TAITUNG: 5 Reasons to Visit on your next trip to Taiwan

Located on the Southeast of Taiwan, Taitung literally translates to “East of Taiwan.” Taitung makes up for 10% of Taiwan’s total land area, but only holds 1% of the country’s total population. Taitung doesn’t seem all that popular when people talk of Taiwan. It’s always Taipei, Kaohsiung, Keelung, or Taichung. If your idea of a great vacation involves relaxing hotels and easy, outdoor activities, then Taitung just might be the one for you. https://flic.kr/p/N32u8P 1. Try the local Aboriginal cuisine of Taiwan Taitung is home to a myriad of aboriginal Taiwanese tribes. In fact, Taitung has the largest ratio of aboriginal to overall population at 35% in all of Taiwan. Thus, one cannot leave the county without trying their aboriginal cuisine. https://flic.kr/p/2bHLs4s The restaurant we dined at served aboriginal food from the Puyuma tribe. https://flic.kr/p/2bN64oV The recipes have been handed down from generation to generation. It is noticeable that there are no complicated cooking techniques involved with cooking these dishes. Everything is either grilled or fried, or at the most, braised. https://flic.kr/p/2bHLUFf At NT$ 3000 for a group of 10 people, we were able to sample a wide selection of their cuisine. My favorite dishes would have to be the Deep Fried Pumpkin with Seaweed, Sweet and Sour Lemon Chicken, and the Grilled Mackerel. Sapayan Rock (沙巴漾 窑滚面包) No. 46, Lane 653, Gengsheng North Road, Taitung City, Taitung County, Taiwan 950 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sapayanrock/ Contact #: +886 08 923 3068

https://flic.kr/p/N32srT 2. Take a tethered hot air balloon flight The Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta is held annually at Luye Highland in Taitung. Unlike the balloon festivals we have in the Philippines that last for just a weekend, the one in Taitung lasts for over a month and a half. https://flic.kr/p/292MWx3 We woke up at around 5 in the morning so we can make our way to Luye before the sun rises. The colder temperature in the morning is ideal so the balloons can be inflated successfully. https://flic.kr/p/2bHM16J It’s not my first time on a hot air balloon, but the ride up and the feeling of being on air just never gets old. The tethered balloon ride is priced at NT$ 500-600, depending on the day. https://flic.kr/p/N32SbX Luye Highland has a magnificent landscape that’s made even better by the rising sun. https://flic.kr/p/2bNbzur Hundreds of people gather at the venue just to watch the multitude of balloons. https://flic.kr/p/2bN5sU4 For more details on the 2019 Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon schedule, visit http://balloontaiwan.taitung.gov.tw/en  https://flic.kr/p/N32qjB

3. Pick your own lotus at Dapo Lake Dapo Lake’s appearance changes according to the seasons. On our visit during the Summer, the lake was teeming with lotuses. https://flic.kr/p/2bQjaoT We even got to go on a raft and pick the lotuses ourselves! It’s not the most ideal activity given Taiwan’s humidity during the summer, but it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience and you shouldn’t miss out. https://flic.kr/p/2apy38e Don’t they look so beautiful? Dapo Lake Address: At the foot of Dapo Mountain, Chihshang Township, Taitung County, Chishang Township, Taitung County Taiwan Contact #: +886-89-862041

https://flic.kr/p/N34vzT 4. Learn how to make puffed rice cakes While going around Taitung, I couldn’t help but notice the vast rice fields. As with most East Asian countries, rice is one of the biggest commodities and Taitung is no different. https://flic.kr/p/2apy7ti Such is their reverence for rice, that they even have a cute character. https://flic.kr/p/2bHKR7o At Golden Harvest, you can take a free class on how to make ampao or more commonly known as puffed rice cakes. And you get to take home your creation! Golden Harvest Address: No. 85-6, Neighborhood 7, Sinsing Village, Chihshang Township, Taitung County, Chishang Township, Taitung County Taiwan, R.O.C Contact #: +886-89-864880

https://flic.kr/p/N32oG8 5. Take a leisurely afternoon stroll at Brown Road A long stretch of road in Chihshang became famous after appearing in a Mr. Brown Coffee (a popular brand in Taiwan) commercial. We spent a short while here just biking and savored the fresh country air. Bike rentals start at NT$ 100 per person. https://flic.kr/p/2apxRQR The seemingly endless rice fields and the cascading mountains in the background were an added delight. https://flic.kr/p/N34N9z This is the best place to be if you’re just looking for a relaxing afternoon. Mr. Brown Avenue Address: Mr. Brown Avenue, Chihshang Township, Taitung County, Chishang Township, Taitung County Taiwan, R.O.C Contact #: +886-89-862041

