Taitung

Taitung (台東 or 臺東 Táidōng) is a city in south east Taiwan.

Understand

Taitung is situated on a small plain between the mountains and the ocean at the southern mouth of the East Rift Valley. This provides Taitung with not only spectacular scenery but also an ocean breeze that makes this tropical city surprisingly comfortable. Taitung was developed by the Japanese in the early part of the 20th Century and were responsible for both the construction the road and railroad to the area. This in turn brought an influx of Taiwanese settlers into the area that already had several aboriginal groups, creating a diverse city of aboriginal, Hakka, and Hoklo populations.

This uniquely Taiwanese blend is still easily discernible in part because a lot of the recent advances in Taiwan's economy have passed Taitung by. This has prevented Taitung from devouring itself the way more successful cities have. There are still large areas filled with Japanese houses in various states of use and disuse and repair and disrepair. There are still winding alleyways filled with single story Chinese style houses with their unapologetic rustic appearance. There are still neighborhoods that are largely aboriginal with their own celebrations and unique attributes. One thing that is relatively sparse however, are seven-elevens. All this surrounded by miles of quiet rice fields and orchards. All this give Taitung an aesthetic unlike any other in Taiwan, something that is purely Taiwan.

Get in

By train

By train, Taitung is on the main East Coast express route.

By plane

By plane, Taitung is serviced by a local airport with flights to Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Get around

There are car and scooter rentals near the train station if one has an international drivers license. If that is not applicable one can take a bus or taxi to the city which is some distance from either the train station or the airport. Taitung's public transportation is somewhat limited compared with other Taiwanese cities. There are bus routes, while these are inexpensive, the timetables are in Chinese. However, the main part of Taitung is small and compact enough to make walking a pleasant way to explore the city.

Bicycles are a good alternative form of transportation and can be rented at several location beach side as well as near the entrance to the Forest Park at the North end of Jhongshan Rd. For excursions to the attractions on the outskirts of town a taxi may be your best option. Taxis are quite plentiful around the Old Railway Station downtown (near the intersection of Guanming Rd. and Sinsheng Rd.)

See

Do

Buy

Eat

Sugar-apples

Taitung has eclectic food culture it reflects the various cultural influences that the city has had and continues to have. There are good examples of all manner of Taiwanese, Aboriginal, and other East and Southeast Asian food. While many people equate Taiwanese food with street food to do so is a disservice to the food cultures that make up Taiwan and miss out on some great food. Like all Taiwanese cities street food can be found throughout downtown. You might want to try the sugar-apples (釋迦 shìjiā), a local sweet fruit. Taitung is also home to a fair number of goat meat restaurants along Jhongjheng Rd. Thanks to the large number of aboriginal groups in the area there are several different aboriginal restaurants in and around the city.

Drink

Taitung's night life has been described as subdued, that may be true however there are of course some bars. What Taitung does have however, is a rather large number of cafes. Since Taitung County actually grows coffee beans it is also possible to find truly local coffee at several establishments.

Stay Safe

Taitung is one of the safest places in Taiwan. Like everywhere in Taiwan, be careful in traffic, and avoid confrontations in bars etc.

Be aware that very few people in Taitung speak even a little of English, and most of them will expect you to speak Chinese. Be also aware that it is not uncommon to meet people only able to speak Taiwanese.

Sleep

Many places apply a 10-30% surcharge during weekends (Friday and Saturday) and holidays. Expect to pay a lot more during Chinese New Year, up to double price. Ranges below show the lowest (weekday) and highest (Chinese New Year) prices.

Go next

By train

It is advised to book in advance trains to Tainan and Taipei as there are not so many a day, and they can be fully booked.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, November 02, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.