Aberdeen Fishing Village
The Aberdeen fishing village is an area in the southern end of Hong Kong Island. It’s famous for the Chinese Junks and Sampan boats that people live in. It’s also famous for its floating restaurants which float on top of the water.
Many people who live in this area live in the Aberdeen harbour on a Sampan or Chinese Junk, also known as a floating home. Fishing is a way of life for these people. The number of people living in these floating homes has been decreasing due to many high rise buildings built here over the last few decades.
Aberdeen was originally given the name “Heung Gong Tsai” which translates to “little fragrant harbour.” A fragrance from incense trees transferred here from the New Territories could be smelled from the boats sitting in the Aberdeen harbour, waiting for export. “Heung Gong” meaning “fragrant harbour” is the Chinese name for Hong Kong. This is where the name Hong Kong originated from. So the name “Heung Gong Tsai” can also mean “little Hong Kong” in English.
When the British arrived in the mid 1800s, they mistook the name “Heung Gong” as the name of the whole island instead of just this small area. By the time they had realized the mistake, everyone was already calling the island “Heung Gong.” Their solution was to keep the name of the island as “Heung Gong” and change the name of this area to Aberdeen. It was named after the Secretary State of War and the Colonies, George Hamilton, 4th Earl of Aberdeen.
One of the popular activities in the Aberdeen fishing village is to take a ride around the harbour on a Sampan boat. There are several locations around the Aberdeen Promenade where you can go for a ride. Be careful when finding a Sampan to ride on as some of the rides are not licensed. You may be able to bargain with the boat owner for a lower price than what they’re asking for.
The main attraction in the Aberdeen harbour is the floating restaurants. They consist of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant and the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant. Together they are called the Jumbo Kingdom. The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is the largest floating restaurant in the world. It has an extravagant Chinese Imperial Palace design and goes 3 stories high. Inside you’ll find several restaurants, shopping and attractions. You can also walk from the Jumbo Floating Restaurant to the Tai Pak Floating Restaurant via a walkway between the 2 boats.
These floating restaurants in the Aberdeen Fishing Village are a very unique experience that’s worth visiting. It’s not every day that you get to have a meal on a huge boat like this.
The inside of the boat is decorated just as extravagant as the outside. There’s lots to see, so make sure you bring your camera with you.
I visited the popular dim sum restaurant aboard the Jumbo Floating Restaurant. This restaurant had a lot of traditional Chinese dim sum dishes that are not usually found in dim sum restaurants very often. The taste of the food may be different from what you’re used to eating as well. The food prices are more expensive than what you would find at most restaurants in Hong Kong. But if you’re dining at Jumbo Kingdom, you’re there for the experience and you should expect to pay more because it’s a tourist attraction.
The floating restaurants are anchored down pretty good so that they don’t sway back and forth too much. If you get seasick easily, take some motion sickness medicine before you get on the boat, just in case. You should also plan to be on board for a short period of time if seasickness worries you. Sometimes you can cure your seasickness by eating, so eat a lot and you might be fine.
A free shuttle boat service from the Aberdeen Promenade to Jumbo Kingdom is available. Shuttle boats run every couple minutes.
If you look south of the Aberdeen fishing village, across the Aberdeen Harbour, you’ll see an island named Ap Lei Chau. The name Ap Lei Chau translates from Chinese to English as “Duck Tongue Island.” It was given this name because the island shape looks like a duck’s tongue. This island is one of the most densely populated islands in the world. A bridge called the Ap Lei Chau Bridge connects Aberdeen with Ap Lei Chau. You can also take a short ferry ride to Ap Lei Chau instead of using the bridge.
Ap Lei Chau has a few spots of interest for travellers. There’s a Hung Shing Temple and an outlet mall name Horizon Plaza. Horizon Plaza sells all kinds of designer brand fashion, furniture and antiques.
Other attractions found in Aberdeen Hong Kong include Ocean Park, Tin Hau Temple, a fish market, Aberdeen Permanent Cemetary and Aberdeen Country Park.
There is currently no MTR station in Aberdeen, but a new MTR line is currently being built to service the area. The projected date of completion is in 2015. So until then, you can get here by bus, taxi and car. There’s also a ferry service that goes from Aberdeen to Ap Lei Chau and Lamma Island.