Located on the western coast of Lantau Island is a small fishing village called Tai O in Hong Kong. With many houses built on stilts over water, it is also known as the “Venice of Hong Kong”, attracting many visitors to check out a different sight of highly urbanized country. Although the general cost of living may not be that low in Hong Kong compared to other Asian cities, it is possible to enjoy an economical yet relaxing tour in the Venice of Hong Kong. I will show you how!
Ride on a local bus just like what the locals do
There are several modes of public transport to get to Tai O, either by bus, cable car or ferry, depending on which part of Hong Kong you are in. Regardless, the most economical and fuss-free way has to be taking bus 11 at Tung Chung Bus Terminus. Don’t worry, not asking you to use your legs to walk all the way to Tai O from Tung Chung! It’s a real local bus no. 11 that you can ride on, the signboard shows I’m not kidding. Just take the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) to Tung Chung Station and you will find the bus terminus next to the MTR station.
The 50-minute bus ride costs 11.80 HKD (about 1.50 USD) per adult from Monday to Saturday and 19.20 HKD (about 2.50 USD) on Sundays & Public Holidays. A really small price to pay for an authentic experience on a local air-conditioned bus with scenic views along the journey! You may spot some cows wandering on the road, with a picturesque backdrop of beautiful mountains and the South China Sea. This bus goes to a few villages on the island before arriving in Tai O, so expect to see locals boarding and alighting along the way. Remember to grab a seat on the right side of the bus so that you will be able to view most of the scenery!
Bask in the nostalgic Tai O Market Street
You will alight at Tai O Bus Terminus, the large carpark beside Tai O’s Waterfront Promenade. Just across the short ferry bridge at the entrance of the waterfront is Tai O Market Street, where you can find some of the local catch as well as dried seafood products such as salted fish and shrimp paste, as well as local street delights.
In this old fishing village, it’s likely you won’t see many young people except the tourists. In fact, as you walk along this street, you will find that most shops are manned by the older generation. Some of them offer free sampling of their products so that you can try before you decide to buy. Do not rush to spend your money until you find something you really like. Just take time to tour for free and appreciate the unique beauty of life at this street.
Drool over the crispy charcoal grilled egg pancake
After touring the Tai O Market Street and possibly sampling a few local produce, you will enter into Kat Hing Street. There is a beautifully painted mural on an old sky-blue building of few storeys depicting what the quaint fishing village has to offer to its visitors. You must try the charcoal-grilled egg pancakes at a no-name stall within a stone’s throw from this mural, at 59 Kat Hing Street!
You can’t miss this cool-looking uncle with his sunglasses on when he prepares the pancake, plus the large publicity posters at his shopfront is bound to catch your attention! The egg batter is only charcoal-grilled when customers make an order, so be prepared for a queue, especially if you visit on a weekend. But good things are worth the wait, and that’s probably why the snack can be so crispy, fragrant, fluffy and yummy since it is made fresh from the grill. A packet of this delightful snack costs 15 HKD (about 1.90 USD). Wallet-friendly price isn’t it? Go ahead to buy another pack if you like!
Admire the rustic stilted houses against the mountains on the island
Don’t leave this charming fish village without admiring and snapping lovely pictures of its rustic houses on stilts over water. These are real homes to the locals and many get to their houses using the boats you see in the picture above. If you have time and the weather is good, do venture further by crossing Sun Ki Bridge that brings you into a quieter side of the village. No cost involved here but you get all the benefits from exercising!
You don’t need to spend a lot to appreciate the beauty of Tai O
So how much do you need to spend in a day at Tai O? A simple math calculation will tell you it’s an amazing sum of less than 10 USD, yay! To make your day even more memorable, pack along some food and drinks and bond over a delightful picnic with your buddies by the atmospheric waterfront watching the lovely sunset. The best time to visit this fishing village will be in the drier months of October and November when the weather is not too warm or cold. Do it on a weekday if possible to avoid the weekend crowd. Enjoy touring this charming village!
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