Last updated on December 4th, 2023 at 11:24 am
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Although you can do many wonderful things in Hong Kong, sometimes, you need a day trip to escape the city.
People might often think about Hong Kong Disneyland for a day trip since it’s a common tourist attraction. While it’s excellent, Tai O is another option.
Tai O is a fishing village on Lantau Island. A Conde Nast article even referred to Tai O as Venice of the East.
With its history, local culture and scenery, it’s a place that even locals visit on the weekends.
Getting to Tai O Fishing Village
You need a special license to drive up to Tai O Fishing Village.
Since most people don’t have that, these are the ways of getting there from the city center.
- Take the ferry from Central to Mui Wo then a bus to Tai O
- Drive to Tung Chung, park there, and then take a bus to Tai O
- Take a blue taxi (for the Lantau Island district) to Tai O (the most expensive option)
When my dad and I visited Tai O Fishing Village, we chose the second option.
That’s because we don’t live near the Central District. So we drove from our place to Tung Chung and then took a bus.
When you’re at the Tung Chung bus station, you’ll realize it’s a big bus stop. There are a lot of buses around but you’ll find the bus to Tai O Fishing Village relatively quickly.
(This is also the place people go to get on a bus to go visit Big Buddha.)
It’s the line with the most people but the line moves fast.
Within 10-15 minutes, we got a spot on the bus.
The Bus Ride to Tai O Fishing Village
In Hong Kong, people use their Octopus cards for transportation.
It’s pretty convenient because you can also buy things with it. Nothing crazy expensive though because there’s a limit on how much you can put on your Octopus. It’s great for people who hate carrying around change.
You don’t have to buy a bus ticket to get to Tai O. Tap your Octopus card and that’s it!
(The bus reminded me of a Peter Pan or Greyhound bus. If you lived in North America, you’ve probably heard of those. I used to take those a lot when I went to New York City to visit my aunt from Boston.)
Since it was a weekend, the bus to Tai O was understandably full and loud. The entire ride was about 40 minutes but it felt like it took forever. It was a long-winded uphill road.
You might get motion sickness because of all the road turns. I certainly did.
Closing your eyes and resting might help but if the bus environment is loud, it’s hard to relax.
You might also see some animals walking around casually, which was cool.
Below is a picture of us seeing a cow.
Tai O Fishing Village Tourist Attractions
Pink Dolphin Boat Ride
Seeing pink dolphins, a rare species is something Tai O fishing village is known for (they are also known for their stilt houses).
Although there’s no guarantee you’ll see the pink dolphins, you can take a 20-minute boat ride. You’ll be able to see another side of Tai O.
Unfortunately, the dolphins don’t show up super often. It depends on the weather and other factors but you can always test your luck.
If you get motion sickness easily, this activity is probably not recommended for you.
When I went to Tai O with my dad that day, the waves were strong. I was also feeling ill already from the bus ride so we opted out.
It would have been cool if I got to see some dolphins in person. Oh well.
There is a ton of beautiful street art in Tai O fishing village.
You’ll see a bunch as you’re walking around.
The one that stands out is near Kwan Kai temple. The street art covers the whole wall and you’ll see people lining up to take a picture.
Other Tourist Attractions
There are also hiking trails and temples you can visit. Since I did not go to these, I cannot comment but it is an option.
Food at Tai O Fishing Village
Local Snack Stalls
I want to point out Tai O Bakery because they are famous for their donuts. It’s one of the shops you’ll see a line forming. Again, I cannot comment because I don’t love doughnuts and I didn’t line up to get some.
Tai O bakery isn’t the only place you can grab some food. You’ll find yourself surrounded by snack places at Tai O Market Street.
You will not go hungry when you are in this area. Almost at every corner, there are tons of food you can buy.
There are many packaged snacks available to buy. You can buy some biscuits or pork jerky to bring home for yourself or to share with loved ones.
Then, there are hot food snacks you can consume immediately. These stalls will sell typical HK snack staples like curry fish ball and fish siu mai.
There are also snack stalls where you can order squid with shrimp paste. They will start grilling it in front of you.
