Tai O in Hong Kong

Tai O ( 大澳) is a fishing town, partly located on an island of the same name, on the western side of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. The village names means large inlet, referring to outlet for the waterways (Tai O Creek and Tai O River) merges as it moves through Tai O.

Geography of Tai O

In the south-western part of Lantau, the Tai O River diverges northward (known as the Tai O Creek) and westward, at which point the Tai O Island is located. Two pedestrian bridges cross the river on its northern and western forks. The village is mainly located on the river bank. The West and north of the island face the South China Sea and are uninhabited.

History of Tai O

When the British came to Hong Kong, Tai O was known as a Tanka village. During and after the Chinese Civil War, Tai O became a primary entrypoint for illegal immigration for those escaping from the People’s Republic of China. Some of these immigrants, mostly Cantonese, stayed in Tai O, and Tai O attracted people from other Hong Kong ethnic groups, including Hoklo (Hokkien) and Hakka.

Currently the fishing lifestyle is dying out. While many residents continue to fish, it barely provides a subsistence income. There is a public school on the island and most young people move away when they come of age. In 2000 a large fire broke out destroying many residences. The village is now mostly squatters huts and dilapidated stilt houses. For fishing areas, it is a catastrophe. Relevant parties are committed to restoring the old view of Tai O. Most of the existing barracks and shacks are temporary. 

In 2018, Mangosteen attacked Hong Kong and Tai O became a water village.

Main Attraction of Tai O

Tai Chung Pedestrian Bridge (大澳海上行人桥)

Earlier, there was a unique domestic transportation tool in Tai O area. That is crosswater ferry, a powerless sampan, which relied on human power to pull ropes and pick up passengers from both sides of the Chungkou River. This kind of vehicle, similar to rickshaw, is attractive to tourists from outside the country. The view of these disappeared quietly after the Pedestrian Bridge was opened. Now, the bridge became a wonderful place to visit Tai O. 

Tai O Yanghou Ancient Temple(大澳杨侯古庙)

The Tai O Yanghou Ancient Temple was built in 1699(Qing Dynasty). It is dedicated to Yang Liangjie, a famous Minister of Southern Song Dynasty. Because he was Hou(候) in his life and a Wang(王) after his death, he was called Yang Houwang(杨侯王). When the army of the Yuan Dynasty pursued and killed Emperor Song, Yang Liangjie followed him all the time. Today, he has been to Lantau Island and Guanfuchang (now Kowloon City) in Hong Kong, where he died of illness. People built the Tai O Yanghou Ancient Temple to commemorate him.

Things to Do at Tai O

Watching Chinese White Dolphins and Visit Stilt House

The stilt house is a symbol of Tai O Fishing Village and one of Hong Kong’s most unique landscapes.  Tai O was once Hong Kong’s main fishing port and garrison town, and also a major fishing and salt industry for centuries. For generations, Tai O has been the home of fishermen’s cockroaches. Fishermen believe that living on plain land is insecure, so they build stilt house to live on the shore. The traditional hut is designed according to the concept of fishing boat. The head of the stilt house is the place where fishermen work and rest. The tail of the stilt house is used to sun salted fish, kelp and so on. Tour Tai O, you can take a sampan boat to shuttle in the waterway, enjoy the stilt house at close range, or walk around the fishing village to feel the style of Tai O’s fishing village.

You can rent a boat for about CNY 25. Villagers will sail boats, guide tourists across waterways and take short trips to the sea. In order to enjoy the Chinese white dolphins, many tourists will choose to go to Tai O to experience the water village.

How to Get There

Tourists can take the subway to Tung Chung Station. Then take No. 11 Bus on Tai O Bus Terminus at Exit B of the Station oThe journey is about 50 minutes. After getting off, walk for 5 minutes to Tai Chung Bridge.


Tai O Heritage Hotel(大澳文物酒店)

The Tai O Heritage Hotel, formerly known as the Tai O Police Department, was built in 1902 on a hill beside the Shi Tsai Cheng Street Ferry Pier in Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. It was a dormitory from 1961 to 1962. It was changed to the Tai’ao Police Post in 1996 and closed in December of the same year. It was later converted into a hotel, which opened on February 27, 2012. The Tai O Heritage Hotel was completed at the end of February 2012 and opened on March 27. The activated building is two stories high and has eight seascape rooms in addition to a 200-foot seascape suite formerly used as the Director’s Room. All of them are named after police rank, landmark of Tai O or police vessel. The hotel has a glass roof restaurant Tai O Lookout on the top floor. The report room was transformed into a cultural relics discovery centre and exhibited the collection of police stations.

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