The Tai O Fishing Village on Lantau Island is famous for its traditional Chinese stilt-house community and is considered as “Venice of the Orient”. Due to its vicinity to Tian Tan Buddha and Ngong Ping Cable Car, Tai O becomes beloved destination among tourists in recent years and many visitors will cover Tai O in their one-day trip on Lantau Island.

As a matter of fact, Tai O is one of the few remaining fishing village in Hong Kong. It’s the most authentic example of Southern China’s old fishing life and culture. On weekends, locals love to visit this picturesque place, strolling through the small streets, exploring the surroundings, taking photographs and tasting best seafood and snacks, having an escape from Hong Kong’s daily stress. Thus if possible, try to avoid weekends and holidays.

  • Worthwhile: 4 blue stars
  • Location:   1 pink star
  • Highlights: Stilt house, fishing culture, boat ride, market street, local snacks

 Plan to Stay: Altogether minimum 2 hours, up to a day

Tai O fishing village in Lantau Island

View of Tai O fishing village from the Tai Chung Bridge

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Tai O is a remaining fishing village located on the northwestern coast of Hong Kong’s biggest Lantau Island. It is famous for its stilt houses (In Cantonese is called “Pang Uk” 棚屋), fishing culture and seafood. The building style of the stilt houses in Tai O can date back as far as the 19th century and Tai O is the only place in Hong Kong that has a over 100-year sedentary fishing community.

Today as you walk around on the narrow streets in Tai O, it’s hard to imagine that it used to be one of Hong Kong’s biggest village on Lantau Island with over 30,000 population. Nowadays, this previous prosperous fishing village has encountered a declining population to only 2,000 people today. When the younger generations prefer to live in downtown with a decent 9-5 office job instead of continuing the traditional fishing lifestyle, the village is struggling to survive. It seems that it is only a matter of time when the traditional fishing culture will diminish.

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Right next to the bus terminus is the entrance of Tai O village.

Welcome to Tai O Fishing Village

Welcome to Tai O Fishing Village

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    Close to the entrance, there is a blue rope-drawn bridge, called “Tai Chung Bridge”. Finished 1996, Tai Chung Bridge makes many residents’ life easier that they don’t need boat to cross any more. The bridge deck will be pulled up during the Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade to let the dragon boat pass underneath.

    Tai Chung Bridge in Tai O

    Tai Chung Bridge

    The middle of the bridge is one of the vantage locations for viewing the unique stilt houses on both sides of the small water channel. By the side of Tai Chung Bridge is the inconspicuous pier where you can take the boat trip touring around the Stilt Houses or going out to sea for pink dolphin.

    Boat pier in Tai O

    Boat pier

    Boat trip along the water channel in Tai O

    Boat trip along the water channel

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    If you would like to enjoy Tai O’s unique fishing culture and local snacks, you can walk along Kat Hing Street. The market street, special Tai O snacks and specialties, some of the historical temples are all on this street.

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    Walk further to Sun Ki Street, you will find a red bridge, called Sun Ki Bridge, across the waterway. It is not only a bridge bring convenience to villagers’ life, but also a great spot for enjoying scenery and stilt houses.

    Sun Ki Bridge in Tai O

    Sun Ki Bridge

    Stilt houses in Tai O

    Stilt houses in Tai O (view from Sun Ki Bridge)

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    For those loving to take some great photos of the spectacular landscape, then turn right once crossing Tai Chung Bridge to Shek Tsai Po Street. Around 30 – 40 minutes, you can get to the latest Tai O Heritage Hotel (aka the old Tai O Police Station) where is the best place for admiring ocean and sunset.

    Sunset in Tai O

    Sunset in Tai O

    Dried salted fish in Tai O everywhere

    Dried salted fish in Tai O everywhere

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Unlike the sleepless downtown, market and shops here will close around 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm. Popular food will be sold out soon. So if you would like to have a look of the market street, savour the unique snacks and specialties, or walk in one of the hundred-year-old historical temples, don’t come to Tai O too late (better arrive before 3:00 pm).

