Kenting National Park

Kenting National Park (墾丁國家公園 kěndīng gúojiā gōngyuán) is in at the extreme southern tip of Taiwan. It is famous for its beautiful beaches and lush vegetation.

Understand

Although Kenting National Park is located in Kenting, these two places should not be confused as the same destination. Kenting is the wider area that includes small townships as well as the national park.

Landscape

KenTing National Forest Recreation Area is between 150 and 300 meters above sea level and the total area is 466.8 hectares. Since the landform of Hengchun Peninsula is complicated and the weather is highly changeable, it breeds abundant and special rare plant resources. The forest landscape is roughly divided into three layers. The first layer is arbores. Moraceae and lauraceae are dominant. The second layer is bushes, primarily small palmae. The third layer is chamaephyte. Low grasses and liana are dominant. It is a rich and adequate forest with more than 1,200 kinds of both ornamental and conserved plants. Rising high coral limestone is everywhere in KenTing National Forest Recreation Area. The limestone is primarily composed of sedimentation of corals, foraminifers and nullipores. According to research, this area is supposed to be under sea level ten millions years ago. After weathering and sea water erosion, the coral limestone has gradually become stalagmites, stalactite caves, columns, notches and stalactites. Especially stalagmites and stalactites, they are formed by deposition of calcium carbonate which is precipitated from mineralized water solutions. An average growth rate is 1cm every 30 years. They are rare and precious stone resources. Entering from the memorial archway in KenTing National Forest Recreation Area, along the forest trail, there are old trees on both sides of the road. Among them, there is a 300-years-old giant Chinese pistache. Heading inside the recreation area, everywhere, there are spots worth a visit. Aquatic plants area, stalagmites cave, Silver Leaves and Roots, Fairy Cave, Labyrinth Forest, Sky in a Line, Falling Banyan Valley, Silver Dragon Cave, No.1 Gorge, Umbrella Pavilion and Ape Cliff are geographic landscape that you can’t miss.

Flora and fauna

KenTing National Forest Recreation Area is the only one tropical botanical garden in Taiwan and also one of the top 10 tropical botanical gardens in the world. Currently, there are thousands of tropical plants and adequate resources of butterflies, birds, insects and reptiles. Sometimes, you can see groups of Formosan macaques playing. Every autumn and winter, plenty of migratory birds including Chinese goshawks, oriental honey-buzzards, cattle egrets, falco subbuteos, brown shrikes and gray-faced buzzards roost at this place. It brings the original forest a more vivid ambience.

Climate

Hot.

During typhoon season, the waves can get quite rough causing all beaches to be closed.

Get in

By bus

Buses travel every hour on the hour from Taipei Bus Station (get there via Taipei Main Station MRT) to Kaohsiung. UBus (United Bus), is a popular company that offers such a service for NT$430. There is no Wi-Fi, but the seats recline and there is a roughly 20" screen mounted on the ceiling of the bus every 4 rows. The trip can range from 5 to 6 hours.

Buses travel frequently from Kaohsiung to Kenting. Take the line 88 from the Kaohsiung bus terminal (don't get confused with city buses). The price for a ticket is roughly NT$350. The transit time from Kaohsiung to Kenting is approximately 2.5 hours. There is both a regular and express bus. The express bus arrives on the hour. It can be difficult to discern which bus is the express bus and it is also unlikely the driver will speak English.

By train

Kenting is accessible via the HSR, or High Speed Rail which connects Taipei with Zuoying, Kaohsiung. The total travel time from Taipei to Zuoying (Kaohsiung) via HSR is approximately 90 mins. After arrival in Zuoying, exit the station and head outside where there is a bus stop. Line 88 bus to Kenting operates 24 hours/day, so getting back to the HSR on time is no problem. Ask your place of accommodation about shuttle buses, or you can take a taxi, which usually picks up passengers until it's full and then quotes a price per person for the trip.

It is advisable to reserve your HSR tickets by telephone or online if traveling on the weekend. Weekend trains are often sold out.

By car

Renting a car is not optimal, but nice if you wish to travel around/within the Kenting area. Having an automobile or renting a scooter in Kenting enables you to travel up and down the entire southern seaboard and visit both public beaches easily.

Get around

A motorbike can be rented for NT$400-600 per day in Kenting from many different storefronts. Users must show a Taiwan or International motorbike drivers license and sign a rental contract before being given keys. Some places might be reluctant to rent to foreigners, therefore it can be useful to go with a Taiwanese to help in the process. As Taiwan has a motorbike helmet law, be aware that wearing a helmet is a requirement when operating or riding as a passenger on a motorbike.

You can also pre-arrange a rental car for pick up at the HSR Kaohsiung Zuoying station. Please check the HSR website for more information and a link to the service providers websites.

See

Do

As in any tourist area, it is advisable to double-check prices. Kenting closes surprisingly early for Taiwan - most shops and stalls seem to shut down at 22:00.

Eat

Thai food is currently in vogue in Kenting, and virtually every restaurant now offers it. At night the main road in Kenting becomes a night market, with all kinds of food sold from stalls. There are plenty of restaurants too - lots of Chinese (of course), Thai, and a little western. There is also a lot of fresh fruit available and plenty of seafood.

Sleep

Budget

Resorts and Hotels

Since Kenting's popularity as a destination is rising, it seems like every plot of land that isn't already a hotel or restaurant is being turned into one, and many shops and restaurants have rooms upstairs too, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a place to sleep. The newer hotels are generally nicer but pricier, and you'll want to check there's no ongoing construction that might interfere with your sleep.

Lodging

Camping

Camping is allowed in the National Park. It is advisable to contact the park directly to setup permits. Several bed and breakfast or small proprietor operations will rent tents and space for camping on their property.

Stay safe

Like all of Taiwan, the Kenting area is very safe from violent crime. Use common sense when protecting your valuables, and don't leave anything valuable in your car.

Stray dogs, while not violent or aggressive, are everywhere and likely harbor disease and/or parasites. Don't pet them!

During weekends, tourists park all over the sidewalks and entryways, making it very difficult for pedestrians to walk safely and out of street traffic.

Go next

Bus Line 88 runs 24 hours a day and will take you to Kaohsiung city. The bus will drop you off opposite the operator's storefront. There are usually many taxis waiting at that area, which can take you to the ZuoYing HSR station for no more than NT$120.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 26, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.