Puli was severely damaged in the 1999 earthquake, and although the town has since been rebuilt, there is little in the way of actual tourist attractions. However, the town is located in a very lush and beautiful valley with many hiking trails, and its central position makes it a logical base for visiting the mountains and lakes in the area.
Puli is famous for its four 'W's - water, wine, women and weather. Being located in a pristine mountain area, the local spring water is pure and sweet and sold in bottles at supermarkets around the island. The abundance of fresh, clean water lent itself to the production of wine - the second 'W' - while the exceptionally fine complexions of the town's women folk, which some theorize is the result of the local water, constitutes the third 'W'. Finally, the fourth 'W' refers to Puli's ideal climate, which is characterized by short and relatively dry winters and cool summers.
Possibly as a result of the mild climate, the town has developed into a center for Buddhism. There are large monasteries scattered throughout the valley, while the mountain-sides provide havens for retreat centers and hermitages.
Puli's prosperity is closely related to the nearby famous lake, which you will notice from the modern buildings and cars here.
Kuo-Kuang Bus Company (國光客運) operates a route between Taipei and Puli (around 3½ hours; every hour, around NT$300). It goes by 1 Chaoma Station south of Feng Jia (Xitun District) in Taichung (NT$125 as of Nov 2017).
Also, from Taichung main railway station you can take Nantou Bus (南投客運) or Chuan Hang bus (around one hour, every 15-20 minutes, NT$125). Nantou Bus also departs from Kan-Cheng Station at Shuang-Shih Road (干城站, 雙十路), and goes to Sun Moon Lake and the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village resort near Puli.
Buses from Sun Moon Lake depart at least hourly during the day and take half an hour for NT$50.
- 2 Bus Station. It is in the southeast of the centre. Get off earlier while the bus crosses the town if your ho(s)tel is not southeast of the centre.
Around the southeastern bus station, there are many rental shops. However, renting a scooter in Puli seems only possible with an international driving licence.
The town is not big enough for a bus service, though buses that connect with local towns do make stops in the suburbs.
Taxis are probably the most convenient way to reach your destination, but as few use meters, check the cost to your destination before setting out and negotiate the best deal.
- 1 Chung-tai Shan Monastery (Only 4 buses go from Puli, two in the morning, one at noon, and one in the late afternoon.). 33 stories make it possibly the tallest Buddhist monastery in the world, and it is a landmark in the area and quite a sight from a few kilometres apart. Maybe find a hill nearby to fully capture it – it will be hard to put its size onto a picture standing right in front of it. Apparently, locals do not like the monastery too much, because the they demand money/donations for everything. But as a western tourist you should be safe from that. North-east of it can also be found the related Chung Tai World Museum.
- 2 Kuanghsing Paper Factory (Guang Xing Paper Mill), 310 Tiehshan Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Following ancient methods of production, this factory turns out a variety of hand made paper favored by calligraphers. This factory has a do-it-yourself lesson and participants can keep their own work as a souvenir.
- 3 Lungnan Natural Lacquerware Museum, No. 211-1, Beiping Street, ☏ . A memorial to Puli's historical connection with lacquerware. Demonstrations can be arranged.
- 4 New Era Sculpture Park (New Era Sculpture Art Spa), Chungshan Road, Sec 4., ☏ . daily 08:00-17:30. This beautiful park acts as stage for the statues created by a famous local sculpture. It is a spa and hotel as well. NT$100.
- Arboreal Insect Museum, 6-2 Nantsun Rd, ☏ . daily 08:00-17:20. Wonderful variety of butterflies.
- Carp Lake. A great place to relax and watch clouds melt into green mountains and egrets dance in the cool summer breeze.
Paper Dome is a temporary church building constructed using paper tubes as structural elements. It was designed on a pro-bono basis by Shigeru Ban, internationally known Japanese architect who is renowned for his paper tube structures and buildings. It was built on September 17, 1995 to serve as a temporary church for Takatori Catholic Church after the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Nonetheless, the venue was also used as a place for communal gatherings. However, when the church community planned to build a permanent building, the structure was donated to Taomi Village in Puli Township, Nantou County,Taiwan which had suffered the 921 Earthquake in 1999. The deconstructed structure was shipped in 2006 to Taiwan, reconstructed there and is now one of the top tourist attractions in that area.
In January 1995 Japan suffered the Great Hanshin earthquake. 60% of all buildings were destroyed in Kobe, the epicentre of the disaster, including the Takatori Catholic church. However, strangely a statue of Jesus remained unharmed. People understood this fact as a miracle and they decided to rebuild the church as soon as possible. An internationally known Japanese architect Shigeru Ban was invited to build a temporary church for survivors.
Shigeru Ban is famous for his passion for using paper material in his projects. Indeed paper although seemingly soft and non-effective for building, can actually be strong if used in the right way. Moreover it is cheap, light and recyclable. Shegeru Ban is also known for his humanistic beliefs and social orientation. He built shelters for refuges in Africa and South America. There he noticed that cheap plastic shelters were too cold for people and it was more appropriate to use paper shelters.
Shigeru Ban created an ellipse-shape construction built from 58 cardboard tubes. 160 volunteers helped to build it and it took only five weeks to finish the project. The temporary church was nicknamed “Paper Dome”. Paper Dome became the new religious centre and a place of mutual help and support as a community meeting place connecting Kobe residents.
