Taitung isn’t really a good place for a long vacation unless you’re using it as a base camp to visit more interesting sights along the East Coast of Taiwan, but one day in Taitung is perfect for seeing the sights the city itself has to offer. If you’ve got a day in sleepy Taitung and aren’t sure what to do with your time, then follow this itinerary for things to eat, see, and do.
1. The Bus Station
Taitung is sleepy, and there’s no reason to get up super early unless you plan on catching a bus somewhere. However, it’s very worthwhile to stop by the bus station before you start your day to grab some brochures and a map of Taitung. If you’ve got any questions about the city, the information desk has fantastic English speaking workers.
So get up at your own speed, then go find breakfast. There are tons of traditional Taiwanese breakfast places open before 11 am. However, if you’re a sweet freak like me, then follow the train tracks and paths from the bus station towards the Starbucks at the end of the Tie Hua area. The weird arts displays can provide some fun photos on your walk. Right before you cross the road to the Starbucks, there’s a cheap “pancake” stand, where you can get your choice of flavored bear-shaped cakes. It’s 40 NTD for 4.
3. Mount Carp
Now that you’ve got breakfast in hand, you can head up Mount Carp. It’s a lovely, easy hike that passes several temples, where you can often hear old men and women singing karaoke at strange hours of the day.
Climb to the top of Mount Carp for a bird’s eye view of the city.
4. Tie Hua Road / Railway Gallery
After Mount Carp, take a walk along the “railway gallery,” a boardwalk type path that heads towards the distant mountains.
If it’s a sunny day in Taitung, then your photos here will be surprisingly picturesque, filled with flowers and smoky distant mountains. The paths are lined with cute cafes, so feel free to stop for a tea or cappuccino.
5. The Beach and Bike Rentals
When you’ve had your fill of photographing mountains, turn around, and head towards the sea. You can follow the paths/streets, all the way to the ocean. It’s a long walk, but quite pleasant. If you’re tired, it’s easy to hail a taxi. Now, I will warn you, Taitung’s beach is not the nicest in Taiwan. It’s a pebble/stone beach, which is fine, but I kid you not, the sewers feed directly into the ocean here; gag me. However, from the beach paths, the sight of the ocean is still quite pretty.
And more importantly, there are at least three bike rental places on Nanhai road, next to Haibin Park. So rent a bike to save your feet from hiking to the next stops.
There are tons of famous lunch options in Taitung, so ride your bike back into town at this point and simply look for the ridiculously long lines that appear at lunch time to judge whether a place is good or not. Or if, like me, lines are just too much when you’re hungry, then you can try one the following quieter places a bit closer to the ocean.
綠房子 (Greenhouse) on the corner of Waihuandao Rd. and Chenggong Rd. – Try this place if you’re in the mood for traditional Taiwanese food. I recommend the dumplings and the soups, which have to be ordered from the menu. If you want any of the food on display, simply go point at what you want and you’ll be quoted a price.
台東大園日本料理 No. 124, Section 1, Zhonghua Rd, Taitung City, Taitung County, 950 – If you’ve had your fill of Taiwanese food, then I recommend this nice Japanese restaurant. The rice dishes are delicious and very affordable.
7. Taitung Forest Park
After lunchtime, ride to Taitung Forest Park. It’s a quiet place with flower tunnels, lakes, and wildlife. Take a leisurely ride through the park. It was very rainy the day we went, but it was still beautiful and quiet.
After you’ve seen the park, it’s probably best to return your bicycle as many of the bike places close around 7pm.
8. Tie Hua
Now that it’s getting late, walk or take a taxi back to Tie Hua for the beautiful evening lanterns, arts fairs, and live music.
This arts park doesn’t really get interesting until after dark, so if it’s still daylight, you can kill time at one of the nice restaurants nearby with an icecream or a coffee. When it gets dark you can buy crafts at Tie Hua, listen to traditional music, and take loads of photos with the charming paths lit by lanterns decorated by school kids.
9. Night Market and Dinner
After you’ve worked up an appetite shopping, it’s time for the night market. Taitung’s night market is small, but conveniently located only a block or two away from the Tie Hua. Also, despite its small size, the food here is some of my favorite night market food that I’ve had in Taiwan.
My food recommendations are gua bao (Taiwanese hamburger), lemon jelly tea, steak and spaghetti, guava and plum spice, or a cup of soup with pastry. You pretty much can’t go wrong here. For only a few hundred Taiwanese dollars you can have a feast fit for a king in this market.
After dinner, you might be hankering for a drink, and despite blogs and articles that I’d read to the contrary, I found it quite easy to find bars in Taitung. After dark, you’ll recognize the places with drinks by their lit up Heineken or Bar signs. My favorite place was surprisingly a TripAdvisor recommendation. KASA, No. 102, Heping St., Taitung City, Taitung, Taiwan, is about a fifteen minute walk from the night market. It has reasonably priced drinks, nice staff, and a lovely atmosphere. It’s a perfect end to a busy day.
Do you know of any things to do in Taitung that I missed? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.
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