Tai O's remaining stilt houses stand over the waterway, scrunched up against each other for support. Some have ladders descending to boats, the vehicle of choice. These houses have a history of over two centuries. The earliest ones were made with pine bark, palm leaves and granite pillars quarried in Chek Lap Kok where the airport is. During typhoons, they had to be secured with rope or the rising water would wash them away. The ones in the '60s were sturdier and made with Borneo ironwood from retired fishing boats. Ironwood is a dense material that takes on a beautiful black sheen, as you can see, when exposed to water over long periods.
To reach the stilt houses and the Kwan Tai Temple, cross the bridge from the mainland to the island, walk up Tai O Market St and go right at the Fook Moon Lam restaurant. There are a couple of other temples here too, including an 18th-century one erected in honour of Hung Shing, patron of fisherfolk; it’s on Shek Tsai Po St, about 600m west of the Fook Moon Lam restaurant. The stilt houses are about 150m from the bridge.