To visit the Tai O fishing village on Lantau Island is to see a way of life that has continued virtually unchanged for centuries. As a contrast to the steel and mirrored high rises of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, the modest buildings in Tai O stand on stilts in the water.
Tai O is home to the Tanka people, a community of fishermen and women who build their homes on stilts above the tidal flats because they do not feel safe on land. Known as a stilt-house community, the village is one of the few remaining examples of its type left in China.
The Tanka people’s strong connection to the water is obvious. The village houses cling to either side of the riverbank and the river slices the village in two! Recently a drawbridge was added to improve access for the villagers. Prior to this they used an old-fashioned rope-drawn ‘ferry’ system to cross to the other side!
It makes a relaxing change to wander around the village away from the hustle and noise of the city. Other sites around the village worth exploring include:
- Kwan Tai Temple
This temple was built during the Ming dynasty (1488–1505 AD) to honor the God of War and Righteousness, Kwan Tai.
- Yeung Hau Temple
This ancient temple honors a local court official from the late Sung Dynasty (1270).
- Former Tai O Police Station
You’ll find this police station on a small hill next to the Tai O ferry pier. It dates back to 1902 and is one of the earliest buildings built in the New Territories.
- Tai O Market
Buy some locally produced shrimp past and salted fish from the stalls and shops here.
Located on the northwestern edge of Lantau Island, the Tai O fishing village is about a one hour bus ride from the MTR Tung Chung Station, Hong Kong.