Most people that visit Taiwan make a beeline for Taipei. But Taiwan has more to offer than just the capital city. For example, the island’s southeastern side boasts incredible natural scenery, naturally warm weather, and loads of fun things to do. If you’re traveling to Taitung, and want to know what’s there to do, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s my guide to the best things to do in Taitung, plus all my insider tips to help you plan the perfect Taitung itinerary.
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Taitung Travel Tips
- While Taitung is rather remote compared to other cities in Taiwan, it draws large crowds thanks to its impressive scenery. Make sure you book a hotel room a few weeks in advance. Find the best hotel deals here, or see my top picks below.
- The fastest way to get to Taitung is by express train (TZE-Chiang, Puyuma, or Taroko). You cannot use your Easy Card on these trains, so reserve a ticket online in advance to guarantee you have a seat. Easily check train schedules and prices on the TRA app and buy tickets online on the TRA website. Also, read my detailed guide on exactly how to get to Taitung for more tips.
- Most of the attractions in Taitung are outside the city center. Rent a scooter or a car to explore all of its best bits. You can also join this half or full-day tour or book a private charter with a driver.
- English is not widely spoken in Taitung, so it’s a good idea to download Google Translate (set to Traditional Chinese) to get by a bit easier. Here are a few basic Chinese phrases that will also come in handy.
- Upon arrival, grab a Taitung travel map at the Visitor’s Center. Also make sure you have Google Maps downloaded on your phone.
Best Things to do in Taitung
While Taitung City serves as the main gateway to beautiful Taitung County, you should know that the city itself is quite boring. There are several unique places within the city’s borders, but most of Taitung’s best attractions are along Route 9 and 11. With that said, I’ve included a whole host of things to do in Taitung and its surrounding areas! That way, you can pick and choose and ultimately plan your own perfect Taitung itinerary.
Visit the Railway Art Village
Let’s kickstart this Taitung travel guide right in the city center at one of the coolest places to visit in Taitung – the Railway Art Village.
Located right next to the Taitung Bus Station, the Railway Art Village is a huge creative park filled with outdoor art installations and a great place to learn a little more about Taitung’s former train station. The park houses some interesting train memorabilia, including old train cars on the tracks, the original wooden train warehouses, a railroad turntable built during the Japanese occupation, and even an old water tower used to generate steam to power the trains.
If you continue up to Bo’ai Road, Taitung Story Museum is a gorgeous cafe/ bookshop perfect for a quick coffee and cake fix. Try the oolong tea basque cheesecake! Behind the cafe, you’ll also find some cool photo spots if you’re into the ‘Gram.
A short walk from here, you can also check out Liyushan (Carp Mountain), where you can climb up the Longfeng Pagoda for a great view of the city. The Taitung Martyr’s Shrine is another attraction worth checking out if you’re into history.
Catch a Performance at Tiehua Music Village
Tiehua Music Village is located on the same grounds as the Railway Art Village, so you should definitely visit it too.
Tiehua Music Village is a large outdoor music performance venue; at night, you can catch various artists performing around the park. The Twilight Market is a good place to start if you’re into music. A couple of local stalls sell drinks, snacks, and aboriginal handicrafts here, and there’s some makeshift seating in front of the main stage where you can sit down and enjoy the tunes.
Adjacent to the Twilight Market, you can’t miss the interesting building filled with shipping containers covered by a huge wave-shaped roof. It houses a myriad of cool cafes, eateries, cocktail bars, and artsy stores.
After you’ve had your fill, make sure also to check out the pedestrian road running right behind the Twilight Market. Tons of little stalls line it. It’s a great place to take photos of all the lanterns, shop for souvenirs, and catch other artists performing.
Tiehua Artist Village only comes alive at night, so it’s best to visit after 5 pm.
Explore the City’s Parks
If you’re into nature, another great thing to do in Taitung is to visit all its amazing parks.
The city’s biggest green space, Taitung Forest Park, is situated right at the edge of town. The park spans several kilometers and features various trails, ponds, and diverse vegetation. A highlight here is the thick forest of beefwood trees, where you’ll find the beautiful Pipa Lake. It’s a great place to spend some time in nature, and renting a bike is a fun way to explore all the trails.
Another cool place to visit is Taitung Seaside Park. It’s a great spot to catch the sunrise, see some weird outdoor art or chill on the beach. Note that swimming is not allowed here.
Cycle Brown Boulevard
Taitung County is famous for its rice production, and one of the main highlights of any trip to Taitung is seeing these gorgeous rice fields up close. The best place to do that is the small township of Chishang – Taitung’s crown jewel!
