When you visit Hong Kong, you expect a vibrant, densely populated urban center with skyscraper skyline, Victoria Harbor night view, shopping, and food. Well, that’s is the correct image of Hong Kong. However, if you wanted to do something different, say some activities that are more related to nature, try a day tour in Tai Fishing Village and Big Buddha Tian Tan.
1. How to go Tai O?
Our original plan was to take Ngong Ping Cable Car but it was closed for maintenance so we had no choice but only take the bus.
Take MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, then we took bus 11 to Tai O bus terminal and the journey took us 50 mins. You need to walk for 5 mins to the Rope-drawn Ferry Bridge and then you can start to stroll in Tai-O.
Take MTR Tung Chung Station Exit B, Take Ngong Ping Cable Car to Ngong Ping Village (25 min ride of Cable Car). Take bus 21 to Tai O terminal (20 mins) and walk for 5 mins to reach Tai-O village.
2. Go Early
It was around 9 plus am on Saturday morning and the queue for Bus 11 was very long. It is better to go to the bus terminal to take the bus and not from the small bus stop so that you are able to get a seat to sit for the 50 mins ride. Furthermore, it is safer to sit rather than stand because the way up the mountain is very winding.
Pick a weekday and not weekends or public holiday when the crowds are the worst both in Big Buddha Tian Tan and Tai-O. The downside of the weekday is there are probably some stores closed in Tai-O Fishing village.
On the bus ride, you are still able to enjoy the picturesque view. It is very pleasant to see the quiet way of life here, with cows roaming freely. There are also many hikers on the weekends hopping up and down the bus, hoping to get away from the bustle of the big city center, to seek for their peacefulness and serenity from this place.
3. Welcome Sign at Tai-O
After we walked past the sign of “Welcome to Tai-O” we noticed houses built on stilts above the water, pretty similar experience we had seen in Kukup Malaysia.
4. Do a Boat Ride Excursion
Before we step in the fishing village, we were stopped by some guys and asked if we wanted a short boat ride through the village and to the sea. We gladly agree as the fee is only HKD 25 (SGD4.30/USD3.20). The ride is about half an hour and if you are lucky you may be able to see the pink dolphin in the sea.
If you love some adventures, you may want to explore the water on your own with the sea kayaking.
5. “Sea Gypsies”
Tai-O is home to the Tanka people and who are these Tanka? Tanka is also known as boat people, they are living on junks in coastal parts of Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian Hong Kong and Macau. You can also think of them as “sea gypsies”.
The boat first went through the fishing village between the stilted houses, there are fancy with nice decoration and very old houses. The boat is cruising at a very low pace and you will notice the daily life of these people.
6. Tai-O Aluminum Stilt Houses
At one portion of the village, the houses are made out of aluminum covering. Look quite unique and standardize as the color is the same for the whole stretch. The aluminum houses are interconnected with the wooden bridges.
7. Fishing activities
8. Big boats and Police Boat
9. The coastline of Lantau Island with a unique rock formation- Tseung Kwan Shek
The name of the unique coastline rock formation is named “General Rock” or “Tseung Kwan” means general in Cantonese. The rock is pronounced as “shek” in Cantonese. The rock is a landmark in Tai O and quite distinct when the boat reaches the open sea. It is located near the Heritage Hotel.
10. Hong Kong – Macau Bridge
When our boat went up to the sea, the Hong Kong – Macau Bridge can be seen clearly. The 55 km bridge is also known as Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, this is truly an engineering marvel, imagine the entire length of Singapore from east to west and 20 times longer than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I have seen the longest bridge in Europe, called Vasco da Gama Bridge at Lisbon, at that is only 17.2 km, not even half of HKZHM Bridge here.
I strongly recommended anyone to take up the boat ride (HKD 25) to the sea and through the fishing village and check out the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge in the open sea.
The Tai-O heritage hotel is set in a charming colonial white building high up the sea. It was not built on stilts but built in the middle of the mountain overlooking Tai O fishing village. Originally, the nine-room boutique hotel is the old Tai O marine police station built in 1902. Many of the original features are still in place and the whole place is open to the public.
12. Tai-O Shopping & Eating Trip
After the boat ride, we then explore the fishing village. Seafood plays an important part Tai-O especially the dried seafood. You will be greeted with all type of dried seafood, some hanging all over the village along with fish and shrimp pastes aroma in the narrow path.
