If you are visiting Hong Kong and have more than one day, I highly recommend spending one of those days getting out of the city to explore Hong Kong's quieter side. Hong Kong has so much to offer outside, whether it be fantastic hiking, beautiful beaches, or a day trip to the quaint fishing villages.
It's pretty easy to make a day trip to Lantau Island combining excursions to Tai O Fishing Village together with a visit to the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha (the "Big Buddha") via the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car (the longest bi-cable ropeway in Asia). Ngong Ping Village and Tai O are only separated by a 15 minute bus ride, so it's easy to visit both in one day.
Tai O is a charming little fishing village that was once a major fishing and trading port. It is one of the few places remaining in Hong Kong that still has stilt houses that stand right on top of the water.
Take a walk away from the village center (where all the shops are) and explore some of the quieter residential neighborhood.
You'll feel like you are stepping back in time, observing a way of life that is quickly disappearing.
If you're lucky, you might see dried seafood in-the-making, hung out or laid out to dry in the hot Hong Kong sun.
If you want a different perspective from the water, there are many people selling quick 20 minute boat rides that take you down the river and out into the open sea for about HKD20 to HKD30 a person.
We paid HKD20 (less than $3 USD) for a 20 minute boat ride and really enjoyed seeing Tai O fishing village from a slightly different perspective.
Hello from the boat ride!
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Our lunch at Tai O Fishing Village was a series of street food snacks, including grilled curry fishball skewers, grilled pineapple, scallion pancakes, fried spiral potato chips on a stick, grilled spicy squid on a stick, a black herbal flavored sweet sticky rice ball, poached fish maw in XO sauce, and egg waffles.
Speaking of egg waffles, one of the rare treats you can find at Tai O Fishing Village are HK style egg waffles made over charcoal. The place we found only has a Chinese name and is called 大澳華記香脆雞旦仔 (dà ào huá jì xiāng cuì jī dàn zǐ), literally meaning Tai O "Hua Ji" crispy egg waffles). It's located right in the middle of the various shops and is located at 121 Shek Tsai Street, Tai O.
This guy painstakingly creates the egg waffles one at a time by hand, carefully managing the charcoal flame while keeping an eye on how often to flip the cast iron egg waffle irons. He is meticulous, patient, and consistent.
The result is a beautiful, crispy egg waffle that still had a nice chewy center and just a hint of charcoal.
It is definitely one of the best egg waffles I've ever had. Because each egg waffle is made to order by just that one guy, the line moves very slowly. Each egg waffle essentially takes around 5 minutes to make. Couples and families will sometimes line up and order several for their group. As a result, a "short" line of 6-8 people may actually take over an hour.
We waited over an hour in the sweltering heat. The next time, we were smarter: we did not come on a public holiday in the summer. We still had to wait about 15 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, but it was cooler and much more manageable.
Side note: there are other vendors selling "charcoal HK waffles." We tried one and it was nowhere as good as this one. So don't be tricked. Not all egg waffles are created equal!
Lantau Island is a beautiful place to explore, and I think a day trip to Tai O Fishing Village combined with Ngong Ping Village (and the cable car ride, of course) is well worth a visit. You get to see a very different side of Hong Kong life, enjoy some really fun street foods, and enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer.
Getting to Tai O Fishing Village
If you are heading straight to Tai O Fishing Village from Hong Kong Island, take the Tung Chung Line on the MTR (subway) to Tung Chung Station and take the Number 11 Bus to Tai O.
If you are coming from Ngong Ping Village (which I recommend!), Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station but then take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to Ngong Ping Village (buy tickets in advance if possible). After visiting the sites at the village, take Bus 21 to Tai O (bus leaves either once an hour or once every 30 minutes depending on the time of day) .
You can head back the same way, or for a change of pace, take Bus 1 to Mui Wo (about 40 minutes), and from there take a Ferry back to Central Ferry.
*routes and times subject to change. Please check City Mapper or bus maps for the latest route information
This is the thirteenth post in the updated #50Postsin50Days - Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.