Taitung is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful counties, surrounded by mountains and nature, Taitung is a breath of fresh air in a country densely populated and over-developed. The best way to explore Taitung is by renting a motorbike or a car and just drive around. The scenery is magnificent, and at every turn, you’ll see breathtaking landscapes. Taitung County has a lot to offer, you could easily stay for two weeks there and do something new every day. Here is a “short” list of the best attractions you can visit and activities you can do during your stay in Taitung.
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What to do in Taitung:
1- Admire the rock formations at Xiao Yeliu
Taiwan’s coast seems to be full of strange rock formations, Taitung is no exception. In Xiao Yeliu, the ocean produced an amazing landscape full of rock formations carved by the waves. There are around 5 areas where you can see different types of rocks. It’s really amazing to see how the landscape can be so different, although it’s in the same place.
Entrance fee: Free
2 – See weird sculptures in Jia Lù Lan
Taitung is full of parks and green areas. Jia Lu Lan is a nice place facing the sea with a couple of sculptures and artworks. Local artists regularly come here and install their art. If you’re lucky you might see one at work.
3 – Take a stroll in Taitung Forest Park
Probably the most famous park in Taitung, Taitung Forest Park is a nice place to go for a stroll. Facing the sea and a river, it is more of a man-made park than a wild forest. It’s better to have a bicycle to go around the park than to walk, unless you have a lot of time. You can rent a bicycle at the park entrance or at the train station.
There are also 3 lakes inside the park, you can swim in one of them during summer.
Entrance fee: NTD30
4 – Discover the pre-historical Beinan Site
Another park! This one is quite different as it is an archaeological site. It’s the largest prehistorical settlement found so far in the country.
There’s a small museum inside, it’s a branch of the larger National Museum of Prehistory. You can also see some of the excavation sites, in some of which you’ll see traces of ancient structures. You’ll also find two reproductions of historical houses belonging to the Neolithic Beinan people and some information about their daily life.
Closed on Mondays. The entrance to the park is free, but if you want to visit the museum it’s NTD30.
5 – Admire the view at Peinandazhen Riverside Park
Fifth and last park on my list, Peinandazhen Riverside Park is a small park with not much to offer apart from a nice view over the surrounding mountains. It’s a quiet place with a wonderful view. Just find a bench, sit there and enjoy the nature.
6 – Learn about Taitung origins in the National Museum of Prehistory
One of Taitung’s main attractions, the National Museum of Prehistory is where most of the Peinan artifacts have been stored. More than 1500 stone coffins and 20 000 stone and pottery artifacts were excavated in Taitung and are now being exhibited at the museum. The museum also has an in-depth exhibition about the Taiwanese aboriginal culture.
Entrance fee: NTD80
7 – Taitung Railway Art Village
Old buildings from the railway company were turned into an art space where artists can exhibit their art and get a space to work. The exhibitions change regularly and a walking track has been built outside. During summer, the place hosts a craft market and regular events, especially concerts.
8 – Participate in the Bombing of Master Han Dan
Every year, during the 15th day of the first lunar month, the bombing of master Han Dan takes place. A shirtless man, posing as Master Han Dan, get firecrackers thrown at him by the crowd. Specific to Taitung, this ceremony is a way to honor the god of wealth and war. Lord Han Dan was known to hate being cold, the firecrackers are an attempt to warm the god, and by doing so, earning his good grace.
9 – Try the aboriginal food
Usually made of wild boar or dear and a range of plants you’ve never heard about, the Taiwanese aboriginal food is usually really tasty and different from the more classical Taiwanese food. If you want to try the aboriginal cuisine head for Mi Ba Nai in Taitung city or Luolei restaurant which also offers traditional music performances.
Things to do around Taitung:
10 – Paragliding in Luye
Luye is a cute little town, the road to get there is just beautiful. There are several activities to do there such as trekking and biking, and you can also do paragliding or arrange for a hot air balloon ride (only during summer). The views are phenomenal, this part of Taiwan definitively is the most beautiful one.