The Tai-O fishing village is like a market, they set up business in their front door.
13. Dried Seafood
Dried Star Fish
Based on the Chinese wording, it is said that consuming the water boiled together with the dried starfish will stop coughing, remove heat in the body and clear phlegm. One packet is HKD 35 (SGD 6 and USD 4.50)
Dried Squid & Dried Clams
Dried Shrimp & Sea Cucumber
The dried shrimp look super huge is called tiger prawn.
14. Street food in Tai O
Tai O Egg Waffle, fish ball curry, Barbecue seafood, frozen fruit popsicles, and freshly made juices are abundant here. Some specialty you may want to try is the fish Siu Mai as usually Siu Mai is made from pork.
16. Tai O Cha Guo
Don’t go for western cakes or bread but Tai O Cha Guo instead!
Cha Guo is translated as “tea cake”, a treat made with glutinous rice flour and stuffed with a savory filling. The Cha Guo is more well-known among Hakka Chinese. This is a must try as tea cakes here are all handmade in the most traditional way. Most of the tea cake Cha Guo are steamed so it serves best in a hot or warm manner.
They are a variety of fillings but our three orders are with reddish with salted shrimp, mangoes and peanuts.
17. Tai O BBQ
We went into a small house turned into a restaurant for some BBQ. You will not be surprised most of the items are fresh seafood but some are dried seafood too. The owner also recommends us to have the Tai-O specialty BBQ Pork belly with their locally made shrimp paste.
We have ordered quite a lot of the items but these are few that we will show them here.
Signature BBQ pork belly with special shrimp paste sauce
BBQ Egg Roe & Dried Tiger Prawn
18. Tai O Homemade Drinks
There are a number of homemade drinks sold in the vendors of Tai-O village, if you spot something that is not seen in the supermarket, go get them and taste it.
19. Tai O Catholic Church
20. Tai O Temple – Kuan Ti Temple
I found two temples in Tai-O, both located very near to each other. These temples were built to honor the goddess of the sea who protects the safety of fishermen. Do look up at the top of the temple and take time to admire those little ornaments, there are hundreds of them.
21. Tai O Woman with Straw Hat
Look similar to the straw hat in Vietnam but not exactly the same, the straw hat in Tai-O Hong Kong is not conical shape. These style of hat is often seen and wore by the Tai O local old folks. It is good protection from the sun and rain, it can be dipped in water and worn as an impromptu evaporative-cooling headgear.
22. Tai O Fresh Seafood
The seafood here is still alive and placed in the sea water.
23. Tai O Colorful Mural
25. Tai O Cat Staycation
26. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Tai O Fishing Village
The Snow White & 7 dwarves were gifted by a warm-hearted New Zealander lady, she specially air-flown these little statues and presents them to the local community in Tai-O.
27. Bikini Twin
There is an eye-catching bikini babe and they are a pair of twin called “Xia Ni” and “Xia Mei” displayed in cardboard and recycle stuff.
28. Mahjong sound
Most of the houses in Tai O Fishing Village has their doors open so we spotted Tai O people playing mahjong as their leisure activities.
29. Tai O Historic and Cultural Showroom
The showroom displayed the local community’s intriguing past, including fishing tools and dismantled old structures. All items in its collection were donated by local residents.
30. Tai O Mansion
In Tai O fishing village, you will be surprised to spot a few luxury mansions too.
31. Sun Ki Bridge
The red Sun Ki Bridge is very narrow and made of wood, a perfect place for Instagram.
32. Salt Workers’ Quarter’s
Salt-working is by far Hong Kong’s oldest industry but the salt industry collapsed in the 1960s. There is a salt workers’ quarters believe to be the salt factory but closed.
33. Traditional Kitchen in Tai-O
You also get a glimpse of the kitchen of the Tai-O fishing village. Very basic kitchen with charcoal fire cook stove.
Tai O fishing village is good to be included with your one day tour with Big Buddha Tian Tan Lantau Island. You get a peek on how’s life is like in the fishing village, the stilt houses, fishing boats, and fresh seafood make this place very interesting to visit. A boat ride through the fishing village HKD 25 is highly recommended as you also get to go further up to the sea.