Taitung (台東 or 臺東 Táidōng) is a city in south east Taiwan.
Taitung is situated on a small plain between the mountains and the ocean at the southern mouth of the East Rift Valley. This provides Taitung with not only spectacular scenery but also an ocean breeze that makes this tropical city surprisingly comfortable. Taitung was developed by the Japanese in the early part of the 20th century and they were responsible for the construction of the roads and railway to the area. This in turn brought an influx of Taiwanese settlers into the area that already had several aboriginal groups, creating a diverse city of aboriginal, Hakka, and Hoklo populations.
This uniquely Taiwanese blend is still easily discernible in part because a lot of the recent advances in Taiwan's economy have passed Taitung by. This has prevented Taitung from devouring itself the way more successful cities have. There are still large areas filled with Japanese houses in various states of use and disuse. There are still winding alleyways filled with single-story Chinese-style houses with their unapologetic rustic appearance. There are still neighbourhoods that are largely aboriginal with their own celebrations and unique attributes. One thing that is relatively sparse, however, are 7-Elevens. All this is surrounded by miles of quiet rice fields and orchards. The city has an artistic feel to it and is much more relaxing than other Taiwanese cities.
- 1 Tourist Information Center, Old Railway Station on Tiehua Rd (On the South side of downtown.), ☏ . This might be a good first stop in finding information on any local aboriginal or temple events that are going on, maps and general information.
Politically, Taitung is regarded as a KMT stronghold due to its large Aboriginal population, though the DPP has made inroads among the younger generation.
By train, Taitung is on the main East Coast express route. From the north, the journey from Taipei takes 5½-7½ hr depending on the type of trains you take. From Hualien, expect about 3 hr. From the south, from Kaohsiung to Taitung on the Southern route, the trip takes from just over 2 hr to a little over 3 hr depending on the type of train. From Tainan, expect about 3 hr.
- 1 Taitung station (台東車站), 598 Ln 101 Yanwan Rd. The train station is located quite a walk from the centre of town, but you can catch a mini-bus from the stop to your right when you leave the station. The driver will likely be familiar with the phrase Taitung Bus Station, which is in the centre. It seems the bus ride is free with an EasyCard (this may only be true if you have used it for the train immediately before).
There are also 2 smaller stations situated within the city:
- 2 Kangle station (康樂車站). This is the closest station for the National Museum of Prehistory.
- 3 Zhiben station (知本車站).
- 4 [formerly dead link] Taitung Airport (臺東機場), No. 1100, Minhang Road, ☏ . 07:00-18:00. The airport is accessible within walking distance South East from Kangle Station.
The main part of Taitung is small and compact enough to make walking a pleasant way to explore the city.
There are car and scooter rentals near the train station if you have an international drivers license. If not, you can take a bus or taxi to the city which is some distance from either the train station or the airport. Taitung's public transportation is somewhat limited compared with other Taiwanese cities. There are bus routes, while these are inexpensive, the timetables are in Chinese.
The bus 8101 does the Taitung-Sanxiangtal route and can be used for day trips out and back into the city.
Bicycles are a good alternative form of transportation and can be rented at several locations beach side, or near the entrance to the Forest Park at the north end of Jhongshan Rd. For excursions to the attractions on the outskirts of town a taxi may be your best option. Taxis are quite plentiful around the Old Railway Station downtown (near the intersection of Guanming Rd. and Sinsheng Rd.)
- 1 National Museum of Prehistory (國立臺灣史前文化博物館), 1, Buowuguan Road, Fengtian Village, ☏ , fax: . 09:00-17:00 (closed M). In the 1980s and 1990s, a team of archaeologists from National Taiwan University excavated over 1,500 stone coffins and more than 20,000 stone and pottery artifacts belonging to the Peinan culture. This museum is dedicated to this discovery and is located a few kilometers from the actual archaeological site. It also houses an extremely in depth exhibit on the current aboriginal groups in Taiwan. Outside the Museum building there are beautifully sculpted grounds and garden area. NT$80 (main museum), NT$30 (Peinan cultural park); discounts for students and groups.
