Penghu Must Do List!

Overgrown pathways at Aimen Beach
  • EXPLORE THE ISLANDS – Explore by scooter around the main islands, across the great bridge and out to Siyu Island and lighthouse. There are countless small villages, narrow country lanes that lead to secret beaches, traditional coral wall gardens and much more to see, as well as the amazing ocean view on all sides.
  • TONGLIANG BANYAN TREE – Tongliang Banyan Tree is an incredible tree that has to be seen to be believed. There are souvenir shops,  cactus ice cream stores and a  Temple surrounding the tree.
  • WALK THE RAINBOW BRIDGE – Walk over the Rainbow Bridge and watch the sunset at Guanyingting park. After sunset the bridge lights up with rainbow colors that shimmer over the bay. A great place that’s in the city centre – you can wind down and enjoy the view, visit the small temple, take kids to the play ground or have a picnic bbq.

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Japanese Taiwanese Fusion – Da You Tien

Da You TienDa You Tien has been on Guang Fu road for a long time and is popular with students and those who enjoy tasty and relatively cheap eats. There is an English menu but you’ll have to ask for it. Prices range from 30NTD – 150NTD and that covers a large variety of sushi, sashimi, tempura, salads, fried tofu, soups, fried noodles and more, such as Taiwanese inspired meat over rice or salted chicken thigh. Continue reading

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Penghu Bike Rental

penghubike.comIf you’re interested in cycling around Magong City, or even further out around the islands, Penghu Bike rents out fully equipped 7 speed mountain bikes for 200NTD / 24 hours. Each bike is well maintained and has a helmet, headlight, odometer, small pump, water bottle holder and a bag (suitable for camera, wallet, water, swim gear, suncream, hat etc).

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The Ends of The Earth: Dongji Island

How far is it to the very ends of the earth and what would it look like once you got there? How remote does a place really need to be to feel like it’s the last outpost? The place, I imagine, is lying in wait somewhere just before the Great Nothingness. Right on the edge of that once sorely feared, yet entirely fictitious, drop off into oblivion.

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Penghu Fireworks Festival

Each year the residents of Penghu and thousands of visitors greet the coming summer season with the Fireworks Festival. This year the event will be held twice a week, on Monday and Thursday, from April to May at Guanyingting Recreation Park. An awesome array of fireworks are set-off over the iconic Rainbow bridge while visitors and locals chill out in the park below. Last year there was a squid, fish and a heart exploding in the night sky to wow the crowds.

Stages are also set up to host other entertainment, including shows by local children and high school students as well as bands. A few more well known headlining acts are spread though out the months, though nothing too exciting by international standards. Market stalls line the street above the park and sell snacks and souvenirs to the crowds of people who after the show slowly make their way downtown to restaurants, KTV pubs or back to their hotels.

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Slowly the clouds have cleared and spring is waking these sleepy islands. An exciting buzz takes over from the whistling wind and warmth returns as the sun claims its place in the big blue sky. New plants are springing forth from the sandy soils, creeping across the islands, forming a layer of green to cover the crusty earth exposed by the winter wind’s gales. Spring is here and windy days are few and far between.

Visitors from what the locals call “Taiwan” begin to appear, everywhere. Large herds of rented scooters amble the streets downtown as they clumsily try to navigate, maps in hand, obliviously obstructing traffic. Like so many ‘destinations’ the rules surely don’t apply to tourists here.

Locals begin to shake off the thick layer of dust deposited by the wind and pull out the summer chairs, tables and umbrellas. Stores that shut for the winter now prepare for the summer season. Busily readying themselves for the hordes of visitors soon to deluge the islands.  New stores, restaurants and guesthouses open their doors each summer season, though not all make it to the next.

Endless sunny hot days are not far away. Soon there’ll only be scorching hours filled with swimming, lazing about on beaches, picnics, barbecue dinners and cool breezy evening walks downtown. Boat trips to outer island, visits to old haunts, more snap shots of another picturesque summer and iced coffee, lots of iced coffee. Summer isn’t far away now… but, after that the wind returns and it all starts again.

