been sourced from Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market. Built in 1950, it’s the oldest and largest fish wholesale market in Hong Kong, which drew fishers from Cheung Chau, southern islands and even Macao to Aberdeen, supplying more than 70 per cent of the local live seafood. Looking at the cream-coloured structure with a green-tiled roof from afar, you can peer into various large fishing boats that line the market pier. The fishermen’s canteen inside the market serves freshly caught offerings from 4am daily. There is also a souvenir shop offering fish-related products and gifts.

See more...
Get me there
Ap Lei Chau Wind Tower Park

As your sampan cruises to Ap Lei Chau across the harbour, you can see Ap Lei Chau Wind Tower Park ahead of you. Visitors can climb the 10-metre-high lookout tower, designed in the shape of a fishing boat, to enjoy the scenery. Solar panels power rows of LED lights, which change colour according to the wind speed detected by a sensor: all green when calm, increasingly orange as it grows breezy, and all red during gales or hurricanes. The park also features an exhibition gallery on Hong Kong's traditional fishing customs and the fishermen’s way of life.

See more...
Get me there
Ocean Park

First opened in 1977, this iconic theme park — built on undulating hills along Hong Kong Island’s southern shore — features thrill rides and attractions that aim to educate the public about the natural world and conservation. When viewed from the sampan, you can see the Whirly Bird — a floorless flying vintage airplane ride — the 72-metre-tall Ocean Park Tower with a rotating observation deck, as well as a swing that spins 22 metres upside down in the air, called the Flash.

See more...
Get me there
Ap Lei Chau Shipyards

The sampan trip also offers visitors a rare glimpse into Ap Lei Chau’s shipyards — normally hidden from view on land behind trees and hills — which maintain and service yachts and other boats moored at Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, near Sham Wan. You can see various boats and yachts being hoisted out of the water at the shipyards, built mostly of huge steel frames covered with corrugated iron, and a few workers sanding wood on the shore, exchanging curious glances with sightseers on the sampan ride.

See more...
Get me there
Aberdeen Houseboat

The tour’s last stop is Aberdeen Houseboat, a small heritage museum anchored in the harbour, which explains how Hong Kong families lived on these traditional houseboats. The museum — modelled on an authentic houseboat — features numerous artefacts, videos and photographs showing the history of Aberdeen’s boat community. Those who have signed up for a lunch sampan tour will enjoy a bowl of boat noodles, traditionally prepared by fishermen with ingredients such as fish balls, duck’s kidney, roasted meat, veggies and vermicelli in soup.

See more...
Get me there

Transport

Getting to Ap Lei Chau

To get to the meeting point for the Aberdeen Fishing Village Tour (Aberdeen 1773), take the MTR South Island Line to Lei Tung Station. Exit from A1 and head harbourside via Wah Ting Street. Turn right at the promenade and walk until you see Hung Shing Temple on your right. The pier is on your left.

Leaving from Ap Lei Chau

After the tour, you will return to the same point, beside Hung Shing Temple on Ap Lei Chau.

Local Tour

Aberdeen Fishing Village Tour (Aberdeen 1773)

Embark on a boat ride in Ap Lei Chau and dive deeper into the harbour’s history on this one-hour tour. View 13 landmarks along the route, listen to the commentary from an audio guide, set foot on a houseboat and experience the daily life of Hong Kong’s fishermen. Local drinks, snacks and traditional boat noodles are available on lunch tours. The one-hour tour costs around HK$200 per person.

Average time: 1–1.5 hours (boat tour)

Seayou HK
Tel no: +852 2368 7000
Website: https://www.seayou.hk/en/packages/aberdeen-tour

Disclaimer:
Details of the local tours are subject to the terms and conditions of the operators. The Hong Kong Tourism Board and the local operators reserve the right to amend, change or cancel any details concerning the tours at any time without prior notice. Customers can refer to the local operators if they have any enquiries.

More Routes

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