Even though Chishang is quite small, it’s got a lot going for it! The most notable attraction here is Brown Boulevard – a long stretch of road through lush rice fields with epic mountain backdrops. Besides cycling down Brown Boulevard, there are a couple of other noteworthy attractions. Make sure to drop by Dapo Pond, snap a photo under the Takeshi Kaneshiro Tree, admire the views from the Great View Pavilion, and gobble up a delicious lunchbox at the famous Wutao Chishang Lunchbox Museum.
Chishang is roughly a 40-minute train ride from Taitung Train Station. Make sure you take one of the express trains; otherwise, you’ll be wasting a lot of time on transport. The best way to explore Chishang is to rent a bike at the TR9 store next to the train station. That way, you can explore all the little roads at your leisure. An electric bike costs TWD 300 for the day. You’ll need to return it by 4 pm, so best to arrive around 10 am.
See the Rock Formations at Xiaoyeliu
A great place to visit just outside Taitung city is Xiaoyeliu (or Little Yehliu).
If the name rings a bell, you’re thinking of Yehliu – one of northern Taiwan’s most famous geological wonders and a popular day trip from Taipei. Little Yehliu is Taitung’s mini version of it, and while it’s much smaller than the ‘real’ Yehliu up north, it’s still a great place to see an assortment of weird and wonderful rock formations created by sea erosion.
The park features several trails where you can get close to all kinds of rock formations resembling everything from mushrooms to honeycombs to tofu! Another highlight here is the mind-boggling cuesta-landforms. Follow the trail past the tofu rocks to spot them!
Admire the Views at Jialulan
Less than 5 minutes’ drive from Xiaoyeliu, you’ll find Jialulan – a beautiful park with epic coastal views and an assortment of unique artwork scattered around it.
Jialulan is a popular pitstop along Highway 11, so don’t expect to have it all to yourself. With that said, the park is huge, and there’s lots of space to get away from the large tour groups. Besides taking photos of all the cool artworks, the park also offers incredible coastal views. There are lots of benches where you can sit down and admire the scenery, but make sure also to climb to the top of the elevated lookout deck.
If you want to access the beach below, the well-trodden footpath behind the restrooms will get you there.
Relax at Jinzun
Another great pitstop along Taiwan’s scenic East Coast is Jinzun Recreation Area. While it might seem like just another rest stop along Highway 11, its incredible coastal views set it apart from others.
There’s a lovely boardwalk offering stunning views over the coast, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot the little mushroom-shaped island below. After your walkabout, pop by the little cafe offering even better views! Here you can grab a cuppa and sit back to enjoy the scenery. Don’t miss the upside-down orange pound cake – it’s delish!
One of the best things to do in Taitung is Sanxiantai – a 22 hectare offshore islet connected to land by an impressive 8-arch bridge that looks like a giant dragon stretching across the ocean.
Legend has it that three immortals once stepped foot on the island, which is how it got its name. Today, the island is a nature reserve with several trails to follow. Along the way, you can marvel at odd rock formations, hunt for rare coastal plants or just enjoy the stunning coastal scenery.
While Sanxiantai is one of Taiwan’s most beautiful landmarks, it remains one of Taiwan’s best-kept hidden gems due to its remote location. As a result, it requires a bit more effort to get to than other places on this list. Sanxiantai is a 1.5hrs scooter drive north of Taitung. But you can also catch bus #8101 or Taiwan Tourist Shuttle #8101A to access it. Alternatively, join this Taitung East Coast guided tour for a stress-free trip.
Travel tip: The Sanxiantai bridge was damaged during an earthquake in 2022, so it’s unfortunately closed for maintenance and reinforcement work until 2024. However, don’t let that stop you from visiting! You can still walk right up to base of the bridge, chill on the pebble-stone beach and admire the islet from a distance.
Drop by Pisirian
If you have time, nearby Pisirian is another cool place to visit. Pisirian (meaning the place where goats roam) is a tiny tribal village home to the Pisirian tribe. The village offers little excitement, but some cute driftwood goat sculptures are worth seeing along the coastline.
Pisirian is only a few minutes’ drive from Sanxiantai, but you can also walk along the beach (tides permitting) to get there.
Places like Hsinchu County, Hualien, and Alishan might be famous for their glutinous rice cakes, but let me tell you, the mochi in Taitung is among the best I’ve ever eaten!
The best place for your mochi fix is Chan Kee Mochi. The shop dates back to 1934, and people literally queue up to buy these soft, chewy balls of goodness. They have all the usual stuffings like peanut, sesame, and red bean, but also a few other interesting options like sailfish, swordfish, mung bean, and their signature black mochi.
Chan Kee Mochi is open daily from 6:30 am to 6 pm (see Google Maps). There are also a few wooden benches outside the shop to sit down and enjoy your mochi. The best part? There’s a huge window, allowing a peek into the mochi-making process.