Prices start at NTD 1800 for paragliding.
Luye is also known for its tea plantations. If the tea there has a unique taste, it’s because of a secret ingredient: worms’ saliva. I know gross, but natural. When they started using pesticides, they noticed the taste of the tea changed, they realized that what was giving the tea its unique taste was the leaves-eating worms. They decided to stop using pesticides to guarantee an authentic taste.
11 – Enjoy Taitung lush nature in Zhiben Hot Springs and National Forest Recreational Area
Zhiben is famous all over Taiwan for its spring water, one of the purest you’ll find in the country. If you choose to go there, don’t expect a wild and natural hot spring. Zhiben is a spa destination, a lot of hotels and spas have been built here. They use the water from the spring in their facilities and offer a wide range of services. The water from the hot spring is too hot for anyone to swim directly in it, that’s why you won’t find any “natural” hot springs there.
Zhiben is also a nice place for trekking. The National Forest area has several treks you can choose from. From shorter to longer trails, some are harder than others. I recommend taking the one with all the stairs, tiring but you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view. The park is pleasant, with a lot of shadowy parts so, even during summer, it’s a nice place to go for a walk.
Entrance fee for the recreational area: NTD 80
12 – Flower craze at Taimali Kinchen Mountain
Taiwanese people love flowers and plants, everywhere you’ll go you’ll see florists and greens. In Taimali Kinchen Mountain you’ll get to see huge fields of orange daylilies. It’s also a great place for trekking. The daylilies blossom is from August to October. There are also several other flowers being grown around the mountain, in January and February you’ll see the cherry blossom, wild lilies from March to April, hydrangeas from May to April and apricot bloom in November and December. Even outside of the blossom seasons, it’s still worth going, the scenery is spectacular, as everywhere else around Taitung.
The afternoon usually gets foggy, prefer going in the morning.
13 – Join the Hot Air Balloon Festival
Every year, around the end of June, the Hot Air Balloon Festival takes place in Luye Gaomai. The international event is really famous and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Every day, dozens of hot air balloons take off, and you can even ride some of them. The festival is most active at sunrise and sunset and lasts for about 6 weeks. It’s a unique experience and really worth going.
14 – Walk in Gods footprints in Sanxiantai
The eight-arches cross-sea bridge taking you to Sanxiantai Island is a famous landmark in eastern Taiwan. The bridge represents the waves of the ocean and also the Chinese dragon. The island was once connected to the mainland and used to be home to the Amis tribe, it’s now uninhabited and classified as a nature reserve area. A local legend state that one day, 3 gods visited the island and left their footprints there.
The island is pretty small but there are a lot of sea caves and rock formations to see, as well as several seashores plant species. To take great photos and for a breath-taking view, go for sunrise.
15 – Trek to Chiaming Lake
This strange-looking lake was formed 6000 years ago by glaciers movements during the last ice age. Also called angel’s teardrop or the sapphire of high mountains, Chiaming lake is not easy to reach. It takes about 3 to 4 days to go there and back. You’ll have to go through a trekking agency and book at least a month before to secure the mandatory permit. Elevated to 3 500 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountains and nature, the lake is as peaceful and enchanted as it gets.
16 – Ride Taiwan’s first leisure bike-way in Guanshan Township
The Guanshan bike-way is 12 km long and circle the city, it starts and ends at the Waterpark. The path can be divided into two parts: the mountain section and the river-side section. On the way, you’ll see endless paddy fields, water buffaloes, flower fields and breath-taking scenery.
Another famous bike-way is the Mr. Brown Avenue in Chihshang Township, dubbed the “green road of paradise”.
17 – Explore Baxian Cave
Located in Changbin Township, Basian cave, originally, was a huge sea cave, with time and because of crustal uplift, it turned into several smaller caves, raised above sea level. The cave is called the Goddess cave by the Amis people, who believed the caves were uplifted because of the killing of a beautiful lady. It became a shrine for several Taiwanese Gods.
