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cliffsTourists enjoy the basalt cliffs in the Penghu archepelago.Taiwan’s Hidden Islands



WHERE


Several islands off the coast of Taiwan, already an island off the southeast coast of China far from Taiwan but not part of China.

WHY GO?


Mention a beach holiday in Asia and typical destinations that roll off the tongue include Bali and Phuket. Taiwan? Not likely. Synonymous with earthquakes, PC manufacturers and "word/ war games" with mainland 

tripadvisor

China, it hardly rates in the world of glossy, well-packaged island getaways.

But who needs pseudo Five-star resorts, vendors hassling you for a massage every time you set foot on the sand, and other tourists everywhere? These islands off Taiwan offer a perfect alternative to the more popular destinations in Asia.

WHEN TO GO

Try June or September to avoid the masses of domestic tourists, but to still get warm weather.  Check the news, there have been frequent flare-ups of tension between Taiwan and China so you might not want to go if things are tense. 



GETTING THERE AND AROUND

Fly from the mainland to all of the islands. Carry your passport. It is needed as ID even for domestic air travel.

EVA Air: Tel: (02)-2501-1088
  (Best choice!)
 
TransAsia Airlines: Tel: 080-066880

Uni Air: Tel: (02)-2515-5166

BEST SHOPPING

Sorry to disappoint, but dried seafood, local liquor and cheap trinkets are the main souvenirs on all of the islands. Save your money for Taipei and enjoy the scenery.

BEST ENTERTAINMENT

Don't expect a Full Moon Party on any of these islands. You have to make your own entertainment. The locals will no doubt approach you as the number of foreign tourists are minimal. Invites to dine in people's homes are not unusual.

This may be one of the most laid back, but rewarding, holidays that you will ever have. VISAS AND DOCUMENTS

Check with the nearest Taiwanese consul for visa requirements. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months fr

om when you intend to leave the country.

kinmenmapHEALTH AND SAFETY

Taiwan is a relatively hassle free country to travel in health wise. Hepatitis A and B as well as tetanus injections are recommended and drink bottled water.

MONEY AND COMMUNICATIONS

ATMs are widespread in Taiwan but carry cash to some of the more remote islands. Purchase a few domestic Taiwanese phonecards to make onward arrangements via phone.

RESOURCES

tbroc.gov.tw
Official Government Tourism site

sinica.edu.tw/tit/index.html
links and info on culture, arts, travel, and more.


Islands in the Taiwan Strait:

Kinmen Island

WHERE

In the middle of the action between Taiwan and China (just 2 km off the coast of mainland to be precise).
WHY GO?

To see how 45 years of martial law and a heavy military presence has transformed a once barren, sandy island into a heavily forested national park. With wide roads, little air pollution and seemingly endless avenues of trees, it is easy to get lost in the beauty of this potential war zone. Don’t worry -- visitors are welcome and you are in no danger.

BEST MAJOR ATTRACTION

Mashan Observatory in the Kinsha District.
Take Bus no. 32. Leave your passport at the guard box (a requirement, not a suggestion) and follow the dimly lit tunnels to an observation deck where you can peer through binoculars at the enemy! It’s all very calm these days with fishing boats bobbing in the waters and the growing urban sprawl of a mainland Chinese town visible in the distance.
BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTION

Take a glimpse into a bygone era at the abandoned mansions in the Shuitou area. No doubt glorious in their heyday, they were reportedly built by wealthy folk who returned home after making their fortunes overseas.

BEST ACTIVITY OR TOUR

Rent a moped in the capital, Kincheng, from Laiwang Motorcycle Rental (92 Mintsu Rd.,Kincheng) and tour at your own pace. The traffic is fairly tame.

BEST LODGINGS

Hotels on this island are quite generic.

The Six Brother Hotel
164 Chukuan Rd.
Tel. (0623)-24311
Clean and comfortable and centrally located in Kincheng. Rooms range from NT$1200-1400.

BEST EATS

For breakfast snacks head down to the market in Kincheng and sample fried bread twists. Return to the same street later in the day if you crave something Western.

Lantis
118 Mintsu Rd, Kincheng

NOTE


Swimming is possible but not great on Hsibien Beach. Of interest though is the sunset at low tide. Masses of anti-amphibian craft spikes to repel the enemy are visible (not in the swimming section). This is an island holiday with a difference. Palm trees and pina coladas are not the go here.

Penghu Archipelago

WHERE

Formerly known as the Pescadores (Fishermen’s Islands) to the Portugese, the Penghu archipelago consists of 64 islands in total in the Taiwan Strait.

WHY GO?

Don’t expect Internet cafes, beach bungalows or Full Moon parties, but look forward to a dramatic landscape that is windswept and barren in winter and a sun lover’s paradise in summer.

On the main island of Penghu, coral windbreaks crisscross the landscape with many traditional Hokkien-style homes lying deserted as their former occupants have moved to the mainland in search of work or opted for a more modern alternative. There is a lot to explore.
BEST MAJOR ATTRACTION

With 63 other islands to choose from, deciding on a day trip may be a little difficult. It is possible to rent a boat and cruise at your own pace (enquire at the major hotels about arranging this), but take a ferry to the Chipei Island if you want to relax on a stunning stretch of golden sand.

