It's time for Taitung
Taitung occupies ten percent of Taiwan's land mass, but it is home to only about one percent of Taiwan's total population, making it an area of unspoiled natural beauty and diversity. In addition, one-third of Taitung's population is made up of indigenous people from seven of Taiwan's 16 officially recognized tribes. There are also Hakka communities, meaning that it is also a place of cultural diversity.
Taitung possesses two of Taiwan's five mountain ranges and the longest coastline of any county in Taiwan. Thus, Taitung is suited to the Western traveler looking for a unique vacation centered around sports, nature and cultural experiences.
The beaches of Donghe Township are perfect for swimming in the summer. But, come fall, the northeast monsoon winds whip up the waters bringing surfing enthusiasts from all over the world. Some of the best professional and amateur surfers can be seen at Jinzun Fishery Harbor in November, during the international Taiwan Open of Surfing.
Take to the air for a real overview of Taitung's diverse natural beauty. Paragliding happens in Luye on any day of the year when the wind and weather conditions are right. Between early June and early August, the very popular hot air balloon festival is held, also in Luye. For those who like their views panoramic, while keeping their feet on the ground, there are spectacular historic trails to hike. For example, in Donghe Township, it takes several hours to reach the summit of Dulan Mountain, the sacred mountain of the indigenous Amis and Puyuma tribes. Along the way, hikers will pass a traditional ceremonial ground once used by indigenous hunters before heading into the mountains in search of game.
Being that the locals are used to a slow pace of life, they are some of the friendliest people in Taiwan. Even if there is a language barrier, non-Chinese speaking visitors will still find that the interactions with the local people are some of their most unforgettable experiences. Instead of staying in a large hotel or resort, Western travelers are encouraged to spend some time in a family-run guesthouse. Guesthouse owners who are knowledgeable and passionate about their culture and communities bring a whole new perspective and can introduce guests to people and places not found in any guidebook.
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Photos: Courtesy of Taiwan Strait Tourism Association Shanghai Branch Office