- 2 Taitung Art Museum.
- 3 Taitung Story Museum.
- 4 Beinan Cultural Park (卑南文化公園), Wenhuagongyuan Rd., Nanwang Village, Taitung City, ☏ . 09:00-17:00 (closed M). Associated with the Museum of Prehistory the Beinan Cultural Park contains the largest and most important prehistoric archaeological site in Taiwan. Beyond the archaeological site the park also consists of beautiful grounds with a commanding view of the surrounding area. Tours in Chinese begin twice a day at 10:00 and 15:00. English tours must be planned in advance. Free admission (except visitor center: NT$30).
- 5 Moving Castle.
- 6 Taitung Railway Art Village, Tiehua Rd (鐵花路) (At the old railway station). Taitung City converted several buildings of the old railway station into a exhibition space for local artists and artist in residence.
- Taitung Culture and Tourism Center, 25 Nanjing Rd (南京路), ☏ . Two buildings really, one houses the tourism center and library. The other has exhibition spaces, one of which houses the Aboriginal Artifacts Exhibition.
- 7 Tianhou Temple, Jhonghua Rd. (One block south of Sihwei Rd 1st Section). While there are seemingly temples on every block this one dedicated to Mazu (Matsu) is ornately decorated and quite popular, especially on Mazu's birthday (23rd day of the 3rd lunar month — generally April or May).
- 1 Liyushan Park (鯉魚山公園), Next to the old train station, on the Southwest side of downtown. With its trails and lookouts Liyu Shan offers a panoramic view of Taitung. Also, Long Feng Tower near the monastery gives a great panoramic view of the city.
- Green Island – A quite beautiful island off the east coast near Taitung, featuring one of the world's few saltwater hot springs.
- 2 Orchid Island (蘭嶼).
- Bombing of Master Han Dan, All over Taitung, but at night on Nanjing Rd. On the 15th of the first lunar month (right after Chinese New Year) is the Festival which in Taitung is played out with a unique and spectacular display known as the Bombing of Master Han Dan. In the course of this display a man wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts and a face mask stands upon a sedan chair while onlookers lob strings of lit firecrackers at him. It is unique to Taitung and a must see.
- Makapahay, Throughout Taitung City, Taitung County, and the East Coast.. Every mid-July several aboriginal groups, though of primary importance to the Amis, celebrate the millet harvest. This culminates in the long and colorful celebrations of dancing and merry making by Rukai, Paiwan, and Amis depending on which village or which part of the city you are in.
Serious cyclists or even moderately serious cyclists will find Taitung a perfect place for cycling. The Taiwanese cyclist already know this and you will find no shortage of them. For anything longer than a casual ride around the city you will need to bring your own bike which is fairly easy thanks to the train. The coastal highway heading north to Hualien is quite popular and has many places for camping and many homestays along the way. The East Rift valley is also a popular ride heading north. For a more strenuous ride Hwy 197 heading north to Luye and Guangshan is a rewarding ride. South from Taitung the strip of land between mountains and the ocean evaporates and the ride winding along the base of the hill is spectacularly picturesque.
- Taitung City Bikeway, Taitung Seashore Park. Rent a bike at the beach (or bring your own) and bike the Taitung City Bikeway. The bikeway does a 32-km loop around the city. It follows the old train track out to near the new train station before heading back along the river eventually going through the Forest and Seashore Parks.
- 3 Taitung Seashore Park (Taitung Forest Park), On the North and East sides of town. Taitung Seashore Park and the attached Taitung Forest Park are extremely popular with both locals and tourist alike. With miles of cycling and walking trails as well a beautiful and surprisingly undeveloped seashore these parks offers a perfect chance to experience Taitung's laid back lifestyle and clean ocean air. There are bicycles for rent at several places along the beach and at the entrance of the Forest Park. If you walk along the beach and enter from the sea side, you can skip the entry fee. Or 6 from the highway that goes right through the park. Also, there is a potential overnighting option in the 8 small observation tower next to the running lake towards the beach, if you have sleeping bag and mattress. NT$30/20 full/concession.
