(placeholder)
Paragliding in Luye, Taitung, Taiwan
East Coast road trip Hualien to Taitung

In my East Coast Taiwan article I recommend Luye as one of the best places to stay in Taitung/Hualien if you traveling down Highway 11 in Taiwan's beautiful East Rift Valley (along with Yuli and Guanshan).


However, I only recently actually stayed in Luye for the first time, to take my kids to the incredible Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival during our father-daughter-son round-Taiwan trip. I was so impressed by the area and festival that I've written this whole post just for Luye and the Taiwan Hot Air Balloon Festival. Luye is now one of my favorite places in Taiwan!


Here's the link if you want to actually ride a hot air balloon in Luye, available year-round. Book very early if you want to ride during the Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival! Luye is also included on this Eastern Taiwan 4-Day Tour, this full-day tour, and this half-day tour from Taitung.  

A Guide to Luye, Taiwan and the Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival

Aug 26, 2018 by Nick Kembel

The Taiwan hot air balloon festival in Luye, Taitung is Taiwan's best hot air balloon festival. Luye is also beautiful to visit any time of year! #luye #taitung #taiwan #hotairballoon #luyetaiwan #taitungtaiwan #rideahotairballoonintaiwan #hotairballoon #taiwantravel

Hey, I'm Nick!


I first left home with a backpack in 2001, and I've been living in Taiwan for the last 10 years. I am especially drawn to religious centers, spiritual sights, and natural attractions.

I started this website to share the things I learn on the road and to inspire YOU to travel MORE!

See my full bio, read my book, or check out my photos!

Nick Kembel

Pin it!

Related Posts

Most visitors come to Luye for the Taiwan Hot Air Balloon Festival, officially the “Taitung Taiwan International Balloon Festival” (the name seems to change every year). The festival, now in its 8th year, usually runs for 38 days starting at the end of June or beginning of July.


In 2018, it was extended by a week, running from June 30 to Aug. 13, to boost tourism to the east coast after a severe earthquake caused serious damage to Hualien earlier in the year.

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy that product, I would get a tiny commission, at no extra cost to you.

I never travel without a good guidebook. These are my favorite. E-book version available!

Luye is a rural township north of Taitung City. The town center around Luye train station, a 20-30 minute drive from Taitung City, is a small collection of shops along the highway.


Before arriving, I had studied the grid of streets to the southwest of the train station on Google Maps (called "Longtian Village"), thinking this was the “town”. But when we arrived, I found that these streets were actually gorgeous, leafy countryside lanes between tea fields and pineapple farms.


The whole Luye area is exceptionally beautiful. If you've come to Taitung to enjoy what the region is famous for—rural scenery, fresh air, relaxed countryside life—then Luye is an ideal place to enjoy it, especially from the seat of a bicycle or scooter.


If you want to experience Taitung, then I would strongly suggest you stay in Luye rather than uninspiring Taitung City (nearby Chishang or Guanshan are other good options, or Dulan Beach town  if you want a beach getaway).



Keep an eye on the official balloon site for the 2019 dates, and note that certain days, including the opening celebration, may not have balloon rides. Also note (begin rant), the Taiwan Tourism Bureau is a complete shit show. When I was planning our trip to the 2018 festival, I found that the Taitung Tourism Bureau seems to have two different websites (?)


One of them hasn't updated its balloon festival info since 2014. The other one links to the balloon festival website. However, on the official English balloon festival site, even two weeks after the festival had already begun, the most important pages (how to buy tickets, what time it starts, etc.) were all blank and said “coming soon.”


When I used the help and contact forms, they never replied to me. When I called in, they had some lousy excuse, and then it still took another week before the English information was finally put up, three weeks into the festival. The funniest thing is that they call this festival “international,” but it seems like they really don't want to make any effort to help non-Taiwanese people figure how to attend the festival. And yes, I could find the info on the Mandarin site, but was still unimpressed.


Therefore, I hope the information in this article can help if you can't find it on the shitty government sites in years to come! I'll try to update this page with the right links and dates in upcoming years.

You don't have to actually ride a balloon to enjoy the festival. Many people, including us, just go to sit on the hill and marvel at the incredible display. The best time to arrive is 5am or 5pm, when they just start blowing all the balloons up.

If you are planning an east coast Taiwan trip, make sure to check out my articles on Yilan to Hualien, Hualien to Taitung and Kenting, and surfing in Dulan!

Shinto Shrine, Luye, Taitung county, Taiwan

How to Get to the Luye Highland

Why We Loved Luye, Taitung

Creative balloons at the Taiwan Hot Air Balloon in Luye, Taitung

In Luye town, spend time cruising the lovely lanes on a bicycle or scooter. There is a Shinto Shrine (鹿野神社) worth checking out. There's also a small museum in a Japanese colonial era building called Luye District Office (鹿野區役場).

