8 Unmissable Things to do in Kenting, Taiwan
Beyond the neon lights, scooter waterfalls and bustling city life is Taiwan’s little slice of paradise ~ Kenting (墾丁). Situated at the southern tip of Taiwan in Pingtung County, Kenting is a popular destination among locals and international travelers year-round. The seaside town is home to white sandy beaches, turquoise water, lush tropical forests, and stretched-out seaside cliffs. Moreover, if you love street food, the Kenting night market will not disappoint.
If you love laid back vibes or need a break from Taiwan’s city life, Kenting is the perfect add-on to any Taiwan itinerary. The great thing about Kenting is that you could spend as little as three days to weeks here. In fact, we’re pretty sure you wouldn’t want to leave! Read on to find out what to do in Kenting and get handy travel tips to make the most of your Kenting trip.
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What to do in Kenting – Quick Overview
In this guide, I’ll cover the best things to do in Kenting and share my top tips and tricks to help you plan the perfect Kenting trip. Before we dive into each Kenting activity a bit deeper, here’s a quick look at what to do in Kenting:
- Hit the beaches
- Visit Eluanbi Lighthouse
- Make a pitstop at Chuanfan Rock
- See the southernmost point of Taiwan
- Marvel at the views from atop Maobitou
- Eat seafood at the harbor
- Snack your way through the night market
- Grab drinks at a truck bar
Ready to find out what to do in Kenting, how to get to Kenting and where to stay in Kenting ? Let’s go!
The best things to do in Kenting
Grab some Vitamin Sea
With white beaches, palm trees, and gorgeous tropical water, who wouldn’t want to lie on the beach all day? Kenting is the pulse of Taiwan’s beach scene, making it a popular tourist spot year-round. Apart from just chilling on the beach or taking a dip in the warm waters of the Luzon Strait, there are plenty of beach activities too. Enjoy jet skiing, tube rides or bopping about on a banana boat to your heart’s content here.
There are three popular beaches in Kenting, namely South Bay (Nanwan), White Sand Beach (Baisha) and Little Bay Beach (opposite the Howard Place Beach resort). Which beach you visit will probably depend on your beach preferences, and also, where you’re staying in Kenting. However if you’ve rented a scooter, or even using the shuttle bus, it’s pretty easy to get to all three within a few minutes.
Furthermore, Kenting is also a popular snorkeling and diving spot. Pop into one of the many tourist shops on the main street to check prices and availability. Whatever you do, don’t forget to bring your camera along to capture the diverse marine life on offer here! If you haven’t invested in a good underwater camera yet, this guide on the best dive cameras will come in handy!
Likewise, surfers are in luck too! Roughly 20km east of Kenting is the scenic little town of Jialeshui. Here you will find some of the best surf in Taiwan. So much so, that is has become a premier surfing spot for local and international surfers alike.
Wander around the Eluanbi Lighthouse
Eluanbi Lighthouse, also known as “The Light of East Asia,” is one of the top 8 landmarks in Taiwan. Interestingly enough, it is also one of the few manned lighthouses in the world. To this day, the tower is armed, and a trench surrounds it. If you stroll around a bit, you might even spot a few gun holes in the walls. There’s a great little museum filled with memorabilia and old photographs should you wish to learn more about the lighthouse’s history.
Also, the Eluanbi Lighthouse is home to beautiful gardens and sweeping ocean views. If you fancy a picnic, this is the perfect spot!
Entrance fee: NT$60 per adult
Parking fee: NT$10
Visit Chuanfan Rock
Chuanfanshi is one of our favorite areas to stop by in Kenting. The main road, Chuanfan Road, is lined with some pretty peculiar and colorful accommodation options. If you are a shutterbug, you can easily get lost in the weird color combinations and diverse themes from Greek to Industrial to the very bizarre Rock House. And yes, you guessed it! It looks like a rock.
Apart from the colorful architecture, Chuanfanshi is home to one of Taiwan’s most iconic landmarks – Chuanfan Rock, also known as Sail Rock. The limestone rock resembles a sailboat setting sail and has been shaped by years of erosion.
Chuanfanshi is a great place to watch the waves come and go, grab a bite or wander along the promenade. Nearby, you’ll also find Baisha Beach (White Sand Beach). It’s a relatively small beach, but not nearly as crowded as South Bay Beach (Nanwan). Besides swimming or lounging on the beach, there are tons of water sports to join too!
Snap a selfie at the Southernmost Point of Taiwan
Just a stone’s throw from the Eluanbi Lighthouse is the Southernmost point of Taiwan. The footpath is 1500m long, and it only takes about 20 minutes to reach the end. There’s a neat little structure signifying the point and some incredible ocean views. So, there is no reason not to add the Southernmost tip of Taiwan to your brag list.
Enjoy the views at Maobitou
Maobitou, best known for its “crouching cat” rock formation, lies on the southeast corner of the Hengchun Peninsula. It offers magnificent ocean views and unique natural landforms such as seashore coral reefs, caves, and ditches. The panoramic views are best enjoyed in the early morning before the crowds gather and of course, at sunset.
