Taiwan Day 3 – Kenting and Sheding National Forest Recreation Area, windy Longpan Park, Houbihu Harbour, Chuhuo Fire, Hengchun, Kenting Night Market
We woke up bright and early for our five hour trek at the Kenting and Sheding National Forest Recreation Areas.
To get there, you have to turn into this road that is marked by a Chinese arch (which is near the Kenting Family Mart and McDonald’s), and go uphill for about 4km till you reach the entrance of the Kenting National Forest Recreation Area.
We parked our motorcycle and paid NT100 each (weekday) to enter the Kenting National Forest Recreation Area at 830am. This area has 2 types of trails.
The first type that you’ll encounter on your way in is a paved road that’s suitable for prams and wheelchairs. It is marked out by a brown road trail on the lower half of the trail map below, and takes about 45 minutes to an hour to cover at a leisurely pace.
The second type of trail includes many steps, although there is still a proper path and well-marked signboards. It appears as blue dotted lines on the upper half of the trail map. We spent about an hour here.
It is more exciting as you get to walk through the Fairy Cave and see its lookalike stalactites, observe a coral forest in its stark beauty and enjoy the quietness of nature, as few tourists venture into the second type of trail.
Finish off the second trail with a drink and a NT10 hot tea egg at the viewing tower café which has panoramic 360 degree views of Kenting National Park, all the way to the sea and you can even see Maobitou from there.
We next rode to Sheding National Forest Recreation Area, which is less than 5 minutes away by motorcycle. The carpark is paid (NT10) but entrance is free. We spent about 2 hours going through half of the trail. You could possibly spend at least 3 hours here if you trek through the entire area on the map below.
Sheding National Forest Recreation Area Banyan is NOT suitable for those with very young kids, prams and wheelchairs. There are many steps and there isn’t a proper path at some routes.
Our favourite part of Sheding National Forest Recreation Area is the feeling of accomplishment after reaching each of the two viewing pavilions, both which require a good climb (for an unfit person like me).
The Verdant Pavilion is very windy and has great views of the east coast of Kenting. It is unsheltered so it can get quite hot there.
The Skyward Pavilion has a sheltered area, with bench seats and tables to hang out at. You can picnic here with an amazing view of the greenery and also of the east coast of Kenting.
After a quick lunch at the 7-11 at the base of the mountain road, we rode to Longpan Park where wind speeds reached as high as 50km/h. We walked farther in from the main trail to avoid the PRC crowds and lay down on the grassy patch for a good half hour to enjoy the wind.
You can see Jialeshui from Longpan Park. We decided not to ride further up the east coast as the winds were too strong and there wasn’t any windbreaker (trees, buildings etc) to block off the wind.
We had a short rest at the hotel then set off to Houbihu Harbour for another cheap sashimi dinner!
It was almost sunset when we reached Chuhuo after dinner to see the flames fueled by natural gas leaking from the ground. We bought a pan of popcorn and cooked it over the flames for half an hour before it was finally ready.
Feeling hungry, we traveled to nearby Hengchun and bravely tried a cup of onion ice cream, that tastes like the uncooked onion that you normally get with the satay.
It is a small town that’s nice to take a stroll around, but there isn’t really much to buy besides fruit, the onion ice cream and other onion products, bread and cakes from a bakery and the occasional roadside food.
We went back to Kenting Night Market to grab more fruit and cheese baked potato with chicken.
The weather was great, windy and cool. We left the windows open for natural ‘aircon’ with temperatures below 20 degrees, an experience that we’ll never get in Singapore.
If you decide to visit Kenting, don’t stay just for one night. Stay at least 2 nights to have enough time to experience the varied sights and chill at the beach.
Refer to my Taiwan Day 4 – Kenting, Little Liuqiu blogpost for more updates on Taiwan.
Taiwan Travel Tips
These are a few very important links or apps you need to bookmark or download if you’re self-planning a trip to Taiwan.
High speed rail – twice as fast as TRA’s 自强 (Tzechiang) and twice as expensive too. It only takes a couple of hours from Taipei to Kaohsiung.
Normal railway – there are 3 types of trains. Take the faster 自强 Tzechiang for long distances to save time (if you want assigned seats, buy online or go to the counter in advance), and the slower trains (chukuang and local train) for short distances to save money.
Taiwan’s iBus app
Download from Google Play store. Apparently it has the timetables and even a moving geolocation of running buses in Taiwan. You need to be able to understand 繁体字 to use it.
Google maps app
Useful if you’re figuring your way around.
Type in your location, click on Places Of Interest and click on the map option to check out the tourist spots in the vicinity. It works for restaurants and hotels too (but we prefer Booking.com and travelking for this).
Also published on Medium.