When planning a trip to Taiwan – Most people immediately think of visiting its hip and hectic capital, Taipei, or its southern cousin Kaohsiung; or even perhaps the cool hills of Alishan or the scenic valleys of Taroko Gorge, but rarely does anyone think about heading to Taitung, the rural agricultural strip along the east coast of Taiwan.
What’s there to see and do? Isn’t it all countryside and farmland out there?
My experience in Taitung was completely serendipitous; on our graduation trip, we were having trouble finding sufficient information online about the region, so we decided to just wing it. We headed to Lyudao first ( that’s another story of its own) where we were recommended a place to stay by a friendly Taiwanese lady at the jetty while recovering from the after-effects of a stomach-churning ferry ride to the island. We ended up having a fantastic 4-day stay, and our kind Lyudao guesthouse lady in turn pointed us to her friend in Luye, Taitung for the next leg of our trip.
We really had no idea what to expect- our host, a plump amiable Sammo-Hung lookalike came to pick us up, and we found ourselves at Li Pin Guesthouse, a little place in the middle of a tea plantation, surrounded by green hills and farmland. Our host, affectionately known by his nickname Xiao Pang (‘Little Fatty’) even personally brought us around those 3 days, and introduced us to places we would never have been able to find even with a guidebook!
The highlight of our trip was paragliding over the green farmlands from Gaotai. But apart from that, we also got to watch the sun set at a little-used helipad hidden in the hills, caught crabs while wading in a creek, made our own traditional snail sculptures, and even bathed in a secret hot spring dug by the locals where you had to manually control the temperature of the water by waving your hands!
The Taiwanese are friendly by nature – but the hospitality of the Taitung people was unparalleled, and they made us feel at home even in our short time there. Sure, there might not be any world-class shopping and nightlife, or UNESCO heritage must-see sights in Taitung, but it was a great experience, especially for the city-bred Singaporeans that me and my friends are.
I daresay this was the best bit of my 2-week trip in Taiwan.
It’s been 5 years since visiting Taiwan, but I definitely want to head back to Taitung one day! If you’re looking for a place off the beaten track, do consider Taitung!
Taitung is accessible by train, or you can take an internal flight from Taipei or Kaohsiung.
More pix here! I have yet to finish the Taitung stage in my Taiwan Trip Journals so far (the neverending story…), but here’s a teaser of what’s up ahead:
Crossposted from The Sojourn Diaries where I was a featured writer.