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The Best Things To Do In Taitung (Taiwan’s Most Underrated City)

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Taitung City is located on the southeast coast of Taiwan and one of the least visited destinations on the island.

It’s a pity not more travelers visit Taitung, not only is Taitung is a wonderful destination in itself, but it’s also a great gateway to Taiwan’s east coast, whether you visit in the middle of a road trip, or use it as a jumping-off point for one.

You’ll be surprised by the variety of things to do in Taitung, both within the city center and those accessible on a day trip.

The best things to do in Taitung

Taimali Taitung Taiwan

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This post is written by Robert who moved to Taipei in 2019. He created Taiwan Starts Here as a source of information and inspiration so that travelers could easily take advantage of the insights it has taken him many trips around the island to gain. Robert hopes you will fall as deeply (and quickly!) in love with Taiwan as he has.

Is Taitung worth visiting

Tianhou Temple in Taitung by day

Yes absolutely! As you scour the web for places of interest in Taitung, you’ll notice that many are in Taitung County, rather than in the city center. Be aware of this, but don’t let it dissuade you from pursuing urban discovery in eastern Taiwan.

Important fact: the city’s name, which is pronounced Tai-dong, literally means ‘Taiwan East’.

Some of my favorite Taitung attractions are located in the heart of the city. Moreover, Taitung occupies a small enough area that you can easily explore it in the morning or evening, before and after you head out for daytime excursions.

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On a personal level, I actually prefer the beaches and scenery of Taitung County to the more popular Kenting National Park further south in Pingtung, though you may or may not end up feeling this way.

Whether you’re here for specific details or wondering what to see in Taitung, you’ll find all the answers you seek, and more, below. I hope you’ll add Taitung to your list of Taiwan trip ideas!

When to visit Taitung

The best time to visit Taitung is between November and April. During these months, the weather is very pleasant. Temperatures are comfortable (22-28°C) and there is little rain.

Typhoon season runs from mid-May until September-October, so this isn’t a good time for a trip to Taitung.

Where to stay in Taitung

Since most of the places to visit in Taitung I mention in this post are in Taitung City itself, I’m going to recommend you stay there as well. In spite of being among Taiwan’s smallest cities, with a population of just over 100.000, you’ll find a decent variety of hotels in Taitung.

These include big-box properties such as the Sheraton Taitung Hotel, as well as boutique hotels and guest houses like Tiin Tiin Inn, located within easy walking distance from Taitung Bus Station.

Location, location, location

As you decide between Taitung hotels, this (staying near the bus station rather than the train station, which is several kilometers out of town) is something you should consider carefully.

While frequent buses travel between Taitung Station and downtown, having to ride one of them every time you want to eat short rice noodles or explore a colorful temple would be a major pain.

Best hotel options in Taitung for any budget

Price rangeHotelAgodaBooking
BudgetChi Chu B&BCheck pricesCheck prices
BudgetFiFI HouseCheck pricesCheck prices
Mid-rangeTiin Tiin InnCheck pricesCheck prices
Mid-rangeHoya Hotel TaitungCheck pricesCheck prices
LuxurySheraton Taitung HotelCheck pricesCheck prices
LuxuryThe Gaya HotelCheck pricesCheck prices

Alternatively, there are several rooms and apartments available on Airbnb as well.

What to do in Taitung

Chow down on local cuisine

Taitung rice noodles

The Taitung rice noodles you find Rong Shu Xia aren’t as famous around the island as other Taiwanese dishes. However, eating a bowl of hot meaty soup filled with these noodles (which are known as ‘thick’ rice noodles on account of their wide shape) is a great way to fuel up for a day of Taitung sightseeing.

If you’re still hungry, cross the street to Nihau, a modern and stylish venue to enjoy Taiwanese shaved ice.

Enjoy the view from Liyushan

I always love a good panorama, and one of my favorite things to see in Taitung is the view from Liyushan, also known as Carp Mountain.

Note that while signs upon entering the park will direct you to a scenic lookout, you should continue to walk the trail after visiting the first viewpoint.

The one at the north end offers the best view of Taitung city and indeed Taitung County, allowing you to see it all splayed out between the mountains and the sea.

Visit Tianhou Temple

Tianhou Temple by night, Taitung Taiwan

While it’s true that Taitung temples leave something to be desired, at least when compared to those you find in Taipei, Tainan or Kaohsiung, they’re not a totally worthless pursuit.

My personal favorite is Tianhou Temple, which is located about 20 minutes on foot from Taitung Bus Station.

Photography advice: if you’re shooting with a DSLR camera (or another device capable of long-exposure night shots), make sure to visit after nightfall!

