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Next I’ll tell you how to get from Taitung to Kenting, the idyllic national park at the southernmost tip of Taiwan and home to mainland Taiwan’s best beaches (the real best ones are on the offshore islands…) Next, you may continue your journey on to the west coast of Taiwan, including Alishan, or Sun Moon Lake, or Taichung.
This article includes several experiences that make it onto my article What to Do in Taiwan: top 50 Places.
Below I’ll make hotel recommendations for various stops along the coast. It’s also worth checking Airbnb’s Taiwan listings, where you can find lots of other great accommodation options along the coast. (As an Airbnb associate, I earn a small commission if you book through this link, at no extra cost to you. Join Airbnb here and you’ll get up to $50 off your first stay!)
Heads up that if you’re visiting Taiwan in June, the plum monsoons can bring more rain to the east coast, while in July, August, September, and October, there is a chance of typhoons, especially the middle two months. Summer in Taiwan can also be extremely hot, while in winter in Taiwan, it can still be warm enough to swim in the ocean. See more information in my guide to the best time to visit Taiwan.
Time Needed to Travel from Hualien to Kenting
For getting to Hualien, return train tickets from Taipei are included in this popular Taroko Gorge day tour, you can fly directly from Taipei City’s Songshan airport, or rent a car from any major train station in Taiwan or from Taoyuan International Airport.
How to Get from Hualien to Taitung and Taitung to Kenting
If you want to start in or return to Taipei quickly from Taitung, you can take this flight from Taitung to Taipei.
Hualien to Kenting by Public Transportation
Hualien to Taitung Route #1: Highway 9 through the East Rift Valley
Next you will enter Fenglin township, which was chosen as one of the world’s best “slow living” destinations by Cittaslow, and Italy-based organization (2 others are located in Miaoli and one in Chiayi).
In Fenglin, you can check out Fenghuang Waterfall (鳳凰瀑布), good for a swim in summer. Just south of the waterfall, Lintianshan Mountain Forestry Center (林田山森林業文化園區), a ghost village of sorts, came highly recommended to me by Bradt Taiwan author Steven Crook, but I still haven’t made it there.
You can also go paragliding in Fenglin!
Overnight Option 1: Yuli
Yuli (玉里), at the southern end of Hualien County, is an excellent place to stay put for a couple days or more if you have the time. In fact, I have friends who have spent multiple years traveling around Taiwan and claim that this quaint little town surrounded by rice paddies is their favorite place in the whole country.
Also see here for Airbnb options in Yuli.
Overnight Option 2: Guanshan
Guanshan (關山), a second possible overnight option I recommend, is famous for having Taiwan’s first dedicated cycling path, the Guanshan Town Circle Bicycle Path, which was built in 1997. This very easy 15.2 kilometer path takes in the bucolic scenery that you’ve come for and features the aisle of betel palms, a section flanked by areca palms on either side of the path.
See here for Airbnb options in Guanshan.
Overnight Option 3: Luye
Luye (鹿野) is the third stop worth considering spending the night in to break up your journey, mainly for it’s famous hot air balloon festival, the Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta (台灣熱氣球嘉年華), which will take place from June 30 to August 13, 2018.
See here for Airbnb options in Luye.
Hualien to Taitung Route #2: Highway 11 along the Coast
Just south of the Platform of the Three Immortals, Chenggong township (成功鄉) features the daily Xingang Fish Market (新港漁市場) in the afternoon where fisherman auction their catches right on the docks of Xingang Harbor (新港漁港).
See here for Airbnb options in Dulan.
See here for Airbnb options in Green Island.
Orchid Island (Lanyu)
Orchid Island is one of the most remote corners of Taiwan and home to Yami (Tao) tribe, the most isolated and removed from Taiwanese mainland culture of Taiwan’s indigenous tribes. They are famous for their beautiful carved canoes, underground homes that protect them from typhoons, and Flying Fish Festival, which takes place for several months in spring.
Planning a trip to Orchid Island can be a little challenging, but I have all the information you could possibly need to plan your trip in my complete guide to Orchid Island, including where to stay there.
The easiest way to get to Orchid Island is to take the train or fly from Taipei to Taitung, then take the 3-hour ferry from Taitung or Kenting, or a short flight on DailyAir (you can only buy tickets 2 months in advance and they sell out quickly; site is mostly in Mandarin). To save the hassle or trying to arrange everything, you can take advantage of this convenient and reasonably priced 3-day Orchid Island package deal.
Hualien to Taitung Route #3: A Peaceful Ride on County Road 193
Getting from Taitung to Kenting
Highway 11 rejoins Highway 9 again just south of Taitung City. This whole area is famous for the custard apple (釋迦), also known as sugar apple or Buddha’s head fruit, and you can also look out for the Taiwanese hybrid pineapple custard apple (鳳梨釋迦). The flesh of this ultra sweet, pudding textured fruit literally melts in your mouth. They go for up to NTD100 for a single large one, but are so worth it. You’ll see them for sale EVERYWHERE, and you may even see a custard apple mascot or two.
Another Option from Taitung to Kenting: The Slow but More Beautiful Route
Kenting National Park
I never travel without a guidebook! I recommend these: