Taiwan Day 4 – Kenting, Dapeng Bay, Little Liuqiu (aka Xiao Liouciou / Lambai) island
We woke up to a strong breeze, sunny morning and had our packed breakfast before returning the scooter. Strolling along the beach, we saw a film crew shooting scenes of the beachscape till the wind became too strong and dark clouds started to form. I wish we had more time to explore the beach outside the hotel.
There were haystacks (a rare sight for a city girl) lying around further inland and I managed to get a shot before we took the 930am Kenting Express bus to Dapeng Bay.
The bus took about 2 hours to reach Dapeng Bay Scenic Area (right spot on the Google map below). But the Donggang Ferry Terminal is at the other end of Dapeng area (red location marker)!
Upon enquiring at the Tourist information counter, it seems that the connecting public bus to Donggang Ferry Terminal (about 4km away at the north west end of Dapeng Bay) had left an hour ago and the next bus wouldn’t arrive for a few hours 🙁
At that time, we didn’t know about the iBus app (see postamble), which could have helped us plan our schedules better.
The counter staff helpfully arranged for us to take a taxi with a Taiwanese couple for NT100 a person.
We chatted with the Taiwanese husband and wife and learnt that the husband had set up an electronics business in Singapore in the 1970s-1980s, supplying parts to manufacturers such as Texas instruments.
He moved his business overseas when labour got too expensive. His wife has visited Singapore once on holiday and they were holidaying in Kenting and Little Liuqiu to escape the frigid weather in Taipei where temperatures were below 5 degrees then.
Upon arriving at the ferry terminal, we purchased tickets to Little Liuqiu for NT400 (round trip) a person from a saleslady standing a few metres away from the counter (original price NT410) and quickly boarded the 12pm Tai Fu ferry to Baisha Pier at the Northeast coast of Little Liuqiu.
You can check out the ferry timings here (subject to change). You can either choose a public ferry (limited timings) or one of the two private operators (Dongliou and Tai Fu).
The ferry ride is quite bumpy and took about half an hour, I sat near the window so I could look far away and minimise my seasickness.
Upon reaching Little Liuqiu, we checked into a small hotel near the harbour and rented a scooter for NT300 a day. We left the hotel at 2pm and explored the island in an anti-clockwise manner after lunch, starting from Flower Vase Rock (as little as 5 minutes for a quick photo to an hour if you want to swim).
One thing I need to say about Little Liuqiu is that you shouldn’t expect food to be as easily available during off-peak hours. Food stalls are open during the day but hard to find at night. There is only one 7-11 in the middle of the island near Biyun Temple and it is NOT within walking distance of Baisha Pier (the biggest pier).
Basically, if you see a food stall open, just go for it and don’t waste time going round looking for 10 other places so you can decide what to eat.
The CPC petrol station (at an ulu corner of the island near Dafu Pier, check Google maps) closes around 530pm. Once they close, even if the staff is around, they will not help you refuel petrol. You will have to drag your scooter back to your hotel to be refueled.
We then rode down to Beauty Cave and paid NT120 per person (which includes admission to Wild Boar trench and Black Devil Cave). The tickets come with three photos, each photo depicting one of the three attractions. The entrance warden punched a hole in the Beauty Cave photo before admitting us.
We spent about 45 minutes to an hour slowly exploring the area which has great views of the sea (or so we thought till we explored the Black Devil Cave).
The Wild Boar trench was a short ride away. It is an inland boardwalk with a botanist’s fantasy of banyan trees and foliage. It is relatively shaded, quiet and a beautiful place for forest wedding photos (your dress wouldn’t get too dirty). A quick walk around here takes 20 minutes and you can chill at one of the rest areas longer if you choose to.
The last attraction, Black Devil Cave, includes lots of steps, walking through small gorges and cumulating in three beautiful sea lookouts. It was extremely bright and sunny as we were facing the sunset direction. We stayed here for 45 minutes although I could have just stoned out longer had the weather been better. Perhaps we should’ve come here in the early morning instead.
There were no shops open inside any of the attractions, though there were roadside stalls (proper stalls at Beauty Cave near the pavilion and makeshift ones at Black Devil Cave) you could grab a drink at. I brought out a 1.5l bottle of water (kiasu) so I didn’t buy anything from the stalls.
Most Taiwan hotels have a water cooler so that was the main source of my drinking water (being from Singapore where tap water is potable, paying for water is considered a waste of money).
It was only 4 pm, an hour and a half till sunset. I didn’t want to waste time waiting at the sunset pavilion or Geban Bay so we decided to explore the Haizhikou Pier (nothing), Houshi Fringing Reef (a 5 minute picture stop), a lighthouse (it’s just a small lighthouse at the end of a small road, that’s it), and the 100-year old banyan tree next to a mini-temple (another 5 minute picture stop).
It was still really early, so we visited the famous Biyun Temple and then chilled at the nearby 7-11 (at least 10-15 seats inside) before heading to Geban Bay for a quickie sunset shot.
We managed to find a restaurant along Minsheng Road (5 minutes walk from Baisha Pier) which sold one person steamboat meals for NT100 and above. Almost everything else was closed!
We then crossed the road to enjoy a bowl of hot tauhuay beancurd at NT30 each. This stall is run by a mummy with 2 young girls in primary school. Her daughters and husband usually hang out at a dining table at her stall to watch TV and help her serve patrons. There aren’t many children on Little Liuqiu that we noticed.
Little Liuqiu is one of the most deserted places in Taiwan we’ve been to at night. We walked around the Baisha Pier for 20 minutes and passed by less than 10 people. There were hundreds of motorcycles, many boats, but very few people and it was really quiet. It was not even 9pm.
It is a potential town to shoot a horror/apocalypse movie.
We called it a day and relaxed at our hotel early. I’m actually glad we stayed overnight here because there were places we couldn’t cover in one afternoon and evening, which we visited the next day before checking out and taking the ferry back to the mainland at Donggang Ferry Terminal.
I would recommend Little Liuqiu for couples, but not for larger families unless you are able to source for your own transport besides a scooter.
Refer to my Taiwan Day 5 – Little Liuqiu, Kaohsiung 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.