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If you decide to visit Ngong Ping Cable Car and Big Buddha on the same day, you will need a complete day to cover everything. Don’t forget the extra time needed for waiting (transportation and cable car line). Getting a 360 Tai O Pass is better option to smooth the trip. The 360 Tai O Pass includes a fast pass to round-trip Cable Car ride, a round-trip bus ride to/from Tai O, a 20-min boat ride through the stilt houses in Tai O and Tai O HK$ 20 snack voucher.

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Standard Cabin (round trip)

Crystal Cabin (round trip)

Official Price

Adult

HK$ 315

HK$ 390

Child

HK$ 190

HK$ 270

Available Discounts

Adult

HK$ 262

HK$ 344

Child

HK$ 163

HK$ 238

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Round trip cable car + Boat ride in Tai O
+ Round-trip New Lantao Bus ride + Gift voucher

Standard Cabin Ticket
Adult :  HK$ 315  HK$ 262
Child :  HK$ 190  HK$ 163

Crystal Cabin Ticket
Adult : HK$ 390  HK$ 244
Child : HK$ 270  HK$ 238

Booking and more details

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The unique-designed stilt houses and the remaining fishing village atmosphere are the main reasons attracting numerous tourists to Tai O. It’s also a great experience to stroll freely around the village and appreciate the quietness and nature opposite to Hong Kong downtown’s chaotic vibe. The exclusive food specialties in Tai O is extra bonus appealing to locals.

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    The history of Tai O can trace back to Ming Dynasty when the fishermen came to reside. They started to build up the traditional Chinese stilt house along the coast due to the geographical and ecological convenience. The small water channels between Tai O Island and Lantau Island were not only an ideal place to anchor boats and ships, but also to build up the stilted houses.

    Stilt houses in Tai O

    Stilt houses along the waterway

    Some people even call Tai O the “Venice of Hong Kong” or the “Venice of the Orient”. You can imagine it as the much poorer edition of the famous Italian city. Undoubtedly the architecture of stilt houses is quite unique, but it’s still far away from the romantic and glamorous Italian equivalent.

    Stilt houses in Tai O

    Stilt houses in Tai O

    Due to several severe natural disasters in recent years including floods, fires and typhoons, Tai O’s stilt houses look like a conglomerate of fixing procedures. Some of the original wooden pillars have been replaced with modern steel structure.

    Stilt houses in Tai O

    Stilt houses in Tai O

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    With hundreds of fishing boats, ships and vessels and a prosperous fishing economy, Tai O was one of Hong Kong’s most important fishing ports for more than 200 years. The rich fishing grounds led to a prosperous fishing industry. Tai O’s special geographic location with its shallow waters helped to develop the fishing industry.

    Tai O Market Street

    Tai O Market Street

    As a fishing village, Tai O is famous for its specialties such as dried seafood, salted fish, shrimp paste and sauce (XO sauce). On Tai O Street Market, you will easily notice various shops and stores selling seafood-related products.

    Tai O Market Street

    Various shops on the market street

    Tai O dried seafood store

    Tai O dried seafood store

    Dried seafood on Tai O market street

    Dried seafood on Tai O market street

    Most famous of all should be the salted fish that you almost can see it everywhere. It’s almost a definite-buy for locals who travel here.

    Tai O famous salted fish

    Tai O’s famous salted fish

    As famous as the salted fish is of course the shrimp paste which also a Must-Buy for all those local shrimp lovers.

    Tai O famous shrimp paste

    Tai O’s famous shrimp paste

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    Around Tai O village, there are several temples built by the villagers to bring good luck and protection. Although all of them are not large in size, they are heritage buildings with several hundred years of history.

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      The Hung Shing Temple worships the Sea god and was built in 1746.

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      The Yeung Hau Temple is dedicated to the loyal court official of the Song Dynasty (1270s) Yang Lianjie (also known as Hau Wong). It was build in 1699 and now is the Class I Heritage Building in Hong Kong. Inside the temple you can find a bell cast in the 38th year of Kang Xi (1699).

      Hong Kong has another famous Yueng Hau Temple close to Kowloon Walled City.

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      Built in 1741, the Kwan Tai Temple honors the God of War and Righteousness and was built during the Ming Dynasty (1488 – 1505). In real life, the God of War and Righteousness is known under the name of Kwan Tai, a general renowned for its loyalty. The Kwan Tai Temple is very popular among locals since it is believed that Kwan Tai protect devotees from all evil. Another famous temple “Man Mo Temple” on Hollywood Road is also built for this god and he represents the “Mo” (martial) in the name.

