Tai O is a fishing town, partly located on an island of the same name, on the western side of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. On the main part of Lantau Island, a river splits to the north and west and at this fork lies the island referred to as Tai O. Two pedestrian bridges cross the river on its northern and western forks. The village is located mostly on the banks of the river. The western and northern parts of the island facing the South China Sea are uninhabited. Nearby archaeological sites date back to the Stone Age, but permanent, and verifiable, human settlement here is only three centuries old. Stories that would be impossible to substantiate have Tai O as the base of many smuggling and piracy operations, the inlets of the river providing excellent protection from the weather and a hiding place. In early 16th century, Tai O was once occupied shortly by Portuguese during Battle of Tamao. At nearby Fan Lau, a fort was built in 1729 to protect shipping on the Pearl River.