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Jun Tou Tea House

Magong, like much of Taiwan is littered with ‘tea-shops’. Little stalls that are literally everywhere, selling take-away tea and assorted drinks. Some are chains and others just one-off mum and pop shops. More often than not these places are take-away only, with no place to sit and relax – they offer no way to enjoy your tea in a setting that reflects the traditional tea-culture of Taiwan. That’s where Jun Tou Tea House comes in. Like a haven amongst a sea of sameness, Jun Tou is truly one of Magong’s best kept secrets. Few foreigners have ever found the place and those who have were probably loath to share the secret of this quiet retreat.

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Freedom Camping in Penghu

Life doesn’t get much better than camping on a gorgeous beach, barbecuing and enjoying the crystal clear ocean water in the middle of summer! It’s a little known secret that there are a number of brilliant camping spots in Penghu and that almost the entire archipelago is open for freedom camping. Freedom camping means that within reason, campers may camp throughout the islands (except on private property) without permits or fees. To encourage such outdoor pursuits the county government has invested significant time and money in providing excellent facilities (toilets, showers, bbqs) for campers at a number of the best beaches.

White sand beaches where the buzz from the city is left behind you abound in Penghu. In these places all you’ll hear is waves lapping the sandy shoreline and the gentle summer breeze rustling the grass.  Lintou Park, Longmen Beach and Neian Beach are some of the finest examples Penghu has to offer in the way of beach camping. These are all beautiful beaches, with few visitors that are fully equipped and free to use. All you’ll need is a map from the visitor centre, a scooter and your camping gear. Stock up on food and water at one of the supermarkets in Magong city and even head to the daily fresh market to prepare fresh veggies for a BBQ. See information on Lintou and Neian below and information on Longmen here.

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Longmen Beach

About 20 minutes from Magong, is Longmen Village, which has one of the best swimming beaches around. Getting there isn’t particularly straightforward, but this keeps the beach quiet and undeveloped. Head out on the 204 and drive past Aimen and Lintou, all the way to Longmen Village. Once you get to the village keep going a little further until you see a small temple on your left. Turn left down the narrow path just before the temple. Then keeping left, make your way down the small country road, passing grazing cows, goat sheds, peanut fields and a few tombs. After a few minutes you’ll reach Longmen Beach…

If on your way you come across a small secluded rocky beach, that’s not it, you’ve gone too far past the temple. Keep following the road along the coast and you’ll eventually find Longmen. The beach here is stunning and has recently been equipped with quirky army inspired toilet, shower (salt water) and shade facilities. With its new facilities, the beach makes for another excellent camping spot – just bring the bbq. The sand, though full of coral, is blindingly white and the water clear and azure. It’s safe for swimming and isn’t as  rocky as Aimen Beach or as over-popuated with tourists as Shanshui Beach. Thankfully the locals seem to have dealt with the only issue, one of trash blowing ashore from fishing boats, which became a problem during the windy months. Though there may still be a bit of trash blowing around things have greatly improved over the years. If you’re looking for something really chilled out and prefer to be one of the only people on the beach, this place is perfect.

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Harness the Wind

The economic future of Penghu has always been a contentious topic for discussion amongst Pēnghú rén (Penghu people). The islands’ economy mainly revolves around tourism and fishing, though those can be tentative industries. For much of the year Penghu is devoid of tourists, and fishing is difficult due to extreme wind. With increasing pressure to find a solution to the county’s economic woes, a number of controversial proposals have been hotly debated. Plans to turn the archipelago into an ‘island Vegas’ or ‘mini-macau’ were strongly rejected by popular vote last year, and another plan to sell off islets for use as nuclear waste dumping sites were met with protests. Now it seems the locals have turned to more sustainable means of carving out a future for themselves. Penghu County, with the support of the national government, has just announced plans to harness its most abundant resource – the wind.

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