Hong Kong is famous for being one of the world’s most bustling, metropolitan, technologically advanced, and alas most expensive city/states on earth (Hong Kong is not China), but did you know there’s a piece of Hong Kong that’s how to put this? “Different”.
Lamma Island is actually the third biggest island in Hong Kong, but rather than being a thriving metropolis like Hong Kong Island or Lantau, is more like a tropical island hippie commune. There are even no cars!
To get from Hong Kong Island to Lamma Island costs $17.80 HKD, takes half an hour and drops you into the capital village of the island Yung Shue Wan. On arrival, you are greeted by a hotel whose name alas I can’t remember (to be avoided) before you hit the main strip/town. What is fascinating right from the off is the real metropolitan feel of the place, with quaint English style pubs, Indian Restaurants, Thai Street Food, Filipino sari-sari type stores and a bunch of what we might call hipster establishments (vegan food urrghh).
Whilst the food scene here is somewhat eclectic and hardly cheap, that is not to say there are not cheap eats to be found, with some of the best places to get fed in Lamma being on the street food side of things.
The main town of Yung Shue Wan offers a ton of Thai, Chinese, and fast food options, but I’ll start with the best of the best street food of Lamma Island. There are a couple of knock-off versions of this place but the Thai restaurant/street store on the road from Yung Shue Wan to Hung Shing Yeh beach (you cannot miss the sight or smell) is not only the original, but also serves up an absolute storm! Pork belly, beef skewers, huge hot dogs, squid, and all served with the Thai sauce of your choice. Truly unbeatable. I went for the pork belly, chicken wing, and a beef skewer in hot sauce, great as always ( I usually go twice, once on the way to the beach once on the way back).
On the same road and pretty much opposite is the least touristy Chinese restaurant that serves noodles, dumplings, and soy milk. On my last visit, they even served up a punch-up between two local fellas, great entertainment!
As I now found myself on the road from Yung Shue Wan to Hung Shing Yeh beach it was fairly inevitable that I would stop ay Yardley Brothers and their pop-up weekend bar. Luke the owner and Yardley brothers (I’ve only met one of the brothers) started the brewery in 2013, and its growth has been phenomenal, with him seemingly reinventing the craft beer scene in Hong Kong. Now whilst beers here are not exactly cheap, at $50 HK, they are of a far higher quality and cheaper than grabbing a Carlsberg in one of the pubs, and there’s usually a great crowd of locals at the weekend ready to shoot the breeze about Lamma life. We definitely recommend Yardley Brothers Beer and their bar on Lamma Island!
At their suggestion, I went for the Winter Ale, very fruity, and slightly better than the aptly named “quit your job”. Alas sadly they only open from 11 to 6 on weekends, but are worth stopping on the journey to Hung Shing Yeh beach, and there is even talk of Yardley Brothers opening a full-time bar near their brewery on Hong Kong island.
Hung Shing Yeh beach is the main beach on Lamma Island and is where probably the best hotel, the Concerto Inn is, and where I finish my journey. Food and drinks are not cheap here, but treating myself to a good Bloody Mary on the beach is always worth it, after all, I had saved my food budget……
Like anywhere in Hong Kong, Lamma Island can eat your money as quick as you want it to, but if you are on a budget it’s easy enough to grab a bottle of vodka ($50HKD), eat the street food, and just chill on the beach.
This really is no place quite as unique as Lamma Island in Hong Kong.
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.