A 15-minute boat ride from Sai Kung, Yim Tin Tsai wins hands down if you’re into the abandoned vibe. The island was originally populated in the 1740s by a family from Guangdong. The descendants of these people developed salt farms on the island and made their living selling the salt – the island’s name literally means ‘small salt field’. There were once around 1,000 inhabitants. However, as the salt industry declined in the early 1900s, so did the population. By the 1990s, no-one was left living on the island. Thanks to a regular ferry service, however, it’s now popular with day trippers.
You can easily explore most of this tiny isle in a few hours. Once you arrive at the pier, check out the nearby photogenic St Joseph’s Chapel, which was built in Romanesque style in 1890 and is now a Grade III listed building. Next door is the former Ching Po School that is now the Yim Tin Tsai Village Heritage Exhibition and houses a modest collection of historical artefacts. You can then follow the trail around, and you’ll go by the abandoned village houses (many of which are technically still owned by the villagers’ descendants). The houses still offer spooky remnants of the last people to live there, from radios, kitchen appliances and televisions to bed stands and crockery. The path takes a loop past the abandoned salt pans/fish ponds, before coming back to the pier, where there is a small kiosk selling tasty and chewy Hakka sweets.