Aberdeen Harbor is on the southern side of Hong Kong Island. It is on the other side of Victoria Peak from the main Hong Kong urban area. Aberdeen is the largest town on Hong Kong Island outside the main urban area, and the harbor was famous as the place where the Hong Kong boat people lived in the 1960s and 1970s. Movies such as a James Bond movie and a Bruce Lee movie were filmed there, so the harbor is recognized world wide. Now, the harbor area is mainly an anchorage for the yachts and pleasure boats of the Hong Kong suburban dwellers in the area. But there are still some famous floating restaurants and local fisherman using the bay, so it is a place to go for seafood on a boat and to see the scenery and the area tourist destinations like Hong Kong Ocean Park.
Aberdeen Harbor is in the bay between the south coast of Hong Kong Island off the town of Aberdeen and a small island called Ap Lei Chau. In this sheltered area, there is anchorage for yachts, fishing boats, and floating restaurant boats, and there is a typhoon shelter called Bei Fung Tong where boats can anchor when there is a storm.
Now, tourism is a big industry, and there are two big restaurant boats, as well as smaller restaurant boats that double as people's apartments. The local fishermen sell their daily catch to these restaurants or to the fish market. Visiting a Chinese authentic fish market is an eye-opener. There are many interesting things dead and alive. You can learn a lot about the animals that live in the sea.
The two famous boats are called the Jumbo and the Tai Bak. These are colorful, big boats. You may think that the food is over-priced, but seafood is good. They have free shuttle boats taking people to the boats.
The Jumbo Floating Restaurant is the more famous restaurant. It has attracted millions of visitors since it was opened in 1976, and famous people who dined there include Queen Elizabeth, John Wayne, and Tom Cruise. It has been shown in many Asian and Hollywood movies. The Jumbo was built in 1976 by Dr. Stanley Ho. About 30 million HKD was spent to build it, and it is decorated like an ancient Chinese palace.
Aberdeen Harbor is between the town of Aberdeen and the island of Ap Lei Chau. It is in the Southern District of Hong Kong Island on Aberdeen Praya Road. It is close to Hong Kong Ocean Park.
There was a fishing village on the small island called Ap Lei Chau that was called Heung Kong Tsuen when the British came, and another village called Heung Kong Wai in nearby Wong Chuk Hang near the modern Ocean Park. It is thought that the British then called the main island "Hong Kong" after these small villages although the main island wasn't originally called that. Later, the little town was called Aberdeen after the city in Great Britain.
The British found a few thousand people of Tanka origin living in their boats in the bay in the middle of the 19th century. The number of people living in boats grew to 150,000 in the 1960s. Many people were coming in fishing boats from China. This was when the bay became well known in motion picture movies. But during the last 20 years, the number of people living in boats has greatly decreased. Instead of sampans, the local people go around in motorized boats. Almost all the fishermen leave their boats in the harbor and live on land. Now there are far more yachts and pleasure boats. Aberdeen now includes Wong Chuk Hang.
- Floating restaurants for good seafood.
- The features of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant include:
- The Top deck that is a restaurant and bar that serves western cuisine and is managed by the Café Deco Group.
- The Dragon Court with gourmet Cantonese cuisine and some Ming Dynasty décor.
- A Chinese chef school.
- A Chinese Tea Garden.
- A Bronze Ware Exhibition.
- A Wine Garden.
- Nearby parks and semi-jungles.
- Watching people live and work on boats.
- Victoria Peak.
- Go on motorboat excursions in the area.
- Eat on the floating boats.
- See people living in boats.
- Hire a boat for about 15 USD or more and visit Ap Lei Chau or other islands in the area or see Ocean Park. Be careful about choosing a boat so that you don't get in with criminals, and work out the price before you set out.
- Visit the Promenade or Aberdeen Country Park.
- Walk to Victoria Peak.
- Try fish ball noodles. A common light meal in Hong Kong is fish ball noodles, and this is an Aberdeen specialty. You might be able to get freshly made balls of cooked ground fish in a bowl of freshly made noodles. It is delicious and nutritious, and it is inexpensive by Hong Kong standards. Even better is fish ball noodles with strips of dry fried seaweed.
- Best Time to Visit: Hong Kong is still fairly warm and is drier in October and November. But unless there is a storm, you might like the sea in the summer.
- Public Transportation: A lot of buses go to Aberdeen including Buses No. 38, 42, 78, 91, 91A, 94A, 95, 595, 7, 37A, 37B, 41A, 48, 70, 71, 73, 76, 77, 90B, 98, 107, 170, 970X, 971, 973 and A10.There are green-roofed minibuses to Aberdeen, including Minibuses No. 4A, 4B, 4C, 4S, 5, 35M, 39C, 51, 51A, 51S, 52, 58, 59, 59A, 63, 63A and 69. There are also red-roofed minibuses that go to Aberdeen.
- How to get there: You can take the Metro to Central Station and go through Exit A and then walk to the bus station to take Bus No. 7 to Aberdeen. Tours booked through China Highlights include private transport to Aberdeen.
A little southeast of the bay is a small peninsula where Ocean Park is located south of Wong Chuk Hang. You can get a good view of Aberdeen Bay from high in Ocean Park.
You might want to visit Aberdeen Country Park that is a big area of about 1,000 acres north of the town or the Promenade. If you go to the Promenade, you can visit the wholesale fish market. The Promenade is about 800 meters long and has a plaza, playground, basketball courts and other facilities. You may be surprised about how clean, modern and plush Hong Kong free public facilities are.
If you would like to go for a good hike, you can walk for several hours from Aberdeen along Pok Fu Lam Reservoir Road through Pok Fu Lam Country Park which a small jungle or woods. If you keep going up Pol Fu Lam Reservoir Road, you'll reach Victoria Peak with great views of both sides of the island and of the Hong Kong mainland. There is also a mall and buses back down and coffee shops and restaurants for refreshments. The walk up will take two hours or three hours, and it is strenuous unless you are used to walking up mountains. But the walk down isn't strenuous.
On the other side of the peak, you can hike down on a small road and after a walk down through some more jungle/woods reach Hong Kong Park, Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens and other highlights in Central District.
Questions and Answers About Aberdeen
I updated this article on March 17, 2013
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