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Tai O has been a fishing village on the far southwestern remote region of Lantau Island since historic times. Thanks to the recent tourist development in the neighbouring Ngong Ping and Giant Buddha, Tai O has become more convenient to visit in a day's time. Here, both historic sites and natural marine attraction offer a unique and still well preserved face of Hong kong that is far removed from the bustling city.
The original fishing village is partly constructed on both sides of a creek that feeds into the Tai O harbor. Recently it has been expanding, with stilt houses lining more than a kilometer distance on both creeksides.The local boat traffic is moderate and not as hectic as the water market in Bangkok or the canals in Venice. Nonetheless, this place is self-proclaimed as Venice of the Orient.
The sea just off the Tai O harbor is one of the few recognized habitats for pink dolphins in Hong Kong waters. There is a local boat tour available for two sightseeings for the price of HK$20. First, the boat makes a 15 minute round trip up and down the creek where the stilt houses. Then it goes out beyond the harbor and stays for 20-30 minutes around the dolphin habitat. Multiple sightings are generally possible year-round, especially in the late afternoons. The boat can seat 12-14 people, and runs like a Zodiac boat. Beware that life jackets are not available during the tour.
On land there are the regular village with local shops, two historic temples, and interesting culture of the Tanka people who are descendants of Hong Kong's first settlers. One of the famous local products is the preserved (salted) shrimp egg paste, which is used to make sauteed veggie or meat dishes (Cantonese style).
Tai O is served by the Lantau Island bus system, with routes connecting it to Ngong Ping (15-20 min), Mui Wo (45 min) and Tung Chung (1 hr). From the city to Tai O, one can take the ferry from Central to Mui Wo and connect by the above bus route. Or take the MTR to Tung Chung and connect either by bus, or cable car to Ngong Ping followed by bus. Beware that the cable car service (Ngong Ping 360) closes at 5:00pm.