Penghu Travel Guide
Penghu consists of 64 islands in the southeast of the Taiwan Strait. Its cultural and geographical landscapes differ greatly from those of Taiwan Island, although they are not far from each other. Visitors come there mainly to appreciate the sea, play water sports, and eat seafood.
Location: in the west of Taiwan Island
Area: 49 square miles (126 square kilometers)
Best time to visit: The weather is settled from April to early October. But in summer, typhoons come occasionally, and the weather forecast will help you a lot. You’d better avoid winter because it is always windy. Every mid-May to mid-June, during the International Firework Festival, the fireworks are set off twice a week at Kuanyin Pavilion Waterfront Park in Makung.
Tour Routes and Top Attractions
There are three popular itineraries to tour the Penghu Islands: Northern Islands Tour, Southern Islands Tour, and Penghu Island Tour.
Northern Islands Tour: Jibei Island→ White Sand Island→ West Island
Jibei Island: It is the largest island among those north islands. It has piles of coral fragments, black basalts, various birds, and dense stone weirs. A long and narrow beach at its south coast stretches about 750 yards (685 meters) into the sea. There you can walk in the waves, play in the water, and appreciate the beautiful sunset. Many colorful holiday cottages on the island are for you to stay overnight in.
Penghu Sea-Crossing Bridge: It links the White Sand Island with the West Island, and stretches across the most dangerous waterway. It is a famous landmark of the city. The bridge is 2,727 yards (2,494 meters) long, looking like a rainbow on the sea. It was built in 1970 and used to be the longest sea-crossing bridge in the Far East.
Tongliang Ancient Banyan: It lies at the west of the White Sand Island and near the sea-crossing bridge. It looks like a forest consists of hundreds of banyans, but if you take a close look, you will find that the forest is just one old banyan over 300 years old. The locals regard it as a divine tree.
Sitai Ancient Fortress: It is located at the southwest of the West Island. It was built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to prevent from the pirates. The entire fortress is hidden in a huge basalt. The tunnels inside radiate in all directions to facilitate the connection among the soldiers.
Southern Islands Tour: Wang’an Island→ Seven Beauties Island
Wang’an Island: Lots of marine-abrasion caves and basalts can be seen on the island. Tiantai Mountain and Tongdao Cave are popular attractions. Every May to October, many green turtles spawn on the beach. The island is also a good place to collect aragonites.
Double-Heart Stone Weir: Located on the Seven Beauties Island, it is a double heart-shaped stone weir built at the intertidal zone to trap the fishes. The rising tide submerges the weir and brings the fishes. After the tide goes out, the fishes will be trapped inside “two hearts”.
Penghu Island Tour:
Penghu Island, or Makung Island is the largest island of Penghu Islets. Makung City is the political and economic center of the island. Many attractions scatter in it.
Mazu Temple: Built in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), some people say that it is the oldest temple in Taiwan. Some precious historical relics such as a stele and a gold plaque from ancient China are displayed in the temple.
Shanshui Beach: The island has many beaches, among which Shanshui Beach is the most popular. The white sands and blue sea attract many people there. The beach is also one of the top places to go surfing and snorkeling.
Other Attractions: Small Taiwan, Four-Eye Well, West Island Lighthouse…
How to Get there
By air: Taipei, Taichung, Tainan, Chiayi, and Kaohsiung all have direct flights to Makung Airport, which is located right on the Penghu Island. It takes 50 minutes from Taipei to Makung, and 30 minutes from Kaohsiung. City buses and taxis are available to take you to Makung City from the airport. The city bus costs TWD 23 and the latter costs TWD 300-350.
By ship: You can take the ship from the sea terminals of Kaohsiung or Chiayi to Makung Harbor. The ship from Kaohsiung sets sail at 09:30 and 23:00 with the journey time of 5-6.5 hours. The ticket price is TWD 860-1,700 for a single trip based on the cabin berth. The ship from Chiayi costs TWD 1,000 for a stateroom with the duration of 80 minutes. The sailing is always changing due to the weather, so you need to see the weather forecast often.
How to travel around Penghu Islands
There are regular ships and irregular private yachts touring around those islands of the city. It costs TWD 250 to travel between two northern islands for a round trip, and TWD 80-265 for a single trip between two southern islands.
By tourist bus: Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Bus has three routes in the city. A one-day ticket costs TWD 350.
North Ring Line A passes Bus Station, Stone Weir Square, Makung 3rd Port, Sea-Crossing Bridge, Siaoman Geological Park, Erkan Historical Village, Xiyu West Fort, West Island Lighthouse, Tongliang Ancient Banyan, and Living Museum. The bus departs from the Bus Station at 09:15 and goes back at 16:25. North Ring Line B has same stops as Line A except it passes Makung Airport. North Ring Line C starts from Makung Port and passes Sea-crossing Bridge, Siaoman Geological Park, Erkan Historical Village, West Island Lighthouse, and Tongliang Ancient Banyan. The bus sets out at 10:30 and returns at 16:15.
The public transport on those islands is not very developed. Many travelers choose to hire a taxi or a private car to tour around. It costs TWD 600-800 for a half day and TWD 1,500-1,800 for a whole day.
Renting a scooter is also a good choice to visit around the Islands, which costs TWD 250-400 for a day. Many hotels provide you with bicycles. You can ride one to travel around those small islands. The rental is no more than TWD 150 per day. The best way to visit Makung City is by foot, through which you can closely feel the life of the locals.
Penghu Travel Tips
Local Food: Luffas, treasure fruits, and muskmelons are three special fruits of the city. Cactus ices are the most popular dessert, and Yi Family Cactus Ice at Tongliang Village is recommended. Many visitors buy deep fried squid balls as gifts for friends. What’s more, you cannot miss fried pumpkins with rice noodles, which can be found in almost every restaurant. The brown sugar cakes at Shengxing Salty Bakery are also great treats for your mouth.
Special Products: Corals and aragonites are special products of the city. Rings, necklaces, and earrings made of them are popular souvenirs.