Hong Kong's Abandoned Ma Wan Village

June 26th, 2015 | Peter Stewart

Half a World Away

On the tiny little island of Ma Wan, nestled in-between Hong Kong's larger Lantau and Tsing Yi Island's, a curious little ghost town awaits. 

Once home to a few hundred fishermen, this hidden island corner now lies abandoned. Only passing drivers on the nearby Tsing Ma Bridge may pay notice to it's existence.

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Hong Kong's Abandoned Ma Wan Village

Residents here left or were evicted as recently as 2011, in order to make way for expanding development from the other side of the island. A mere 10 minutes walk away is the modern gated community known as 'Park Island'. A typical set of high rise apartment buildings on the beachfront. 

As part of the relocation, residents from the old village were rehoused in a new development in the northern part of the island. 

It seems not all were happy with being forcibly moved, and there are still signs present today protesting the evictions. 

Ma Wan village is now in a serious state of disrepair, and as such many buildings are extremely unsafe to enter. The majority of the houses here are fenced off and padlocked, marked with stern 'No Trespassing' signs. As with all abandoned areas though, people have opened up once boarded off entrances. 

It should be noted that it seems not all have left. There are still a few residents that somehow managed to stay behind. 

The old Tin Hau Temple still stands, and appears to be regularly maintained as well as it can. 

The same can obviously not be said for some of the building interiors, which have simply been left to rot. 

Like Tai O Fishing Village, Ma Wan also used to sport the traditional style stilt houses overlooking the waterfront. These have predictably fared worse over the years, with most simply crumbling away into the water.

There are still telltale signs that reveal what community life was once like here. From Ice Cream and Coca Cola logos from the long gone convenience stores, to utensils from old restaurants. There was also once a school here. 

These baskets were once used for drying out shrimp paste in the sun.

Curiously enough, the street lights still turn on during the evening. Walking around Wa Wan village at night is an eery experience, as the street lights shining though broken windows can give the false impression that someone is home!  

If you wish to visit Ma Wan, you can take the local ferry from Central Ferry Pier 2. It's about a 20 minute ride to Park Island (Ma Wan).

From the ferry pier, it's about a 10 minute walk on flat paved terrain to reach the old village.

Take a left out of the ferry pier along Pak Lai Road, which is adjacent to the beach. In a few minutes take the first left turn onto Ma Wan Road, which is also the same route to Noah's Ark. 

Keep following Ma Wan Road past the fire station till you reach the entrance to Ma Wan Park and a small bus stop. On your right will be a paved unmarked pathway that leads around to the old village. Simply retrace your steps to make your way back to the ferry pier. 

Abandoned homes of Ma Wan (Park Island) in Hong Kong.

  • Interesting article! Yet quite sad...that kind of heritage should definitely be preserved. And I can really imagine how it looks like, having been myself to Tai O at least on 5 or 6 different occasions. These villages are part of HK's beauty. We have a similar case in Singapore with the island of Pulau Ubin, where about 2000 people used to live in the 80's and now it's a mere 40 inhabitants left on the island who have been resisting the government's will to chase everybody out of the island...

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