- Ata Aboriginal Culture Craft (東台灣卡塔文化), Jhongsing Rd. 2nd Section 200th alley #7 (中興路2段200巷7號) (across the Street from the grocery store, through the sculpted metal gate), ☏ . 10:00-17:00 (closed M). Located in one of the buildings of a now defunct sugar factory this glass bead studio and handicraft center sells a variety of aboriginal handicrafts. Including textiles, leather work, and handmade glass beads. Since the Ata glass bead studio is located on site you can also watch glass beads being made.
- Carrefour, 300 Jhengci Rd (正氣路300號) (Downtown off of the fruit market street.), ☏ . This Taitung-sized hypermarket should cover you for most of your daily needs and provides the best selection of imported food and drinks in town.
- Eslite Bookstore, 478 Boai Rd (博愛路), ☏ . The largest bookstore in Taitung. If you want a book it is the best place to go.
- 陳記 'Mochi', 186 Boai Rd. (博愛路), ☏ . 07:00-18:00. This unassuming little shop sells glutenous rice deserts that are as good or better than any of the more famous shops up the coast (and have been since the 1940s). It is quite popular with Taiwanese tourists.
Taitung has an eclectic food culture that reflects the various cultural influences that the city has had. There are good examples of all manner of Taiwanese, Aboriginal, and other East and Southeast Asian food. While many people equate Taiwanese food with street food to do so is a disservice to the food cultures that make up Taiwan and miss out on some great food. Like all Taiwanese cities street food can be found throughout downtown. You might want to try the sugar-apples (釋迦 shìjiā), a local sweet fruit. Thanks to the large number of aboriginal groups in the area there are several different aboriginal restaurants in and around the city. Taitung is also home to a fair number of goat meat restaurants along Jhongjheng Rd.
Best to just walk down the fruit night market (towards the beach), then continue on Zhonghua Road Section 1 until Jhongjheng Road, and finally northwest from there. This should leave you with enough options to choose from.
- 1 Seaweed Deli Dessert (海草 / Hai Cao Jian Kang Qing Shi Guan / Green Friendly Restaurant), 205 Jhongshan Rd. (中山路205號) (Just Northeast of downtown.), ☏ . 11:00-14:00 and 16:30-20:00. A very popular and excellent quality noodle house; despite the name it does not have any desserts. Offering a variety of fresh, healthy noodle dishes and dumplings in a friendly and clean environment. Daily specials. Closed the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month. NT$40-100.
- 2 Mutton Barbecue (阿賓羊肉爐), No. 302, Zhongzheng Road, ☏ . 17:00-01:30. Proper goat, grilled, fried, as you want it. Highly recommended. NT$70-300.
- Cafe and Curry, 231 SihWei Rd 3rd section (四維路3段231號) (It is a 10-15 min walk from downtown in the northeast part of town. Near the intersection of SihWei and Gengsheng Roads.), ☏ . 10:00-22:00. A cafe and restaurant that serves hand ground local Taitung coffee and a variety of innovative homemade curries. Also has wireless access. Also has a very affordable homestay. NT$90-110.
- Kasa, 102 Heping (和平) Street (near the junction with Zhonghua Road). A cafe and eatery (with a full bar) specializing in Western dishes such as, bagels, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas and curried chicken - an average meal costs around NT$180.
- [dead link] Taitung East Coast Restaurant (East Coast Italian Cuisine), #109, Zhi Hang Rd Section 1, Taitung (Taidong) (About 20 min walk from rail station and 30-40 min walk from center of Taidong.), ☏ . 11:00-14:00 and 17:00-21:00 (closed Su). Authentic Italian-style dishes and very good coffee. English menu, but only basic English spoken. Menu can be seen on website. There are three guest houses next door. NT$200-600.
- 綠房子 (literally Green House as it looks sort of like a green house, as in where you grow plants not the colour), On the corner of Waihuandao (hwy 11) Rd. and Chenggong Rd. (外還道與成功路路口), ☏ . 07:00-21:00. This funky little place is one block off the beach and has more than just a laid back atmosphere. It also serves up healthy drinks and some great inexpensive and uniquely Taiwanese set meals. Free coffee and tea, English menu available on request. NT$40-100.