      Kwan Tai Temple

      Kwan Tai Temple

      Kwan Tai Temple

      Inside Kwan Tai Temple

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      There are two Tin Hau Temples in Tai O. One is next to Kwan Tai Temple and was built in 1772 (Qing Dynasty) and another one is San Tsuen Tin Hau Temple built in 1722. Both of them were built to honor Tin Hau, the goddess of the sea who protects the safety of fishermen on waters.

      Tin Hau is a very important goddess not only to the villagers in Tai O, but also the Hong Kong locals. Every year on the Birth of Tin Hau, many districts in Hong Kong will gather in different Tin Hau Temple to celebrate and pray for healthy and safe life. There are other Tin Hau Temple on the famous Temple Street and in Man Mo Temple on Hong Kong Island.

      Tin Hau Temple

      Tin Hau Temple next to Kwan Tai Temple

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      The Lung Ngam Monastery is a Buddhist cum Taoist temple built to worship Buddha and the Chu Deity in 1929. If you visit Tai O in April, you should definitely have a look at the Lung Ngam Monastery and one of its most important celebrations. Maybe you have to enjoy and participate in the feast with some traditional vegetarian food.

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    “The Deity statues will be invited from Yeung Hau Temple (north), San Tsuen Tin Hau Temple (south), Kwan Tai Temple (center) then to Hung Shing Temple (west) for the traditional Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade. It is an over 140-year traditional ritual and listed as the “Intangible Cultural Heritage”. If you are interested in the Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade, try to come to Tai O on Tuen Ng Festival.”

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    Being a village far away from downtown, Tai O has many special snacks that is not easy to find in the city. Walking in Tai O, almost every turn and corner you will encounter different street food and snacks. Lots of them are related with seafood due to Tai O being a fishing village. Usually seafood here is fresher and more delicious.

    Tai O street food - grilled seafood

    Grilled seafood

    • Chinese crepe: It can be considered as the salty version of crepe. You can customize the fillings that you would like to be wrapped inside.

      Tai O street food - Chinese crepe

      Chinese crepe

    • Chinese Sata andagi: It is a Hong Kong version of Sata andagi, which is also called Sugar Puff. Covered with sugar powder, it’s always freshly prepared, soft, hot and delicious.

      Tai O street food - Sugar Puff

      Sugar Puff

    • Giant fish balls: The curry fish ball is a typical and popular street food in Hong Kong. However, the fish balls in Tai O is totally different and only available on the outlying island. Instead of curry sauce, it is boiled and soaked in the chilli soup.

      Tai O street food - Giant fish balls

      Giant fish balls

    • Master of Grilled Squid: This stand of grilled squid has been there for decades. Again, because they are using the charcoals to grill, the taste is different with all that done by modern machines.

      Tai O street food - grilled squid and shrimp

      Grilled squid and shrimp

    • Charcoal grilled egg waffle: Egg waffle or egglet is top one popular snacks representing Hong Kong. However, the egg waffle in Tai O is prepared over a charcoal stove but the shops in downtown area are using electronic waffle makers. With the heat and smoke from the charcoals, the egg waffle tastes more crispy and has a special smoky flavor.

      Tai O street food - Egg waffle

      Hong Kong specialty: egg waffle

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    Situated next to the Tai O Ferry Pier, the former Tai O Police Station is a western-style two-story building dating back to 1902 and it was one of the earliest police stations on the outlying island.

    Hong Kong Tai O Heritage Hotel

    Tai O Heritage Hotel
    (Photo source: Tai O Heritage Hotel)

    The main purpose was to combat pirates who roamed in the surrounding waters. Due to the declining crime rate, the police station was downgraded to a patrol post and then shut down in 2002.

    The colonial style building used to have a report room, armory, change room, two cells and dormitories for officers. Now it has been transformed to “Tai O Heritage Hotel” offering only 9 rooms for accommodation. The profit from the hotel will be used to maintain other historical heritages.