But after 10 years it became apparent that the building was too small and that it had to be replaced by a new permanent church. Paper Dome was supposed to be destroyed. However the president of New Homeland Foundation visited Kobe. He suggested donating the Paper Dome to the Taomi community as a symbol of friendship between Japan and Taiwan. Japan and Taiwan, two countries that suffer from earthquakes a lot, used to help each other and send their volunteers whenever a disaster happened. The Paper Dome that was built after Great Hanshin earthquake had to continue its mission in Taomi, the place that was heavily damaged by the 921 earthquake in Taiwan.
On 29 May 2005 the last service was held in the Paper Dome in Kobe and then the building was sent to Taiwan. After three years of formalities Taomi became the new home for Paper Dome. On 25 May 2008 over 1000 people participated in lifting cardboard tubes and witnessed the rebirth of the Dome.
Eventually the Paper Dome was opened for visitors on the next day after nine years 921 earthquake anniversary. On 21 September 2008 the delegates of two religious communities, Christianity and Daoism, got together to bless the land. Since this day the Paper Dome in Taomi is not only a tourist attraction but also a platform to exchange earthquake reconstruction experience and to educate people. Music performances, art exhibitions of local artists, weekend bazaars and other activities are held here.
From the cylindrical columns to the internal benches, Paper Dome is a giant hollow paper tube structure supported by a total of 58 tubes, 5 m in height. The diameter of tube is about 33 cm and the thickness of paper is about 1.5 cm. It is built in a nomadic style which facilitated its dismantlement before its shift from Japan to Taiwan. The 58 tubes, together with the internal benches, are coated with an external water-resistant paper protective covering made in Puli Township, which is famous for its paper factories. Although each paper tube bench weighs no more than 60 kg, they are able to support weight up to 1500 kg each, equivalent to the weight of 20 people. As for the tall paper pillars, they are able to support pressure up to 6900 kg.
- 1 Tiger Head Mountain (Hutoushan). At night, this little hill northeast of Puli centre gives a wonderful view over Puli and its "lightshow" inside the middle of the surrounding mountains.
- Buddhism - many of the monasteries in the area are happy to offer meditation instruction and give teachings on the Dharma.
- National Chi Nan University has a large campus in Puli.
- As a center of Buddhism, Puli has an abundance of great vegetarian restaurants (see listing for Taiwan for information on the various kinds of vegetarian restaurants available).
- Sugar cane is a local speciality and sold at road side stalls.
- 1 SuMaMa Rice Ball (Su MaMa Tang Yuan), ☏ . This place is highly recommended and a name in town. Speciality: meat filled rice balls, sweet rice balls, and ground beef noodles. NT$35-60.
- 2 Weekend Night Market. weekends.
- 3 Shrimp Fishing Court. Take a fishing rod, sit down, have a beer and hunt for shrimps in a large pool. This is great fun in a group.
- 4 Bade Food Market. During the week when there is no night market, you could head for this food market of small stalls preparing food. However, the variety is not too large and you might prefer strolling through the centre of Puli, looking for food there.
- WOWOW bar. A tiny colourful bar with a good choice of cocktails stands apart from karaoke places around. Drinks from NT$100.
- 1 Here Hostel Puli, No. 2, Yingliu Street, ☏ . If you thought the hostels in Taipei are luxurious, think again. This hostel has it all, modern interior, heated toilet seats, clean and modern dorms, and a pleasant living area. It is 500 m from the centre and the nearby primary school starts at 08:00, but it is worth coming here and relaxing off the busy roads in the centre. Dorm bed NT$500 (NT$450 in off season and if you haggle).
- 2 Center x Center Hostel, No.6, Zhongzheng 4th Rd. (Located in centre Puli, walking distance to Nantou Bus Terminal, Puli Winery and Puli General Post Office.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 16ː00, check-out: 12:00. A hostel delightfully decorated and refurnished from a traditional-style building. They offer 4-bed mixed and female dorms. A variety of Taiwanese cuisines and specialities, convenience stores and supermarkets nearby. NT$600/night.
- 3 Islet Inn, No.50, Datong St, ☏ (Cory), (Chloe), ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: after 16:00, check-out: before 12:00. They offer toiletries and information. You can carry your bike into your room, and the inn offers a pump for bike wheel inflation and a carwash. There’s a washing machine (NT$20/per time), free dryer, free washing gel, and free hand-washing supplies. Double room: NT$1,400 or 1,600/per night; family room (4 people): NT$2,500/per night; three beds (6 people): NT$3,500/per night.
- Cheng Pao Hotel, 299 Zhongxiao Rd. The largest hotel in Nantou County.
- The dialling code for Puli is 049. From overseas, dial +886 49 XXXXXX
- The free Wifi .1.Free Wi-Fi can be found in many places around town.
- Sun Moon Lake – The main reason why many people come to Puli, a beautiful lake nestled among tall mountains, just a few kilometres south of Puli. It is one of Taiwan's most popular resorts.
- Hehuan Mountain – A beautiful mountain range and decent hiking spot half way towards Taroko Gorge.
- Taroko Gorge – An impressive 19-km-long canyon, and the name, Taroko, means the "magnificent and splendid" in the language of Truku, the aboriginal tribe residing in the area.
- Yushan – The highest mountain of Taiwan, located in Nantou County, but also the name of the related National Park that lies in several other counties.