Tea-infused dishes at Ai Jiao Yi Tea Meals (愛嬌姨茶餐) at Luye Highland, Taitung, Taiwan

Further out of town, you can drive 15 minutes north along Highway 9 to the Wuling Green Tunnel (武陵綠色隧道), a 4.5km stretch of road where eucalyptus trees form a “tunnel” above the road. If you've made it this far, you may want to continue to Guanshan, famous for the Guanshan town-circuit bicycle path, or Chishang, also gaining popularity for its cycling paths and countryside scenery selfie opportunities at Brown Boulevard.

South of town, Chulu Ranch (初鹿牧場) is a popular leisure farm among local families. West of town, technically in Yanping township not Luye, is the Bunun Leisure Farm, a 100% aboriginal-operated cultural & leisure farm that I once visited and wrote about for Travel in Taiwan magazine.

If you want to actually ride a hot air balloon at the Taiwan Hot Air Balloon Festival, you should buy your ticket many months in advance. The 30-min to 1-hour ride takes place around sunrise and you need to be there at 4:30 am. Note that you can actually buy tickets and ride balloons at the Luye Highland at other times of the year, but riding during the festival is the most impressive because you can see all the other balloons taking off and flying around you.


A second and much cheaper option is the tethered balloon ride, in which you just go up in a balloon that is roped to the ground for 5-7 minutes for NT500 per person. You can do this from 5:30-7am or 5-7pm, with tickets going on sale on site 30 minutes before opening (expect long lines). Note that children under 10 are not allowed on the regular or tethered rides.  

Learn how to ride a hot air balloon in Taiwan

When we visited, we found that most of the balloons never actually went up to the sky, they just blow up a bunch of them, give viewers lots of time to get up close for selfies, with the tethered rides taking place in the background, and then they deflate them. I wonder if maybe you have to arrive even earlier to see the ones taking off, or maybe there just weren't so many actual flights taking place when we visited on a weekday. On weekends, you can expect much larger crowds and more balloons.  


Some of the balloons are really cute, and one thing the official site does well is that is shows a complete list of all the balloons and which days you can see them.

It is a 20-30 minute drive up nearby Gaotai (Highland) Road, and it was a gorgeous rural road with no traffic at all. It seemed like all the cars and buses took Longma Rd. from town, so avoid that road up. Scooter parking at the event is free, but if you come by car, parking is NT100 (weekdays) or NT200 (weekends). Weekends are much more crowded, so try to come on a weekday.


When you arrive, you can park your scooter right beside the hill where most people sit. The road does a full circuit around the plateau before heading back down to Luye. There were a few drink and ice cream stands near the hill, as well as a café with outdoor seating.


There is also a shuttle bus from Taitung or Luye stations.

For budget travelers, the best place in town is Jamie's guesthouse (read reviews / see prices), at the southeast corner of town. Friendly hosts Jamie and her mother can pick you up from the train station and they prepare breakfasts with mostly organic fuits and veggies. There are free bicycles to use, and electric scooters (no license required) can be rented. Highly recommended!


For a stay in a typical modern Taiwanese countryside home, try South 215 Homestay (read reviews / see prices), Han Yuan Homestay (read reviews / see prices), Yuan Gong Yuan (read reviews / see prices), or Yong Qing (read reviews / see prices). These kinds of homestays are good for families or groups, but it is possible that the owners won't speak much (or any) English. At the western end of town, Zijin Homestay (read reviews / see prices) looks more like a medieval temple than a house.  


For a modern B&B, try Shan Yan B&B (read reviews / see prices), Ninth Great Uncle (see prices), or jazz-themed Vinyl Jazz (read reviews / see prices).


Luminous Hot Spring Resort & Spa (read reviews / see prices) is a resort option at the western end of town. There's a great outdoor pool, and balconies on the upper floors have excellent views, including the chance to see hot air balloons going by.  


Riding a scooter in Luye, Taiwan
Me in front of a tea field in Luye, Taiwan
Real iced tea in Luye, Taitung

The Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival

If you're interested in tea, you can drop into the tea farms and processing facilities at Linwang Tea Garden (林旺製茶廠) or Xinfeng Garden (新峰茶園) to have a look around and purchase or taste teas produced on site.


The Luye Highland is also a great place to explore for tea lovers. There are 3-4 shops selling local teas right beside the Luye Visitor Information Center near the Highland. Among these shops, Yong An Tea Garden (永安茶園) is a great choice. You can try anything before you buy, and they have single bottles of iced Luye teas to go. The local specialties are jinxuan (milk oolong), red oolong (first developed in in Luye), and honey scented red (black) tea.