    Hong Kong Tai O Heritage Hotel

    Tai O Heritage Hotel
    (Photo source: Tai O Heritage Hotel)

    Be sure to explore the hotel and its surroundings to discover all the small historical elements, maybe even enjoy an afternoon teatime, as well as the beautiful sunset in the evening.

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    Locations: Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
    Contact No.:  +(852) 2985 8383
    Official Site: nike react element 87 mid

    To know more about Tai O Heritage Hotel and price range :

    Check Best Deals
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    Rumors and myths about smuggling, pirates and pirates’ hideouts still exist around the traditional fishing village with its stilted houses which are no wonder considering Tai O’s maritime strategic position between the Pearl River Delta (Mainland China), Hong Kong, Macau and neighboring areas.

    Walking around Tai O and taking a closer look at the canals and small rivers flowing to the hinterland of Lantau Island, you almost can picture and feel how it was 200 – 300 years ago when pirates smuggled guns, drugs, tobacco and/or even people into and out of Hong Kong and Mainland China.

    These unique settings attract many local amateur and professional photographers. Especially on weekend they flock into thousands to get the best close-up shot of dried fish or unique picture of Tai O and its surroundings.

    For those who love to take some great landscape photos, on the north of Tai O, there are two viewing points: the Tai O Viewing Point and Fu Shan Viewing Point, where you can get the spectacular views. However be prepared at least 3 hours for a round trip to each viewing point.

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    • “Do not miss the beautiful sunset in Tai O. Tai O is considered as the best place in Hong Kong to enjoy sunset. One of the good options for watching sunset is at/nearby the nike react element 87 mid.”

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    The Tseung Kwan Shek is also called Old Man Rock or General Rock (“Tseung Kwan” means general and “Shek” means “rock” in Cantonese). The rock is a local landmark in Tai O and somehow looks a little bit like a General taking a rest (hence the name General Rock).

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    Stone Obelisk, or called Lantau North Obelisk, was erected in 1902 as marks of the boundary between Hong Kong and Mainland China waters. Recent studies found that the stone obelisk has been misplaced far west and the height above sea level stated on it is highly inaccurate.

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    Tai O is also famous for the Chinese white dolphin, which is now in the Critically Endangered animal group. When they grow to adult, their skin will turn to pink, as they are also called “Pink dolphin”.

    Several boat tours are available and offered just in front the harbor side (next to the bus terminus). Small motorboats and local “kaidos” will take you on a short trip to watch these rare and beautiful dolphins.

    If you have purchased the “360 Tai O Pass“, beside the pass boarding privilege for Ngong Ping Cable Car, it also includes a 20-min boat ride. The boat ride will not only take you on the waterway along the stilt houses, but also take you out to sea for pink dolphin observation.

    Hong Kong Lantau Island pink dolphin watch

    Pink dolphins

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    • “The observation of pink dolphin is very much dependent on weather and luck. You will not be guaranteed to see the pink dolphin during the short boat trip.”

    • “If you are very interested in the dolphin watch, you may consider to book a more professional and specific tour with single purpose on dolphin watch. The tours last 4-5 hours (depending on weather, traffic and dolphin activity) and are only available on Wed, Fri and Sun. It will bring you to Lantau Island from Tsim Sha Tsui by coach and then transfer to the boat ride in Lantau Island.”

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    Adult :  HK$ 460  HK$ 373
    Child :  HK$ 230  HK$ 195

    Check more details

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    The fishing industry relied heavily on salt to preserve fish and the shallow coastal waters have been optimal to produce salt in large amounts. Taking a look back about 50 years, here had more than 100 acres of salt-fields. Nowadays, many people are not even aware anymore that Tai O once had been famous for its thriving salt industry (hence the salty egg yolk snacks) back in the 1930s and 1940s.

    Hong Kong Tai O Dried salt egg yolk

    Dried salt egg yolk

    Unfortunately, Tai O’s salt and agriculture industry collapsed in the 1960s and led not only to a shrinking fishing industry, but also to shrinking population. For all of you who are interested how a salt worker lived back then should have a look at the exhibition project initiated by the local Tai O community called “Salt Workers’ Quarters”.

