Hong Kong, as an island, has a long tradition of fishing. As obvious as it sounds, there are not many traditional fishing places left in Hong Kong. With its stilt houses and a history of over a hundred years, Tai O is one of the last remaining examples of the Southern China fishing culture. Tai O Fishing Village is a perfect place to learn new things about the everyday life of seamen. It also offers important context as to the historical importance of the fishing industry of Hong Kong’s past.
Welcome to Tai O Village
Tai O Village is often referred to as The Venice of Hong Kong. Despite it being a slight exaggeration, it does have thousands of boats and houses on the water. One of the popular picturesque spots is a Tai Chung Bridge, which opens up when a fisherman wants to sail out from the village. The bridge, finished in 1996, makes life in the village much easier. Those without boats (which are mainly the visitors) can freely cross from one side of the village to another which was not that easy before.
Located on Lantau Island, the Tai O Fishing Village location is just a bus ride from the Big Buddha Statue. This little village is heaven for street food fans. It also provides numerous sights for photographers wishing to capture unique lifestyles. Unfortunately, young people choose to live downtown and so there are few remaining residents desiring to continue the long-lasting tradition. This fact may cause it to vanish soon, or go down in history merely as a place of dilapidated houses and long-abandoned businesses and boats.
For now, the majority of visitors to the village are tourists. The local inhabitants usually do not struggle with the lack of work. The main street, Kat Hing Street, provides everything. From restaurants serving all types of seafood to cafes with coffee, markets with foods prepared by the local sellers. You will even discover touristy souvenir stores with plastic magnets and t-shirts depicting their proud fishing heritage.
Similarly, as in Venice, the stilt houses are located on both sides of the channels. Making it a perfect place for boat rides, which are offered to tourists as soon as they get off the bus. Unlike in Venice however, the houses are much poorer, often made of wood or steel. A typical Chinese stilt house (also called Diaojiaolou in Chinese) is small and cozy. Not surprisingly, these structures are also relatively easy to damage. Especially in the Hong Kong climate which regularly provides typhoons, heavy rain, or storms. However, since these houses are described as Hong Kong’s most unique scenic spots, the Government is trying to preserve the natural beauty of the village by investing in various renovations.
Hung Shing Temple
Other places that we should not miss in the village are temples, built by the villages to bring luck and prosperity. The most important one, perhaps, is the 18th century Hung Shing Temple which worships the Sea god. Another one, Tin Hau Temple, is dedicated to a Goddess which protects the safety of fishermen on waters. In this temple, the locals regularly pray for their life. The biggest event they celebrate there is the Birth of Tin Hau.
When it comes to must-try local snacks, Tai O Fishing Village is an amazing place to discover new flavors. Since it is far away from downtown, it has a wide range of food which is nearly impossible to try anywhere else. From Hong Kong classics such as Fish Balls, the ones available in the village are boiled and soaked in chili soup. Making them extra spicy – even compared to the regular curry ones, which are a specialty nearly everywhere in the city.
Grilled seafood is another taste that we can find here, in the traditional village. Usually served with Chinese Crepes, called Jianbing in Mandarin, they are the most popular snacks. Not only because they are simply very tasty and fresh, but also because there are many different flavors to choose from. The amount of seafood available in the village can be overwhelming at times.
Hong Kong Egg Waffle
Finally, the favorite of all Hong Kongers – the traditional egg waffle. The difference between the city vendors and the Tai O Village is the way of preparing it. While amidst fast-paced downtown life, the stores use faster and more efficient electric waffle makers. Meanwhile, in the village, the waffles are made by using traditional charcoal stoves. With the heat and smoke from the charcoals, the taste of the waffle becomes crispier and truly unique.
Tai O Fishing Village Conclusion
Tai O Fishing Village is a perfect place to discover a completely different side of Hong Kong. Far away from business, finance, and hectic lifestyle, the village allows the visitors to relax and see a traditional way of life. Something rarely practiced in today’s world. It is also a great place for short excursions. There’s enough to see, do, and try, to spend there a memorable day or two.