Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yim Tin Tsai - Abandoned Island - Hong Kong

Approaching Yim Tin Tsai on a Kaito Ferry
On a sunny Saturday back in January when I was in Hong Kong visiting my daughter we took a trip to the deserted island village of Yim Tin Tsai.  It took us about an hour maybe a little more to get to Sai Kung from where she lives in Central, bus, MTR train, then a light public bus out to Sai Kung Pier.

From Sai Kung a ferry service by Kaito a type of small motorised ferry which runs at weekends and public holidays takes you across to the island in about fifteen minutes. The island is located south of the Sai Kung Peninsula and east of Sai Kung mainland. It is tiny with an area of 0.24km easily explored before the next ferry returns you to the mainland. We took a picnic with us, but it is also possible to get ice creams, snacks and drinks on the island, from a kiosk, which was once the Village Communal Office, near the arrival pier. Although Yim Tin Tsai has been deserted since the 1990's when the mainly Christian residents fled before Hong Kong was returned to China, there is a revival of interest and this can be seen by the religious and cultural eco-tourism attractions that can now be found there. It is apparently the descendants of the original villagers via a charitable organisation called 'Salt and Light Conservation Centre' who are trying to revive the island as a tourist destination and are themselves running the limited ferry service.

In days gone by Yim Tin Tsai was home to over one thousand people many of Hakka descent originally from the Guangdong province of China, who first moved to the island in the 18C. They derived their livelihoods from farming and operating the salt pans. Christian missionaries arrived in the late 19C and the whole village was converted to Christianity and St Joseph's was built in 1890. One of the landmarks of the island in 2005 it was restored thanks to an award from UNESCO for its protection and preservation.

Some photos I took at St Joseph's Chapel.

The village houses face south, surrounded by hills, with plenty of shelter from adverse weather conditions. Mainly still as left when the residents, deserted the island to resettle in other parts of the world including the UK and Poland. Maybe it was in fear of how the Chinese take over of Hong Kong would impact on the Christian community, I do not know but looking inside the homes it is if they left in a hurry not taking much apart from personal possessions with them. 
There may be a slow return to a resident community as a few of the homes are now occupied again but sadly the majority are still being slowly reclaimed by nature, often because the owners descendants cannot be traced.

Salt Pan

Fantastic views from top of the island
Fantastic views from top of the island
View across the Mangrove Swamp

I took many  more photos than I have shared here today, which can be viewed on Flickr in My Album entitled Travel Tales - Yim Tin Tsai, which includes some great interior shots that my daughter took.

At the moment there is an unresolved issue with sharing photos from Flickr to Blogger posts, when this is resolved which it is supposed to be, I will return to this post and add some of my daughter's interior photos. Until then these can be viewed by visiting the Flickr Album. Travel Tales - Yim Tin Tsai

Also sharing here a slide show of my photos that I put together courtesy of Picasa. 

                                  YouTube Slide Show - My impressions of the island in photos.

Timetable - Please remember this may have changed, so do not rely on this information  if you ever get to visit the island yourself.

Sight-Seeing Map - available on the island, which will guide you as you explore.

With thanks to the following sites for the background information included in this post. The links will take you directly to the Yim Tin Tsai official website if you are interested in learning more about the island.

   Yim Tin Tsai - Official Website    Sai Kung District - Wikipedia    Yim Tin Tsai - Wikipedia

                           All photos unless stated otherwise are my own taken in January 2014

More photos taken by both myself and my daughter can be found on Flickr in My Album entitled Travel Tales - Yim Tin Tsai

Finally if you click through to LindyLouMac's World In Photos you can view some photos of our fellow passengers on the Kaito.
 Copyright All rights reserved by LindyLouMac Photo Collection


  1. What an amazing history -- something entirely new to me. The world is so full of wondrous things! Abandoned houses always make me want to shed tears...so poignant as you think about the investment of love and energy and then to have them just left...especially with things still in them. It is so sad.

    Lovely to share this fascinating discovery with your daughter. Obviously a huge help to have a local tour guide!

  2. What a beautiful place, with such an interesting story! It is almost like touring a ghost town in the American west - nobody around except voices in the wind! It is so lush - no wonder nature is taking back everything. I love the little ferry boat with all the buoys hanging on its side. It must have been exciting to tour the island with your daughter. Thanks for sharing this wonderful place. xo Karen

  3. What a great place that I had never heard off. It is great to hear the story behind the place. Off to look at more photos. Great post

  4. Interesting post and I love the photos of the church. Keep well Diane

  5. This is a fascinating post. Not at all what I imagined the area around Hong Kong to look like.

    Thank you for your recent comment. I am rather out of touch with Blogland and am very sorry to learn that you husband had died. I hope that you will settle in Wales.

    1. Lovely to hear from you, Hong Kong has so much more to offer than people realise. We have missed you in blogland. :)

  6. Wandering around that atmospheric island must have been fascinating. I've read your different links and the information about the history of the island when salt was produced and the various fruits and plants were used to make different drinks. Your daughter's photos of the abandoned village building interiors were also interesting - the schoolroom with the counting beads in a frame and the Christmas decorations and then the old wooden water well buckets contrasting with the electrical items etc.all left lying around and nature taking over.
    Thank you for this post, Lindy.

  7. Wow, the views from the island are amazing! What a wonderful photo tour!

  8. Been to HK so many times but never visit any offshore island, had plans to do so if I next visit HK but the above village is the first time I read. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. I hope this post and others here about some of islands will inspire you to visit if you get to visit HK again Alice.


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