When people think of Hong Kong they often think of the typical stereotypes associated with this global location – huge skyscrapers, office blocks, people in long queues, traffic jams, a busy commercial city. But in actual fact that view of Hong Kong is just one of many faces this country has to offer, yes I call it a country. Hong Kong isn’t a city as it has lots of mountains and countryside and places to explore -it’s more rural than it is urban. And since it has its own money and border control, it’s a country in its own right. I’ve lived in three different parts of Hong Kong and I’ve done all the touristy and non-touristy stuff within its compounds. Today I thought it was about time I wrote about visiting Tai O fishing village which is on Lantau Island in Hong Kong’s outlying islands.
How do you get to Tai O fishing village?
OK if you are already on Lantau Island, this is easy, head to Tung Chung bus station (next to the MTR station) and get a bus to Tai O. To make things even easier, the bus will actually say Tai O on it! Here’s the rundown:
From Hong Kong Island – get a ferry from Central Ferry Pier Number 6 to Mui Wo on Lantau Island. On arrival at Mui Wo, get a bus directly to Tai O. It will drop you off at the car park, where all tourists and locals arrive at Tai O.
From Kowloon – get the MTR to Tung Chung (at the end of the Amber coloured Tung Chung Line). Use exit A or B from the MTR at Tung Chung to find the bus station. Buses on the far side of the bus station head to Tai O.
From Lantau Island – either get a bus from Mui Wo or get a bus from Tung Chung, the Tung Chung bus is number 11.
Other ways to get there – taxi or private car/bus. There is no rail or minibus network to Tai O.
What is there to see and do in Tai O?
The main attraction of Tai O is the actual fishing village itself, which gives the place the name of Tai O. This is a charming, a basic Chinese fishing village on stilts which remains unchanged for generations. It’s fantastic to just walk around and admire. That alone is worth the trip.
But when visiting Tai O fishing village, it’s more than just the village itself, so here’s a top 5 things to see and do:
1. Walk at leisure round the fishing village
It’s open and free to walk around – cross the bridge through the main village centre and walk along the houses all built on stilts. Very pictueresque. Snap away to your hearts content. One of my fellow travellers from Antarctica Terrance Wong took loads of great photos of it on his blog: Terriniphoto
2. Take a boat trip out to sea
A boat trip from Tai O out to sea is easily organised from the centre of Tai O village. Cheap, fast and relaxing they will take you a few miles out in the direction of China and Macau. You can actually shop around for prices but we paid only 20 Hong Kong Dollars each (Less than $3 US).
On a good day you will see China and Macau and the airport if you go out far enough. On an even better day and with some luck you can see dolphins!
3. Eat some seafood
It’s a fishing village and there are TONS of restaurants and local markets. I love it – I’m not actually a big fan of seafood to be honest but the cheese oysters we had were great and the range of fish and seafood available is endless. The Hong Kong government have outlawed some rules in recent years restricting fishing to an extent, but there’s still a load of seafood to be tried in Tai O!
4. Watch the sun sink with a cold beer
The sun sets in the west and that’s exactly where Tai O is – we marvelled at the glorious fading ball on an evening. You can get cracking views along the coast and have a beer relaxing to your heart’s content. This is the Hong Kong you wanted, bereft of any office towers, oversized housing blocks and exaggerated skyscrapers.
5. Hike to Yi O
Lantau Island is superb for hiking (as are many parts of Hong Kong) and one I did was up to some waterfalls and natural lakes at a place called Yi O. It’s a short hike in fact but a good one to do from Tai O. A couple of hours is plenty of time to get you there and back. Take water and snacks though as there are no facilities at all on the hike. And be extra careful of huge spiders and mosquitos. Lots of them about.
Tai O can be done on a day trip if you are based in Hong Kong, the other option would be to stay over and though there are no hotels or hostels, I’d imagine the locals would put you up for a few Hong Kong Dollars. You could spend the night in a remote Chinese Fishing Village. On life’s corridor my friends, this is certainly a decent door to open! If you need help getting a Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa or a Chinese Visa check those links!
On a final note, the village is traditionally Chinese, yet on the west tip of Hong Kong. I was surprised somewhat when I got my mobile phone out only to find it had changed to a Chinese reception…
Here are a few of my videos from Tai O:
Central Tai O fishing village:
Tai O boat trip out to sea:
The Mid Autumn Festival in Tai O:
Tai O to Yi O hike:
Queue for the Tung Chung to Tai O bus: