Taitung Travel Guide
Chinese Name: 台东县 (tái nán shì)
Area: 3,515 square kilometers (1,357 square miles)
Location: in the southeast of Taiwan Island, southeast China
Administrative Division: 1 county-administered city (Taitung); 15 townships
Area Code: 88689
Zip Code: 950
GDP (2019): CNY 31.8 billion (USD 4.6 billion)
An Enchanting Costal County Highlighting a Multi-ethnic Culture
Taitung is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean to the east, Pingtung County to the south, Kaohsiung City to the south and west, and Hualien County to the north. It is the third-largest county on Taiwan Island. The economy here lags behind all the other counties of Taiwan. It focuses on agriculture and has only a few factories. But this makes it an unspoiled land where people live a slower and more peaceful life.
Among many counties and cities in Taiwan, Taitung is the base of multi-ethnic groups including Amis, Puyuma, Lukai and Bunun. Many aboriginal cultural museums and prehistoric relic exhibition halls are the biggest highlights of Taitung. In addition to the profound cultural and historical features, the natural scenery here will make people who visit for the first time love this county. In Taitung, you can see the magnificent sun rising from and falling into the Pacific Ocean. The sea-crossing pedestrian bridge and the gorgeous coral reef coast in Sanxiantai are intoxicating.
Attractions - Things to Do
Facing the sea and sitting against the mountains, this area is rich in natural scenery. The coastline here is as long as 110 miles (176 kilometers), the longest in Taiwan. Besides, it boasts the most prehistoric sites in Taiwan. Apart from these, its colorful customs and various festivals are attracting more and more visitors from home and abroad.
Mr. Brown Avenue: This is a straight rural highway without a single telegraph pole on either side. A broad field is divided into two parts by the road which is called “Green Paradise Road”. Riding a bike here can completely relax you. The best time to visit is from late April to October when the rice paddies are yellow golden.
Sanhsientai: It became an offshore island due to continuous sea water erosion, and you can stroll along the road around the island. Here, you can find kettle holes, sea caves, and rare strand plants.
Small Yehliu: It is famous for its marine-abrasion topography. It is a good place to camp, play in the water and catch crabs. You can also learn about the mystery of the marine terrain at the Geological Exhibition Hall.
Water to the Upper is an irrigation ditch, around which the ground on both sides tilts a little, making it appear as if the water flows upward. It is a well-known wonder in Taiwan.
Green Island: On the offshore island, you can go diving to see the beautiful coral and fish. There is also an ocean hot spring, something seldom seen in the world. In addition, a prison once used to lock up political offenders is located here. Today it is used only for major criminal offenders. It is famous because it houses some once-prominent gang members. You can fly to Green Island from Taitung in 15 minutes. Because the plane is small, you need to book a ticket in advance. You can also take a passenger ship from Fugang Wharf in Taitung to Green Island. The travel time is about 50 minutes and the ticket price is TWD 920 round trip. Try to arrive at the Fugang Wharf forty minutes ahead of schedule because there are usually many people buying tickets.
Orchid Island: It is another offshore island, which has beautiful tropical scenery. You can not only see the blue sky, vast sea, and volcanic rocks, but also get a feel for the ethnic Tao people’s lives. Today, they still live a primitive life and make a living by fishing. From April to June, when the sea abounds in flying fish, men will go out to fish in canoes wearing only a T-back. Most of the Tao people live in caves which can protect them from typhoons and are cool in the summer. The locals are kind and their lives are simple and peaceful. Living on the island is like living in Arcadia. You can go to Orchid Island from Taitung by plane or ship. The plane takes about 30 minutes and you need to book in advance. The ship departs from Fugang Wharf and costs TWD 2,000 for a one-way trip that takes about 2.5 hours.
Prehistoric Cultural Sites
Peinan Cultural Park is the largest site of prehistoric settlements in Taiwan and has many ancient cultural relics.
The National Museum of Prehistory consists of a museum, historical sites and a natural ecological park. You can learn about Taiwanese prehistory and the culture of the aborigines.
Eight Fairies Cave has more than ten sea caves in which many people worship. It is also a prehistoric site where a considerable amount of Old Stone Age (3 million-10 thousand years ago) was found.
Other attractions: Lu Yeh High Land, Chulu Ranch, Taimali Kinchen Mountain, Seashore Park, Hot Spring of Chihpen, Yushan National Park, and Duoliang Station.
How to Get to Taitung
Only Taipei has a few direct flights to Taitung. A better way to get here is by train. The Taiwan Rail Line has 19 stops in the county, including Chishang, Guanshan, Peinan, Chihpen, Taimali and Tawu. The train from Taipei to Taitung takes 3.5-7.5 hours and costs TWD 604-929. From Taichung costs TWD 641-892 with a duration of 5-11 hours, from Hualien takes 1.5-3 hours and costs TWD 264-343, and from Pingtung costs TWD 242-314 with a travel time of 2-3 hours.
See more about Taiwan Train
To visit the scenic spots, taking the passenger transport bus or shuttle bus is a good choice. You can also hire a private car which costs TWD 5,000-6,000 for a day.
Taitung Travel Tips
Customs and Festivals:
This area is home to many aborigines who occupy one-third of the total population. They mainly consist of six ethnic groups including Amis, Puyuma, Bunun, Tao, Paiwan, and Rukai, among which the Amis is in the majority. The Amis are organized as a matriarchy and women hold more power than men. The Amis hold some ceremonies every year. From June to August, you can watch their Fishing Ceremony and from mid-July to early September, a Harvest Ceremony is held at Peinan Township.
Setting Firecrackers by Handan God is a special folk activity in Taitung. Every Chinese Lantern Festival, the god of wealth, Handan, played by a person, circulates among the people as they set firecrackers off around him to remove disasters and bring wealth.
Tiehuacun Cultural Park is the best place to enjoy music and art. You can drink coffee on the lawn and chat with the local artists. The best time to come here is early evening.
Local Food: The special products of Taitung include seafood, tea, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, millet, custard apples, and pineapples. What’s more, potato crackers, short rice noodles, meatballs, Peinan pork blood soups and vegetarian noodles are the most popular local foods. You can find all these delicacies at night markets, most of which are located at Bright Road, Fokien Road and Sihwei Road. The night markets at Bright Road mainly sell seafood and those at Fokien Road have seafood, fruits, and drinks. Moreover, Taitung Tourism Night Market, Zhiben Night Market and Taiping Night Market also have delicious foods on offer. Moreover, don't miss the box dish at Chishang Station if the train stops there.