Dolphins in HK

Old May 23rd, 2011, 03:48 AM
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Dolphins in HK

Any thoughts on Hong Kong dolphin watch tours?
Regine_Ashkenazie is offline  
Old May 29th, 2011, 07:43 PM
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There are, to the best of my knowledge, two ways to take dolphin trips: (i) the Dolphinwatch tour boat which I belive you are referring to above (see http://www.hkdolphinwatch.com) , and (ii) hiring your own boat/driver in the fishing village of Tai O on Lantau Island. Over the years, I have done both, and have seen dolphins on both. The Dolphin watch boat is a more professional organization and a larger boat; there is some theory that you have a better chance of seeing dolphins on one of their trips (I think they even give a guarantee about this, see their website. I have done the Tai O trip maybe 5-6 times but have not always seen dolphins.) On the downside, the Dolphinwatch trips take about 5 hours and cost a lot more than hiring your own boat from Tai O for a 40 minute trip (about US$5-8 per person, versus more than US$45 per adult for the Dolphin Watch trip). Tai O also has a good bit of charm and is worth a stroll and perhaps a meal. You can include a trip to Tai O as part of a day trip to Lantau to see the Buddha.

I believe it would be possible to do a morning Dolphin Watch trip, and at the end just stay in Tung Chung where you disembark from the boat (rather than taking the tour bus back to Hong Kong). From Tung Chung you can get the cable car or a bus up to the Buddha. That might be an interesting combination. (If you do this on a Sunday and want to take the cable car, make a booking for the cable car to save hours waiting in line for the cable car. Or just take the #23 bus, quite scenic in itself. You could even stop for lunch on the beach at the Steop and then head up to the Buddha from there. With some logisitcal planning, you can do the same when using the Tai O boats to see the dolphins.) There are also some marvelous walks on Lantau.

So, IMO, it’s a question of how much money you want to spend, how much time you want to devote to it, and how disappointed you would or would not be if you did not actually see a dolphin.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 08:51 PM
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I think we would like to take out our own boat from Tai O if possible. The other way seems too expensive when going with children. Logistically how would I get there? I can spend the morning at the Budda and then what's the best way to get to TaiO? Also once there do I just find anyone willing to take me or is there somewhere specific to go?
Once again, Cicerone, your knowledge is so helpful. thanks for taking the time to help.
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Old May 29th, 2011, 11:03 PM
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If you are going to the Buddha first, the only way to get to Tai O (other than walking, see below) is to take the #21 bus from the Buddha area. You should not have any trouble locating the bus station at the Buddha. The ride is quite scenic, and takes about 30 minutes give or take. Once in Tai O, the boat operators will find you, they stand around by the pier at the bus station, you can’t miss them. You should negotiate a bit on price, but the range I gave above is where you will most likely end up. When you are finished in Tai O, you can take the #11 bus back to Tung Chung and the MTR. You also have the option to take a ferry back to Tung Chung, however on weekdays/Saturdays the ferry only runs at like 2 and 6 pm, so you may not be able to make a ferry. On Sundays, there are more ferries, consult the schedule when you get to Tai O.

The best way to get to the Buddha is to take the MTR to Tung Chung and then either the #23 bus or the cable car. If you are going on a weekend or a public holiday, you absolutely should make a booking for the cable car (you can do this on line). See http://www.np360.com.hk/html/eng/front/index.asp. You want the “crystal cabin” as this will allow you to jump most of the line for the cable car. A regular reservation allows you to skip the line for tickets, but there is then a line for the cars themselves, which can be just as long as the line for tickets. With the “crystal cabin” you skip both the ticket line and most of the cable car line. Without a reservation on a weekend (esp Sunday), you will easily be looking at 2.5 hours or more in line for the cable car. On a weekday, you should be OK without a reservation. From a hotel in downtown Hong Kong/Kowloon, plan on a hour to get to Tung Chung, and make your cable car booking time accordingly. (It will take a bit less, but better to be early than to miss your booked time.) The #23 bus is extremely scenic and about a 1/10th of a price of the cable car, so really if you don’t want to spend the money on it, don’t bother.

There are a few restaurants in Tai O, I would suggest the Crossing Boat Restaurant (33 Kat Hing St, in Chinese the name is橫水渡小廚 and the address is吉慶前街33號地下). It has good seafood and roasted goose, and a little terrace off the back looking onto the river. There are also a number of tea shops in Tai O as well as bakery/snack shops. Tai O is tiny and is all pedestrian, so after you get off the bus and cross the little bridge into town, it is all narrow lanes. The Crossing Boat restaurant is on a lane to the right after you cross the bridge.

There are options to walk down from the Buddha to Tai O, these will take between 3-5 hours, depending on the route you take. In the summer heat, with kids, I am not sure that is a great option. If you want to do a walk and have young kids, IMO the best walk to do is go down from the Buddha along the monastery path. This is shaded virtually all the way and takes between 1-2 hours, depending on how you vary the route at the end. These walks however, will put you further from Tai O and you will then have a longer bus ride to Tai O (about 45 minutes). There is also a nice walk option which circuits the Buddha but does not lead downhill anywhere; this takes 1.5-2 hours depending on the options you take. Almost none of this is shaded however, so if you do it in the heat, bring plenty of water and go slow, esp with kids. I can provide details on all sorts of walks if you want to send me an e-mail at [email protected]. If the air pollution is bad (like it is has been horribly over the last few weeks) walk options may not be worth the sweat, as there will be very limited views.

Bear in mind that the last bus back to the MTR from Tai O (and the last ferry) are at about 5:30 -6 pm, so you have to plan your time. Worse comes to worse, you can take a taxi back to Tung Chung but it won’t be cheap. Sunset at Tai O is really lovely on a nice day, and worth staying late to see part of it if you can. That is what makes the 6 pm ferry a nice option, you get part of the sunset too.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Last buses from Tai O to Tung Chung (for the MTR) or Mui Wo (for ferry back to Central) departs around mid-night.

Last MTR from Tung Chung back to city departs past midnight, and last ferry from Mui Wo backto Central departs 11:30p.

There's no issue staying a bit later in Tai O.
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Old May 30th, 2011, 07:53 PM
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Great thx. Sounds like it will be a long memorable day!
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