Note: the lifeguards are a little too keen to show off their militant Baywatch skills! All swimmers are made to wear buoyancy vests and the bathing area is restricted to their whistle blowing range!

Ferries leave from Chihkan Pier, Paisha Island (which is connected by bridge to Penghu).

BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTION

Stroll around the quaint capital, Makung, and explore the many tiny alleyways. It is reportedly home to the oldest temple in Taiwan. Approx. 376 years old, Matsu Temple is dedicated to the goddess of the seas and is well worth a visit, even if it is just to catch a glimpse of the fortune vending machine within!

BEST ACTIVITY AND TOUR

A rented scooter is the key to exploring the many tiny villages, sidetracking along the way to visit idyllic, isolated beaches.

Try the rental shop on the corner of Chungcheng and Chungshan Rd, opposite the Pao Hua Hotel.

BEST LODGINGS

The Penghu Youth Activity Center
11 Chiehshou Rd, Makung
Tel: (0692)-71124

One of the more interest

BEST LODGINGS ing places to stay. A terrace café overlooking the foreshore is a great spot for a nightcap. Private double rooms on the top floor (NT$1400) with a sloping ceiling have an attic feel about them, while cheaper dorm rooms (NT$2500 for groups of 10) are available. Book ahead in summer though. It is popular and there will be kids!

BEST EATS

Seafood is, of course, a must. Outdoor dining by the fish market at the end of Sanmin Rd. is also a must. Order by checking out what your fellow diners are eating and indicate your preference.
kinmen-anti-landing-barricadesKinmen Island's anti-landing barricades, facing China. photo China Post.



Matsu Archipelago

WHERE

In the Taiwan Strait

WHY GO

Because not many o

ther people do!

BEST ATTRACTION

Visit the Chinsha Scenic area and stroll around an uninhabited but well-preserved village.

BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTION

Have a swig at the Matsu Distillery, Fuhsing Village. The tour is in Chinese, but those who don’t speak the language can look forward to a sip of the brew, kaoliang, at the end.

BEST ACTIVITY AND TOUR

Pishan, the highest peak on the mountainous island of Peikan, offers great views and is an energetic hike. An easier route to the top is by car, but be warned: the road is steep.


Stay on the island of Nankan, simply because there is more in the way of accommodation and food. Venture to nearby Peikan as a side trip.

Stay in Jen Ai Village, Nankan, which is close to the most beautiful beach in the archipelago.

The Lianjiang Hostel
Tel: (0836)-22431
Both singles and doubles from NT$500-1500.

BEST EATS

Head into Chiehshou Village and wander to see what takes your fancy.


Orchid Island

WHERE

A 37 km diameter island off the East Coast of Taiwan

WHY GO

An impressive landing descends along the volcanic coastline of this tiny island with spear fishermen visible in the azure waters below. Exploring the natural beauty and the small Yami aboriginal villages make this destination an ideal weekend or day trip from the mainland.

BEST MAJOR ATTRACTION

Without a doubt, Yenyin Village, on the northeast side of the island, is the most interesting to visit. The traditional underground abodes are built to withstand the many typhoons that batter the area. Some elders still wear the traditional loincloths.

BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTION

Hike to Lanyu Pond, a tiny lake in mountains on the south of the island. It is quite a strenuous hike.

BEST ACTIVITY OR TOUR

Rent a scooter and circumnavigate the island. Rentals are available from Orchid Island Leisure Hotel (Tel: +886-897-32032) and the Lanyu Villa Hotel (Phone: +886-897-32111).
Approx. NT$500/ day.

BEST LODGINGS

There is a limited selection of hotels, but staying with in a family run guesthouse is a great alternative. Camping on the beach is allowed.

Stay at the only inn in Yenyin Village.
Tel: (0897)-32175.

BEST EATS

Both hotels have restaurants, but eating a wholesome bowl of noodles from a village restaurant is a fantastic alternative. For drinks, try the Jiu Bar in Yujen Village. The Taiwanese surfer dude owner has spent some time in Bali.


Green Islan

WHERE

Off the East Coast of Taiwan

WHY GO?

Visit for a daytrip or stay over to take a dip in the hot springs, inspect the catch of the day at the harbor in Nanliaou or climb the extinct volcano, Huoshaoshan.

BEST MAJOR ATTRACTION

Head to jail: a popular attraction is one of the 3 prisons on Green Island. The Green Island Lodge (yes, that’s the name) is where most of Taiwan’s political prisoners were held. You can only view it from the outside. The other 2 prisons on the island are still operational and off limits


BEST UNUSUAL ATTRACTION

Bathe in the Chaojih Hot Spring overlooking a rocky beach.

BEST ACTIVITY OR TOUR

Many come for the diving, but a trip around the island to view the volcanic coastline is also worth it.

Tony’s Diving Club in Naliao
Tel: (0896)-72899

BEST LODGINGS

Camp. Bring your own tent (sites start at NT$200) or rent one for NT$200. Bookings need to be made at the tourist office near the airport, Tel: (0896)-72027.

The campground is located near Taipaisha Beach -- good for snorkeling and there are caves to explore around the nearby coast.

BEST EATS

Pack a picnic and head to the lighthouse on the far northwest tip of the island. Still operational, it provides an atmospheric backdrop to a late night feast. Remember your pocketknife!

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