WHERE TO EAT Rosso Italian https://flic.kr/p/2apCwxH I didn’t expect to find such good Italian fare at such a quaint town in Taitung. There are only 8 items on the menu, and we got to try everything apart from the steak. https://flic.kr/p/2aGqABA The restaurant is quite small – it can only fit around 15-20 people. [rl_gallery id=”26670″] All their pizzas are freshly made-to-order and every single one is topped generously with the freshest, high-quality ingredients. No scrimping on the truffle oil also! https://flic.kr/p/N38zDM Roe Mullet Risotto (NT$ 480) I haven’t heard of mullet roe prior to this trip, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we ordered this. The creamy risotto is the perfect base for the mullet roe. The taste is comparable to caviar, only it’s prepared and presented in a different manner. https://flic.kr/p/PEdEoy Clam Spaghetti (NT$ 380) Looking so harmless with its oil-based sauce, this Clam Spaghetti actually packs quite a punch. The heat strikes unexpectedly but it doesn’t linger, allowing us to continue enjoying the dish. Rosso Bistro Address: No. 248之2號, Zhongshan Road, Chishang Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 958 Contact #: +886 971 201 258

Mr. Cow https://flic.kr/p/292P9qQ Mr. Cow is an Asian Barbecue restaurant located in the Tiehua Music Village. There’s no English menu available at the time so our guide took the liberty of ordering for us. https://flic.kr/p/2apxsDk We started our meal with a noodle soup that had a milky base and some vegetables. [rl_gallery id=”26658″] The barbecue sticks took quite some time before they arrived at our table. The seafood balls on sticks were an easy favorite for the group. But I personally prefer going for the meats on sticks. https://flic.kr/p/2apxFCX Best paired with their local beer. https://flic.kr/p/N34cYv There’s also an outdoor seating area if you wish to eat at a more casual atmosphere. I recommend Mr. Cow if you’re looking for a place for good food in a relaxed ambiance. https://flic.kr/p/PE99Cu Aside from the night market at Tiehua Music Village, there’s also a container van food park, but we didn’t get to check it out thoroughly. Mr. Cow Address: No. 342, Tiehua Road, Taitung City Contact #: +886 8 934 1608 Facebook: 烤大爺 台東鐵花新聚落

WHERE TO STAY Luminous Hot Spring Resort https://flic.kr/p/2bHTaSL Luminous Hot Spring Resort is an old hotel, judging by the layout of the room and the scarce supply of sockets near the bed. The rooms at the topmost (6th) floor are rather large, especially for a solo traveler. https://flic.kr/p/2aGqCQd And only the rooms on the 6th floor have their own hot spring tubs. I spent a few good minutes here before heading to bed on our first night in Taitung. https://flic.kr/p/PFKTgQ Despite its old age, the hotel is well-kept and the facilities are up to date. They even have Japanese toilets! https://flic.kr/p/2aGqFnh The view from the balcony in the morning is unbeatable too. This is the ideal hotel to stay in if you’re visiting Taitung for the Hot Air Balloon Festival as it’s just 15 minutes away from the highland. Luminous Hot Spring Resort & Spa Address: 200 Sec.1 Zhong-Hua Rd., Luye Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 955 Contact #: +886 8 955 0999 Facebook: Luminous Resort Website: http://www.lmresort.com.tw

Hotel Royal Chihpen https://flic.kr/p/N33Wgi Hotel Royal Chihpen, on the other hand, is a more modern hotel. The room layout is much more similar to the newer hotels that I’ve stayed in. https://flic.kr/p/N33LVp It must get cold in Taitung during the winter as Hotel Royal Chihpen also has the Japanese heated toilet like Luminous’s. https://flic.kr/p/2aGjDV1 The rooms also come with a personal hot spring tub, which I thoroughly enjoyed during our last night in Taitung as we had a really full day. [rl_gallery id=”26672″] The hotel also has some facilities that are great for families including an archery range and a badminton court. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try them as we left early the next morning. Hotel Royal Chihpen Address:  No. 23, Lane 113, Longquan Road, Beinan Township, Taitung County, Taiwan 954 Facebook: 知本老爺酒店 Hotel Royal Chihpen, Taiwan Website: http://www.hotelroyal.com.tw/chihpen/EN/

FINAL THOUGHTS My visit to Taitung is something I’ll definitely remember for the years to come. Ever since my trip, I’ve told my friends about it and have remarked on what they’re missing out by just repeatedly visiting Taipei. This is what a vacation should be – slow-paced, relaxing, and filled with first time experiences. My visit was short and sweet and I feel like I’ve only brushed the surface of what Taitung has to offer. I’ve heard of offshore islands, whale watching, and even surfing! ‘Til next time, Taiwan. Live an Awesome Life, Monique of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: Our visit was courtesy of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.

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