If you purchase the above or any other teas from Eco-Cha Taiwan, which supports sustainable tea farming in Taiwan, use this discount link, or use the code NKTEA at checkout, and you will get 10% off!



Buying tea in Luye at Yong An Tea Garden (永安茶園)

At the south end of the Luye Highland, on the ring road around the highland and just south of where the balloons take off, there's the Luye Plateau Tourist Tea Plantation Visitor Center (逸品茶園) in a two-story brick building, with tea tasting sessions on the second floor. A little north of the highland, you can visit Li Pin Organic Tea Farm (立品有機茶園).


You can go walking in Luye tea country on this day tour from Taitung, or this shorter half-day version.


We only found one restaurant around the highland where we could eat in the evening, called Ai Jiao Yi Tea Meals (愛嬌姨茶餐), specializing in tea infused foods. It's a good idea to reserve in advance during the Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival because many groups stop here. Our set meal included red tea braised pork, deep fried tofu with green tea dipping sauce, mountain greens fried in tea oil, tea oil chicken soup, and red oolong steamed rice (note: I don't eat meat, but there weren't any options besides the set meal).

Wuling Green Tunnel, Taitung, Taiwan
Organic farm at the Bunun Leisure Farm, Taitung, Taiwan

Things to Do in Luye (Besides the Hot Air Balloon Festival)

Tethered balloons at the Taiwan International Balloon Festival in Luye, Taitung
Watching balloons taking off at the Taitung International Balloon Fiesta in Luye, Taiwan

What to Expect at the Taiwan Hot Air Balloon Festival

Watching balloons taking off at the Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta in Luye, Taitung

Take a ride in a tethered hot air balloon for NT500

Blowing up hot air ballons in Luye, Taiwan
My kids watching the awesome display of hot air balloons, Luye highland, Taitung
Riding a scooter up the Luye Highland

Where to Stay in Luye Town

The Luye Highland is also incredibly beautiful and worth the drive up, even if you aren't in town for the Taitung International Balloon Festival which takes place there in summer. We absolutely loved staying up on the highland; I'll mention the guesthouse we stayed in and other accommodation options at the end of the article.


Another thing I loved is that Luye is one of the best places to experience Taiwan's tea culture, something I happen to be in love with, with tea farms everywhere and several farms and shops where you can taste and purchase fine local teas.

Gorgeous rural scenery in Luye, Taitung

Luye viewed from the Luye Highland. This is what the views are like if you take a hot air balloon ride!

Me in front of a Luye tea field

Real iced tea from Yong An Tea Garden (see below)

Luye is also one of the best places to go paragliding in Taiwan (similar to hang gliding). We noticed people both landing on the Luye Highland while we were there, and taking off from it to land further below near Luye town.


For bookings, try Soaring Paragliding. Expect to pay around NT2500 for a 10-minute glide, and an extra NT400 to rent a GoPro. Paragliding in Taitung is a great option if you want to get the views, with added adrenaline, and for cheaper than riding in a hot air balloon.

Aboriginal organic farmer at the Bunun Leisure Farm

Shot right in Luye "town", a few minutes from the train station. Such gorgeous scenery!

Where to Stay on the Luye Highland

Kai Tai B&B, a great place to stay in Luye, Taiwan on the Luye Plateauuqwq8q  8q8ccc

We LOVED staying up on the highland. The scenery is gorgeous up there, and it's so quiet.


If you want to stay right on the highland where the balloon festival takes places, there are two options: Bell Cottages (read reviews / see prices) and Lutai Winery (read reviews / see prices). Both are up on the hill overlooking the balloon area. Lutai winery makes Chinese-style liquors, including fruit wines. Don't expect grape fields or Western style wine! You need to book far, far in advance to get a room at either during the Taitung Hot Air Balloon Festival.


Where we stayed:


Since the above two were fully booked, we stayed at Kai Tai B&B (see prices), a five-minute drive from the balloon area. In the end, I think this was a better choice! If you stay right in the balloon area, there will always be a ton of people around. But from the balcony of our super quiet guesthouse, we could see nothing but pineapple farms and an incredible view down on the valley below! It's also close to the tea shops and restaurant serving tea-infused foods that I mentioned above.


We would definitely stay here again!

Our guesthouse overlooked a pineapple farm!

Tasting teas brewed by an expert at Yong An Tea Garden

Riding a scooter through the Wuling Green Tunnel

Paragliding over Luye

We rented a scooter from this shop in town. It was a little ways from the train station but they came to pick us up. Note that you will need a local or international license.