Relics from the Paleolithic Era have also been found there. In this place, archaeologists have discovered the oldest prehistoric culture in Taiwan: the Palaeolithic Changbin Culture.
18 – Explore Lanyu and its famous Warship Rock and Lover Cave
More commonly known as Orchid Island, Lanyu is a small island off the east shore of Taiwan. Lanyu is an off-the-beaten-path hidden gem, one of Taiwan remotest island, and is full of surprises. The island is just beautiful, there are so many things to see, on the island as well as off-shore. The marine life here is abundant and diving really is a treat. It’s also great in terms of culture, most people living there are from the Yami tribe, traditions are still strongly implemented. You’ll easily be able to witness aboriginal life, more than on the mainland.
How to get there: by plane from Taitung or by ferry from Fugang fish harbor or Houbihu. Booking in advance is recommended especially for the plane. Once there you can just rent a motorbike and drive around.
19 – Discover Taitung’s aboriginal culture and tribes
There are seven ethnic groups living in Taitung country. Most of them are really integrated and there’s no way to differentiate them from Chinese-Taiwanese. Generally, the best way to observe aboriginal culture is during their festivals, then you’ll get a glimpse of their traditions. In Taitung County, you’ll still find some villages who kept a more traditional way of life.
Here are some places you can visit if you want to discover this other side of Taiwan:
- Bunun Tribe Cultural Park: this project aims at enabling the local population and providing them with the necessary tools to make a living. The cultural park is a community-based project and they welcome visitors to share the Bunun culture with tourists. They often organize traditional aboriginal shows.
- Lidao Tribe: located in Lidao village, the tribe is known for its red-roofed white house surrounded by rice fields.
- Dongsing village: the largest community of Rukai in this part of Taiwan, the village is famous for its special harvest festival held in July.
- Marongarong Tribe: located south of Chenggong Township, the village organizes bamboo rafting and have created the Amis Folk Center. This center offers traditional music and cuisine as well as information about the Amis culture.
- Hakka Cultural Park: built in Chishang Township to share the Hakka culture, this park offers several areas where you can learn more about the tribe.
- Singsing village: part of the Paiwan ethnic group, the Sapulju tribe has 8 chiefs, all having a stone tablet relating the history of the tribe. You’ll also see there a Cakal, an area allocated to social, cultural and important events in the life of the tribe, a type of communal center.
You also have the possibility to visit some more remote villages, less touched by tourism but you’ll need to go through an agency and hire a local guide. Some tribes can have different social codes than what foreigners or even locals are used to, always exercise caution when visiting aboriginal villages.
20 – Explore Green Island’s underwater world
Green Island is a divers’ paradise, only an hour away from the shore by ferry. This small volcanic island has a lot to offer. The best way to explore is to rent a scooter and drive around. There are a lot of superb landscapes and scenery to see as well as good trekking and diving opportunities. If you don’t like touristy places, Green Island will be a perfect fit.
21 – Lisong Hot Spring
Lisong hot spring is one of the most beautiful wild and natural hot spring you’ll find in Taiwan. The water is the perfect temperature and is pure and odorless. It’s a bit hard to reach, you’ll have to trek for about an hour and some parts of the trails are really steep, but you’ll be amply rewarded by what you see. The green limestone is calcium carbonate created by the water dripping from the top of the rocks.
Note: you might find the attractions listed in this page with a different spelling, or pronounced differently, it’s normal, there are always several traductions for the same place. Just keep this in mind when searching for the places on google maps.
Don’t have much time? Take a tour:
Related articles to help you plan your trip to Taiwan:
- Everything you need to know before visiting Taiwan
- Best things to do around Kenting National Park
- Best day trips from Kaohsiung
- Tainan Complete Travel Guide
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