TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Last week, we reported on the latest campaign by the Pingtung County Government to attract visitors to the region from Singapore. They have paid for advertising on 100 cabs across the city, which will say, “Don’t tell me you’ve visited Taiwan without ever coming to Pingtung (沒來過屏東，別說你到過台灣)”.
There will also be a video entitled “I left my heart in Pingtung” playing on the inbuilt screens of more than 300 taxis across the city-state, hoping to catch the eye of passengers. But, if Singaporean tourists do decide to make the short hop over the Taiwan Strait to Pingtung, what should they think about doing while they are there?
Pingtung is Taiwan’s southern-most county, but ask many non-Taiwanese what they could do there and, apart from Kenting, many would struggle to suggest anything. So, to give them some pointers, here is a selection of the other top attractions which tourists from Singapore, and indeed anywhere else, might want to visit:
- Wu Tai Tribe- 霧臺部落
Wu Tai Tribe. (Wikimedia Commons)
Pingtung County offers some great opportunities to experience Taiwan’s aboriginal communities and one of the best places to head to is Wu Tai Township, a center of the Rukai Tribe（魯凱族）. Wu Tai Township is located high in the central mountain range and is worth the trip for the spectacular journey alone. This is made all the more impressive in spring when the plentiful cherry trees are in blossom.
In the town itself, you can visit the small but interesting Rukai Museum, which does offer some English translation. There are several Rukai Cultural tours you can take from here too, which offer an insight into the tribe and its cultural heritage. Just as absorbing is strolling around the town, where you can see aboriginal influences everywhere. The stone houses of Yanban Lane are particularly interesting. And of course, there is no shortage of opportunities to buy Rukai souvenirs and experience their traditional cuisine.
- Hengchun Old Town (恆春古城)
Hengchun Old Town. (Wikimedia Commons)
Many visitors to Pingtung County drive past Hengchun without stopping on their way to Kenting. Often, they will see the go-kart tracks and cheap B&B’s that line the main road and assume that sums the place up. But they are missing out on one of the region’s gems. Hengchun is a beautiful historic town, which can boast some of the best-preserved city walls in Taiwan. Not only are all four gates intact, but a total of almost half of the wall’s original length is also still standing and much of it can be explored and even walked along. This walk offers some great views of the town.
Another site worth checking out is the Chuhuo Scenic Area (出火特別景觀區) just outside the town. Its centerpiece is a natural burning gas feature, where you can cook eggs on a fire which is coming straight out of the ground. And if you get hungry, there are no shortage of great restaurants either. A popular choice is the Kitchen Swell Restaurant (迷路餐桌計劃) which serves excellent western fare in a beautiful old hospital building close to the South Gate. It is also next door to a shop which was featured Cape No. 7, a popular Taiwanese film, and which attracts hordes of local fans.
- Taiwan Indigenous People’s Cultural Park 台灣原住民族文化園區
Taiwan Indigenous People's Cultural Park. (Tripadvisor.com)
If Aboriginal culture is your thing, then another great spot to visit is the Taiwan Indigenous People’s Cultural Park. The park was established in 1987 to help preserve the culture and artifacts of all Aboriginal tribes. It is a huge site and has exhibition on nine of Taiwan’s native aboriginal tribes. Highlights include their waxwork exhibitions and the handicrafts room, where you can see many of the brightly colored items the tribal people made.
Located near Sandimen Township (三地門鄉), the Park is also set in the midst of some spectacular mountain scenery. And while there is much to see and do inside, it is the opportunities to enjoy traditional outdoor activities and explore some of the authentic tribal cabins that are the highlight of many people’s visit.
- Wanan Riverside Park / Amawan Waterfall萬安親水公園/阿瑪灣瀑布群
Wanan Riverside Park. (HouseFun News)
Given Taiwan’s humid climate, playing in the water is always an attractive proposition and in Pingtung, there are few nicer places to do that than the Wanan Riverside Park. Situated in Wanan Village, the picturesque Riverside park offers plentiful opportunities for adults and children to play in the river itself. The water is clean as it flows straight from the mountains and while some caution is required, it is generally safe too.
The park does attract big crowds in summer, especially at weekends, and these also bring street traders who some visitors have reported being a little aggressive in their sales techniques. If you want to escape the hubbub and enjoy the water in an even more tranquil environment, the nearby Amawan Waterfall (阿瑪灣瀑布群) is a great place to try as long as you don’t mind a little light river tracing.
- Xiao Liuqiu小琉球
Xiao Liuqiu. (Wikimedia Commons)
If you have the time and can ride a scooter, then the island of Xiao Liuqiu is definitely worth the effort of a boat trip from Donggang (東港). This stunningly picturesque coral island does not allow cars, but scooters can be easily hired and a trip around the island is achievable for even the most novice of riders. It is a fantastic experience, with many natural phenomena to see.
Highlights of Xiao Liuqiu include the Black Dwarf Cave(烏鬼洞), Vase Rock（花瓶岩), and the Liuqiu Lighthouse (白燈塔). It is also a great place to go snorkeling and swim in the sea. There are several beaches, many of which boast unique coral features you can see. It is possible to do a trip to Xiao Liuqui in a day, but most people recommend spending one night there if you want to make the most out of your trip.
- Mount Sihlinge Recreation Area - 四林格山遊樂區
Mount Sihlinge Recreation Area. (Pingtung Government Website)
Mount Sihlinge Recreation Area which is located not far from Hengchun Township in the heart of the mountains offers some unique and spectacular views. The local scenery itself is impressive and unspoiled with two natural lakes attracting an impressive array of flora and fauna as well as plenty of wildlife too.
But the highlight of Mount Sihlinge Recreation Area is the 360-degree panorama that can be enjoyed from the highest point. From here you can see all across the southernmost point of Taiwan and see Hengchun Peninsula, the Pacific Ocean, the Bashi Channel, and the Taiwan Strait. It is often overlooked by visitors but is truly one of the most spectacular vistas in the whole country.
- National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium 國立海洋生物博物館
Aquarium. (Wikimedia Commons)
Taiwan’s National Aquarium is located just off Highway 26 outside Checheng and is well worth the diversion. It offers three huge aquatic exhibits featuring sea life from around the region and beyond. Currently, these are dedicated to separate exhibitions on Waters of Taiwan, Waters of the World, and Coral Kingdom.
Visitors can also experience the largest underwater tunnel in Asia, which you can even spend the night in if you make arrangements in advance. There is also a 3D cinema and many more facilities to enjoy too. The Aquarium is a great place for families, big kids, and anyone with an interest in Taiwan’s unique marine ecosystem.