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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 20 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Lee Cobaj

Hong Kong is sky-piercing buildings, heaving crowds and honking red taxies, but it’s also scenic coastline, tranquil beaches and stilted houses. To experience this alternative side to the city head to Tai O, a tiny fishing village tucked away in the wilds of Lantau.

Alighting from the ferry, visitors are immediately greeted with smell of shrimp paste drying in the sun, the industry which has sustained the village for the last few hundred years. From here, narrow alleyways lead to seafood restaurants stilted over the water (you should definitely stay for lunch), garishly-painted temples and tiny village houses clad in aluminium to deflect the sun.

Pair a visit to Tai O with a boat trip from Lantau to see the world’s pinkest wild dolphins, which swim in the waters around the island. The boat winds its way through the waterways of the historic village before tracking the dolphins, instantly recognisable for their salmon-pink colour.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

There are a handful of convoluted ways to reach Tai O by public transport, but the most scenic route is on the Kaido ferry, which leaves from Tuen Mun, at the end of the Tuen Ma line. From here, the green and orange ferry rounds a narrow channel between Lantau and Hong Kong International Airport, and floats under the 50-mile long Hong Kong to Macau bridge before cruising into Tai O. If that all sounds like too much effort, a taxi from Central takes about 45-minutes and costs around £40.

If seeing dolphins are of particular interest, you can take a special tour with Hong Kong Dolphin Watch.

When to do it

Tai O welcomes visitors all year round but is best enjoyed on a sunny day, when you can sit outside and watch the world pass by. It can get crowded – try and go early in the morning before the streets get too crammed with visitors. Visit in September, and the whole village is illuminated with paper lanterns for the Tai O Lantern Festival.

At time of writing, Pink Dolphin tours run Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with a pick-up from Tsim Tsa Tsui around 9am, and around 3-4 hours on the water.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Full-Day Private Tour of Lantau Island including Big Buddha and Tai O

Hong Kong SAR

Full-Day Private Tour of Lantau Island including Big Buddha and Tai O
Lantau Island is often referred to as the ‘Lungs of Hong Kong’ because it is so green and underdeveloped.  Take a full-day private walking tour of Lantau with your personal tour guide and visit the awe-inspiring Big Buddha and the wonderfully quaint stilt village of Tai O. Your tour includes a ride on the Ngong Ping cable car to the Big Buddha and a ride in a boat at Tai O. Tours last 7 to 8 hours. Available in English, French and Cantonese & Mandarin Chinese. All guides are native speakers.

Price: H2,390

Min age: 0

Rating 4.95 / 5 [67 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private 5-Hour Driving Tour of Lantau from Hong Kong

Hong Kong SAR

Private 5-Hour Driving Tour of Lantau from Hong Kong
Enjoy exploring Lantau island on this private 5-hour customized tour that introduces you to the nature and tranquility just outside of Hong Kong. With skip-the-line access you can see the famous Big Buddha, the 500 year old Tai O fishing village known as the Venice of Hong Kong. All being transported by a luxury 7 seater throughout the journey including access within the restricted roads on Lantau island. This drive will be a truly amazing half day out seeing the natural scenery of the untouched parts of Hong Kong without the hassle of various transports and queues.

Price: $499

Min age: 0

Rating 4.79 / 5 [24 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Lantau Island Private Customized Tour with English speaking guide

Hong Kong SAR

Lantau Island Private Customized Tour with English speaking guide
Join us for one of the must-see places on your Hong Kong adventure, a day-trip to Lantau island, in the comfort of your own private party in a luxury private vehicle, plus optional VIP option. Lantau is known as Hong Kong’s green lung, like stepping back in time 50 years when you visit. Most of the stunning island is untouched and can only be accessed by public transport. We will navigate you and your guests seamlessly through the highlights in this full day private tour. Highlights include: - skip the line access and the 24-minute ride of the Ngong Ping cable-car (upgrade for private Crystal+ cabin) - Po Lin Monastery and Big Buddha - Tai O fishing village by foot and by boat - a boat ride for the pink dolphins and a look at Hong Kong-Macau- Zhuhai tunnel / bridge (upgrade for private boat) - full day private car option and VIP car option (no public transportation necessary)

Price: H3,550

Min age: 0

Rating 5 / 5 [17 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private tour Lantau Island - Big buddha and Tai O Village

Hong Kong SAR

Private tour Lantau Island - Big buddha and Tai O Village
Whether a first timer or a returning traveller to Hong Kong, this 7-hour interactive private tour provides fascinating insights on the territory's geography, history and geopolitics. Lantau is not only one of the most protected and under populated area of Hong Kong, it is also the biggest island of the Special Administrative Region. This private tour will showcase various parts of the island such as TUNG CHUNG, NGONG PING  where the giant buddha sits, PO LIN Monastery, Tai O fishing village and its pink dolphins. We will travel by train, bus and boat. HIGHLIGHTS Learn about Hong Kong's past, present and future history - insider knowledge with a private tour guide Enjoy Ngong Ping Cable Car featuring stunning views See the local wildlife (buffalos and pink dolphins) Experience the local culture Taste local food Fast track access - avoid long queues

Price: H2,590

Min age: 1

Rating 5 / 5 [11 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

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