- EGG, 235 Jhongshan Rd (中山路), ☏ . 06:00-10:00. A better than average Taiwanese breakfast.
- [dead link] Iwawna, 187 2nd Section Xingan Rd. (興安路二段187號) (A few blocks north of the New Train Station.), ☏ . 17:00-00:00. This Puyuma restaurant offers a unique setting with dance performances and excellent aboriginal food. Best for groups so one should find some friends or family to accompany one and to share the taxi.
- Mibanai (米巴奈), 470 Chuanguang Rd. (傳廣路470號), ☏ . 11:30-14:00, 17:00-22:00. This Amis restaurant located in the Malan section of town provides a taste of aboriginal food not too far from the center of the city. It is set up groups so once again bring friends or family.
- 玉子屋 (Jade House), #17, 450th alley, 2nd section Jhongsing Rd.(中興路二段450巷17號) (One block behind the Naruwan Hotel.), ☏ . Lunch and dinner. Good, simple, home style Korean food. NT$100-130.
- Pasadena Tex-Mex & Italian Restaurant, 74 Sihwei Rd. 3rd Section, ☏ . 11:00-14:00, 17:30-20:30. As kitschy as any Mexican restaurant in the United States but the salsa is better. Overall the food is fresh and good and it is a decent place for a change of pace. NT$150-300.
- Four Seasons Vegetarian Restaurant, 76, 3rd Section Siwei Rd. (四維路三段76號), ☏ . Open lunch and dinner. A good, clean and affordable vegetarian buffet.
- Madina Indian Restaurant, 152 ChunChi Rd. (正氣路152號), ☏ . lunch through dinner. Madina is a small and unassuming restaurant that serves up some of the basics of Indian cuisine. The food is quite good and the location in the heart of downtown is convenient. NT$140-280.
- Quan An Viet Nam, 168 Jhongjheng Rd. lunch and dinner. Good quality Vietnamese food. Conveniently located just a few blocks from the beach and down town. very affordable.
Taitung's night life has been described as subdued, that may be true however there are of course some bars. What Taitung does have however, is a rather large number of cafes. Since Taitung County actually grows coffee beans it is also possible to find truly local coffee at several establishments.
- Denim Elephant, 181 Guangdong Rd. (廣東181號) (A couple blocks north of the main post office, it has the sign with the blue elephant on it.), ☏ . This artsy cafe has Taitung coffee as well as other coffee and teas and a small but interesting menu.
- IF Cafe and Juice (如果), 403 Boai Rd. (博愛403號) (Across from the Eslite bookstore), ☏ . 14:00-00:00. This cafe serves coffee, tea, mixed drinks and beer in a relaxing atmosphere. Has a large outdoor seating area in which you can enjoy your drinks in the cool Taitung evenings.
- Cheela 小屋 Cafe & Bakery, 395-1 Sinsheng Rd. (新生碌395-1號), ☏ . 14:00-00:00. A very hip cafe with a modern artsy vibe that is conveniently located right on the bikeway and only a block away from the Taitung Theater. It serves a large range of coffees, teas, mixed drinks, and a fine assortment of Belgian beers. It serves daily freshly home-made bread by various products. Hot chili roll on Friday, hot brownie with ice cream on Saturday and cinnamon rolls on Sunday are the most bakery in Cheela Cafe & Bakery. English menu & bilingual service available. NT$60-180.
Taitung is one of the safest places in Taiwan. Like everywhere in Taiwan, be careful in traffic, and avoid confrontations in bars.
Very few people in Taitung speak even a little English, and most of them will expect you to speak Chinese. It is not uncommon to meet people only able to speak Taiwanese.
Many places apply a 10-30% surcharge during weekends (Friday and Saturday) and holidays. Expect to pay a lot more during Chinese New Year, up to double price. Ranges below show the lowest (weekday) and highest (Chinese New Year) prices.
If you are looking for a camping option, there is an observation tower between the Forest Park and the beach, see above.
