Located on the Southeast of Taiwan, Taitung literally translates to “East of Taiwan.” Taitung makes up for 10% of Taiwan’s total land area, but only holds 1% of the country’s total population.
Taitung doesn’t seem all that popular when people talk of Taiwan. It’s always Taipei, Kaohsiung, Keelung, or Taichung. If your idea of a great vacation involves relaxing hotels and easy, outdoor activities, then Taitung just might be the one for you.
1. Try the local Aboriginal cuisine of Taiwan
Taitung is home to a myriad of aboriginal Taiwanese tribes. In fact, Taitung has the largest ratio of aboriginal to overall population at 35% in all of Taiwan. Thus, one cannot leave the county without trying their aboriginal cuisine.
The restaurant we dined at served aboriginal food from the Puyuma tribe.
The recipes have been handed down from generation to generation. It is noticeable that there are no complicated cooking techniques involved with cooking these dishes. Everything is either grilled or fried, or at the most, braised.
At NT$ 3000 for a group of 10 people, we were able to sample a wide selection of their cuisine. My favorite dishes would have to be the Deep Fried Pumpkin with Seaweed, Sweet and Sour Lemon Chicken, and the Grilled Mackerel.
Sapayan Rock (沙巴漾 窑滚面包)
No. 46, Lane 653, Gengsheng North Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950
Contact #: +886 08 923 3068
2. Take a tethered hot air balloon flight
The Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is held annually at Luye Highland in Taitung. Unlike the balloon festivals we have in the Philippines that last for just a weekend, the one in Taitung lasts for over a month and a half.
We woke up at around 5 in the morning so we can make our way to Luye before the sun rises. The colder temperature in the morning is ideal so the balloons can be inflated successfully.
It’s not my first time on a hot air balloon, but the ride up and the feeling of being on air just never gets old. The tethered balloon ride is priced at NT$ 500-600, depending on the day.
Luye Highland has a magnificent landscape that’s made even better by the rising sun.
Hundreds of people gather at the venue just to watch the multitude of balloons.
For more details on the 2019 Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon schedule, visit http://balloontaiwan.taitung.gov.tw/en
3. Pick your own lotus at Dapo Lake
Dapo Lake’s appearance changes according to the seasons. On our visit during the Summer, the lake was teeming with lotuses.
We even got to go on a raft and pick the lotuses ourselves! It’s not the most ideal activity given Taiwan’s humidity during the summer, but it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience and you shouldn’t miss out.
Don’t they look so beautiful?
Address: At the foot of Dapo Mountain, Chihshang Township, Taitung County, Chishang Township, Taitung County Taiwan
Contact #: +886-89-862041
4. Learn how to make puffed rice cakes
While going around Taitung, I couldn’t help but notice the vast rice fields. As with most East Asian countries, rice is one of the biggest commodities and Taitung is no different.
Such is their reverence for rice, that they even have a cute character.
At Golden Harvest, you can take a free class on how to make ampao or more commonly known as puffed rice cakes. And you get to take home your creation!
Address: No. 85-6, Neighborhood 7, Sinsing Village, Chihshang Township, Taitung County, Chishang Township, Taitung County Taiwan, R.O.C
Contact #: +886-89-864880
5. Take a leisurely afternoon stroll at Brown Road
A long stretch of road in Chihshang became famous after appearing in a Mr. Brown Coffee (a popular brand in Taiwan) commercial. We spent a short while here just biking and savored the fresh country air. Bike rentals start at NT$ 100 per person.
The seemingly endless rice fields and the cascading mountains in the background were an added delight.
This is the best place to be if you’re just looking for a relaxing afternoon.
Mr. Brown Avenue
Address: Mr. Brown Avenue, Chihshang Township, Taitung County, Chishang Township, Taitung County Taiwan, R.O.C
Contact #: +886-89-862041
WHERE TO EAT
I didn’t expect to find such good Italian fare at such a quaint town in Taitung. There are only 8 items on the menu, and we got to try everything apart from the steak.
The restaurant is quite small – it can only fit around 15-20 people.
All their pizzas are freshly made-to-order and every single one is topped generously with the freshest, high-quality ingredients. No scrimping on the truffle oil also!
Roe Mullet Risotto (NT$ 480)
I haven’t heard of mullet roe prior to this trip, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we ordered this. The creamy risotto is the perfect base for the mullet roe. The taste is comparable to caviar, only it’s prepared and presented in a different manner.
Clam Spaghetti (NT$ 380)
Looking so harmless with its oil-based sauce, this Clam Spaghetti actually packs quite a punch. The heat strikes unexpectedly but it doesn’t linger, allowing us to continue enjoying the dish.
Address: No. 248之2號, Zhongshan Road, Chishang Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 958
Contact #: +886 971 201 258
Mr. Cow is an Asian Barbecue restaurant located in the Tiehua Music Village. There’s no English menu available at the time so our guide took the liberty of ordering for us.
We started our meal with a noodle soup that had a milky base and some vegetables.
The barbecue sticks took quite some time before they arrived at our table. The seafood balls on sticks were an easy favorite for the group. But I personally prefer going for the meats on sticks.
Best paired with their local beer.
There’s also an outdoor seating area if you wish to eat at a more casual atmosphere. I recommend Mr. Cow if you’re looking for a place for good food in a relaxed ambiance.
Aside from the night market at Tiehua Music Village, there’s also a container van food park, but we didn’t get to check it out thoroughly.
Address: No. 342, Tiehua Road, Taitung City
Contact #: +886 8 934 1608
Facebook: 烤大爺 台東鐵花新聚落
WHERE TO STAY
Luminous Hot Spring Resort
Luminous Hot Spring Resort is an old hotel, judging by the layout of the room and the scarce supply of sockets near the bed. The rooms at the topmost (6th) floor are rather large, especially for a solo traveler.
And only the rooms on the 6th floor have their own hot spring tubs. I spent a few good minutes here before heading to bed on our first night in Taitung.
Despite its old age, the hotel is well-kept and the facilities are up to date. They even have Japanese toilets!
The view from the balcony in the morning is unbeatable too.
This is the ideal hotel to stay in if you’re visiting Taitung for the Hot Air Balloon Festival as it’s just 15 minutes away from the highland.
Hotel Royal Chihpen
Hotel Royal Chihpen, on the other hand, is a more modern hotel. The room layout is much more similar to the newer hotels that I’ve stayed in.
It must get cold in Taitung during the winter as Hotel Royal Chihpen also has the Japanese heated toilet like Luminous’s.
The rooms also come with a personal hot spring tub, which I thoroughly enjoyed during our last night in Taitung as we had a really full day.
The hotel also has some facilities that are great for families including an archery range and a badminton court. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try them as we left early the next morning.
Hotel Royal Chihpen
Address: No. 23, Lane 113, Longquan Road, Beinan Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 954
Facebook: 知本老爺酒店 Hotel Royal Chihpen, Taiwan
My visit to Taitung is something I’ll definitely remember for the years to come. Ever since my trip, I’ve told my friends about it and have remarked on what they’re missing out by just repeatedly visiting Taipei. This is what a vacation should be – slow-paced, relaxing, and filled with first time experiences. My visit was short and sweet and I feel like I’ve only brushed the surface of what Taitung has to offer. I’ve heard of offshore islands, whale watching, and even surfing!
‘Til next time, Taiwan.
Live an Awesome Life,
Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: Our visit was courtesy of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.