Hong Kong has one of the world’s most modern public transportation systems. But if you’re looking for a change of pace from feeling like another sardine on the MTR, go old-school and hop on a sampan adventure. These flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boats may not go very fast, but they can take you to cool outlying islands and allow for spotting of wild and wonderful creatures – perfect for a chilled out weekend getaway.
Sai Kung is a great place for hiking and seafood, but you might not know that it’s also the one and only starting point for many short sampan adventures. Head to outlying islands like Sharp Island—plenty of fun in the sun with tombolos and rock pools, or Yim Tin Tsai—a historical Hakka village with an abandoned chapel, school, and salt mine ruins. You can also ride to super clean child-friendly Trio Beach, or give the kiddos their first golf lesson at Kau Sai Chau! The Little Steps team visits Tai Long Wan and Long Ke as well via speedboats from Sai Kung - there are some of the best beaches in Hong Kong.
Note, there are loads of sampans sitting right in front of the bus terminal by the main pier in Sai Kung. You do not need to book to the islands in advance but we have provided options below if you prefer to arrange in advance. Be sure to bring cash!
Islands To Visit From Sai Kung Pier (In front of bus terminal):
Islands To Visit From Pak Sha Wan:
More Sampan Boats You Can Charter From Sai Kung:
Sang Kee +852 6736 3051
Fat paul +852 6355 4535
Charter Your Own Speed Boats From Sai Kung To Take You Anywhere In Sai Kung / Clearwater Bay:
Ma Kee +852 9284 8470
Sang kee +852 6736 3051
Mr.Shing Chae +852 9636 7689
Fat Paul +852 6355 4535
Cheun +852 9488 3755
Sai Wan Club +852 9319 6290
Sai Wan is one of the four beaches of Tai Long Wan. Lesser-known & farther out options, they’re perfect if you’re looking for a peaceful place to spend a sunny day with the fam. Magnificent views, tasty seafood, and surfing in sparkling waters - what’s not to love? For adventurous families, be sure to check out the waterfalls for a bit of cliff jumping.
Sai Wan, Tai Long Wan, Sai Kung Peninsula, Hong Kong. Take a sampan directly to Sai Wan from Wong Shek Pier, which should be HK$10-40/person. Alternatively, you can take a sampan from Sai Kung Pier (the pricier option), or if the waves are too wild, you can take the sampan to Chek Keng and hike for an hour to the beach.
Locals in Sheung Sze Wan are always heading to nearby Yau Ley Restaurant. While you can reach the seaside restaurant via hike too, the sure favorite is arriving by boat. The restaurant can help you arrange a boat for your group, direct from Sheung Sze Wan Beach in Clearwater Bay. Just call the number below and be sure to bring a bottle of wine! Kids can play on the beach after lunch - score!
Yau Ley Restaurant, Sha Kiu Tau, High Island, Sai Kung, Hong Kong, +852 2791 1822, www.yauleyseafood.com.hk To arrange a sampan, call them with the day you want to visit and request them to pick you up in Sheung Sze Wan, Clearwater Bay (the bayside). Note, you can also have them arrange from other locations including Sai Kung.
In the past, Aberdeen was famed for its portrayal in films as a fishing village. Although you can’t hop back into the movies, you can hop on a sampan (just arrive and go!) at Aberdeen Floating Village. Some residents at the village serve as the drivers & guides, with sightseeing tours typically lasting 20-30 minutes and costing HK$50-80. Along the Aberdeen Promenade, you can also take sampans to Lamma, Po Toi, or The Bay on Lamma, a secret hub of al fresco dining with a rocking sunset view.
Aberdeen Family Boat Tours By Klook, Book here!
Sampan In Aberdeen Fishing Village: Call +852 9173 5117 or +852 9140 8637 to arrange!
The Bay, 7 Beach Front, Mo Tat Wan, Lamma Island, Hong Kong, +852 2982 8186, www.thebayhk.com.
For those looking to take an adventure to the lovely Po Toi Island where the calamari is amazing - you can go by Ferry from Stanley or hire your own sampan to take you there as well! From Aberdeen Fishing Village, you can jump on a boat with the kids and they will zoom you straight over to the island for lunch (Ming Kee Restaurant, Po Toi Island, Hong Kong, +852 2849 7038) and beach play! For a full video and information on Po Toi Island - click here!
Sampan From Aberdeen Fishing Village To Po Toi: Call +852 9173 5117 or +852 9140 8637 to arrange!
Ferry From Stanley To Po Toi, Click here for the timetable!
Kids love pink dolphin spotting! Head to the famous stilted village in Tai O where you can book a tour straight from the entrance to the village (it should be HK$20-50 per person). They will zoom you around the village before heading out to sea for dolphin spotting fun. We saw a few pink dolphins on our trip - it is certainly worth it! For those that want to book the official Pink Dolphin Watching Boat - click here!
Tai O Stilted Village - Sampans, Lantau, Hong Kong, https://www.littlestepsasia.com/hong-kong/play/neighborhood-guides/tai-o-stilted-village/
Join "Humid with a Chance of Fishballs" for their most authentic old Hong Kong experience with their dinner on a sampan night. The fun foodie adventure includes Chinese Hua Diao (wine) and a 6-course dinner featuring the infamous traditional spicy typhoon shelter crab. Other than the meal this experience also takes you to experience an ancient Chinese folk ritual known as "Villain Hitting" and then on a tram to the sampan. Sign up now for an authentic and delicious experience full of culture, tradition, and seafood! This is a family-friendly adventure." Humid with a Chance of Fishballs" is a local company that specializes in off-the-beaten-path food tours in Hong Kong - check out their website.