Friday, 8 November 2013

The Fishing Village-Tai O, Hong Kong

Tai O, The Fishing Village
We visited Tai O last year December during my almost annual "pilgrimage" back to Hong Kong to visit my in laws. The Hong Kong Tourism Board has been promoting this attraction furiously in recent years and for the longest time, I harbored thought of checking this place out. It made an ideal side trip when you planned to visit the Great Buddha and Po Lin Monastery at  Lantau Island. It is almost a 15 mins trip from the Great Buddha to Tai O and vice versa  by bus.

Welcome to Tai O
Stlit Houses with Mountains Backdrop

Our original intention was to take the Ngong Ping 360 cable cars from MTR Tung Chung Station to visit the Great Buddha and followed by the trip to Tai O. The snaky and endless queue waiting to board the cable cars made us gave up the plan. Instead we took a bus (number 11) for an almost 1 hour trip to Tai O first. It was a great idea as we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Lantau's mountains and sea as we headed towards our destination. Along the way, there was also this grateful local old lady who struck up a conversation with me (after I squeezed out a seat for her with my daughter sitting on my lap). She learned I was from Singapore and heaped praise on the country. I managed to converse with her in my pathetic Cantonese (in a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese) and was quietly relieved when she alighted at a village which was one or two stops away from Tai O.

Quiet spot in the village

Can you spot the Kingfisher?

Strike a pose!
We chose a good time (around 11 am and Friday) to visit Tai O as there were not many tourists around. The fishing village was built by the Tanka people, who make their living off fishing at the South China sea and made their home on stilts by the river bank. The latter have become the icons of Tai O and they are seen in almost all promotional photos linked to the village. The photos looked especially good when the stilt houses and old boats were taken with the river and mountains as the backdrop.
Old man with bicycle
Tai O Market
Starfish for dinner tonight?
The place serves as a good break away from the concrete jungles of Kowloon and Hong Kong island. Although now much commercialized, it still emits a nostalgic atmosphere. We discovered seafood (live and preserved) were in abundant as we explored the old streets of Tai O. In fact, the whole place felt like a big market with various vendors plying their trade. My wife (who has been here before) told me the famous take away native products were the shrimp pastes. They are used to add as flavor for dishes. It seems there are two extreme camps on their liking (or disliking) of the shrimp pastes. The people who love them above anything else or the ones hate them to the core. Sounds like the infamous Durians back in my country (but that's another story.) Anyway, we did not risk buying any on that day.
Salted fish...salted fish and salted fish

Tai O Tricycles
After a sumptuous meal at a local restaurant (a must do), we ventured into the village area. The crowd dwindled as we went deeper. We found few temples, a post office, a fire station and more settlements. There was a sense of peace here compared to the crowded market area.  It was ironical to think the villagers must have hated the tourists for disturbing their peaceful lifestyle but at the same time have to welcome them for the local people to earn their livelihood. One interesting thing we noticed was the transportation used. Almost all the households owned at least a tricycle with a basket at the rear. The local must have used them to transport their groceries and foods during their daily visit at the market.

Ready for River Cruise
Sight at River#1
Sight at River#2

Sight at River#3

Sight at River#4
We took a boat ride from the pier at the trademark draw bridge which brought us round the village on the river and out into the open sea for dolphins watching. Despite straining our eyes to catch a glimpse of the rare pink dolphins, we could not detect any. But we were contended enough to witness the daily life of the sea people, spotting the storks, sea gulls and other birds gliding gracefully above the sea surface while enjoying the sea breeze as the boat picked out speed on the water.

Enjoying the sea breeze
Fisherman mending the Net
Fisherman back from the Sea

Tai O is a great place to see "the other side" of Hong Kong. It was a relaxing outing for my family and a good educational tour for my daughter. For a "city-bred" child, it was indeed an eye-opener for her that other kind of houses exist beside the concrete ones that we have seen in Singapore. I am very sure your family will enjoy the trip just like us once setting foot into the rustic fishing village of Tai O :-).

Related Posts: Hong Kong-Pearl of the Orient

For Your Pinning

Family Photo at Tai O
Fishing Boats at the Harbour
Fishing Boats in line
Village view from a distance


  1. Ahhhhh yes, I wish I had gotten here on my trip. It looks so so so pretty.

    1. Not to worry. I am sure you will get the chance again :-)

  2. Thanks so much for popping by Luxury Haven! Oh yes, we certainly enjoyed our Tai-O Trip too & I've to admit it's a must-visit tourist attraction.

    I've added you to G+, & looking fwd to sharing our travel stories :D

    1. Hi Shirley, thanks for the visit! I have added you to G+ too.