Explore Taitung’s night markets

Taitung Night Market

Not shockingly, this is Taiwan after all, one of the other amazing things to do in Taitung City is visiting one of the night markets where you can sample the local cuisine and try your luck at some of the game stalls.

Note that after you finish strolling through Taitung Night Market, which is near the bus station, you can walk (stopping en route at Tianhou Temple, if you want) at Siwei Night Market, which is smaller but also more local.

Get out of town: beyond Taitung

As you might imagine in such a rural part of Taiwan, day trips from Taitung are as amazing as anything you’ll find in the city center. Rent a car and explore some of the many worthwhile sights in Taitung County!

Sanxiantai

Sanxiantai Dragon Bridge and Sanxiantai Beach, Taitung County Taiwan

Located north of Taitung is Sanxiantai, an area containing a beach and several islands. It’s about an hour by car from Taitung city center and the drive along the coast is a beautiful one.

From Sanxiantai Beach, a pebble beach stretching for more than 10 kilometers, you can admire a beautiful eight-arched bridge that’s shaped like a sea dragon.

The pedestrian bridge leads to a small island with interesting rock formations and several hiking trails. The island is a conservation area and is also named Sanxiantai, which means ‘Terrace of the Three Immortals‘. Local legend has it that three of China’s Eight Immortals once walked around the island, which is how it acquired its name.

Sanxiantai is is a lovely place to watch the sunrise and a great spot for photographers.

Taimali Beach and Kinchen Mountain

Go south and stop at stunning Taimali Beach en route to Kinchen Mountain, which is covered in wildflowers (beautiful daylilies and hydrangeas) from July till September.

Follow the ‘Flower Route’ to admire this colorful spectacle as well as beautiful views of Taimali.

Lisong Hot Springs

Lisong Hot Springs Taitung County Taiwan

Get an early start and head north to Lisong Hot Springs, about 1.5-2 hours by car. The drive is very beautiful and leads through tunnels, canyons, and small villages. Note there are many twists, turns, and hairpins on this scenic drive, so it may not be suitable for those prone to motion sickness!

From the Lisong car park, it’s a steep one hour downhill hike where you’ll be using ropes and chains to descend. At the bottom of the hill, either wade or swim through the stream. Depending on the season and amount of rain in the previous days, the water level may be quite high.

Once you’ve finally arrived at the Lisong Hot Springs, take plenty of time to admire the brilliant colors in the rock and soak your tired muscles in the springs. This gem is definitely one of the more unique places to visit in Taiwan!

Taiwan’s East Coast scenic route

Whether you rent a car for a Taiwan road trip or plan to use Taiwan’s extensive train and bus network, the East Coast Scenic Route is definitely the most beautiful natural area of Taiwan.

Stretching from the city of Hualien down to Taitung and continuing to Kenting National Park at the southern tip of Taiwan, this is arguably where the ‘real Taiwan’ resides.

As far as how to structure your exploration of the route, you could explore Taroko Gorge (likely on a day trip from Hualien) before driving south, stopping amid the verdant rice fields of Yuli Township before taking in the sea breeze at the mysterious Sanxiantai, aka Bridge of the Three Immortals.

After finishing up all the Taitung tourist attractions I’ve mentioned in this post, you can continue south to Kenting.

Where to go after Taitung

Orchid Island

Orchid Island Taiwan

Road and rail aren’t the only ways out of Taitung. A beautiful destination to add to your Taiwan itinerary is Orchid Island.

This idyll is definitely worth visiting, among other reasons because it’s a rich repository of aboriginal culture, but be aware that it’s not as easy to explore as Taitung.

Public transportation is limited, which means you’ll almost certainly need to rent (and, therefore, be able to drive) a motorbike. This can be difficult as a foreigner, as Taiwan has strict rules about renting scooters and officially you need a Taiwanese license.

Not all scooter rental places are very strict, if you’re lucky you may get away with showing an International Driver’s Permit.

Click here to book your ferry tickets to Orchid Island

Next destinations in Taiwan

Assuming you’ve traveled down Taiwan’s East Coast after traveling from Taipei to Hualien, you can continue clockwise around the island to Kenting.

From Kenting, travel up the west coast, which is home to most Taiwan destinations, including the large city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s former capital Tainan, and underrated Taichung (in that order).

Taitung things to do: in conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Taitung travel guide! Taitung is a wonderful off-the-beaten-track destination in Taiwan, that’s certainly worth a visit. It may even end up being your favorite place in Taiwan!

Be sure to check out my Taiwan page for more Taiwan travel inspiration.

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