Shrimp paste is one of the things Tai O Fishing Village is known for. This condiment isn’t going to be something everyone likes. It has a strong scent and taste to it. Even some HK locals think it’s too much but it’s worth giving it a try. You’ll see barrels of them around the village.
On top of shrimp paste, you’ll see other kinds of food being put out to dry like egg yolks and seafood laying around.
Restaurants – Fook Lam Moon
There are several restaurants near Tai O but my dad and I ate lunch at Fook Lam Moon.
We picked this place because of two simple reasons. There were quite a lot of people so we assumed the food would be decent.
Also, the restaurant looked pretty spacious. We didn’t want to be cramped. Some of the other restaurants looked smaller although there could have been a second floor and we just didn’t see it.
Walking in for a table in the city almost always guarantees a wait, especially if it’s good. If you’re lucky, the wait time is relatively short. If you’re not as lucky, the wait time can be more than one hour. That’s a long time to be waiting for a particular restaurant when you’re hungry!
There’s planning involved when eating out in many restaurants in the city. At Tai O Fishing Village, it’s more spontaneous. We just walked right in to get a table at Fook Lam Moon.
The restaurant is quite local. It did its job serving customers fresh seafood. That was it. The food wasn’t amazing but I doubt people go there to be blown away by the food.
You can even get dishes at Fook Lam Moon with shrimp paste if you prefer restaurant food to street food.
How Long Should You Spend at Tai O Fishing Village?
Be prepared to lose half a day to exploring Tai O. Depending on what you choose to do, you might even spend a full day there.
Since my dad and I didn’t do all the tourist attractions, half a day was more than enough time for the both of us.
We left the house at 10 am and got back around 4-5 pm.
Spending half a day to a full day should be more than enough time to see everything you want.
If you want to stay overnight, you can at the Unesco rewarded Tai O Heritage Hotel. It is a hotel rich with history.
Tai O is a small village so there are only very limited hotels around the area.
There are only 9 rooms available at the Tai O Heritage hotel so make sure to book in advance if you want to stay here.
People might get the wrong impression that it will be a shabby hotel but it’s quite modern.
When I saw it, it reminded me of one of those beach resorts you would stay in the U.S. That kind of vibe.
The hotel is a little further away. You might have to walk around 10-15 minutes from the main street but still completely walkable.
Other Attractions Near Tai O
If you’re visiting Tai O fishing village and want to see more of Hong Kong while you’re out, you can also consider visiting the Big Buddha. It’s pretty near and one of the most visited attractions here in Hong Kong.
You can also go shopping at Citygate Outlets at Tung Chung.
When you leave Tai O, you’re probably going to take a bus or taxi back to Tung Chung. You’ll then see a crowded shopping area with many people.
That’s where Citygate Outlet is. It’s pretty big, especially for a place like HK.
You can fit in some shopping time after a relaxing time at Tai O.
There are also more affordable fashion stores like Uniqlo and Vans.
In case you get hungry, there are also plenty of dining options.
When Should You Go To Tai O Fishing Village?
My dad and I went to Tai O Fishing Village on a Saturday. We asked one of the locals how busy the village gets on the weekends. He said that Saturday afternoons get busier (we spoke to him around 1 pm) but there are even more people on Sunday.
Getting to Tai O around late morning or early afternoon was a suitable time to see a few attractions without it being too busy.
You can go early and see what you want to see the most first. It can be hard to enjoy something when you’re being squished.
But if you’re from Hong Kong, you’ll know the city is always busy with many people around.
Final Thoughts – Visiting Tai O Fishing Village
Tai O fishing village is quite local. International visitors might not enjoy their experience as much here.
Tai O has been there for quite a while so a lot of things won’t be shiny and new. It’s important to adjust your expectations.
Rural areas in Hong Kong aren’t going to be the same as rural areas in the U.S. Tai O might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it certainly is a different type of experience.
Although I’m a city girl at heart, I also appreciate places outside of the city. Tai O fishing village is a breath of fresh air compared to your normal, city life. It helped that the weather was nice that day.
Going to Tai O did feel like a small vacation and I enjoyed my time there.
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