A Day Trip to Tai O Fishing Village
The Tai O fishing village is a small waterfront community located on the west coast of Lantau Island. The village is built across both Tai O island and Lantau Island, with the canal diving the two sides.
The village is home to the Tanka people, who have lived a lifestyle based around fishing in this area for generations. However, the fishing lifestyle has been lost over time due to a decline in income from the industry.
Most people visit Tai O to see the village of stilt houses built along the river. The most iconic view seen in photos is taken from the bridge as you cross the river towards the Tai O island side. You will see the stilt houses built along the water, with the mountains of Lantau Island in the background.
The stilt houses here are similar to those along the Chao Praya River in Bangkok – just without the mountains in the background.
Starting from the main market, you can walk for about 500 meters through the village. You will walk along narrow alleys where small shop houses sell local produce such as dried fish and squid, shrimp paste, and XO sauce. These are real local delicious in Hong Kong. If you are not used to the smell, it can be slightly overwhelming.
Continue along the small footpath for another 500 meters past the end of the town and you will reach the Tai O lookout point with a view looking back towards Lantau Island and the airport.
Tai O Museum
Until just a few years ago there was a great little museum mid-way along the village. The museum showcased local fishing equipment and other old relics. After recent floods in the area, the owners decided to close this down and apply to redevelop the building. Here are a couple of photos of what you would have seen the museum.
As you walk through the Tai O fishing village you will no doubt meet local who offer boat tours down the river. I recommend this as you get to see the village from the outside. It is a completely different view than you get from the inside of the village.
Boat trips in Tai O go for about 20 minutes, and typically cost 50 HKD per person. I highly recommend putting this on your Hong Kong travel itinerary.
Another great way to see the island is by kayak. Kayak tours are generally organized before heading to the island with one of the local tour operators. There are lots of options out there which can take you to different parts of the island. You may also get to see those rare pink dolphins.
Kayak trips around Tai O island generally cost about AUD 100 per person.
Speaking of the pink dolphins… though I didn’t make a trip further out, I’ve seen photos and articles about the pink Chinese dolphins near to Tai O.
To see the pink dolphins near Tai O you will need to take a boat trip further offshore. Boats depart from the harbor near to the bus terminal.
Sightings are considered rare and will continue to get rarer. The construction of bridges around the area continues to threaten their existence and may well be extinct in the near future.
How to get to Tai O Fishing Village
There are three ways to get to the Tai O Fishing village from Hong Kong Island or Kowloon, both take a similar amount of time from Hong Kong Island (about 1.5hrs):
Direct route – take the MTR to Tung Chung Station (end of the line). Next, take bus number 11 to Tai O bus terminal, then walk to the village.
Scenic route – take the MTR to Tung Chung Station (end of the line). Walk to the Ngong Ping Cable Car and ride it over the mountain to the Ngong Ping Village. From here you will need to take bus number 21 to Tai O bus terminal, then walk to the village.
Ferry route – take the ferry from the Central Ferry Pier on Hong Kong Island to Mui Wo on Lantau Island. Next, take the bus number 1 to Tai O bus terminal. The bus trip takes about 50 minutes and travels along a very windy road. From the terminal, you can walk to the village. This route takes a bit longer but gives you a scenic view of the islands along the way.
When to visit Tai O
The village gets very busy with locals on the weekend. I suggest visiting on a weekday if possible.
Want to explore another small village in Hong Kong? Check out my post on Cheng Chau Island. This is one of my favorite places to hang out in Hong Kong on the weekend.