    Hong Kong Tai O Salt Workers' Quarters

    Salt Workers’ Quarters

    Hong Kong Tai O Salt Workers' Quarters

    Inside Salt Workers’ Quarters

    Tai O is now trying to restore some old salt pans to show and educate interested people how Tai O once was famous for its salt production.

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    Tai O Dragon Boat Water Parade or Gods Parade will be on Dragon Boat Festival every year. The residents of Tai O have worked hard to pass on this tradition from generation to generation. In 2011, Dragon Boat Water Parade in Tai O was inscribed onto the “National list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of China”.

    If you happen to visit Tai O during the Dragon Boat Festival (in 2019 will be the 6th and 7th of June), you shall not miss this over-100-year tradition. Tai O Dragon Boat Dragon Boat Water Parade and Races is one of the best events to experience dragon boat races as well as this village’s authentic culture and their Chinese stilt house community.

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Tai O is far away from downtown area and on the northwestern coast of Lantau Island. The simplest and most economic way is either getting to Tung Chung Town Center and then transferring to New Lantao Bus No.11 or taking Bus No.21 from Ngong Ping. Blue taxis are also an option.

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– Minimum time required: 10-15 minutes (excl. waiting time)

Majority of visitors travelling to Tung Chung are going to visit the Big Buddha by Ngong Ping Cable Car. From Ngong Ping, you can choose either New Lantao Bus No.21 or blue taxi to Tai O.

The ride takes only 10-15 minutes since Ngong Ping is closer to Tai O. Taxi ride will cost around HK$ 60 while the bus ride costs HK$ 6.6 on weekdays and HK$ 14 on holidays. There is only one shift per hour from 7:45 am to 5:45 pm. Thus if you plan to use Bus No.21, plan your time accordingly.

Meanwhile, you may consider the 360 Tai O Pass, which includes a fast pass Cable Car ride, a round-trip bus ride to/from Tai O, a boat ride through the stilt houses and HK$ 20 snack voucher.

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– Minimum time required: 50-60 minutes (excl. waiting time)

Tung Chung Town Center is the closest major bus terminal to Tai O. There are many different ways to Tung Chung depending on your starting locations and budget.

Bus No.11 runs between Tung Chung to Tai O from 6:20 am to 1:20 am everyday with an average 15-20 minute per shift. The bus ride takes about 50-60 bus ride and costs about HK$ 12 on weekdays and HK$ 20 on holidays.

Get a detailed schedule and fare table of New Lantao Bus No. 11 from New Lantao Bus website).

You also have the option to take a cab which may be a good alternative if you travel with 3 – 4 persons or if you are pressed for time. Remember only the blue taxi is allowed to drive in the Lantau Island district.

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– Minimum time required: 35min by ferry and 45min by bus (excl. waiting time)

If you would like to enjoy a ferry ride from Central to Mui Wo, or you happen to stay in the Silvermine Beach Resort hotel, you may consider to take New Lantao Bus No.1 from Mui Wo Ferry Pier to Tai O directly.

The bus ride of Bus No.1 takes around 45 minutes and passes 56 stops. It runs from 6:00 am to 1:10 am from Mon – Sat and from 6:30 am to 1:10 am. Check out New Lantao Bus official site for the price and schedule of the Bus No.1.

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First Ferry company operates ferries between Central Pier No.6 and Mui Wo Ferry Pier. The ferry ride takes 35-40 min (Fast Ferry) or 50-55 min (Ordinary Ferry) and most ferries leave every 40 minutes. Check out the details of ferry schedule.

If you are looking for how to get from Mui Wo to Ngong Ping (Big Buddha), check here.

Useful links:

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Lantau Island is a great treasure when it comes to attractions. Besides Big Buddha / Tian Tan Buddha, Po Lin Monastery and Tai O Fishing Village these top attractions, you may also be interested in taking a look at Ngong Ping Village, Wisdom Path, Ngong Ping Piazza, Besides, Hong Kong Disneyland Theme Park is also located close to it.

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Locations: On the northwestern coast of Lantau Island
Opening Hours: Please respect the local villagers and keep the tranquility
Ticket Fare: Free admission (it’s a rural village)

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Depending on your starting location and budget, you can start from Tung Chung, Ngong Ping or Mui Wo with different transports:  See details above

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More Top Attractions in Hong Kong