Other Fun Things to do in Taitung
If you have more time on your itinerary, here are a few more cool Taitung tourist spots.
- Green Island: A mecca for divers and snorkelers boasting some of the best underwater scenery in Taiwan. It’s also home to one of only three saltwater hot springs worldwide! Ferries depart daily (weather permitting) just outside Taitung from Fugang Harbor. Since it’s quite popular among locals, book your ferry ticket well in advance. You can also book a scooter for pick-up upon arrival here.
- Amis Folk Center: Learn a little more about the Amis tribe’s culture, sample their food, and check out their arts and crafts.
- Shanyuan Beach: A dreamy white sand beach sporting palm trees, cool cafes, and a breezy boardwalk offering great views.
- Water Running Upward: A cool site along Highway 11 featuring a stream that appears to flow upwards.
- Dulan (also spelled Doulan): A tiny surfer’s village where you can gobble up epic pizzas, get surfing lessons, and experience some of the best waves in Taiwan. Note that the beach is a little outside of town.
- Luye Highlands: If you’re visiting Taiwan in the summer, check out the annual Taitung International Hot Air Balloon Festival.
- Duoliang Railway Station: A former little train station featuring mind-blowing views over the ocean from its elevated platform.
- TRA Taimali Railroad Crossing: Made famous by the anime ‘Slam Dunk’, this is a popular photo spot featuring sea and mountain views.
- 華源觀景台-天空之鏡: Another great lookout point featuring a circular pool overlooking the coast.
- Baiyu Falls: An easily accessed waterfall about 15 minutes’ drive from Zhiben Station.
- Hot springs: There are two famous hot springs near Taitung. Zhiben Hot Spring Village features a host of charming hot spring hotels where you can soak in a private tub. For the more adventurous, head to Lison Hot Springs, where you can soak in steamy riverside pools.
Where to Stay in Taitung
Taitung is quite spread out, and unlike other cities in Taiwan, the main area is actually not located near the train station. Since the train station is a little outside town, it’s not the most convenient place to stay.
If you want to be right in the thick of town, your best bet is to stay near the Taitung Bus Station. Here you’ll find a good selection of accommodation options with lots of shops and eateries around you.
Try the Gaya Hotel if you’re looking for an upscale stay with a dreamy rooftop pool. The Sheraton is another luxe option, and the Taitung Night Market is right on its doorstep.
TiinTinn is a great mid-range option if you’re into minimalist IG vibes. The staff is lovely, and they have a couple of bicycles you can use for free. Just know there is no elevator, so don’t bring lots of luggage.
A great budget-friendly option is Norden Ruder Hostel. It features clean, cozy rooms and a stunning garden atrium.
If you don’t care much about city vibes and will be using the train a lot to explore areas around Taitung, staying near the train station could work for you. If you’re looking for a bougie vibe, check out Hotel Cham Cham. It features beautiful rooms at surprisingly affordable rates!
How to Get Around Taitung
You’ll need wheels to make the most of your time in Taitung and experience its best attractions.
The easiest way to get around Taitung is by car or scooter. You can pre-book car rentals or scooter rentals here on Klook for pick-up at the train station.
If you’d rather do things old school, the TR9 store, right next to the train station, also offers these services. You’ll need a valid local license or IDP to rent from them. Also, note that you need a license specifically for a motorcycle (not a car) to rent a scooter in Taiwan.
Just a heads up: I was quoted two different prices by different people on different days at TR9 for some strange reason. I’m not quite sure if I got quoted the “foreigner price” on the first day, so expect to pay anywhere between TWD 450-600 to rent a scooter for a day. TWD 600 is a bit of a rip-off IMO, as other scooter shops in places like Hualien and Kenting National Park charge much less.
If driving is not for you, other options to get around include:
- Bicycle (available from most hotels)
- Yellow taxi (there is no Uber in Taitung)
- Private charter with a driver
When to Visit Taitung
The best time to visit Taitung is during spring (except May, when the plum rains start) or autumn. During these seasons, the weather is pleasant, with temperatures in the mid-twenties.
If you must visit in summer, you can expect beautiful lush rice fields and blue skies. But you should know that it gets extremely hot and humid, and typhoons aren’t uncommon in these parts. Winter isn’t a bad season to visit, but the weather can be unpredictable. Another thing to note is that if you’re planning to cycle in Chishang during winter, you’ll find many paddies either still barren or busy being planted.
What to do in Taitung in Conclusion
Taitung is a refreshing change to the bustling city vibes you’ll find elsewhere in Taiwan. With its slow-paced culture, jaw-dropping landscapes, and friendly locals, this part of Taiwan offers the perfect respite for travelers looking for a more mellow experience!
Well, that’s all I have on visiting Taitung, Taiwan! If you have any other ideas for things to do in Taitung, let me know in the comments below!
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