- 1 Mr. Red Tea Hostel (Mr. Red Tea B&B), 766, Zhonghua Road Section 1, ☏ . A nice, clean and inexpensive guest house. Close to Liyushan Park. NT$599/twin, but the nice owner might give it to you for NT$550 if you bargain.
- 2 RGB Hostel (3原色民宿), No. 3, Alley 5, Lane 33, Dongtang St., ☏ . Opened in 2013 in a new district of Taitung, this hostel has friendly staff and funny decoration such as a world map with hosts' hometowns and a short indoors climbing wall. Dorm: NT$450-600, Double: NT$1,400-2,400.
- PoSun360 Backpacker Hostel, No. 360, Baosang Rd, ☏ . A hostel run by a young local guy who can show you where to play or eat in town. Dorm: NT$500.
- La Pace Hostel, 119-3 Chung Shan Road (10 walk from Taitung Bus Terminal), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. A small and homey place for budget stay. Dorm: NT$350-800 (air conditioning in extra: NT$100-300), Double: NT$1,000-2,200.
- Mafuté Hostel (馬浮蝶), No. 15, Lane 28, Feng Jung Road (downtown Taitung), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This two-room hostel is hidden in a local tribal community next to the Tai-ping river, where you may jog alone the river bank park or do some sports in the nearby Sport park. The hostel is internally renovated in a colorful and fresh look. Free PC available in the living room and free Wi-Fi in house. No breakfast included but various breakfast shops are available nearby. Dorm: NT$500, double: NT$1,200.
- Who Knows Hostel (台東胡弄青年民宿), No.38, Ln. 586, Sec. 1, Zhonghua Rd (5-min walk from old central train station (the name of the hostel does not appear on the building!)), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Friendly hostel, clean dorms with A/C. Free Wi-Fi in the lobby. The hostel is not always open (e.g., it may be closed at 4PM when you want to check in) so it is advised to call them first. From NT$500.
- 3 Take Your Time Guest House (慢慢來民宿), NanChang Jie 112 Xiang 33 Hao (台東市南昌街112巷33號) (central Taitung), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Take Your Time Guest House is run by Kite (a Taitung girl), Mark (a Kiwi boy) and their 2 little boys. Double rooms are very comfortable with new bathrooms and good air conditioning. The guest house also offers surfing and yoga classes and is gay- and lesbian-friendly. Pickup from train station costs NT$150. Dorm: NT$600, Double: NT$2,000-3,000.
- 4 Taitung Hotel for Teachers and Public Workers (台東縣公教會館), 19 Nanjing Rd, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Not a hostel but a hotel, it is a affordable, clean and conveniently located downtown. Offers free bicycles to borrow. Double: NT$1,400-1,600.
- 5 Vacation Hotel (V-Hotel 假期商旅), No. 88, Section 3, Siwei Road. Hotel.
The iTaiwan Wi-Fi is available virtually everywhere in Taitung.
- Chipen (Zhiben) – Popular for its hot springs.
- Luye – To the north of Taitung in the Inner Rift Valley, it is a great place to drink tea and an especially popular spot for paragliding. Also is a good spot for cycling for the less adventurous.
- Dulan – To the north of Taitung on the coast, this little village has an abandoned sugar factory that hosts a vibrant artist community as well as a cafe and gift shop. Surfing is to be had at the rather secluded beaches from here on north if you have your own board.
- Siaoyeliou – Just a couple of kilometers north of Taitung city this beach offers the most beautiful rock formations on the southern coast. The area just north of here is also popular for snorkeling.
Larger cities can be reached by train:
- Several trains a day to Kaohsiung and then Tainan. For Tainan, about 3 hr and NT$500.
- Several trains a day to Hualien and then Taipei. To Hualien count about 3 hr, around NT$400.
- A scenic commuter train leaves to Fangliao for the sunny Kenting National Park in Pingtung County, checkout the information under Taitung County#Get in.
It is advised to book trains to Tainan and Taipei in advance, as there are not so many per day, and they can fill up quickly, especially during weekends.