Entrance: NT$30 per adult
Parking fee: NT$10
Wander around the harbor
Although the harbor isn’t huge, it’s a great place to stroll around, snap pics of the fishing boats or watch the boats come and go. Like most harbors in Taiwan, the Kenting Harbor sells freshly caught fish during the morning, daily. There is also a fantastic seafood restaurant in front of the market’s entrance. Diving, snorkeling, and boat ride packages can be purchased here too.
Eat your way th
rough the Night Market
Kenting’s night market is one of the most famous night markets in all of Taiwan! Similar to other markets around the island, you’ll have no problem finding your favorite local snacks – everything from stinky tofu to banana pancakes is on offer here. But what sets this market apart from others is the fantastic selection of fresh and tasty seafood you try here – cherry-pick between oysters, giant squid, clams, fresh fish – and that’s to name just a few! Whatever you choose to feast on, one thing is sure – the Kenting Night Market is an excellent place to while away an evening.
The market lines both sides of Kenting Street. So feel free to feast away from one side to the other. Vendors usually start to set up shop around 5 pm – just in time for dinner!
Grab drinks at the funky truck bars
Another unique attraction in Kenting is its quirky roadside truck bars, conveniently found near the Howard Plaza Hotel. With unique decorations, bright shiny lights, amazing cocktail lists, and thumping music, there’s no reason not to grab a cocktail or two here. Our favorite truck bar is The Reggae Bar. It has a relaxing vibe, a great seating area, and frankly, nothing beats listening to Bob Marley in a tropical setting.
How to get to Kenting
Kenting is easy to reach with Taiwan’s excellent public transport system Like elsewhere in Taiwan, buses and trains are frequent and reliable modes of transport. However, the fastest way to get to Kenting from Taipei or other parts along the western coast in Taiwan is by high-speed rail. Take the HSR to Zouying Station (the very last stop on the high-speed rail). Once you get to the high-speed rail station in Kaohsiung, go to Exit 2 where you’ll find the Kenting Express Bus ticket office.
I highly recommend purchasing your bus ticket with an Easy card as it almost cuts the costs in half. Kenting Shuttle Bus return tickets go for roughly NT$600 and are open-ended, meaning you can use the return ticket anytime. The bus drivers do not speak much English, but there are random announcements in English. So, be sure to listen carefully. You could also check with your accommodation (before arriving) which stop to get off at.
How to get around Kenting
Getting around Kenting village is extremely easy, as most of the shops, restaurants, and even the beach (Little Bay) is a short stroll from Kenting Street.
However, the majority of the main attractions in Kenting, such as Maobitao, Longpan Park, and Chaunfanshi will require transport.
If you haven’t rented a car, the easiest way to get around Kenting is by scooter. There are tons of scooter shops scattered around town where you can rent a motorcycle for NT$500 a day. To do this, though, you will either need a valid local license or an international driver’s license for a scooter. If that is not an option for you, you may still be able to rent an electric bike (at some shops). Alternatively, the local bus runs along the main road, which will get you to Chaunfanshi and Nanwan Beach but not to places like Maobitou. To see places a bit further afield, joining a tour will be your best bet.
Where to stay in Kenting
Kenting has no shortage of excellent accommodation options – from cheap hostels and boutique b&bs to luxury beachfront hotels and everything in between!
Most people stay in the heart of Kenting, near Kenting Street. And, if it’s your first visit to Kenting, it’s best to do the same. This way, you’ll be right in the center of town, and it will allow you to get your bearings more quickly. It is, however, imperative to know that Kenting is a popular holiday destination for locals and tourists alike. Meaning, it is often crowded, especially on weekends and special holidays. So, if you’re looking to escape the crowds, it’s best to stay at Chuanfanshi or Nanwan a bit further away from the village center instead.
Whenever I visit Kenting, I prefer staying in Chaunfanshi. But since I have a local license and have visited Kenting more than a dozen times during my time in Taiwan, it’s safe to say; I know the area very well. Therefore, I’ve included a mix of Kenting hotels to cater to all types of travelers. Here are my top choices for where to stay in Kenting.
Budget: Apple Room Hostel
Mid-range: Howard Beach Resort
Lux: Chateau Beach Resort
Budget: Jin Yan Hostel
Mid-Range: Chaunfan Haku Beach Days Inn
Things to do near Kenting
If you’re planning a trip to Kenting, you’re probably wondering how long to stay in Kenting. Since there are so many amazing things to do in Kenting, stay at least 2-3 days to get a feel for the town and soak up all the laidback vibes. And, if your schedule allows, definitely stay longer – especially since there are loads of cool things to do nearby too!
Therefore, if you have a few extra days to spare, I highly recommend spending some time in Taiwan’s second-largest city, Kaohsiung. Here are some great Kaohsiung sightseeing ideas, while this 2-day Kaohsiung itinerary will also come in handy if you have limited time. History buffs and culture seekers, on the other hand, will find Taiwan’s ancient capital city, Tainan an interesting add-on to their Taiwan itinerary.
Alternatively, follow road #26 past Taiwan’s southern tip to the east coast where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views along the way. Stopping by Longpan Park and Jialeshui are highly recommended.
Have we missed any of your favorite things to do in Kenting? And, what tips do you have for fellow travelers wondering what to do in Kenting? Drop your comments below.
Feel free to also head to our Taiwan section to learn more about this fascinating little island.
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